TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.6 “The King, The Widow, and Rick” (dir by John Polson)


Oh, the world of The Walking Dead.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

This season started with everyone finally standing up to the Saviors.  For once, Rick and his allies had Negan on the run and, regardless of what you think about season 8 overall, it was certainly satisfying to see the Saviors starting to get a little desperate.  Personally, I don’t think it was necessary to devote five episodes to just one battle but the Saviors are such a loathsome group of people that it’s definitely enjoyable to watch them get their asses kicked.

However, even with Rick and his allies declaring full out war, I knew that the action would eventually have to be interrupted by an episode of mourning.  Every season of The Walking Dead has at least one episode where everyone looks depressed and either thinks about a lost loved one or obsesses on whether or not there’s room for kindness and compassion in a post-apocalyptic world.  When the series started, the mourning episodes were a part of what set The Walking Dead apart from other shows.  (Remember when kindly old Dale Horvath was gruesomely attacked by a zombie?)  But, eight seasons in, it’s become a bit predictable.  Any episode where something big happens is going to be followed by an episode where not much happens at all.

“The King, The Widow, and Rick” is a mourning episode.  Everyone has returned from attacking the Saviors and now, with no bullets flying and several minor characters dead (and SHIVA!  I’m still sad about that…), it’s time to sit around and reflect.  This time, a bit more happened during the reflecting than has happened in previous mourning episodes.  Even if this episode still felt like it stretched things out a bit too much, it wasn’t quite as slow as some of the episodes that aired during season 7.

This episode opened like a Ken Burns documentary, with everyone reading letters about the war against the Saviors.  It ended with Rick naked and locked up in a shipping container and I was definitely okay with that.  Don’t get me wrong about this.  I do like Rick but occasionally, there is an arrogance to him that just strikes me the wrong way.  He’s a lot like Lost‘s Jack Shepherd.  He gives a good speech.  He is trying to do the right thing, even if he sometimes resents having to be the leader.  But Rick is always so sure of his ability to sway everyone over to his side that it was somewhat satisfying to see the Trash People respond to his latest speech by shrugging their shoulders and then locking him up.  I’m not sure why Rick felt the need to, once again, go over to the garbage dump.  The attack on the Saviors was a success without the help of the Trash People.  My theory is that Rick just can’t accept that not everyone wants to be a part of his alliance.

Meanwhile, at Hilltop, we had another one of those patented Walking Dead debates about whether or not people can survive the end of the world without losing their humanity.  Jesus was going out of his way to treat the Savior prisoners humanely.  Gregory said the prisoners should be executed.  Maggie responded by tossing Gregory in with the prisoners and then saying she would keep them alive so that they could be used for prisoner exchanges in the future.  Jesus said he was happy with her decision and … you know what?  I like Tom Payne’s performance as the character but I feel like an idiot whenever I call that guy Jesus.  Yes, he has a beard.  Yes, he’s kind.  BUT HIS NAME IS PAUL!  The whole “They call you Jesus” thing is so heavy-handed and kinda stupid.  Last night, one of the saviors said, “Well, Jesus, I’m no angel,” and I’m glad I didn’t have anything nearby to throw at the TV when he said it.

Anyway, I could have done without all the debate about how to treat the prisoners.  We all know that they’re going to end up dead, regardless.  The only prisoner that Negan might exchange would be Father Gabriel and, honestly, is getting Gabriel back worth the trouble?  Maggie should have just listened to Gregory.

Ezekiel was depressed, as well he should be.  SHIVA’S DEAD, DAMMIT!  Carol told him to stop feeling sorry for himself and to lead his people.  The best part of Ezekiel’s subplot was that Jerry was still standing guard, even though Ezekiel told him to go home.

Carl is apparently not dead.  Or, at least, he’s not dead, yet.  Instead, he ran off and spent some time hanging out with Siddiq, the man who Rick previously chased away.  They killed some walkers and bonded over shared pain.

And, of course, Rosita used a rocket launcher to blow up a savior.  That made me cheer.  Maybe Maggie should step down and let Rosita lead the Hilltop Colony.  There certainly wouldn’t be any debate about what to do with prisoners then!  However, for now, Rosita, Michonne, Daryl, and Tara are just doing their own thing.  Rick probably wouldn’t approve but Rick’s in a shipping container right now.

Anyway, this wasn’t a bad episode.  It may have been a mourning episode but at least it wasn’t just Rick sitting around in a catatonic state while Negan circled around him, giving a speech.  That’s the important thing.

TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.4 “Some Guy” (dir by Dan Liu)


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(YOU GET THE IDEA?)

My heart is broken.

It’s funny.  If Ezekiel had been the one to die, I don’t think it would have upset me as much.  If Carol had died, I would have been sad but tears would not have sprung to my eyes.  Rick?  Hey, Rick should have died a long time ago.  I wouldn’t have gotten upset.  I would have said, “That’s life.  No one’s safe.”

Instead, Shiva died and now my heart is broken.

What’s funny is that TSL co-founder and editor-in-chief Arleigh Sandoc warned me that Shiva was probably not going to survive.  Based on what he had seen in the comic, he told me exactly what was going to happen to her.  So, I can’t say that I was totally surprised.  Even if Arleigh hadn’t warned me, I remember the walkers eating that horse during the first season.  I know that animals aren’t safe in the world of The Walking Dead.

Still, it broke my heart.

Maybe it’s because I’m a cat person.  Maybe it’s because Shiva died protecting her master, which is not exactly typical cat behavior.  Ezekiel was at his weakest when Shiva sacrificed her life for him.  And now that Shiva’s gone, Ezekiel is going to have to learn how to be a leader without her help.  Before she died, he was shouting that he wasn’t a king.  He shouted that he was just some guy who found a cat.  The cat’s gone.  Can Ezekiel prove that he deserves to be known as “your majesty?”

If not, maybe Jerry can step up and lead The Kingdom.  Tonight, I was really impressed with Jerry and the actor who plays him, Cooper Andrews.  They both did a great job.  I know some people would say that Ezekiel should give the keys of the kingdom to Carol but I wouldn’t suggest that.  Carol’s a badass but I still get the feeling that she’s just a day or two from snapping and killing everyone she sees.

As for the rest of tonight’s episode … who cares?  Shiva’s dead…

Okay, okay, I know.  I’m a semi-professional blogger!  I need to get through this post and mourn later.  Okay, just a few observations:

Does everyone just have an unlimited supply of bullets all of the sudden?  One of the few things that I liked about the previous season is that the show did try to realistically deal with the fact that there aren’t many supplies in the post-apocalyptic world.  But this season, everyone just seems to be shooting guns for the Hell of it.  I’m not an expert on firearms but I do know that bullets aren’t like knives or arrows. They can only be used once.

So, I guess Rick is suddenly an action hero!  I’m not complaining.  A Rick who can suddenly jump into a speeding jeep is still preferable to a mopey, indecisive Rick who can’t bring himself to fight back.

Let’s give it up for Khary Payton, who did a great job tonight!  Ezekiel is a character who I’ve sometimes found to be annoying but Payton did a great job.  I think one reason why it was so unsettling to see Ezekiel acting so desperate was because The Kingdom has always provided the grim world of The Walking Dead with a little bit of fantasy.  It’s always served as an escape from all the terrible things going on in the rest of the world.  It’s very existence is a tribute to the power and importance of imagination.  Seeing the fantasy shattered was not easy and that’s something Payton wonderfully captured in his performance.

This season’s flashback structure actually paid off tonight.  I’m occasionally skeptical of shows that do the whole nonlinear timeline thing because I often feel that it’s just a gimmick, as opposed to really necessary storytelling device.  But tonight, seeing the contrast between the confident Ezekiel and the nearly defeated Ezekiel was undeniably powerful.

Speaking of nearly defeated Ezekiel, what about that Savior asshole who was holding him prisoner?  Oh my God, that guy had to be the most annoying bad guy ever!  I was so happy when Jerry split him in two.

Tonight’s episode was not bad.  It was exciting.  The pace didn’t drag.  And it made me cry.

Shiva, R.I.P.

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!

A Blast From The Past: Degrassi of the Dead


Well, Halloween and this year’s horrorthon are both nearly over.

Since I started things off with The Curse of Degrassi, it only seems appropriate for me to end my part of it with Degrassi of the Dead!  This 10 minute film takes a non-canonical look at what would happen to everyone’s favorite Canadian high school if there was a zombie apocalypse!

(By the way, I know what you’re thinking but this was actually made in 2007, long before the premiere of The Walking Dead.)

Enjoy watching Drake turn into a zombie!

Horror on the Lens: Night of the Living Dead (dir by George Romero)


Happy Halloween everyone!

Well, as another horrorthon draws to a close, it’s time for another Shattered Lens tradition!  Every Halloween, we share one of the greatest and most iconic horror films ever made.  For your Halloween enjoyment, here is George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead!

(Be sure to read Arleigh’s equally iconic review!)

ENJOY!

TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.2 “The Damned” (dir by Rosemary Rodriguez)


I want to make one thing absolutely clear: I tried.

Seriously, I tried to get emotionally involved in this episode but there’s really only so much time that I can spend watching people shoot at each other before I get bored.  It’s kinda funny, to be honest.  I spent all last season complaining about Rick not doing anything.  Then, this episode comes along and it’s basically 45 minutes of Rick and the members of his militia kicking Savior ass.  Rick is finally doing something.  This entire episode was all about Rick doing something.  And I was bored out of my mind.

Basically, this episode followed several different groups as they all launched concurrent attacks on different Savior compounds.  A few minor members of Rick’s militia died but the majority of the victims were Saviors.  For all of their fearsome reputation, it’s pretty obvious that the only really strong savior is Negan.  The rest of them are just bullies and sycophants.  Unless Negan is physically there to tell them what to do, they’re easily defeated.  Over the course of the episode, a few of the dead reanimated and started eating anyone they could get their hands on.  That was good.  The show is called The Walking Dead, afterall.

During the attack, we were allowed a glimpse into some of the group dynamics in this new alliance.  Perhaps the most intriguing scenes were the ones that features Jesus (Tom Payne) and Tara (Alanna Masterson) debating whether or not to execute a man who claimed to just be a civilian.  Tara’s approach was significantly more ruthless than Jesus’s.  Even when Jesus had both the opportunity and the justification to kill a savior, he still decided to merely knock the man out.  Jesus said that Maggie would back him up.  Tara replied that Rick’s got her back.

Meanwhile, King Ezekiel, Carol, and the rest of Team Renaissance Faire wandered through the woods, with Ezekiel going on and on with his faux royal posturing.

As for Rick, he ran into a guy named Morales who is now a part of the Saviors.  Apparently, Rick met Morales in Atlanta.  Considering that there’s only a handful of people still alive in the world of The Walking Dead, it’s actually not too shocking that Morales and Rick would run into each other again.  It’s a small world.  If Rick had run into Shane’s brother or maybe Carl (who we saw running away last week), it would be exciting.  But Morales?  Who cares?

Finally, Morgan apparently now feels that he’s achieved some sort of immortality.  I guess that means that Morgan will eventually turn out of the be this season’s surprise sacrifice.

We’ll see what happens.  Maybe this episode will pay off in the future but for now, it’s just forgettable.

 

 

 

Horror Book Review: You Are A Cat In The Zombie Apocalypse by Sherwin Tija


Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a cat?

Sure, we all have!

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be in the middle of a zombie apocalypse?

Who hasn’t?

Well, now, you can get the answer to both questions!  First published in 2011, You Are A Cat In The Zombie Apocalypse is a “pick-a-plot” book.  It’s one of those books where, at the end of each page, you’re given a series of options.  For instance, at the bottom of Page 120, we have, “Do you run?  If so, take off to page 169.  If you stay put, turn to page 123.”

In this book, you’re a cat named Holden Catfield.  One day, you’re just waking up from a nap.  You’re minding your own business.  You’re just being a cat, basically.  Suddenly, all the humans are acting strange.  Weird-looking people are wandering the streets and biting each other!  Your owner’s daughter wants you to get in a car with her and a stranger so you can all go somewhere else.  Do you get in the car or do you explore your neighborhood?

That’s the first of many choices that you’ll have to make.  They’re important choices because, if you do happen to find yourself in a situation where you get bitten by a weird human, you’ll turn into a zombie yourself.  And then you’ll  be the one looking for people to bite…

Now, our longtime readers know that I’m both a cat person and a lover of zombie films.  So, needless to say, I totally and completely loved You Are A Cat In The Zombie Apocalypse!  Not only does this book capture what it’s like to be a cat but it also does a pretty good job of capturing what I imagine it’s like to be a zombie.  Don’t worry, though.  Make the right choices and Holden will never turn into a zombie.

You Are A Cat In The Zombie Apocalypse was written and illustrated by Sherwin Tija, who did an excellent job on both counts.  The book ends with a collection of “Catknowldgements” and a page that tells about the “Meowthur” and the “Mewllustrator.”  If you’re a cat person, you’ll love it.