A Merry, Mega Redhead Pop Culture Recap Post!

Happy holidays and happy new year to all and apologies as usual for my lack of blogging activity up until my two Christmas Day reviews. It seems I’m always apologizing in such a fashion at the beginning of a post here, and up until those aforementioned reviews, this had been my longest hiatus yet, I think. I took an unofficial, unintended and unannounced month-long break from blogging– on my own site and for everyone else’s, too– and I’ve been really trying to reassess my time management and how much time I truly have for blogging right now, and when I’d best be able to fit it in. I don’t want to give it up, at least not now, not yet– I’ve come too far and feel like writing about films and television has become an integral part of my identity, even if it is just a hobby, a therapeutic side gig that gives my life an extra ounce of meaning and purpose. Now that I have a full time job and a nearly 4 hour round-trip commute every day though, it’s been hard, and I’m not using that as an excuse, or even if I am, that’s the truth and it’s my right to be unreasonably exhausted, unmotivated, and drained of all creativity by the time the evening or even the weekend rolls around.

So, again, bear with me– or don’t– as I figure out this weird stage of my life, as it is lasting longer than I thought it should but apparently, this is all totally normal– from college to one’s early twenties, I’ve been told that it’s okay for things to be tumultuous, tiring and confusing. It’s starting to dawn on me that maybe there won’t ever be a convenient time to blog frequently– I kept saying this other thing comes first or that other thing takes priority, and maybe there will always be those things, and maybe I won’t ever be the kind of blogger who devotes one’s self so fully to this but I do care and I do want to push myself even just a little bit further, and to take advantage of whatever spare time I do have, even if it isn’t much. This blog– and the guest spots I’ve had and still have– mean so much to me, and have given me so much. I’m willing to let it come second to whatever else is going on in my life but I don’t think I’m ready or willing to say goodbye to it entirely.

With that in mind, I thought I’d write a MASSIVE hodgepodge of a post, to encapsulate all that’s been going on in my life on the pop culture front! Feel free to skim as your interests dictate.

First of all, I never did write that last The Walking Recap post. Maybe I was too shocked (but was I really?) or heartbroken. To recap briefly now, Beth stabs Dawn with a pair of medical scissors and one of the other cops shoots Beth in the head upon instinct. Daryl carries her body out as we’ve seen him do before–  carrying Beth when she hurts her ankle last season, or the dead body wrapped in a sheet that he’s about to burn on Carol’s behalf this season, all as if the show’s been foreshadowing this event– and Maggie collapses in grief. I grew to really love Beth… but the petitioning that occurred next is what I want to focus on here even more than the episode itself… apparently, there’s a chance they’ll bring Beth back? This seems wrong to me, if this rumor comes true, because it takes the dramatic, emotional impact away from the episode, takes the power out of it, I mean. It feels like a too-easy way out from a show that should continue to pride itself on packing those kinds of punches. Otherwise, why should we care about anyone on it– if they die, they’ll come back, right?


Continuing on the television front now: I binged all three episodes of Ascension a couple weekends ago and loved it, until the ambiguous ending, that is. Syfy’s 3 part miniseries which took place on a spaceship in the middle of its 100 year journey, seemed at first to be science-fiction at its most essential and satisfying: a twisty and terrifying foray into social commentary. But, I think it could have had a little more focus than it did. Still enjoyable and worthwhile for the most part though! I think the ending just really threw me off. No spoilers but if something is going to be allegorical, pack the final punch with that in mind instead of smacking us over the head with something very new– and very random.


I’ve also started binge watching ABC’s Revenge, and 3 years/4 seasons late to the game, I’m loving it. I’ve heard it takes a dip in season 2, a sophomore slump I guess, but I’m going to stick with it (right now I’m almost at the end of season 1 and still completely addicted). Yes, I am totally, unabashedly obsessed with the trashy, campy soap-opera-esque turmoil of the rich and powerful Grayson family, whose lavish and corrupt lives are being threatened by the way-too-cool Emily Thorne (played by Emily VanCamp), who is back under a false identity in order to seek revenge for her father’s false imprisonment. It’s definitely the most fun I’ve had with a TV show in a while– it induces the kind of viewing stress that only makes you want more. And, if I may, I think the characters are a little more complex (even if just a little) than your typical archetypes but they’re still cookie-cutter enough, somehow, to be the kinds of recognizable characters you can easily love and love to hate. The glamour, the intrigue, the backstabbing and plotting! It’s euphoric, quite frankly.


Last thing I’ll mention about TV: the Doctor Who Christmas Special was one of the best ones I can remember. I mean, who doesn’t love creepy dream crabs (and the ensuing Alien references!) and a Santa played by Nick Frost? Plus, Jenna Coleman is staying on as Clara! This news would have upset me if she were still the same boring, one-dimensional companion as she was in the Matt Smith era but with Capaldi, she’s been written as a genuinely interesting, complicated girl and their chemistry is awesome now, so I’m really glad she changed her mind about leaving the show.


Now, back to film before I finally stop this rambling! I would have posted a whole thing about The Interview when the controversy was happening. And then the status kept changing and I simply couldn’t keep up, so I didn’t even tweet about it as I should have– it’s North Korea’s fault one minute then it’s back to being an inside job; first the film won’t be shown and next thing I know, I’m streaming it from YouTube. Free speech ultimately won here, but there are those who still felt the film was too racist and too stupid to deserve it– dangerously stupid, in fact. My opinion still stands that a stupid comedy can still be satire though and so whether or not it’s unanimously viewed as a quality film or not, whether it is truly an irresponsible film or not, that’s almost not the point anymore. The issues are still so complicated, though, the debate so heated. But I’m still standing behind it and supporting it, and it’s apparently doing very well on VOD for Sony– this has been a pop culture event, a terrorism ploy, a conspiracy theory hub, an industry game-changer, and a global political moment all in one.


And finally, as I wrap up 2014 in my own mind and as the movie blogger that I still am, I’ve decided that I will write a post soon about my favorite films of the year, and perhaps my least favorite– since I rented a few that I ended up not blogging about before, which may factor into that post (Maleficent = Meh-leficent and Noah = NO-ugh). I won’t put an exact date on it (when this post will be up by, I mean), but it’s always nice to reflect so I’ve definitely started to turn that all over in my head. Maybe I’ll write it a bit differently than I did last year’s. And, as a goal/resolution I’ve made for myself heading into 2015, I’m going to be posting just a little bit (meaning not full reviews or essays but just short posts of some sort) now and then about foreign films I see (most of which will be streamed from Netflix). I just miss watching foreign films and they’re often good to watch on my own, so it’ll also allow me a little me-time and will be a good personal passion project to embark upon heading into the new year. I started today by watching Child’s Pose (from Romania) and Big Bad Wolves (from Israel) so expect a post about those soon as well!


Thank you all for reading and for sticking with me! 2014 has been a crazy year and without you, my dear readers, I’d have even more self-motivating to do than I do already! I’m very grateful and looking forward to being a better blogger in 2015.

The Walking Recap: Consumed

Last night’s episode was quiet, moody, slow and introspective. Not one of my favorites, despite having it follow my favorite duo– Daryl and Carol. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5 like I gave last week’s, but this time, I’ll applaud its overall unpredictability that really punctuated the overall subdued tone. 3.5 out of 5 machetes, shall we say, after the only really awesome, gory zombie kill of the episode? Or perhaps the unit should be books about dealing with domestic abuse.

At any rate, this episode follows Daryl and Carol through the streets of Atlanta, giving us a feeling of both nostalgia and frustration– is this really how far we’ve come, that we can return to the beginning so easily and quickly? The city is looking pretty rough at this point, and our dynamic duo have a lot of serious conversations in which not much is really said, while camping out partly in what was once a shelter for wives and children living with abusive husbands/fathers. The fact that Carol had stayed here once with Sophia is another eerie revelation about how far our characters have come spiritually, emotionally, mentally, even if not physically getting too far outside Atlanta’s city limits. It was emotional for Carol to see a zombified mother and daughter, and heartwarming in a weird way for Daryl to tell her he’ll take care of it because she shouldn’t have to; the next morning, she wakes up to Daryl respectfully burning the bodies. One great line in the episode comes from Daryl where he says that they’re not ashes, as they talk about who they were and how they’re different. The whole thing seems really intent on examining Carol in particular and retracing her steps, outlining and highlighting the various lows and sacrifices and unspeakable acts she’s had to commit, and we’re definitely meant to see that they’re taking a toll on her at this point, that they’re really informing her survival skills and weighing against her humanity a little.


One way the episode shows this that I did love was the way pretty much every return from commercial break was a flashback to some other moment in Carol’s timeline– when Rick makes her leave, or when she burns and buries bodies, etc.

The episode wasn’t devoid of action necessarily, and even if it were that would be okay with me normally. I think I was expecting something more from this episode, but I can’t quite articulate what, or why. Maybe it was a pacing issue especially given the fast pace of the season up until this point. But things certainly did get interesting when they’re stuck in a van that is teetering at the edge of an industrial bridge, with walkers swarming all around, forcing them to hold on for dear life and face the fall. Even more interesting, of course, was when they get their weapons stolen from none other than the escaped Noah. But, Daryl and Carol eventually catch up to him and switch places in terms of which one wants to kill versus spare him (at first, Carol is willing to wound him in order to save their weapons, but when Noah later actively endangers Carol’s safety, that’s when Daryl seems all too willing to let him die beneath a bookcase with a walker right over him). When they do ultimately save him though, they find out all about Beth and the hospital, so it’s a good thing– unless we’re not meant to trust him.

Carol, as usual, gets a little too trigger happy but this time, I mean that figuratively: she should have looked both ways before crossing the street, even during a zombie apocalypse– she gets hit by one of the hospital’s vehicles and subsequently saved and taken by that same vehicle (though I use the term “saved” loosely here). The episode ends with Daryl and Noah heading back to the church for reinforcements so they can save Daryl’s two ladies. So I’d presume that it’s Noah who’s in the woods with him after all but we’ll have to wait and see– all I know is, it looks like our group is gearing up for a classic rescue mission. I just hope it plays out in a refreshing and exciting way, because that is something that could very easily be trite and tired at this point. All in all though, this was a pretty good episode in a mostly amazing season so far.

The Walking Recap: Self Help

This is the most behind I’ve ever fallen on my Walking Recap series of posts and I feel so terrible about it but my life got extra topsy turvy this past week and I’m trying to get back on track and not letting my day-to-day affect my blogging too much; after all, this is still a passion and a hobby and not something I ever want to see as a chore. So anyway, I’m writing this before tonight’s episode, and it may be moot to do so, but still a principle and a commitment. I’ll keep it short:


I’m giving last week’s episode a 3.5 out of 5 lies. It wasn’t the most engaging episode this season so far, and its twist was one I saw coming. In fact, this recap will inevitably short for another reason, and that is that not a whole lot happened that wasn’t repetitive or predictable.


Essentially, last week’s episode gave us a glimpse into Abraham’s former life, the life he led just as the zombie apocalypse was starting. We may have some remaining questions about who he was with during these scenes, and how much his anger issues and need for purpose were instilled in him from before the outbreak and how many of those qualities directly resulted from the outbreak. But in the end, all I cared about was knowing that these flashbacks would reveal how Abraham and Eugene met, and how he came to devote his militaristic sense of discipline to protecting and transporting Eugene to Washington D.C. And, this moment was gratifying, especially because it comes soon after the present day revelation that Eugene has been lying all along– he isn’t a scientist, just a really good liar.


The moment plays out shockingly, but the revelation in itself was not shocking at all (maybe that’s the pessimist in me… or maybe it’s due to the fact that Eugene has been secretly stalling their travels this whole time, and this becomes obvious at various points in this episode). He decides to reveal it because if he doesn’t, he knows someone will get hurt: he reveals it just as Abraham and everyone else are arguing about which way they should travel– take more time to backtrack and guarantee safety, or go through the shorter route which will no doubt be a zombie minefield.


So, it’ll be interesting to see where this subgroup stands now, but if I’m being honest, I feel more invested in the other storylines that have been established this season, and there’s really not much of a point in having this one go on for much longer on its own merits, in my opinion.

The Walking Recap: Slabtown

No complaints from me yet in season 5– each episode has been nothing short of spectacular, in my opinion. And though last night’s episode shook things up and deviated from our newly established norm (the group, the church, Terminus, violence, cannibalism, all that good stuff), it was a welcome breath (or BETH… get it?) of fresh air– a strange and suspenseful episode that views the post-apocalypse through a creepily contained pressure cooker of indentured servitude.

I’m giving this one another 4 out of 5, and disagree with those who time and time again complain about the “slower” episodes or those that do not focus on the main group. Beth really proves she can hold her own here and the writing in this episode proves that it too can stand out and drive the suspense and drama, without many walkers or much action at all.

behtwakeSo, alas, the episode does not begin with Daryl telling us the story of finding Beth. Instead, the show takes a few steps backward to show us her parallel storyline. The timelines got a little muddled, for sure, but I tried not to dwell on it. Beth awakens at a functioning hospital in Atlanta, which is eerie enough in itself. Things get worse, rather than better as is so often the case in the TWD universe, when Beth learns that she “owes” for the help she’s been given– the help she never asked for, but needed.

bethjoan bethdawn

The hospital is run by one doctor and a staff of crazy cops, ranging from the sexually abusive (to watch Beth have to take a lollipop in her mouth by force was bad enough, and to watch as she is almost raped later was intense and unsettling) to the delusional and belligerent Dawn. Dawn, the leader, is fiercely stubborn and wildly overbearing, to put it lightly. She keeps giving Beth speeches about all the good they’re doing in preparation for when they’re all rescued (delusion); she also slaps Beth out of anger at something not caused by Beth at all (belligerence). And sexual abuse is hinted at throughout the episode, with regard to another female patient, Joan, and brought up subtly again when Dawn says if the cops are kept happy then they work harder to protect the hospital. Yuck. My stomach was probably in knots during this episode more than in any other this season so far, actually– not because it was more suspenseful necessarily, but it just built up to these themes and questions and moments in really unnerving ways.


I will say, though, that it was deeply satisfying for Beth to take note of the almost-zombie in the room (Dawn’s office, to be precise, from which she was stealing keys for her escape attempt), an almost-zombie who happened to be the apparently suicidal Joan, and to use that to her advantage. Just as the aforementioned attempted-rape is about to occur, Beth knocks the creepy cop over the head with a glass jar from Dawn’s desk and he falls right in front of Joan’s hungry walker mouth. This was the perfect revenge for both females, even if one happened to be undead, to seek and further achieve in a microcosm where sexual assault is justified as a means of productivity and survival.

Some key moments include Beth’s befriending another patient, Noah. They try to escape together but it fails– shockingly, Noah gets away and doesn’t help Beth, who is pinned to the ground by the police. Beth finally talks back to Dawn at one point, and I think we really see a full range of emotions from Beth; impressively, we see the side of her that is meek and afraid, but also the side of her that Daryl helped bring out, the back-talking, more abrasive and far braver Beth, who does what needs to be done even though her fear is still evident. She’s one of the most human characters the show has developed, I think, and this episode proves that.


Especially shocking is when Beth gets blunt with the doctor, Dr. Edwards, who seems like a good enough guy in the grand scheme of this prison-like hospital. She knows that the patient who was brought in earlier in the episode was another doctor, and that that’s why he gave her the name of the wrong medicine to give him so that he’d die, leaving Dr. Edwards with no competition or fear of being killed or kicked out of the hospital. Dr. Edwards says earlier that it’s still better in there than it is out in the world, where walkers are still rampant; I think we’re meant to question the validity of this opinion and weigh it against what Beth is going through and what she was taken away from on the outside.

Just when we see her approach Dr. Edwards unsuspected, with a scissor in her hand, prepped for a shocking stabbing, something else shocks us even more– a new patient being brought in on a stretcher. This new patient is none other than Carol. Beth’s look of shock is enough to dictate how we’re meant to feel, even though I think we need no instruction on the matter. Beth is just as confused as we are (muddled timelines not withstanding– could Carol be sent in by Daryl as bait of some sort, to rescue Beth from the inside? Or did something happen to Carol while they were chasing down the car with the cross on the back?) but unfortunately, next week’s episode will follow Abraham and his new little crew. Again, I’m all for bouncing around if it’s done well and paced right, but I’m dying to know who is with Daryl in the woods after all, which hinges directly upon the end of last night’s episode and whatever is to follow.

The Walking Recap: Four Walls and a Roof

Apologies again for such a delayed recap of last week’s episode– I can only hope that it’s still fun for you guys to read and comment on (and I’m also in the process of sifting through and responding to comments, by the way! Not ignoring them on purpose, I just don’t get to blog or comment back as often as I’d like to.) Or, maybe it serves as a refresher before this weekend’s episode (it certainly helps me remember!) Either way, I thank you all for your patience and understanding as always as I navigated my first week at a new job and the new, longer commute. I really will try to time manage and keep up with all my blogging responsibilities once I figure out this new routine!

Anyway, I’m giving this episode 4 out of 5 Rick-promises (because he sure does know how to keep his promises!) And for the sake of time and due to the delay, I’m going to go through the major moments of this episode rather succinctly.

Bob reveals to everyone that he has been bitten– a particularly hard revelation for Sasha to deal with, in this episode. Tyrese tells her later to forgive the Terminus people, as hard as it may be– even keeping with the themes of forgiveness that pervade this season so far, this seemed a little weird to me at first. But alas, Tyrese knows what it’s like to hold violent grudges and be blinded by them, and has also experienced the release and closure that comes with forgiveness. He didn’t want Sasha to miss any important final moments with Bob for the sake of seeking revenge.

The goodbyes bestowed upon Bob were heartfelt, even if he never stood out as a particularly fleshed out or important character in the group– people in that group still learned to love and accept him, just as we viewers did. Plus, it isn’t often that we get to see such closure between the group and a character whose death is imminent but prolonged, so to witness Tyrese stab him so clinically, as a matter of procedure and protocol and necessity, was sad and shocking in its own unique and emotional way.


Before this happens though, we find our group cleverly tricking the Terminus folks, and they had us fooled at first, too. A portion of our group hides in the church while another portion “leave,” looking for the elementary school where the Terminus folks held Bob, so that Gareth believes the church is particularly vulnerable. But, just in time, Rick and his portion of the gang basically ambush them in the church. And, despite any pleas or resistance, Rick proves to be a man of his word, bludgeoning Gareth with the same machete he promises to kill him with in a previous episode. The scene is a thrilling and unsettling massacre– in some ways, more brutal than what we’ve seen yet, and in another sense, this kind of violent brutality seems to be a norm for the season, which is mostly fine by me.


Finally, Daryl returns seemingly solo, and when asked where Carol is, he says something along the lines of, “you can come out now,” to someone unseen in the woods and shadows behind him. In this upcoming episode, we’ll find out from him where he ended up in looking for Beth– and what he ultimately discovered on this little mission. And, I suppose, we’ll find out what the mystery was all about in revealing Carol (or whoever may have been with him in this strange moment).

Some other notable moments include Abraham leaving for DC with Glenn and Maggie and Tara at the end of the episode as an unfortunate ultimatum/compromise– I don’t like the whole splitting up thing but I hope it works out and that they all meet up once again. Abraham even says that the new world needs Rick Grimes, and it’s true– even if they have all been conditioned to be ruthless at this point.

Also, Maggie has the best line (also the title line) in the whole episode. Since the compromise was that Abraham and Eugene stay another day in exchange for Glenn, Maggie, and Tara’s company when they do head out, they’re there to help with the ambush/massacre. When it’s done, Father Gabriel says, in disbelief, “This is the Lord’s house,” to which Maggie replies “No, it’s just four walls and a roof.” Also, last amazing moment I should mention– Michonne had arguably the best reunion of the entire season when she found her katana on the dead body of one of the Terminus crew. Just saying.

The Walking Recap: A

4 out of 5 train cars for this fairly intense season finale. It was pretty much everything I was hoping for, realistically speaking given the way the second half of this season has been going, and it capped off the season with a near-perfect set-up for whatever might happen next within the creepy borders of Terminus.


I loved the way this episode used flashbacks to right before the season started. We see Hershel slowly convincing Rick to start farming and to set that kind of example for Carl over the violent one he’d been setting so far. We then flash forward to a shell-shocked Rick before the opening credits. We see this shot of him again later, which makes us remember this opening sequence and understand the impact and place of the shot as a flash forward; Rick, Carl and Michonne are finally confronted by the devious group that has been tracking him ever since his “Home Alone” episode, so to speak. The following battle is one of the bloodier, more gruesome fight scenes in the show’s history, I think. Daryl reveals himself and tries to stand up for his friends, but takes a beating for it.

Rick, throughout the episode, realizes that if he had once been able to be non-violent for the sake of his son, he can and must now revert back to extreme violence and embrace that for the sake of his son; Rick eventually defends himself by viciously biting the throat of his captor, which explains his bloody face in the flash forward. Daryl gives him a reassuring pep talk (and a wet washcloth) when we’re finally caught up with the flash forward chronologically, and Rick calls him his brother; there is still humanity to be found here in these relationships, and I thought that was really poignant in the episode. Michonne, similarly, talks to Carl in a heartbreaking scene where Carl says he is not who his father thinks he is– he’s just another monster, just like Michonne says that she had been when dragging her two former companions as walker repellent in chains, before Andrea and Rick and Carl “brought her back.”


The rest of the episode from there is a suspicious, uneasy, mysterious romp through Terminus. Rick notices Glenn’s pocket watch on another person, along with an all too recognizable poncho and riot gear also being worn by people he does not know, and snaps once more. Warfare breaks out then as he demands to know where they got the watch and these other items. Some cannibalism claims were going around the internet regarding Terminus, and seeing a flash of bones in a carcass pile during the running scene didn’t help those speculations. So my mind instantly jumped to the worst case scenario that Maggie and Glenn and the others had been killed, at the very least, and that’s why their possessions were being worn by Terminus’ main members now.

But, when the chase must finally end and our group is hopelessly cornered, they are ordered one by one to enter into an idle train car: first the ringleader (Rick), the archer (Daryl), the samurai (Michonne), and the boy (Carl). In the train car, we luckily do find our other characters– Glenn, Maggie, Bob, Sasha, Abraham, etc. But the already awkward reunion will mean nothing if they can’t get out or figure out why they’re there in the first place. The episode triumphantly ends though, with Rick– who, happy flashbacks of farming aside, is back in perfectly violent form again– saying that the Terminus people don’t know who they’re messing with. I am even more intrigued, however, about the flip side of this– who are Rick and the rest of our protagonists truly up against? I think these questions set us up for a very interesting, and hopefully more focused, season 5 indeed.

The Walking Recap: Us

A short review for a shortly-titled episode. I’m giving this episode a somewhat harsh (for me) 2.5 out of 5. The one major, admittedly satisfying moment was not enough to redeem the whole episode, which was a dull and jagged lead-up to what I’m hoping will be a far more appropriately intense season finale. A second-to-last episode should have built things up to a point where the next week’s finale episode would be the climax. But instead, this episode felt like a creaky ascent to that climax, sputtering and plateauing more often than actually ascending at all, and when it did ascend, it did so far more begrudgingly than it should have, proceeding slowly and with no sense of urgency whatsoever. The closer we get to the end of this season, the more I feel that the second half of the season was itself a messy hodgepodge of tones and focuses: a common problem the series faces, but somehow more glaring than ever. The reason I say this review will be short is because I don’t feel as though a whole lot really happened in this episode, but I’ll do my best.


We see Rick, Michonne and Carl only once early on, and the episode never returns to them, which was frustratingly misleading. Their scene is humorous though at least, as we could probably expect at this point– with Michonne and Carl sharing a bond and a bet over a chocolate bar. Later in the episode, Daryl and the group he is with, end up walking right over the chocolate bar wrapper along the train tracks. The moment is subtle but effective, because we have just learned seconds before that these are indeed the same men from the house Rick had been trapped in; from what I could tell, they’re on the hunt for him. This is scary in theory, yes, but this group is more annoying so far than they are truly scary. They teach Daryl throughout the episode all their cult-like rules about claiming things. I want Daryl to leave this group already, and even though he mentions to their leader his plan to eventually leave, I can’t seem to figure out what his motivation has been for not leaving yet.


Meanwhile, Glenn gives Eugene his riot gear in exchange for the agreement to go their separate ways. Glenn keeps seeing all the messages about Terminus, so he feels like he has to keep going faster than the rest of them are willing to. But, when he and Tara get caught in a dark tunnel of walkers (though, none of them are Maggie at least), things seem ever so slightly hopeless. The shots of the tunnel-walkers are creepy, but soon enough, a mysterious but convenient flash of headlights and a firing squad save the day! This firing squad consists of Eugene and Abraham but also Maggie, Bob and Sasha.

The reunion between Glenn and Maggie was one of the most satisfying things not just in this episode but also in this whole second half of the season at large. In the end, they all find Terminus (agreeing upon using it as a pit stop before heading to D.C.) which is intriguing; I thought it was interesting that it wasn’t presented too ominously. In fact, the music was eerily pleasant and the woman who greets our weary survivors is also oddly pleasant. So, if it does turn out to be the end of the line, the shock might be even worse for viewers and characters alike. But, I’d love that actually. Because after this episode, I think the show needs one final shock in season 4 to wake its viewers up and to revitalize the plot trajectory in time for season 5.

The Walking Recap: The Grove

This episode was one of the more devastating and jaw-dropping episodes ever for me: heartbreaking, shocking and psychological, I’m giving this one a near-perfect score of 4.5 out of 5 pretty yellow flowers. It started off a little heavy-handed, but once it threw a few very emotional curve-balls in, I was sold.


This episode focuses solely on Carol, Tyrese, Lizzie, Mika and baby Judith as they find a quaint, idyllic house on their way to Terminus. When I say the episode began in a heavy-handed way, I merely mean that some of Carol’s early dialogue stung but in a way that maybe we’ve come to expect from the show (as compared to the rest of this episode which stung in a different way, somehow, which I’ll get to in a moment of course). Lizzie asks Carol about Sophia; Carol says she didn’t have a mean bone in her body, and when Lizzie asks if that’s why she’s dead, Carol answers with an even more cold and concise “yes.” Carol later in the episode tries to train Mika to be more ruthless and strong, using the same cautionary sort of tale– Sophia ran and it wasn’t enough. But Mika simply doesn’t want to kill other people– she believes she can remain sweet in a world of monsters.

So here’s the sort of source or origin for this episode’s ethical dilemma then: Lizzie is a tough cookie who’d rather play tag with the walkers than kill them, and Mika understands the walkers for the danger that they truly are but she is saintly, which makes her weak. It wasn’t until this episode though that these shades of gray were really exposed, all equally raw and sad and difficult to navigate and negotiate no matter how hard Carol tries to. I also didn’t realize just how crazy “Crazy Lizzie” really was until this episode, in which she reacts sensitively to everything, particularly being yelled at, and she is told to just look at the flowers and count to calm down. The whole thing is chillingly reminiscent of Of Mice and Men, and it is a scenario that is all the more unsettling because these are just children whose psyches and dispositions have been destroyed by the destruction around them.

Lizzie, of course, believes that walkers are not dead or dangerous– she believes they’re still people, or pets, and that they’re merely different. The episode cleverly gives us a climax that leads us falsely to believe that Lizzie finally understands: when she and Mika are chased by some char-grilled walkers (assuming they had walked through Daryl and Beth’s burning moonshine house, perhaps), they have to help Tyrese and Carol shoot at them. But, just a few scenes later, Tyrese and Carol return to find Lizzie standing over her own sister’s dead body, holding a bloody knife and yelling that they have to wait, that she has to make them understand that Mika will come back.

The reveal is scarier than perhaps any walkers in the show, because of that loss of childhood innocence and the waste of a life that Lizzie will never understand, her own sister the victim. It is later revealed, even though at this point it could have been assumed, that she had been the one feeding the walkers at the prison. Melissa McBride as Carol is at her best in this episode, acting-wise. She is faced with another controversial, moral decision and her complicated maternal nature is tested and tormented. Carol and Tyrese discuss what to do– none of them, especially not Judith, would be safe under the same roof as her now.


So Carol ultimately shoots her– Lizzie can’t be around other people, they say repeatedly and with a loaded sense of dread. Carol breaks down, and the whole thing is disturbing to say the least, but well-executed and unbelievably powerful. The episode ends with Carol telling Tyrese the truth about killing Karen and David too, which induces a kind of aftershock in the viewer– when you were hoping for a denouement or a reprieve from the heartache you’ve just experienced, you instead get a kind of remaining hiccup of fear and shock and pain. Somehow though, given the bond newly forged between Carol and Tyrese given all these previous events, I predicted rightly that he would forgive her, but it is visibly not an easy or immediate forgiveness. The whole scene is like a pastiche of emotions between and within them both. They leave, childless except for Judith, and we are left feeling more scarred than ever. I cannot even imagine what the final two episodes of this season will have to offer us after we’ve already been left reeling from last night’s.

The Walking Recap: Alone

Hello TWD fans who also happen to read my blog! Thanks, first of all, for your patience these last two weeks and I apologize for making you wait until Monday for my recap! I’m going to give this episode 3.5 out of 5 jars of pig feet: another instance of liked-it-but-didn’t-love-it (which makes it harder to write about in some ways). It was the kind of episode that was just acceptably fine and good and okay and other such adjectives that scream sufficiency. What I’m saying is, I don’t have a strong reason why I didn’t love it or why I didn’t hate it either and I can pick out no major flaws of storytelling here except for maybe some usual apprehensions about the series’ trajectory at large; maybe there wasn’t much wrong with this episode specifically then, but maybe it simply was one of those rare episodes that serves to propel us forward to the next for better or worse, nothing more and nothing less. That is not to say that there weren’t a few moments of more epic proportions here that I really can say that I loved, but their occurrences were fewer and further between than perhaps we are used to.

The episode opens with a flashback to Bob’s former isolation, left to wander alone after both his groups die (which many viewers still find oddly suspicious and I’d agree with that, but his character also amuses and intrigues me). The music is, as usual. haunting. We are shown the precise moment (the one that had been alluded to at the beginning of this season) when Daryl and Glenn find him walking. As a flashback, it may have been important for character development or motivation, because we get to see more of Bob in this episode than we have so far– we really haven’t been given the opportunity to figure him out. As much as I get that, I still think it fell a little bit flat; it also worked for the theme of loneliness that the episode is clearly playing with but it didn’t seem all that insightful or eventful or necessary at this point in the series.


The episode is split between Beth and Daryl again and Bob, Sasha and Maggie. My bias aside, I thought the former story carried much more weight to it while the latter just got redundant for me. Beth and Daryl are bonding even more than they had last week, and I loved it. He teaches her, in a less aggressive way than he’d belligerently tried to while intoxicated, how to shoot a cross bow but she ends up hurting her ankle, leading to a piggy back ride to a seemingly empty mortuary. The house is too pristine, which raised my eyebrows (and Daryl’s) from the moment they opened the kitchen cupboards. But they linger, for a while anyway, in their new-found bliss with each other anyway.


Before I continue, I’d like to recount the other characters’ portion of the episode now so as to, for lack of a better phrase, get it over with (if only to emphasize the aspects of Beth and Daryl’s story that I enjoyed more). Maggie, still on the hunt for Glenn, knows that Glenn would go to the cryptic Terminus if he saw any of those maps, so that is where she wants to go. But Sasha, the odd one out between her, Maggie and Bob, feels that it will be dangerous and too risky to go there when they really don’t even know what this “there” even is. So, with what seems like a promisingly scary start to their journey in this episode– a fight with walkers in the fog– they end up actually just arguing a lot about their options extremely stubbornly, with Maggie leaving Sasha and Bob, only to have Sasha leave Bob but find Maggie, and then Sasha and Maggie find Bob. Essentially, it’s a whole lot of nothing for not much pay off except for one thing: Maggie writes a message in walker-blood for Glenn to find about Terminus, but he ends up seeing a map to get there in the closing shot anyway, so hopefully they are reunited soon!


Speaking of reunions that will or won’t happen, let’s check back in with Daryl and Beth. They set up some wire and cans to hear any walkers– or dangerous humans– who may try to enter. A dog ends up making some noise but won’t come in the house. When Daryl hears the sound again and assumes it is the dog, an unnaturally random, giant herd of walkers piles through the door. Daryl fights them off in the tiny room of embalmed corpses on gurneys with any instruments he can find including using the gurneys as shields, but urges Beth to leave and that he will meet her. When Daryl gets out, however, he finds her bag on the ground and a mysterious car (that may or may not have been a hearse– it had a cross on it, or so it appeared) speeding away. Daryl chases it to no avail, and he collapses the next day out of exhaustion and exasperation and despair.

I think human villains are so much scarier than walkers, and the speculation that this was all an elaborate trap makes me more tense than anything from the last few episodes. Maybe this is also because I was really loving the Beth-Daryl friendship a lot and to have it cut short so shockingly was rough for me; Daryl’s emotions just got healthier and happier and now they might be the most volatile they’ve ever been. Then, a really ominous gang find him and circle him, and I fear, probably correctly so, that they’ll be even worse than Abraham and his crew, who we haven’t seen since two weeks ago but I guess we shouldn’t forget them.

This reminds me that the show seems to be taking on a lot more focuses than I think it knows how to handle right now. With only three episodes left of this season, it is raising more questions and introducing more potential baddies and obstacles than it can feasibly address. And that may be the plan; perhaps this is all set up for next season. But if that’s the case, then it needs to have a solid plan for negotiating and weaving and balancing those things in a way that is coherent. Because right now, I’m feeling a kind of attention-deficit fatigue from trying to keep track of all the displacement that has happened while also processing new potential threats to worry about despite the lack of resolution to anything that we’ve already been worrying about.

The Walking Recap: Still

Thanks for your patience everyone, in my writing this post delayed due to the Oscars! This episode, in my personal opinion, deserves 4.5 out of 5 bottles of moonshine. The episode’s title seems to be the very same adjective I’d use to describe my body while watching. This episode moved me in a way that most of the other similarly quiet, more character-driven episodes never quite manage at least not to this deeply affecting extent. Now, perhaps that’s because I’m a Daryl fan-girl at heart, but even so, I really thought this episode was a well-timed, well-acted (Norman Reedus gets to show some range and depth here) emotional gut-punch.

The episode focuses entirely on just Daryl and Beth, which I thought at first might annoy me. Somehow, it didn’t. Of course, we’re all worried all the time about all the characters. But Daryl and Beth are so unbelievably magnetic and dynamic to watch that I was less concerned about that than I usually am. The one thing that did annoy me at least at first, as understandable as I suppose it was especially as the episode went on, was Beth’s mission for alcohol. She more or less sasses Daryl like a irritatingly, irrationally rebellious teenage girl pretty early in the episode about how she never got to have her first drink, even flipping him off (which will later come to be the moonshine salute) and basically suggesting the usual: they don’t know how much longer they have to survive, so they might as well live.

So, they find a country club which is where a good portion of the episode takes place, including a pretty brutal walker massacre involving Daryl and some golf clubs. When they finally find the bar, and specifically peach schnapps, Beth finds her mission fulfillment really not fulfilling at all. She breaks down in tears, warranting Daryl’s response: her first drink isn’t going to be no damn peach schnapps.


This leads them to a house that we learn is all too reminiscent of Daryl’s childhood home. They drink moonshine together that they find there, but we also learn that Daryl isn’t the nicest drunk. Little by little, we learn what emotional turmoil he bottles up inside that we, as audiences then, never really see. Learning those kinds of things about Michonne has been great, but I think learning them about Daryl was even more rewarding because it has been an even longer time coming, and the way they came out was even more explosive to witness.

The explosions escalated a little something like this: playing never have I ever which leads to Daryl sarcastically saying he’s never had a pony (one of many symbols in this episode for privilege versus the bitterness that results from a lack thereof) which then leads to Daryl dragging Beth outside to learn how to shoot a crossbow. This, then, turns into Daryl’s most emotionally complex moment in the whole series I think. His argument with Beth about how closed off he is opens him up, and seeing him cry was a redemptive experience for both us as viewers and for Daryl himself, as Beth embraces him from behind.


The end of the episode is when we find out precisely, finally, what Daryl had done before the apocalypse: absolutely nothing. Daryl, as a character in general, is redeemed by the apocalypse then, because he has found purpose beyond his past which had kept him down for so long. In an attempt to put that past away, Beth convinces him to burn down the house together using the rest of the moonshine. As they watch it burn, they flip it off together– the moonshine salute. It is a beautiful and empowering and poignant conclusion to an episode that is all those things and more.