Monday, December 4, 2017

The Walking Dead: Season 8 Episode 7 WDF Review

Episode 7:  Time for After

This week we catch back up with Rick, who's been held captive in a truck container since last week in nothing but his boxer shorts.  Just like the last time he tried negotiating with the Garbage Pail kids, he has to fight them into submission but ultimately they do agree to his terms... they join him to fight the Saviors and receive 1/4 of the loot they take.

In the meantime, Eugene is having a heckuva time resisting being pulled back to the light side by both Gabriel and Dwight, individually.  Dwight is still stealthily fighting to overthrow Negan and restore civility to the land at large, on behalf of Rick and his multi-pronged army.  Gabriel is extremely sick, without access to meds, and may die but still wants Eugene to do the right thing.  By the end of the episode, Eugene's desire to prioritize self-preservation and stay on Negan's coattails wins out even though we were hoping he'd turn his loyalties back to Team Family.

Daryl, Rosita, Michonne, and Tara make it to The Sanctuary and plan to ram the garbage truck into the side of the building to flood it full of walkers.  Rosita and Michonne bow out, preferring to refer back to Rick's guidance and go back to Alexandria, so Daryl and Tara just team up with the Team Family snipers (led by Morgan) who were previously posted around the perimeter to make sure no Saviors attempt to flee.  It works... sort of... when the workers on the floor of The Sanctuary are forced up to the 2nd level of the building, but by the time Rick arrives with the Garbage Pail Kids in tow, the courtyard of The Sanctuary is empty and it appears that the Saviors have all escaped.

Next week we find Negan back at Alexandria trying to take control again, which is sure not to go over quite as easily as it did previously given the Savior's dwindling numbers.  As the mid-season finale, it is being touted as containing a gossip-worthy development (which this season so far desperately needs) so hold onto your hats and hope all your favorites make it out alive!!


The Walking Dead: Season 8 Episode 6 WDF Review

Episode 6:  The King, The Widow, and Rick

Another quick recap to catch us up before the Mid-Season:  we'll make it quick since we still have another episode to write up today.

Ezekiel is still grappling with the loss of Shiva and his army, but Carol convinces him he is still the right leader for this group.  Rick goes to negotiate (again) with the Garbage Pail kids but ends up imprisoned instead.  Michonne and Rosita have decided to "end the war" themselves but run into Daryl who was off on the same "mission" himself, so the three join up and head for The Sanctuary.  Carl finds Siddiq, the man Rick scared off when he asked Carl for help, and befriends him... so we have a new Alexandrian.  Lastly, Maggie and Jesus disagree on how to manage their POWs but in the end build a containment camp inside the walls of Hilltop where they can be kept... including their own wolf in sheep's clothing, Gregory.

So, basically, we're still inching ever so slowly toward some sort of climax, and that climax had better be good!

The big revelation this week came from The Talking Dead instead, where it was announced that Morgan, played by Lennie James, will be a crossover character into the world of Fear The Walking Dead.  Now, speculation has run rampant that it would be Abe (and that's what we were hoping for, since it would mean we'd get more time with the Character, and it just made logistical sense given that his journey toward Washington DC had started out toward that way).  The actors appeared to be eluding toward the Morgan character leaving the main show altogether (they stated they had said their tearful goodbyes at the end of filming), but Gimple insisted we didn't know yet where Morgan's story would go.  He wouldn't be able to stay too long in the world of FTWD, since to get there he would have needed to leave Georgia with his son when Rick left for Atlanta, and then come right back to King County (for the CLEAR episode) before the fall of the prison, which in show time was just a year or so after they parted ways the first time.

Again this was another odd "inch by inch" episode, which to be honest are starting to aggravate a lot of viewers.  When the cast/producers talked about "nonstop action" this season we didn't think they meant more fighting each other and walkers than The Saviors... but squabbles happen when you've been cooped up too long together.

The Walking Dead: Season 8 Episode 5 WDF Review

Episode 5:  The Big Scary U

We're a couple of weeks late posting this so we thought we'd just do a (very) quick summary to get us caught back up:

This episode focuses on three primary "groups":  The Saviors dealing with "the workers" in near revolt, Rick & Daryl having a spat about how to proceed next with their goal of restoring peace to the land, and Gabe & Negan having a heart to heart before escaping the trailer and making their way to the main Sanctuary building.  Spoiler:  The Saviors squelch the revolt just in time for Negan to make it back to them and Rick & Daryl survive their fight to bro another day.

The big "holy crap" of the night was Rick spotting a helicopter flying overhead while he was out alone after he and Daryl made up and parted ways.  Helicopters never mean anything good in this show.

Since we have a little catching up to do before the Mid-Season next week, that's the best we'll do on this episode.  Unfortunately it also represents the amount of forward progress we made.  The rumbles that this season are turning out to be a big old dud are getting louder, but we're holding out hope it can still turn around.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Walking Dead: Season 8 Episode 4 WDF Review

Episode 4:  Some Guy

Here we are in the fourth episode and we're still in the same tv-time day!  This season just might exacerbate the Carl's-Age Discrepancy.  It's only been a few years since the apocalypse began in tv time, yet Carl has aged about five years more than he should have.  We'll just pretend he's an early bloomer, but it's hard to ignore when the actor is on Twitter talking about being able to do new things as an adult!

Aaanyway, yes, we're picking back up where we left off and hopefully finishing out this dreadful tv day.  We're back at the outpost where the battalion from The Kingdom has just been mowed down, watching an injured Ezekiel crawl out from beneath the pile of protectors who literally took bullets for him.  Carol has not only survived but managed to sneak inside, where she mows down a handful of Saviors packing up some savage weaponry to take back to The Sanctuary.  Their goal becomes clear:  stop this shipment from reaching it's destination.

Alvaro (redshirt Kingdom member) comes out of nowhere to help Ezekiel hobble to safety on his jacked-up leg, but is taken out quickly leaving Ezekiel to his own devices.  Savior peon Gunther (which can't help but make us think of Gunther from Central Perk), finds Ezekiel and starts marching him back toward The Sanctuary.  Apparently there is a bounty on each of the leaders' heads because Negan wants The King, The Widow, and Rick taken alive.  It doesn't last long, because just when it looks like Gunther is about to lose his composure and kill Ezekiel, trumpets sound as Jerry comes to the rescue to battle-axe Gunther in half.  Okay, trumpets didn't really sound, but they should've.

Jerry and Ezekiel are trapped between a chained gate and a horde of walkers, many of which are turned Kingdom subjects.  Carol is still inside the fence in a fire fight with a handful of Saviors who've been loading those weapons for transport.  She makes the ultimate decision to let the Saviors get away so she can rescue Jerry and Ezekiel... But never fear!  Rick and Daryl are nearby to intercept the shipment and run the truck off the road where they can kill the remaining Saviors and take the loot.

Jerry, Ezekiel, and Carol set off on foot but are quickly surrounded by walkers in a ravine.  This scene becomes one of the most surprisingly heart-breaking ones so far... especially if you love animals.  If you haven't guessed by now, Shiva meets her end pouncing in last minute to save the trio, but in the process becomes Walker Chow herself.  😭

Is it bad that we felt more upset about Shiva than we did Eric?  Because if we're being completely honest here, we did, a little bit.

After all the carnage, Ezekiel no longer wants to pretend to be "King".  He reveals that he was a lowly zoo keeper in his past life who only earned Shiva's trust by saving her life in a pinch one day.  He clearly feels guilty that he led these folks, and Shiva to boot, to slaughter, but Jerry is having none of it.  They need a leader, and Ezekiel is still it.  The episode ends as the three hobble mournfully back through the gates of The Kingdom to relay to the residents what has happened.

The pacing is still holding steady even though we're not quite out of that first day of All Out War yet.  There are still lulls in the action (it would be exhausting otherwise) but we're not totally camped out at one location or another.  Rick & Daryl especially seem to be popping up whenever help is needed so there's always that buddy dynamic going on to some degree.  The biggest complaint we're hearing has to do with these gun battles and how unrealistic they've become.  They always have been (the ever present joke of the inexhaustible supply of ammo), but now we're talking about a lot of fire power missing it's mark... *all* the time.  Carol fought against no less than five saviors and was still able to sneak away unscathed, while Rick and Daryl were able to avoid taking a substantial hit just by swerving and ducking.  We're hearing rumbles that the gun battles are becoming so ridiculous that some long term fans are starting to be turned off of the show entirely.  

The above definitely does not describe us, however.  We are still engaged, still anxious to see how the rest of the war unfolds and what lie beyond... and next week, we get to find out what Negan does to Gabriel!!  We're excited...

Are you?


Monday, November 6, 2017

The Walking Dead: Season 8 Episode 3 WDF Review

Episode 3:  Monsters

For an episode that felt like it had a lot in it, we didn't progress much in our story line this week.  We wrap up Eric's story line (we all knew he'd not survive that sort of injury), see Morgan continue to battle his demons (and displace his aggression toward Jesus in an epic fight scene), watch Ezekiel and Carol overly enjoy what at first appears to be a great success for the Kingdom's regiment, see Maggie deal with Gregory awkwardly showing back up at Hilltop after selling them all out (followed shortly afterward by a small army of Saviors whom have been taken by Jesus as Prisoners of War), and watch Rick try to bargain with Morales before Daryl puts him down once and for all.

All of that and we're still in the same day (tv-time wise) we started the season in, and we're not done with "today" yet.  We're basically past the initial offensive and back to where we started, less a LOT of Saviors and a handful of Team Family (mostly redshirts), ready to regroup before the next plan of attack... except for Carol, Ezekiel, and the Kingdom's group who are caught in an ambush at the end of the episode, and picking back up with how they get out of that scrape is where we start Episode 4.

It's fairly clear who the "Monsters" are in each scenario.  The most surprising is that Tara, Morgan, and Daryl are turning out to be the ones who only see in black & white.  It's the whole you're either with us or you're against us and will soon be dead type of thing.  This time around Rick and Jesus are the ones trying to retain a shred of humanity by not automatically killing Saviors on sight.  While they recognize the distinction between "worker bee" and "soldier boy", the others just want them all gone.  As we're all becoming far too aware, the only way to ensure someone doesn't come back to bite you is ending it on the spot (twice if necessary).

Now that Eric is gone, Aaron may join Group No-Nonsense in what seems to be an all-too-familiar character arc... you lose someone you love, you go stone cold crazy for a while, then you come back to reality just in time to possibly be axed yourself.  We leave him in a strange place, though, having volunteered to take Gracie, the baby Rick found at the Saviors' outpost, back to Hilltop with him as he visibly grieves the loss of Eric.  So now we have two babies and a pregnant lady in the apocalypse.  Well, we needed to start over somewhere, since we chomped right through the last group of kids we had (at the prison).

Next week's episode is the half-way point to the mid-season break and it appears to be more of the same, inching toward a climax of some sort that we hope will just knock our socks completely off and across the room once we get there.  When this is all over we're going to need a "party" episode to take a breath with, where the group just enjoys a big feast, a hot shower, and gossip about Mrs. Niedermeyer.


Monday, October 30, 2017

The Walking Dead: Season 8 Episode 2 WDF Review

Episode 2:  The Damned

It's official.  This entire season is probably only going to cover a few days of "tv time".  This episode is just an extension of the same day we left last week, and we end the episode having not advanced much in time.  A lot was covered in one hour in screen time, so you'll have to get your keepin' up pants on... okay that was stupid, but you get what we mean.

Our "Army" is currently fragmented into four groups... one with Tara, Jesus, and Morgan at the outpost Team Family originally attacked (the event that sparked AbraGlenngate), one at the medical facility outpost (where Carol and Ezekiel were last seen diving for cover from a grenade), one where Rick and Daryl are looking for an arsenal, and one where Aaron is helping lead an attack on another new (to us) outpost.  Flipping back & forth between all these story lines can be a bit confusing, but we'd rather do it this way than not check in with one or more groups for multiple episodes as has been done in the past when we had multiple "home bases" to keep up with.

Let's cut to the chase, shall we?  Tara, Jesus, and Morgan successfully clear their outpost by taking a rather large group of Saviors prisoner after they surrender.  The small splinter team Morgan had been clearing with was mowed down (losing two "Family Army" redshirts in the meantime), but after a fake-out death Morgan rose to his feet just in time to argue with Jesus about taking the hostages rather than killing them as their directive demands.  Turns out Jesus is to be our voice of peace and understanding this season now that Morgan and Carol are both fully invested in Team Shoot-Em-In-The-Face.

Carol & Ezekial and their team clear the medical center but lose track of the one survivor who tossed the grenade, raising concerns that he will make it to another outpost to warn the Saviors that they are coming.  They follow him through the woods by way of trail-o-blood, and catch up to him just as another group from The Kingdom show up with Shiva... who makes quick work of that Savior-on-the-run.  Unfortunately, though, just as the episode is ending they realize the 2nd outpost has already been alerted to the impending attack.

The firefight led by Aaron gets pretty nasty.  There are casualties on both sides (though only redshirts), and Eric is shot in the gut.  Oh NOES!  Although he was not dead when we last saw them retreating from the battle, chances of survival from that sort of wound in a post-apocalyptic world are slim.  We are more than likely being set up for a farewell episode for Eric some time very soon if not next week, undoubtedly leading to much character development for Aaron.

Rick and Daryl are clearing a building but split up to do it so they are, rather stupidly, both alone.  Rick ends up in a battle to the (Savior) death, before finding a sleeping babe in a crib which causes a brief existential meltdown.  In one of the better twists of the last few seasons, he ends the episode at gunpoint by... wait for it...  MORALES!  Yes, folks, the Morales that decided to forego the trip to the CDC and disappeared in his station wagon with his family way back in Season 1 is back!  Unfortunately for us, he is a changed man, a member of The Saviors and now holding Rick hostage until the reinforcements he has alerted arrive.  Little bastard.

So, lots of action and lots of developments, some small some not-so-small.  This episode is definitely one you need to watch twice to make sure you caught everything.  Hopefully we'll get in some good "regrouping" episodes between this sort of fast-paced action, which we would assume is coming at least long enough to deal with Eric's wounds.  Hold on to your butts, people!  It's going to be a bumpy ride.


Monday, October 23, 2017

The Walking Dead: Season 8 Episode 1 WDF Review

Episode 1:  Mercy

This episode picks up pretty much right where we left off, with the group preparing for the 2nd battle of All Out War (the first battle being in the Season 7 finale).  If you were expecting this to be some sort of build up to a mass surprise attack perpetrated by Team Allies in the exciting style of the Season 7 ender resulting in a satisfying loss on Team Savior's part, you... might be half right?

In classic TWD style, the timeline was fragmented, bouncing back & forth in time to touch plot points in a planned order... but the word we're hearing on the street is that it felt somewhat disjointed and contrived with pacing that left a lot to be desired.  We admit it was one of the more difficult episodes to follow; you never knew exactly what we were watching them prepare for and then when the time came, it seemed like it didn't quite have the intended impact.  The amount of screen time spent funneling a horde toward The Sanctuary was excessive and overly dramatized for sure.  It sort of gave you that "stuck in traffic" feeling, where you're mentally urging things forward but it wasn't progressing at the pace you hoped for, at least not at the "Premiere Episode" level.  In the quest to spoon feed us just enough information to allow us to connect the dots, we were fed unnecessary fluff such as Tara's over-dramatic countdown (as if a walker horde moves at such a precise, predictable pace).  Yes, there were definitely things that could have been done better, but then we're also being very picky for a television drama.

We finally see the full "Old Rick" sequence as a flash-forward several years to Rick and his family living in a peaceful, safe community.  Although there was much speculation as to what this part of the Comic-Con teaser meant, it appears as though this is Rick's fantasy for his family's future and therefore his motivation for fighting.  Dwight is back at The Sanctuary as a mole for Team Allies, exchanging messages with Daryl through the fence via message-in-an-arrow.  Maggie is joking about being able to wage war through the second trimester.  And, for once, everyone including Morgan and Carol are on board with defeating The Saviors.

At first, Gregory is paraded out by The Saviors and attempts to vow Hilltop's loyalties as allies of The Saviors, but the rest of the group is having none of it.  When he tells Team Allies that anyone fighting against The Saviors will be exiled from Hilltop along with their families, Jesus and the other Hilltopians proclaim that Hilltop stands with Maggie.  Thus, Gregory is officially overthrown as the ruler of Hilltop and Maggie has been crowned in his stead... though this was already understood so it was just a formality at this point.

The battle ended with the vast majority of the inhabitants of The Sanctuary safely inside though the fencing was breached to let the horde into the courtyard.  Negan was stuck in an annex trailer surrounded by the horde along with Father Gabriel who was apparently not wearing his poopy pants and it may be an episode or two before we get to find out why he needed them.  Team Allies quickly retreated without any losses (despite taking heavy fire, those Saviors have terrible aim), but we don't seem to have made much progress in the war past that.  

At the end of the day we're just happy to be back in business, excited to see what the remainder of the season has in store.  For now, this was not necessarily the edge-of-your-seat premiere we were hoping for (though some would dispute that statement), but war is messy and has to start somewhere.