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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Walking Deaditation: "Us"

The Walking Dead 2010 logo

The episode "Us" seems to be a "palate cleanser" for The Walking Dead. After last week's gut-wrenching "The Grove", the show took a step back to move the story-line forward and stick to a more positive tone. The audience got its first look in on Rick, Michonne, and Carl in many weeks. However, a majority of the episode bounced between Darryl's new group and the group consisting of Glenn, Tara, Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene.

Darryl found himself in conflict with one of the members of the new group over a rabbit. However, it was obvious that this conflict stemmed deeper than who got to eat the rabbit. The group's leader, Joe, explained to Darryl that the rules of the group are that you need to say "claim" before someone else if you want something and that you may not steal or lie. Darryl was very hesitant and skeptical the entire time he spent interacting with the group. The member that was at odds with Darryl finally met his demise. The group beat him to death when he lied about trying to frame Darryl for stealing. As the group continued on, Darryl learned that they were tracking a man that invaded their house and killed one of their members. Darryl has no idea that this man was Rick. As they continued on the train tracks, the candy bar wrapper that Michonne dropped earlier was visible on the ground. 

The other main story-line of the episode was Glenn continuing to search for Maggie. Glenn was filled with hope and enthusiasm as he finally found the messages Maggie had been leaving him to go to Terminus. However, this joy soon came to a halt when Glenn realized that he would have to navigate through a dark tunnel that was more than likely crawling with walkers. Abraham's group decided to part ways with Glenn and Tara at this point in order to keep Eugene safe. This split did not last long however, as Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene found Maggie, Bob, and Sasha. They all saved Glenn and Tara from impending zombie doom.

After the two groups reunited, they finally made their way to Terminus. The initial vibes that Terminus gave off were both peaceful and creepy. There were no people around when they first entered, but there were many plants growing throughout the area. Eventually, the group met a woman named Mary that welcomed them as she was grilling some food.

Some might argue that this episode was anti-climatic out side of the sappy reunion between Glenn and Maggie. However, being sandwiched between an episode like "The Grove" and a season finale, this episode had to serve more as a vehicle to lead the viewers to the climatic end of the season. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Walking Deaditation: "The Grove"

The Walking Dead 2010 logo

"The Grove" was one of the most intense and sad episodes this season. The episode focused solely on the story-line involving Carol, Tyreese, and the girls. It seemed like everything was looking up for the group, but that feeling never lasts long in "The Walking Dead Universe."

Lizzie has been both creepy and sad ever since she appeared on the show. It was pretty obvious that she was feeding the zombies rats at the prison. Her weird obsession with the walkers has been unsettling. As noted before on this blog, one of the most disturbing moments in the episode "Inmates" was when Lizzie seemed like she was going to suffocate baby Judith. Lizzie continued her weird affection for the walkers in the beginning of the episode.

The foreshadowing of Lizzie's possible homicidal side finally came to fruition when Carol and Tyreese discover that Lizzie has killed her sister, Micah. The moment was extremely creepy and was pushed even further when Lizzie revealed that she was about to kill Judith as well. Of course, in Lizzie's mind, she was proving a point that the walkers were not dangerous.

Once Lizzie killed her sister, it was obvious that there was only one way to resolve the situation: killing Lizzie. Tyreese and Carol came to this realization after discussing the fact that she cannot be around people. The scene where Carol finally shoots Lizzie was very sad. When Lizzie was crying and disappointed in herself for making Carol mad, there was a genuine empathy built up for Lizzie and a realization that no matter what, she is just a kid. 

The ending of the episode with Carol finally coming clean to Tyreese was very well acted. It was obvious that after seeing the two girls die, Tyreese realized that there was no need for anymore bloodshed and that Carol was making tough decisions to protect people. 

The previews point to next week's episode featuring Darryl and Glenn's story-lines. This means Carol and Tyreese's story-line probably won't continue until the season finale. 

Walking Deaditation: "Alone"

The Walking Dead 2010 logo

"Alone" pushed the Season 4 plot ahead, foreshadowing some major plot-lines and possible reunions. The episode followed two story-lines. One story-line was with Darryl and Beth. The other was with Bob, Sasha, and Maggie.

The parts of the episode featuring Bob, Sasha, and Maggie didn't seem to make much sense. Obviously Maggie wants to find the sanctuary in hopes of meeting up with Glenn. However, Sasha reluctance to go makes no sense. The motivation for her to want to stay on the run really makes no sense. Finally, Bob convinced her to come along. There was also a bit of romance between Bob and Sasha, but it seemed very forced.

The story-line with Darryl and Beth continued to be compelling. Shacking up in a funeral home, Darryl and Beth found food and continued to bond. Darryl's attitude continued to become more positive as well. All was going well until Darryl mistook a swarm of zombies for a dog and opens the door. As they fought to survive, Darryl tells Beth to run. However, it seems someone has kidnapped her as a car speeds away with Beth's backpack left on the ground. While trying to chase down the car, Darryl finally ran out of steam. Eventually, Darryl found himself surrounded by the men that Rick encountered in the house. 

This episode left a lot of questions. Who took Beth? Who are these men that Rick and Darryl have both encountered? What are there intentions with Darryl? Comic book readers could speculate about these men even more. Are they the cannibalistic hunters? Are they members of the Saviors? Are they new original characters developed for the TV show? With only a few episodes left in the season, answers should be coming soon!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Shopping Carts and the Fall of Humanity

I guess the cart corral is too far away.

There is a manifestation of societal problems hiding right in plain sight. Time and time again, I get ready to turn into a parking spot at a busy grocery store only to find a shopping cart in the middle of the spot. Then, after being frustrated by the lack of consideration people have shown fellow shoppers in the parking lot, I need to navigate my way inside. Once, inside, it is more of the same, except the carts are now mobile. An invention that was created to make transporting groceries easier has become a symbol of discourteousness.

There are strategically placed cart corrals placed all over the parking lot. However, this isn't enough convenience for some people. This speaks to the self-centered, narcissistic society that we have become. In these cart abandoners' minds, once they are done with the cart, that is the end of its story. The cart doesn't go on to be used by other people. It doesn't take up parking space if it is not put away properly. It is not a burden that someone else has to chase down and put away. Out of sight, out of mind. 

Inside grocery stores, there are customers that should not be wielding a shopping cart. Some people dart straight for something they randomly see like a mosquito chasing a bug-zapper, without taking into account that there are other people trying to travel through the aisles as well. The worst enablers of this behavior are sample carts. These lead to a feasting gridlock. Then there are the people that are focused on their phones. These wonderful people stop in the middle of the aisle, blocking others. Sometimes they turn around the corner of an aisle blindly, ready to run into whatever or whomever awaits them. It scares me to think about what these people are like when they are driving a car.

People need to start having more consideration for others if our society is going to function. Shopping carts etiquette is the perfect poster child for this problem. On one occasion, I remember grabbing a few stray carts and giving them to the girl that was working in the parking lot on a 105 degree day. She was so grateful, she acted like she was Lois Lane and I was Superman. Taking care of a shopping cart should make people look at you like you're Clark Kent, not Superman.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Walking Deaditation: "Still"

The Walking Dead 2010 logo

Despite only featuring two characters and not featuring zombies for a majority of the episode, "Still" was an emotionally charged installment of The Walking Dead. The viewers were treated to a look at the current situation of Darryl and Beth, as well as insight into both characters.

Darryl continued on with his disconnected, bitter attitude that he displayed in the episode "Inmates." He was staying silent, but continuing to fight to survive. It seemed at the beginning of the episode that he had decided to just stay in the woods indefinitely and stew in his misery. However, he leaves the woods when Beth decides she is going to have her first alcoholic drink. 

The first place they found was a country club. The inside was creepy. It included walkers hanging by their necks and weird labels on corpses. This was the moment in the episode that the two were in the most danger. Darryl ended up taking on walkers with a golf club, which was kind of comical. However, the mood soon changed as Darryl repeatedly bashed a walker with a the golf club long after the walker had died.This set the tone for the rest of the episode.

With nothing but peach schnapps in the country club, Darryl and Beth moved on. They were able to find an old still house filled with moonshine. As they played a drinking game, learning more about each other, Darryl finally became unhinged and we saw how horrible of a drunk he was. Darryl berated and bullied Beth, acting like more of a threat to her than any walker. However, he finally showed where his attitude was stemming from. 

Darryl had not necessarily lost hope, he just felt inadequate. He blamed himself for Hershel's death and The Governor's attack on the prison. He saw himself as a redneck loser that was basically a lackey for his older brother. Beth reassured him that he was not inadequate and talked about the change in herself as well. At the end, they burned down the still house together to symbolically destroy the past and look to the future.

"Still" was an excellent example of character driven storytelling. It showed that Darryl and Beth have more in common than just happening to end up together when they were running away. They are two characters that have grown into better, stronger people after the outbreak. Darryl is no longer the follower redneck "nothing." he once was. People depend on him and respect him. Beth is no longer the suicidal victim she once was. She is now a survivor and trying to make the most out of whatever life she now has. It's too bad it took a zombie apocalypse for them to grow.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Kinda Express Lane

When I first saw a sign that said "Express Lane: About 15 Items" I was blown away by the word "About." I know that this me making a mountain out of a mole hill, but get out your hiking gear and climb.

There are several issues that this sign brings up for me. The first one is that basically this is a waving of the metaphorical white flag for the Express Lane. This store is saying, "You don't care about the rules of the Express Lane and we are sick of fighting it!" What is "About 15?" Is it 14? 30? What are the expectations now? 

The second issue this brings up is the fact that the customers no longer have any obligation to math outside of very subjective estimation.  Kindergartners use manipulatives such as blocks in order to learn to count. Isn't this essentially the same concept when it comes to counting grocery items? Are we really at a point in society where it is too much to ask to have consumers employ kindergarten math concepts?

This sign indicates that the following 3 step process is too complicated for the average shopper:
1. Start counting the things in your cart
2. If you stop at or before 15, go in the Express Lane
3. If you get to 16, go into a lane that is not the Express Lane

Honestly, I've always had an issue with the "Express Lane" in general. This grievance is not with the idea of it, but the enforcement of it. Maybe other people have personal anecdotes that differ, but I have never actually seen the laws of an Express Lane enforced at a grocery store. If this is the case, why even waste the time to have a Faux Express Lane?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Walking Deaditation: "Claimed"

The Walking Dead 2010 logo

The latest episode of The Walking Dead "Claimed" was a fantastic hour of television. The episode featured some of the great slow burn suspense that audiences have become accustomed to from The Walking Dead. It also brought some new characters into the fold that comic book readers are familiar with. 

We got to see the actual reunion of Michonne with Rick and Carl that was inferred in the mid-season premiere "After." The trio was making due in the abandoned house until they could plot their next move. Michonne urged Rick to rest while she went out looking for supplies with Carl. This seemed to serve two purposes: to help Carl make a human connection and to let a beaten down Rick heal. 

The transformation of Michonne's character has been interesting to watch. She gave more insight to her past as she opened up to Carl. This allowed Carl to finally acknowledge some of his feelings he has been bottling up. The scene where Michonne discovered the kids' room was extremely sad and intense.

Rick seemed to finally get an opportunity to just rest and heal up. However, things are never easy when Rick is involved. He was soon involved in one of the most anxiety ridden scenes the audience has witnessed in a while. The writers decided refused to let Rick or the audience rest easy as Rick found himself stuck under a bed hoping that some random men would not find him. Eventually, in order to escape, Rick had to strangle a man. It showed that when it comes down to it, Rick is ready to survive at all costs. These scenes were very well executed.

Finally, the show gave a proper introduction to the new characters. Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene were on a journey to Washington based on the belief that Eugene knows how to cure the outbreak. However, when Glenn wakes up to find himself on this journey with them, it does not go over well. Glenn is set on finding Maggie, whether it kills him or not. The new characters will probably serve the future story-line well, but the scene with the fist fight and Eugene firing the machine gun into the truck was kind of silly. This was probably the one weakness of this episode.

Overall, this was a fantastic episode. It revealed more information about the characters and built suspense. There are several story-lines now open as the plot moves forward.