Film Review: Into the Storm (dir by Steve Quale)


If I had to sum up Into the Storm in just one word, that’s how I would do it.  It’s only been a few hours since Jeff and I sat through Into the Storm and, as I sit here now trying to write this review, I am surprised by just how little of an impression this film made on me.  Even the special effects, which did impress me while I was watching the film, are good without exactly being memorable.   There is only one scene that I can remember almost perfectly, in which a veteran storm chaser (Matt Walsh, who is wonderful on Veep) takes advantage of a small moment of calm to look at nature and allows himself one quick smile before Oklahoma gets hit by another tornado.  It’s probably the only genuinely human moment in the entire movie.  Unfortunately, it’s only a few seconds in an 89-minute film.

Into the Storm is a found footage film, in which the small town of Silverton, Oklahoma is struck by a few dozen tornadoes, which all eventually merge into one big tornado.  Fortunately, everyone in the film has an excuse to justify continually running towards the tornadoes while holding up their cell phones and shouting, “Are you getting this!?”

For instance, there’s Pete the storm chaser who needs to get some amazing footage of tornado mayhem, otherwise the whole storm  “season” will have been a waste for him.  Accompanying Pete are the usual gang of doomed cameramen and a meteorologist (Sarah Wayne Callies) who has left behind her five year-old daughter so she can chase wall clouds across the southwest.  And then there’s two dumbass rednecks (Jon Reep and Kyle Davis), who desperately want to be YouTube sensations.  And, of course, let’s not forget the graduating class of Silverton High School.  SHS’s principal (Scott Lawrence) is a dead ringer for Barack Obama, which is perhaps why he proves to be totally ineffectual when it comes to dealing with natural disasters in Oklahoma and Texas.  The vice-principal (Richard Armitage) is the father of two sullen teenagers (Jeremy Sumpter and Nathan Kress) and you better believe that the whole experience makes them into a stronger family unit…

None of the characters are particularly interesting or even likable but that’s really not supposed to matter, is it?  This is the type of film where you’re supposed to be so pleased with the special effects that you’re willing to overlook the bad dialogue and predictable plot, right?  Well, if that’s the case, then why does it take so long for the tornadoes to actually show up?  Why do we spend so much time getting to know these thoroughly vapid and uninteresting characters?  And why, oh why, does this film have to end with the survivors looking over the ruins of their city and talking about how this whole experience has inspired them to embrace life?  It seems like they could have just as easily learned the same thing from reading a greeting card.  Was it really necessary for a tornado to come down and probably kill 60% of the town just so they could be taught such an obvious lesson?

Trust me, I grew up and I live in Tornado Alley.  Not a year has passed that I haven’t had to spend at least one day stuck inside and waiting for word as to whether or not a tornado is going to dip down into my part of the world and potentially kill me and everyone I love.  (Just a few months ago, I literally spent an hour and a half huddled underneath a desk while listening to the mournful wail of the tornado sirens going off outside.)  I’ve also seen firsthand the unbelievable damage that tornadoes can do.  Walk up to real tornado survivors and tell them, preferably while they’re standing in front of the rubble that used to be their home, that their misfortune has inspired you to enjoy every day of your life.  Just see how they react.

The film is directed by Steve Quale, who first came to prominence working under James Cameron.  Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, therefore, that he seems to be more comfortable with CGI than with actual human beings.  But still, Quale’s debut as a director — Final Destination 5 — was actually a pretty effective little horror film that featured some surprisingly witty and clever moments.  Little of the skill that Quale displayed in Final Destination 5 is on display here in Into The Storm.  I’m not a huge fan of the whole found footage thing to begin with (occasionally you get a Devil’s Due but most found footage films are more like Paranormal Activity The Marked Ones) but if you are going to make a film in that style, at least play by the rules.  As directed by Quale, the majority of the film is directed to look like found footage and, hence, it suffers from all of the problems that we tend to associate with found footage.  But, jarringly and almost at random, Quale occasionally abandons the whole found footage conceit and suddenly, we’re just watching an ordinary film.  For found footage to work as a genre, you can’t remind the audience that it’s essentially a gimmick that’s often used to make excuses for sloppy filmmaking.  And, for too often, that’s exactly what this film does.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I guess Into The Storm is okay for what it is.  After all, the film wasn’t advertised as being a great film.  It hasn’t been mentioned as a potential Oscar nominee or anything.  The commercials promised footage of tornadoes destroying a town and that’s what this film eventually gets around to showing.  Plus,  it didn’t feature any talking turtles and that’s definitely a plus.  But, at the same time, I think those of us in the audience are justified in occasionally asking for something more than merely okay.


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


“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.


  • 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.


  • 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 S3E10 “Home”


“Running is not an option.” — Glenn Rhee

[some spoilers within]

The series returned from it’s two month hiatus with even bigger numbers that still continues to surprise many tv pundits. The Walking Dead seems to be the show that no behind-the-scenes problems or storytelling and characterization problems can kill like other shows that has similar problems. The show is not on the same level as HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, FX’s Justified and Sons of Anarchy or even AMC stablemates Breaking Bad and Mad Men, but it’s a show that looks to have become must-see tv because of the very things tv pundits and critics have been complaining about.

Tonight’s episode, “Home”, was a microcosm of why the show has been such a frustration to hardcore fans of the comic book and the zombie genre, but also why the show still continues to bring in huge viewing numbers. Numbers that has begun to rival shows on the major networks and not just shows on cable. It was an episode that made me wonder if the season’s trip to redemption from season 2’s wildly uneven tone was suddenly being wasted. Then the second half of the episode arrived like a bullet to the head and we’re reminded why the show has gained such a huge following.

“Home” opens up with Rick still in the grips of the psychotic break we saw and experienced to end the previous episode. This part of tonight’s narrative is beginning to look like one of this season’s weaker ones. While I thought it was good to show the source of Rick’s growing mental instability the way the writers have gone about it makes Rick such a wildly uneven character when the “crazies” hit him. We understand that the burden of leadership has cost the poor man since he rejoined his family but whenever he begins to hallucinate it’s quite a glaring change. The same could be said about Glenn’s sudden rage-fueled need to avenge himself on the Governor for what he thinks was done to Maggie. We’ve seen leadership qualities in Glenn throughout the series’ run, but this need for vengeance for something that didn’t happen to him looks so out of character for Glenn. He’s almost channeling his inner-Shane and, despite what fans of TV Shane’s character might think, that’s never a good thing.

Tonight’s episode was all about the concept of the word “home” what it means to people surviving in a world where no place is safe. The prison and Woodbury are homes for two different survivors. On the one hand, we have Rick and his band of survivors who have survived some of the worst this zombie apocalypse has thrown their way and learned the hard way to survive. On the other side we have Woodbury where most of it’s population never learned to survive but relied on those in power to keep them safe. People in power who really do not have their well-being in mind, but just a resource to dominate and use when it suits them. One home has been invaded and it’s illusion of safety shattered by Rick and his people. Tonight we see the Governor repay that action in his own way.

Home is now a concept that doesn’t seem like a logical thing in this new world order and tonight’s episode went too talky about whether it was safe to remain in the prison or whether it was their best chance of survival. It didn’t help that Rick was on his crazytown jaunt through the woods outside the prison, Glenn was going all Shane on everyone and Hershel was starting to sound very Dale-like. Not very good combinations considering the writers on this show could never handle the quieter and philosophical moments on the show.

Where the episode was saved was when the bolts, bullets and blood flew in abundance in the second half. This first begun with Daryl doing something that Merle would never see himself doing on his own and that’s helping a band of strangers cornered by a large group of zombies. We see how much Daryl’s time with Rick away from the influence of his more volatile big brother Merle has made Daryl a better man without taking away his inherent badassness (yes that is a made up word that should be used more often).

The Governor’s payback against Rick and his people becomes a bookend to the midseason finale where Rick attacked Woodbury. The prison’s illusion of safety has been destroyed and with it one of their own who seemed to be finding his role. Axel was beginning to become a character of note then the Governor and his bullet happened and we’re once more left with the the core group which entered the prison.

If there’s one thing this show has done well since it first began two years ago it’s action and gore. I think it’s what this show does well that keeps people from tuning in for new episodes. There’s a chaotic feel to the action that makes them such a fun thing to watch. These people are not action heroes and not trained professionals in killing but it doesn’t keep them from trying to be both which goes to one of the core tenets of the zombie apocalypse genre. These people should be working together but the inherent mistrusts people have when put into extreme situations keeps that from happening. It’s why things got out of hand and things fell apart for everyone. It looks like it’s happening again but in a much more smaller scale with this war between Rick and the Governor.

With the season now putting the showdown between the two groups front and center it should keep things basic and that’s a good for this show. Basic and simple narratives keep the show moving at a fast-pace. It’s when everyone has some downtime to reflect on the nature of things that the show falters. Here’s to hoping that the first half of this episode was something that had to be done to set things up for the rest of the second half of this season. If it’s not then maybe there was reason why Glen Mazzara will not be returning as showrunner for season 4.


  • Tonight’s episode of was directed by series newcomer Seith Mann and written by series regular Nichole Beattie.
  • We have ourselves another cameo of a series regular killed off with Sarah Wayne Callies appearing as a figment of Rick’s fractured mind during the episode’s cold opening.
  • Interesting how this sequence is musically scored by the same music theme from way back in the series’ pilot. At first, I thought the return to this motif in the cold opening was announcing the announced return of Lennie James’ Morgan Jones character from the pilot.
  • Glenn trying to make up for Rick’s latest bout of craziness as leader of the group is both refreshing and, at the same time, funny as he’s clearly trying to overcompensate for what happened to him and Maggie during their time in Woodbury.
  • We may be starting to see one of the reasons why Glen Mazzara was replaced as showrunner for the upcoming season. Only two episodes into the second half of season 3 and we’re starting to see the bad habit of the show spinning it’s wheels as it rehashes some philosophical questions about survival and leadership.
  • Andrea being put in charge of Woodbury while the Governor “pulls himself together” would be a much more interesting turn of events if Andrea wasn’t such a broken character played by a performer who can’t seem to find that fine line between cocky and annoying that her character seems to be written as.
  • The best performance of this second half of the season seems to consistently be from Lauran Cohan as Maggie Greene. She has another fine performance tonight as Maggie as she pretty much puts Glenn in his place.
  • Good to see the writers resisted the temptation to revert Carol back to being an emotional mess once she found out about Daryl choosing to leave the group.
  • Speaking of the Dixon Brothers: it looks like Daryl really regrets choosing blood over his new family as Merle continues to be Merle. His attitude towards the Latino family besieged by walkers on the creek bridge is so hilariously racist yet something that continues to stay in character. It definitely helps in making the question of whether Daryl stays with Merle or goes back to the group not become a protracted affair as we see at the end of the sequence.
  • The first half of the episode was quite a bore that highlighted the very flaws this show has had throughout it’s current broadcast life, but the second half saved it by showing just why people continue to return to watch each new episode every Sunday.
  • Axel, we hardly knew you but at least you lasted longer than Oscar. I must say that his death mirrored very well the way he died in the comics.
  • It would seem that it’s easier to headshot zombies when they’re stumbling towards Rick and his people than to actually hit the Governor and his shooters when they’re standing still.
  • Zombie Kill Count of tonight’s episode: 35 (at least 15 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

Review: The Walking Dead S3E04 “Killer Within”

“No more kids stuff. People are gonna die. I’m gonna die. Mom. There’s no way you can ever be ready for it.” — Rick Grimes

[spoilers within]

This third season of The Walking Dead has been hitting 3 for 3 when it came to quality episodes. The surprising part is that the season is three episodes in. Last week we had an episode where Rick and the prison group never appeared. It was a well-done introduction for the new characters that will have a major impact on the series. With tonight’s episode, aptly named “Killer Within”, we return to Rick and the prison as they start to settle in their new safe haven (as safe as any place can be in a zombie apocalyptic world).

Tonight’s episode begins with a mysterious individual who seems to be up to no good within the confines of the prison fences. We see this person (all we see is that he’s dressed like a prisoner) using the carcass of a deer (or was it a wolf) t lure zombies into the prison and also taking an axe to the chains and lock that kept the gate secured. It’s an ominous beginning to an episode that would see a major reshuffling of the show’s cast of characters. To say that tonight’s episode was shocking would be an understatement. It was full of what fans and critics had been saying last season lacked. It had action pretty much through half the episode’s running time not to mention even the quieter scenes in the beginning of the prison segment and back at Woodbury led to something instead of just filling up airtime.

The mystery of the  “killer within” of the episode’s title was kept a secret until pretty much close to the end of the episode. It was quite surprising to finally find out who it was who had opened up the gates to the prison and turned on the prison alarm which was ringing the dinner bell to zombies within the prison and those still outside the fences. There’s some leaps of logic that someone watching tonight’s episode would need to get past as to how this “killer” was able to survive so long since episode two without being noticed, but the positives of tonight’s episode outweighed any failures in logic that one noticed.

With tonight’s episode we got to see how much Rick and Carl has changed since the end of the second season and this season. What exactly happened to the group during the 7-8 months they had been out in the Georgia wilds trying to survive day-to-day until they happened upon the prison. The writers have been very silent about whether there would be some flashback sequences that showed how the group survived the Fall and Winter. All we’ve seen this season was how those months out in the wilds had turned the group into a well-oiled survival machine that had one leader and everyone with a role they’d accepted and played. The fact that the group suffered no casualties during the time-off between season 2 and the start of season 3 showed that maybe being on the move was the best thing. They’ve just moved into the prison and started cleaning the place up and now two (maybe three) of their group has died.

One of the things which stood out the most with tonight’s episode is how much Carl has come to be just like his father this season. Last season, Carl had become a joke to the audience with is penchant to avoid his adult handlers and go off running into danger. His behavior and actions even led to the group losing one of their own late in season 2. Carl before this season was almost as if the writers had no idea how to write up a child character in a zombie apocalyptic world. One moment Carl was this helpless and naive child then the next he would act and talk tough like Rick or Shane. Both sides of Carl last season didn’t ring true, but we saw hints of changes to the character in the last two episodes. We see the result of the change in the show’s leadership and mission statement for season 3. Chandler Riggs has improved as an actor which goes to show that good writing will bring out the best in even the least experienced performer. While we find out who the killer within was the episode’s title could easily mean the arrival of a harder Carl who could be on the dark path to turning out to be a killer.

As for Rick, we see another instance where he seems to have left his idealism behind and accepted the fact that ruthless pragmatism was the new golden rule of this zombie apocalyptic world. He looks at strangers not with an open-mind or whether these new people would become helpful members of his group. No, Rick has taken an insular view of the world. If you’re not part of his group then you’re a danger waiting to happen whether that suspicion has credence or not. This mindset has kept his group alive since they left the farm after season 2 but it has also made him harder, colder and more ruthless to those in the outside looking in and, more importantly, even to some within his group.

Will tonight’s events finally become the final straw that breks Rick both emotionally and mentally or will it galvanize him even more to protecting his own and damn to everyone else. This Ricktatorship has suffered it’s first casualties and it should open up a whole new world of storylines moving forward. Idealistic Rick became a frustrating character to root for in the second season, but there’s also the danger of a despot Rick this season becoming too much on the other side of the personality spectrum. It will be up to Mazzara and his talented group of writers to balance Rick as a character where he still has some sense of the white hat sheriff’s deputy, but at the same time also knowing that he cannot let that very idealism endanger him and his people.

As an audience we’ve come to expect a season to spread out how much action and tense moments a drama series has the length of a season, but the writers of this series seem to be making up for all the “go nowhere” episodes of season two with a vengeance. I’ve been saying since the beginning of this season that we’re finally seeing the series’ take on the narrative style of it’s newest showrunner in Glen Mazzara who came up writing some of the best episodes of the FX cop drama The Shield over seven seasons. He and his writers seem to understandthat in a world as savage and cruel as the one in The Walking Dead having episodes where nothing happens outside of character debating and philosophizing about the nature of civilization and humanity wouldn’t make for very dramatic tv. the question that comes up now is whether the show will be able to sustain this streak of very good episodes over the length of season three.


  • Tonight’s episode was directed by Guy Ferland and written by series newcomer Sang Kyu Kim.
  • Some levity involving Glenn and Maggie didn’t last the episode which looks to be the most nihilistic of the series to date.
  • Michonne may not be as chatty as Andrea this season, but she’s made her words count when she has spoken. Also very observant of not just her surroundings but her situation.
  • We come across a situation regarding strangers and their fate. Last season the group, especially Rick, would’ve debated all episode long and maybe into the next one about how to deal with the strangers. Another sign that this season has become a sort of reset for the series with Rick (with some help from Daryl) deciding not to change the agreement he has with the surviving prisoners.
  • Look between Rick and Lori before all hell broke loose looked like things may be thawing between the two.
  • Good to see the writers not making Hershel go through a bout of self-pity. He even made good use of the crutches when things got real stressful.
  • This now marks the third stressful and action-packed episode inside the prison. Writers have definitely taken to heart about the lack of action and tension that plagued Season 2.
  • Carl has definitely become a mini-badass like his father.
  • It had to happen and the sequence leading up to T-Dog finally getting bit was handled quite well. There was no mysterious zombie suddenly popping out of nowhere to chomp down on his shoulder. When he moved to close the gate one could see just before the scene switched away a zombie come into the frame and move up towards T-Dog who had his back turned.
  • Part of me thinks that disagreeing with Rick’s decisions is like people saying “NO” to Jack Bauer. It’s a sure way to get yourself killed either by Rick or some other way.
  • This season really hasn’t made Andrea a sympathetic character. I’m wondering if the writers have a new role for her in contrasts to how she was in the comics. I can definitely see her turning on the group and joining the Governor.
  • The Governor definitely has a way with him when it comes to getting his way. Andrea seems to be buying what he’s been selling her and even Merle seems off his game around him.
  • It’ll be quite a turn of events if this season we end up getting Merle rejoining the group as a helpful member while Andrea becomes the Judas.
  • We learn that the Governor’s first name is Phillip and that he has a young daughter. We also get to see him channel his inner James Bond villain with a scene of him doing practice golf swings at the zombies beyond Woodbury’s walls.
  • Carl’s reaction when Maggie told Lori to take her pant’s off was classic.
  • T-Dog went out a hero and his final scene was a nice shout out to a similar throat-rip scene from Day of the Dead (the original one).
  • We finally find out the answer to whether Andrew the prisoner who Rick left locked in the prison yard with the zombies died or lived.
  • Sarah Wayne Callies performance as Lori in tonight’s episode was some of her best to date.
  • For all the talk on Twitter about zombie babies I like to remind people that the best zombie baby ever comes courtesy of Peter Jackson.
  • We hear the shot but we never truly saw Lori die by Carl’s hand. Here’s to hoping the writers are not trying to pull a fast one on the audience.
  • Carl definitely turned a corner in tonight’s episode. This season we’ve seen that Carl’s become more useful and mindful that his past behavior had some fatal consequences. It’s not until tonight that we see Carl lose that final vestiges of his childhood behind and become the child-soldier Rick and his group need him to be.
  • For all his cold distancing from Lori we see that Rick still loved Lori in the end. Talk about heart-wrenching scene from Andrew Lincoln.
  • I have to give it up to Sarah Wayne Callies, Chandler Riggs, Lauren Cohan and Andrew Lincoln for bringing their A-game and more for tonight’s episode.
  • The monologue towards the end that really got to this hardened horror fan: “You’re gonna be fine, you’re gonna beat this world. You are smart, and you are strong, and you are so brave. You promise me you’ll always do what’s right. It’s so easy to do the wrong thing in this world. You promise me you’ll always do what’s right. It’s so easy to do the wrong thing in this world. So, if it feels wrong, don’t do it. Alright? If it feels easy, don’t do it, don’t let the world spoil you. You’re so good. My sweet boy. The best thing I ever did. I love you.” — Lori Grimes
  • Zombie Kill Count for tonight’s episode: 32.

Horror Review: The Walking Dead S3E03 “Walk With Me”

“We’re going out there and taking back what’s ours…civilization.” — The Governor

[some spoilers]

It’s been quite a refreshing surprise to see this new season of The Walking Dead unfold. Even though it’s just been two episodes in the change in pacing, acting and writing has been noticeable and all for the good. This fresh new start courtesy of Glen Mazzara and his crew of writers could easily revert back to the old bad habits that made season 2 of the series such an uneven and frustrating show to watch. The potential for this show to hit it’s stride was kept from happening by wheel-spinning and extended philosophical introspection that put the brakes on any momemtum a great episode had going into the next one. This hasn’t been the case for this season and tonight’s episode, “Walk With Me”, will show whether this streak of very good television continues or the bad habits return.

“Walk With Me” starts off interestingly enough as we see a military helicopter on it’s flight to who knows where, but still it is a scene that’s above the danger and not on the ground. It doesn’t take long before something goes awry and this whirly-bird crashes in the Georgia woods. It’s a scenario that doesn’t bode well for those inside and seeing all this occur in the far-off distance is our wayward Andrea and her new companion in fan-favorite Michonne and her two pets.

It’s been a long time coming but we finally see the appearance of The Governor. This character has been a huge part of the series’ comic book universe. He’s been the best symbol of what happens we those leading a group of desperate people loses their humanity and becomes as much a danger as the zombies and, at times, even more so. So, this character (being played by British actor David Morrissey) already has a built-in for it not just from the fans of the comic book, but even just the fans of the show who have heard about all the things the character has done in the original source material. It’s going to be a hard slog for David Morrissey and the writers of the show to make the character sympathetic or, at the very least, charismatic enough not to come off across as a villainous caricature.

We don’t spend any time with Rick and his group at this prison in tonight’s episode. This episode concentrates on Andrea and Michonne meeting up with The Governor (aka Phillip Blake in the comic books and novels) and the introduction of the Woodbury town settlement. It’s an interesting departure from the previous two season which tried to juggle two locations at once. Sometimes this juggling works in the show’s favor and, at times, it has been to it’s detriment. Tonight it’s more of the former than the latter. It would’ve been nice to see how Rick and the group has been keeping themselves busy since taking over the prison, but with the promise of The Governor and his group being the main antagonists of this third season the show couldn’t delay this part of the season’s main story arc to remain on the sidelines.

Tonight’s episode was much slower than the season’s first two but it made up for it in introducing the character of The Governor to the show’s audience and reuniting these same fans with one of the show’s favorite in Merle Dixon (played with sociopathic glee by genre venteran Michael Rooker). Andrea and Michonne don’t know what to make of The Governor and his safe haven of Woodbury. It looks peaceful and, most important, safe enough at first glance, but we could see that they both sense something is a bit off with their current benefactor and his Norman Rockwell-esque town. Andrea seems to be warming up to the leader of this group more than Michonne and this reaction should elicit more groans from her detractors who already see her as a character who seem to switch allegiances, or at least, jump from one leader to the next.

Andrea as written for the tv series is definitely not as fan-friendly as her comic book counterpart. Again, the writers of the show have made a conscious decision to try and make the Andrea role be more complex and earn her role as a badass through trials and tribulations. It’s going to be a tough sell the writers will need to do to try and rehab this character as the season goes along. So far, Laurie Holden has kept the character tics and habit which has made her such an uneven character the past two seasons to a minimum in tonight’s episode but it still show’s up here and there.

It’s interesting to see how much Rick and the Governor seem to share not just in how they’re leading the group, but in how efficient he’s gotten his people to become to adjust to this new world they now live in. Both are trying to recapture a piece of the civilization that’s fallen since the outbreak began and both have done so in varying degrees of success. Even though Rick doesn’t appear in tonight’s episode his character looms large as we see with each passing scene just what sort of leader The Governor is to his people. Throughout the episode we see that The Governor is not running a democracy (same as Rick) and from little bits of dialogue we get a notion that his benevolent dictator act could be hiding something more sinister.

Could we be seeing in The Governor how Rick could turn out to be a year from now if and when he loses more people? One thing for sure is that The Governor comes across as being more charismatic and in control of his situation than Rick, but at what cost and as the season plays out it’ll be interesting how the two stack up next to each other if and when they finally meet face-to-face. As both characters struggle to regain the very civilization The Governor spoke about retaking at the dinner table with Andrea and Michonne it goes without saying that the two alpha males of the series have the right ideas, but one’s methods seem to have gone beyond the pale. As the saying goes about how power corrupts it looks like it might be the case with The Governor.

“Walk With Me” is not as action-packed as the previous two episodes. There was some action close to the end and for some it probably came as a surprise, but for readers of the comic it was a sequence that was inevitable. The fact that the writer of tonight’s episode decided to reveal the ulterior motive and agenda behind The Governor’s benevolent facade so soon was the true surprise of tonight’s episode.


  • Tonight’s episode was directed by series regular Guy Ferland and written by another series regular in Evan Reilly.
  • The pre-credits opening says a lot about the world beyond Rick’s group. A military helicopter patrolling and looking for any signs of survivors means there’s still some sort of organized government or military group trying to save as many people as possible. Even though we find out the safety has been compromised it still shows that there might still be hope out in the wilderness.
  • From the sounds leading up to the chopper’s crash it could be mechanical failure but part of me thinks it was a long-range shot that could’ve taken out the engine.
  • Finally the Governor shows up and his group is just as well-organized and efficient as Rick and his people.
  • MERLE! Michael Rooker’s return is as over-the-top as the character yet I have a feeling fans of the show (even some detractors) wouldn’t have any other way.
  • He’s sporting the Aquaman harpoon for a hand look and he seems to have gotten pretty good at using it.
  • It didn’t take long for the show to show us Woodbury and this once again I commend Mazzara and his writers for not delaying the inevitable and stretching it out for drama’s sake.
  • David Morrissey has definitely done a very good job in just one episode in making the character much more charismatic and multi-layered than the comic book counterpart.
  • The role of Milton (played by Dallas Roberts) is a nice homage to Romero’s Day of the Dead head scientist Dr. Logan.
  • His reaction when dealing with the survivors of the military convey was quite interesting and it had no dialogue explaining why which is another of the positive things about this season. The writers are showing rather than telling every little detail of each character and scene.
  • There’s definitely some unresolved issues going on between The Governor and the military.
  • The roles of the helicopter pilot has been expanded to be part of the military. In the comic book the chopper was a tv station newscopter and the survivors from the crash civilians.
  • I wasn’t sure how the ending reveal about The Governor would play out but it wasn’t as over-the-top as I thought it would be and actually came off as very creepy and disturbing. Once again I think this is in due part to David Morrissey performance as Woodbury’s leader.
  • Danai Gurira still comes across as more of a cypher (a badass one), but her dialogue has been limited, so far. This could be a good thing as she seems to be more suspicious of The Governor and Woodbury, in general than her partner of the past 7-8 months. Her survival instincts is not just about the zombies out in the world, but of strangers she meets for the first time. Her instincts may just save both her and Andrea in the long run.
  • Final reveal of the episode was chilling, disturbing and creepy as anything that has happened in the past 21 episodes of this series.
  • Zombie Kill Count for tonight’s episode: 12.

Horror Review: The Walking Dead S3E02 “Sick”

“You think this is sick. You don’t want to know what’s outside.” — Daryl Dixon

[some spoilers]

There’s been an interesting pattern when it comes to The Walking Dead. The series has always had strong season opening (even mid-season returns) but the follow-up episode always seem to come up short. It happened with the second episodes of both first two season and even the episode which came after the mid-season return last season had some big stumbles throughout. It almost as if the writers (who at the time were still working under Frank Darabont’s directioneither as showrunner or the template he set up for the season) put everything they had into making the opening episode really strong and hoping the viewers would forgive them for not doing the follow-up episodes just as strong. Tonight’s season premiere follow-up looks to try and break that pattern. Time and reaction to tonight’s episode, titled “Sick”, will tell if it succeeded or not.

Tonight’s episode begins pretty much exactly where the season premiere left off with Rick and his group trying to save Hershel’s life who had gotten his leg bit during their attempt to clear out an adjoining cellblock. The premiere ended with Hershel minus his bit left ankle courtesy of Rick and his trusty axe and Daryl focusing the aim of his crossbow at the sudden appearance of a group of prisoners who happened to have survived almost a full year on their own in the prison cafeteria. It was this group’s reveal and how the two groups dealt with the knowledge that there were others who have survived just as long.

We learn much abouthow the time Rick and his group spent moving around the backwoods of Georgia between seasons. The episode doesn’t say what exactly happened during those months (a nice change for critics of the series who thought episodes after episodes during the first two season relied too much on exposition scenes to tell rather than show) but we see in the changes to the behavior and attitudes of the group members how those months were. It couldn’t have been a fun time for Rick and his group, but it looks to have made them much more harder and accepting of this new world’s harsh realities. Whether not letting her hopes up when it came to her father’s chances for survival after getting bit and having his bit leg chopped off to Carol becoming even more useful as a member of the group. In the season premiere we find out through a off-chance remark from Rick that she’s gotten quite good with the AK47 and tonight we find out that during their time in the Georgia backwoods Hershel had been teaching her how to perform first-aid and rudimentary battlefield medical work. The scene with Carol patching up Hershel actually gives some clues as to what Hershel’s backstory must be outside of being just a farmer.

Is there a chance that Hershesel could he have been in the military as a medic in his younger and wilder days or was he some sort of civilian emergency medical technician?

Tonight’s episode brought up such questions and without the characters sitting around explaining things that happened. This change in narrative style could be just temporary, but ever since Glen Mazzara took over as showrunner we get less and less exposition and more and more let the character’s actions convey the story. This less is more approach has made for a much more faster pace to the story even when there’s no killing of zombies. It also has made the actors much better in how they’re portraying their characters. Long scenes of quiet diaogue is always good, but in a show that tries to show that survival is a day-to-day or even an hour-to-hour task sometimes such long, extended scenes of just sitting around talking are luxuries that shouldn’t be used like they were a necessity.

There’s a chance that the show could slide back to what plagued the first two season, but for the time being Mazzara and his crew have done a great job with the first two episodes of season 3 to address some of the complaints fans and critics had with the show. We didn’t even have any scenes with Andrea and newcomer Michonne yet the writers avoided the temptation of trying to shoehorn scenes of them in tonight’s episodes which meant sacrificing some time in the prison. Tonight’s episode was all about Rick and Tomas butting heads to see who would end up being the alpha male of the two surviving groups.

We saw how the differences in how the two groups survived has affected them. Tomas and his group of inmate survivors did so almost by luck and having to depend on their prison-honed instincts to get them through. How they’ve managed to survive even with just the zombies in the prison and not knowing the full extent of the crisis would be seen by Rick as a miracle. Our main group on the other hand had to go through almost everything this new post-apocalyptic world could throw at them and they’ve survived. It’s this time out on the road, surviving day-to-day, supplies always on the verge of running out and not knowing if tomorrow might be their last day that has forged this group into hardened battlefield veterans. Make no mistake about it Rick and his group look and behave like war veterans still fighting to survive and having almost having learned an almost preternatural instinct to see danger lurking about.

This doesn’t mean that Rick and his group have come out of their time out in the wilderness surviving fully unscathed. Carl has become more useful and capable of taking care of himself, but at the cost of his innocence and childhood wonder at the world. Even T-Dog has become a very integral part of the group (thank you writers) and has become not just the “red-shirt” waiting to be knocked off for expediency’s sake. The biggest change has been to Rick who seem to have lost whatever optimism he might have had about finding peace and quiet in this new world. He’s now all about keeping his people alive and if that means killing other humans who might pose a danger to him fulfilling that mission statement then he’ll do whatever it takes. We see this change in Rick not through some exposition (something the character loved to do in the first two season) but in how he dealt with Tomas and other prisoners. It will be interesting how Mazzara and his team of writers will deal with Rick and the Governor who, if they’re following the basic outline of the comic book character, had to do almost the same exact things to keep his town of survivors alive through the crisis.

With the episode ending with Rick firmly in control of not just his group, the prison and the rest of the surviving prisoners (not to mention Hershel looking to have survived his encounter with the walker bite and Rick’s axe) it looks like next week’s episode will be focusing on the adventures of Andrea and Michonne and what looks like the introduction of this season’s main villain in David Morrissey’s own brand of despotic ruler in Philip Blake aka The Governor.


  • Tonight’s episode was written by show newcomer Nichole Beattie and directed by show veteran Billy Gierhart.
  • Anyone who thought that Tomas and his group of prisoner will get through the episode unscathed can’t be blamed for that assumption. If this was season two there’s a chance they would’ve lasted intact for half the first half of the season. New regime looks to avoid that and keep the number of survivors from spiraling out of control to the show’s detriment.
  • Sarah Wayne Callies has done a very good job in a tough role that only seems to get tougher. I don’t think she’ll ever become a sympathetic character for the fans of the show, but then again not everyone on the show needs to be sympathetic.
  • Then she blows up at Carl for putting himself in danger even though what he did probably saved Hershel’s life for the  moment.
  • Kudos to all Glen Mazzara and his team of writers for actually making a follow-up episode to the season premiere not have such a huge drop in quality. Tonight’s episode was a strong one.
  • The change in how the two Greene sisters acted in tonight’s episode reversed the role Maggie and Beth had while at the Farm. Maggie Green has become hardered by the intervening months between Season 2 and 3 while Beth has become much more optimistic.
  • The prisoners were all very interesting but kudos for the writers for not lingering too much in exploring the group’s dynamic with Rick’s own group.
  • Love how Daryl’s completely in Rick’s corner now and even willing to do the dirty work for him if and when Rick gives him the signal. Show’s that for all his faults in the early goings with the group Daryl understands that it was with Rick and not Shane that the group had the best chance of surviving. Rick may be doing the very same things Shane was advocating in the first two seasons, but Rick does so with a clear head and focus that Shane never really had.
  • The show may never have the Tyrese character from the comic book, but having Daryl Dixon in Rick’s corner more than makes up for it.
  • Killing other survivors still doesn’t sit well with Rick, but he looks to have learned that outside the group itself everyone else is expendable. He may not like murdering other people but he will if it keeps his group alive. This may be an ongoing theme for this season.
  • With the show having deviated from the comic book’s narrative it’s interesting to see how the show’s writers are starting to mine particular scenes from issues and storylines that happens much later in the comics to use in the show.
  • The relationship between Rick and Lori looks to be even more broken in the show than it as in the comic book. The question now is whether the writers will find a balance in keeping their relationship from being too broken. I do like how Rick at the end doesn’t seem ready to break the iceberg between her and Lori or if he ever wants to.
  • It’s good to see Lori admitting it on-screen just how much of a bad wife she has been since Rick returned. Her character has always been the one who was in real denial of her situation especially when it came to Rick and Shane now with the months leading up to this season it looks like Rick’s arctic attitude towards her has finally settled in her mind as to who really put the conflict between Rick and Shane into it’s violent end.
  • The zombie effects tonight wasn’t as extensive as the season premiere but Greg Nicotero and his men at KNB EFX still did a great job as usual.
  • Zombie Kill Count for tonight’s episode: between 20-25.

Horror Review: The Walking Dead S3E01 “Seed”

“Holy shit!” — Axel

[some spoilers within]

It’s been a year since the cliffhanger which ended Season 2 of AMC’s widely popular The Walking Dead. We found Rick and his group escaping from the herd of zombies which swarmed into and over Hershel’s farm. The group lost two more to the walkers in the form of hapless Jimmy and Patricia. Andrea has gotten separated from the main group with most of the guns. It’s only through the timely intervention of a hooded stranger dragging along two incapacitated walkers that Andrea even gets to make it to this new season. It’s this hooded stranger and the last image we see of a darkened prison complex in the distance that has brought a new sense of optimism for the show which had been up and down through most of it’s sophomore season.

The second season had been rife with struggles not just for the characters in the show but also behind-the-scenes as original showrunner and executive producer Frank Darabont was unceremoniously fired from the very show he helped bring off the ground. Fans of the show and of Darabont saw this as a bad decision, but as the season unfolded there seemed to be a major consensus that Darabont might have been the problem to why the first half of the second season moved along even slower than the walkers. The second half saw new showrunner Glen Mazzara taking over and even though some of the same problems in terms of characterization and dialogue still remained the show in the second half seemed to move with a better sense of urgency which culminated in two of the series’ best episodes to date to close off the season.

Season 3 now begins with the episode titled “Seed” (directed by veteran series director Ernest Dickerson) and we get a major timeskip from the end of last season to tonight’s premiere. Rick and his group look to still be on the move with no safe haven in sight. In what looks like a hint of good things to come in terms of pacing and dialogue the show starts off gangbusters as Rick and his group raid a country home, dispatching the walkers within with ruthless efficiency and searching the place for supplies and other useful things real fast. There wasn’t any time for standing around or even going off into long expositional scenes to try and convey what had happened between the end of last season to tonight’s start.

Glen Mazzara, the show’s new showrunner had promised that the show would be taking on a new direction when he took over halfway through season 2, but we’re finally able to see his experience as a TV show producer and writer bear strong fruit with tonight’s premiere. We get to see Rick and his crew acting with more of a sense of urgency in just the first twnety minutes of the show than they had in the first two seasons. We’re finally seeing everyone realizing that they’re now stuck in a world with new rules that doesn’t make room for personal quirks and emotional issues (though we still get hints that they’re still but set aside for the greater good of the group) that just saps the energy from everyone. This group looks more like the sort of team that Shane would’ve thrived in and it looks like Rick has taken on the role of leader much more forcefully. It hasn’t mended the rift between him and Lori for what had transpired over two seasons of interpersonal conflicts that got more than just his best friend killed but others as well.

Tonight’s episode does a great job of explaining through their actions and behavior just how much time has passed between the seasons and how that intervening time has tested the groups mettle and made them harder and more capable in holding their own against the walkers. Even useless characters like Beth, Carol and Carl have become more adept in protecting themselves. It’s surprising to see Carl actually becoming the character he was in the comic book. I’m sure some parent groups will not be approving of Carl actually handling his gun with expertise but this is that kind of show and just because one is a kind doesn’t mean they have to be helpless.

If there were complaints about Darabont’s handling of the show during his short tenure it was that he was too much into creating a very slow burn that culminated into a huge climactic finish. It was fine for a truncated first season, but it showed just how ill-conceiveda narrative style it was for a tv series over a full season. I don’t sense that same feeling with tonight’s episode. One could tell that Mazzara was now fully in charge and not working on whatever Darabont had come up with for season 2. It’s a great start to the new season which has a good chance in reversing some of the ill-will last season’s very slow burns and wheel-spinning had created with a segment of the fan-base.

It also helps that we didn’t have to wait too long to see the official appearance of Danai Gurari in the role of fan-favorite Michonne with her zombie pets and katana. It wasn’t an episode spent directly introducing us to her but enough time was spent away from the group in the prison. Michonne as a character could become too much a caricature of the badass comic book female character, but for tonight it was just refreshing to see a female character on this show as capable and clear-headed as her. There’s even a hint of the sort of friendship that seemed to have grown between Michonne and Andrea since the end of season 2. Shane may have been a bad influence (though helpful in getting Andrea out of her suicidal rut) in season 2, but here’s to hoping that Michonne will be the sort of influence that Andrea will be needing to get her to become the badass characteron the show that her character is in the comic book.

One thing that tonight’s episode also did great that we only saw hints of with the first two seasons was the action such a series could have when given a chance. This is a series about the zombie apocalypse and those trying to survive in it. While I don’t expect each episode to be as action-packed as tonight’s premiere it was an encouraging start to what looks to be the real beginning of the Glen Mazzara era of The Walking Dead.

Now onto episode 2. With tonight’s cliffhanger ending (one that really got me by surprise) it’s going to be interesting to see how Rick and the new group in the end will get along or will they. Just as long as it doesn’t take the show all of the first half of the season to do it then I am all for intergroup conflict until the walkers become a more pressing problem.


  • I’m quite surprised how quickly the show got the group to the prison. So, unlike season 2 which would’ve have the group wandering around in circles for 2-3 more episodes before finding their way to the complex.
  • It looks like Rick has gotten tired of what must’ve been Lori’s incessant harping during the months the show timeskipped between season 2 and the premiere of season 3 tonight.
  • Carl still hasn’t found a way to get himself lost thus get someone else killed which could be a nice change of pace for the character.
  • On a good note, Carl looks to be growing up and taking a handle on becoming a useful member of the group. He even does his share of some coldblooded killing of walkers in the episode’s intro.
  • In fact Carol becomes quite useful as well with Rick even commenting out of hand how much she grown to become a good shot with the AK-47 she was wielding.
  • All the talk of ‘shipping Daryl and Carol will get even louder as the two spent a brief moment flirting with each other after the group had taken over the prison courtyard.
  • Lori…Lori…Lori still looks to be the emotional weak point of the group and show, but this time around everyone in the group is either tuning her out or just trying to keep her focus and attention on keeping her unborn child safe. Even Hershel makes a point to remind her that this wasn’t about her anymore and that she should stop her complaining. It’s all about the baby and that’s all he and she should care about.
  • Beth and Carl…too cute.
  • Way to cockblock our boy Carl, Hershel…
  • Armored zombies, ’nuff said.
  • Some great work by Greg Nicotero and his team over at KNB EFX. A special note would be on the gas mask walker who got it’s face unceremoniously ripped off when Rick pulled off the gas mask. As a hardcore gorehound even I had to wince at that scene. It was great!
  • In what could be a way to reconcile the character of Dale in the comics who lasted longer than in the show the writers may be substituting Hershel in that role. The next couple episodes will tell if that’s the case.
  • I think whoever is the prop guy for this show has read Max Brook’s zombie novel World War Z if the makeshift “Lobo” Glenn was wielding is any indication.
  • Zombie Kill Count for tonight’s episode: I stopped counting after 30.

SDCC 2012: The Walking Dead Season 3 Comic-Con Trailer

San Diego Comic Con 2012 is in full swing and one of te the biggest shows in the past couple years once again held it’s panel in the huge Hall H auditorium to unveil and present the Season 3 Comic-Con trailer. The show I speak of is AMC’s zombie apocalypse tv series, The Walking Dead, which began airing in the fall of 2010.

The show has remained a powerhouse ratings grabber for AMC and only continues to have it’s fan-base increase. All this despite a series that has been like a rollercoaster ride in terms of quality through it’s 19-episodes over the first two seasons. Its fair to say that the show has captured the imagination of the general public even if it has lost some of the hardcore fans of the original comic book source material the show’s adapted from.

With a strong truncated Season 1 the show had a very uneven Season 2 which still ended pretty strong as we get two cliffhanger scenes that would dominate this upcoming third season: introduction of fan-favorite character Michonne and the reveal of prison location that became its own character in the comic book and should do the same for the third season.

Oh yeah, looks like this Comic-Con trailer has a Merle Dixon sighting.

Review: The Walking Dead S2E13 “Beside the Dying Fire”

“Christ promised a resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had a little something different in mind.” — Hershel Greene

[spoilers within]

We’ve finally come to the season 2 finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead. The previous episode, “Better Angels”, saw a second integral character die as a set-up to what looks to be pivotal finale.

This season has been plagued from the beginning with infighting between it’s original showrunner in Frank Darabont and it’s network in AMC. Mirroring the very internal struggle between two very powerful characters within the show some worried that this struggle between Darabont and AMC would affect the show’s quality. While the first half showed that Darabont’s slow-burn narrative style was drawing some grumblings from the show’s audience it still didn’t keep it from getting huge ratings numbers with each episode shown.

The second half of the season saw a change in showrunner as Glen Mazzara (veteran writer and tv showrunner) took over the show’s creative reins. From the very episode of the second half we could see a change in the show’s pacing. There was a sense of desperation in the characters as they tried to deal with the death of Sophia during the episode before the mid-season break. With the additional deaths of the show’s two extreme ideologies in Dale and Shane we find the group’s leader in Rick very close to the tipping point.

“Beside the Dying Fire” begins with a flashback cold opening going back to the show’s pilot episode. We see zombies feeding on what looks like the remains of Rick’s horse during his failed attempt to enter Atlanta. As the zombies feed a passing helicopter distracts and gets the attention of the zombies who soon begin following in the same direction it flew on. The opening doesn’t show how much time passed between that flyover Atlanta and the show made by Carl to put down Shane, but it looks like this Atlanta herd is what will be making the assault on the Greene Farm and the rest of the survivors.

The siege that occurs through the first half of this episode should satisfy and put a huge grin on the show’s fans who have been complaining about the lack zombie mayhem during this sophomore season. Sure there were episode that had more than a couple zombies in it, but a huge attack we never saw occur until this season finale. It’s this very attack that reinforces the notion of how much the zombies themselves are like a force of nature. They’re like a hurricane or tornado that destroys everything in their path. There’s no way to stop such a force only attempt to weather the storm and try to come out the other side healthy and whole.

From how the first half of tonight’s episode went down not everyone made it out safe from the herd that took down the barn and the farm. With the important deaths that had preceded tonight’s episode it was a nice release (if you could call killing off two background characters in a most gruesome manner a relief) to see that these deaths were meant more as a way to lessen the number of the cast and nothing else. Having three characters (two in the preceding episodes to tonight’s) die this season who had some connection to the group was already more than what most other shows on tv could manage. Some have called these deaths something akin to the redshirt yeomans on Star Trek always being killed to keep the important characters from dying instead. If that was the case then these redshirters were two episodes too late and Dale and Shane would agree with me.

As action-packed and exciting as the first half of the episode turned out to be the second half slowed things down to let the survivors catch their breath and dwell on their new situation. No more farm to call home. Their delusions of safety from the dangers of this new world totally shattered for good. New revelations about the the zombie apocalypse looking to tear whatever tenuous hold Rick had over the group as a leader. This second half did a great job in answering some of the questions brought up this season and one very important one which ended the first season: What did Jenner whisper to Rick in the CDC’s final moments.

So, the second season of The Walking Dead started slow and got slower, but a second half under a new showrunner with a new vision for how the show should proceed seem to have redeemed the show from what could’ve been some fatal flaws that other shows in the past could never recover from. Like a reverse mirror of how this season unfolded “Beside the Dying Fire” began with a bang and ended quietly with questions answered and new ones brought up. It also introduced in it’s final moments a new character that would become integral to the series.

It’s been a season of two showrunners, Darabont in the beginning and Mazzara in the latter half, that made for an uneven one. Some have protested the firing of Darabont from the show because of his conflict with AMC. Some thought AMC was forcing Darabont to do the show with less money which would’ve cut into his vision of the series. Some have intimated that AMC didn’t like what they saw in the series in those early episodes of the first half and wanted a change. No matter how things truly unfolded behind the scenes it looks like the show might have found the person who knew how to get the show back on track. The Mazzara era of The Walking Dead might have arrived on the expense of Darabont leaving but as I’ve come to realized throughout this second half of the season it was a change that was needed and one that brings a sense of hope to a show that is about having so little of it.


  • The cold opening uses another flashback and this time all the way to the pilot episode. I’m not sure if this was the same helicopter Rick saw but if it was then it must’ve circled around the city for the zombies eating poor Mr. Ed to have seen it again and follow it.
  • I can never say I hate characters in this show, but I do get frustrated by how they behave and most of it not due to their lack of survival instinct. I speak of Lori who seem so preoccupied with everything except her son who she should be watching like a hawk after what had happened with Sophia. Then there’s her reaction to Rick confessing to her that he had murdered Shane. I’d give the writers the benefit of the doubt and say she was in shock that he actually did what she wanted him to do, but didn’t expect to have Carl pulled into it, but her reaction was still more extreme that it should’ve been. They could easily have just left her speechless and in shock at what her machinations had reaped and kept the scene really powerful.
  • The comic book version of Lori was never a sympathetic character so her tv version falls in line with that character, but she wasn’t stupid when it came to her son like this tv version seem to be. The way Mazzara, Kirkman and the writers seem open to killing off anyone I sure hope they do a better job of rounding out her character and giving her a singular purpose outside of just being the show’s resident shrill.
  • The zombie herd that finally attack the farm look to be as big, if not bigger, than the herd we saw shambling down the highway which began the show’s long-running arc to find Sophia and then to stay or not stay on the Greene farm.
  • I really enjoyed this first half of zombie mayhem as we saw zombies take down both Jimmy (Beth’s boyfriend) and Patricia (Otis’ girlfriend) and some of the most gruesome display of zombie feeding frenzy. The scene where Otis and unnamed raider get taken down by zombies were done well but were also shot very darkly. With Jimmy and Patricia it happens with enough lighting that we saw every flesh-ripping and blood spurt. It definitely satisfied my inner-gorehound.
  • Ernest Dickerson was the director for tonight’s episode and he did a great job with making the utter chaos of the farm attack easy to follow. Every episode he’s done for the show has been very good and I hope he continues to direct future episodes.
  • Greg Nicotero and his peole at KNB EFX have been treating this show’s audiences with new zombie effects magic each and every episode they appear and tonight all their work this season ended in a crescendo of grand guignol proportions.
  • T-Dog Watch: He had quite a few lines tonight and we even got a semblance of character development. This cypher of a character began showing signs of frustrations himself in regards to the group he has hooked up with. He looks to have survived season 2 and will be in season 3. The question now is whether the writers will continue to let the character grow or will he be removed early on to make way for another.
  • Daryl Watch 1: He may have been at his most magnanimous in tonight’s episode. He did more than his usual share to help fend off the attacking herd and did so without his trust automatic and only Dale’s six-shooter. Seeing him riding around on his chopper while killing zombies as calmly as one strolling down a country lane was a nice homage to the scene in the original Dawn of the Dead when the bikers who broke into the mall killed zombies like it was second nature.
  • Daryl Watch 2: Everyone seem to refer to him as a redneck, but I’ve come to see him as one of the most observant and level-headed individuals in the group. Carol’s attempts to make Rick look less in his eyes was quickly shot down. Daryl may be the sort of leader that his fans want to take over the group, but he sees his worth in the group and that’s being it’s protector and Rick’s unofficial right-hand man.
  • Daryl Watch 3: While everyone seemed to look at Rick’s announcement that he had killed Shane and that it was going to be his way or the highway were of discomfort, shock and worry we have Daryl looking at Rick with no judgment. With Shane gone and Rick’s leadership status having taken a blow by episode’s end it looks like Daryl may just be the one who keeps Rick on the straight and narrow.
  • The news that everyone is already infected wasn’t a surprise to fans of the comic book, but for those who only watch the show it should answer the questions about the Randall and Shane zombies. It’d be interesting if the show’s writers further explore the idea that even the concept of death has died in this new world.
  • Finally! Michonne has finally made her appearance and exactly on episode 19 of the series just as she appeared on issue 19 of the comic book. We didn’t see beneath the hood of her cape, but reports after the show has confirmed that Danai Gurira will be taking on the role of the most badass character in The Walking Dead. Daryl may just have competition for the title of The Walking Dead BAMF.
  • I was so relieved to finally see Rick blow up on everyone in the final minutes of the episode as he kept getting hounded and questioned by everyone. This is a man who tried his hardest to keep everyone together and safe. Killed people without pause who he thought endangered his people even if it meant killing his best friend. Now he has to stand around and listen to Carol, Maggie, Glenn and even his wife on his jock about how he’s screwed things up. I wouldn’t have been shocked if he had shot one of them as a warning to anyone else who dare question his authority (Cartman would’ve). The leader everyone wanted Rick to become has finally arrived but it may have brought with it some of the Shane-crazy and mistrust from the very people he’s trying to protect.
  • Lastly, the moving wide shot of the camera from the group as they sat silently beside the dying fire and to the area just beyond the woods next to them was the final great moment in an episode full of them: a seemingly empty prison. Season 3 cannot arrive fast enough.

Season 2 is now over. What did you people think of tonight’s episode? Do you still plan on staying with the show? What do you want to see from the writers for the upcoming season?