REVIEWCAP: The Walking Dead S5E02, “Strangers”


Unknown-1So, remember how I said last week that I wasn’t exactly sure how I would be writing these posts, and that some of them might be heavier on the “recap” style of post and some might be heavier “review” style posts?  I didn’t precisely say that?  Crap.  Well, that’s what I meant to say.  Point is, this one’s gonna be less recappy than last week.

Also, I’m gonna be talking about the comics a bit, toward the end, but I’ll keep it spoiler-free for how I think the show’s going to go.

PREVIOUSLY ON THE WALKING DEAD:  Throat-slitting!  Head-batting!  Improbable fireworks!  Reunions!  Bad decisions!  And FIRE ZOMBIES, which in case you aren’t clear from context, are ZOMBIES THAT HAVE BEEN SET ON FIRE.  In other words, the best thing ever.

So: It’s clear from the opening couple of minutes that this is going to be a slower more talky-style episode after the frenzy and horror and OMG FIRE ZOMBIES of the season premiere.  It starts with a bunch of brief character-setting moments, including the most excruciatingly awkward fist-bump in the history of television (you can see Andrew Lincoln wincing, I swear) between Rick and Tara.  They’re all (well, all but that) good moments, they’re just not super exciting.

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There’s lots of walking through the woods.  Michonne reaches for her sword to kill a zombie and is briefly startled that it’s not there.  So… what happened to it?  I swear that was the haft of the thing for the Darth Maul spear last episode, but I don’t remember it getting broken, and she shoulda kept the spear.

Daryl and Carol are taking watch.  Daryl sees some foreshadowing running around in the woods!  And opening credits!

They come back to Rick nearly shooting Daryl, who has been hunting.  He’s captured some bundles of fur, which in no way resemble animals (seriously, any time they try and use a rabbit in this show they may as well replace it with a pink stuffed animal for as good as it looks) and then there are screams.  Carl insists that they go help whoever it is.  It’s Gabriel!  Hi, Gabriel!

He’s in a spot of trouble.
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The gang kills the hell out of the zombies and then Gabriel gets The Questions.  Well, once he’s done vomiting.  Turns out he’s killed no one– no walkers, no people, nothing– he’s just been living in his church, off of the results of a wonderfully-timed canned food drive, and apparently copying the Bible by hand over and over and over again.

He leads the group to the church, but not without making a couple of incredibly inappropriate jokes about how maybe he’s leading everyone into a trap.  Rick checks the church out; it’s all good, and then Abraham tries to get everyone to go to DC with him and Mr. Obviously Not A Scientist, What the Hell is Wrong With You People.  Everyone declines.  In order.  It’s kind of hilarious.

More character stuff.  Rick talks to Carl about how he’s never safe, ever.  Carl is looking like there’s a Carl’s Not In the House moment coming up.  Rick questions Gabriel about how he’s been staying alive, and he mentions that there’s one place nearby he hasn’t cleaned out yet because there are too many zombies.

Field trip!

The first shot?  The crew they sent along is Rick, Michonne, Sasha, Bob, and Gabriel.  In other words, Rick and four black people– two of whom are a black man who’s been on the show and the new black man on the show.  So… Bob’s gonna die, then, right?  Because that’s what happens when this show introduces new black guys; they have to kill off the old one.  And we’ve already seen Morgan is coming back this season, which makes me fear for Tyreese, too.  Well, crap.  I liked Bob.  He was the only black man left on Earth who was named Bob.  That’s gotta be worth something.

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So the Crew of At Least One of Us is Doomed find their storefront.  There’s a hole in the floor, the basement is flooded, and the basement is full of zombies.  And, of course, all the food.  Do they find something long and sharp– like, say, Michonne’s spear that she had last episode– for stabbery?  No, of course not, we’ve gotta find an excuse to kill Bob, so we gotta climb down and use the shelves to keep the zombies away from us while we stab them at close range, because that makes perfect sense.  This works until Gabriel freaks out and runs away after clearly recognizing one of the zombies, at which point they knock a shelving unit onto a bunch of them (zombies can’t drown, you morons) and save Gabriel.

And then Bob gets dragged underwater.  And bitten no, of course, I’m not bitten, I’m just fine, don’t inspect me for bites, I’m okay.

This bit has really awesome zombie makeup, btw:

images(Interesting point: at this point in the series, the zombies are decayed enough that Sasha is able to brain the one that bit Bob didn’t bite Bob with the corner of a green plastic recycling box.  Those don’t normally shatter skulls.)

Back to the church.  Detective Carl has found some sinister signs that there is sinisterness afoot.  Namely, knife marks around a window outside the church– and, more worryingly, the words “YOU’LL BURN FOR THIS” carved into the wall.  Carl points out that this “doesn’t mean Gabriel’s a bad guy for sure.”  Pff.

Later, they’re celebrating, and Abraham gives a dumb speech about how they need to be dumb and go to DC with the dumb creepy guy who is OBVIOUSLY NOT A SCIENTIST.  The characters aren’t too bright this season again so he talks them into agreeing to go.  You know what’s in DC?  MILLIONS OF ZOMBIES.  MILL-EE-UNS.  Morons.

More character moments.  Carol tries to flee in a car.  Daryl talks her out of it.  And then a car with a white cross zooms by them– it’s the same car that kidnapped Beth!  Daryl and Carol jump into the car and take off after it.

Bob shares a tender moment with Sasha and goes outside to cry.  He’s totally not bitten everywhere at all, guys.  And then– wham.  Rifle butt to the back of the head.  And a zoom in on another weird marking on a tree, like we saw last episode and I’m not sure I mentioned.

Unrelated picture!

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And then something real interesting happens.  Bob’s been kidnapped by Gareth and his people, including, in a moment of supreme annoyingness, the dude who Tyreese apparently didn’t beat to death last episode, because again, bad decisions seem to be a theme this season.  Gareth gives Bob the exact same speech, word for word, that Chris gave to Dale in issue 63 of the comic book.  And… oh, crap:

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That’s, uh, a chunk of Bob he’s gnawing on there.  Because they’ve amputated Bob’s leg at the knee.  And they’re eating it.  Right in front of him.  He tastes surprisingly good, Gareth says.

Cut to credits.

For my money, this skeeves way more than the head-bashing and throat-slitting last week. And it gets directly to why I think The Walking Dead is one of the greatest adaptations from one medium to another that I’ve ever seen.  Because they’re doing the “Hunters” arc here– and, again, Robert Kirkman wrote this episode, and he wrote the comic books the episode is based on, and Gareth’s entire speech here is lifted word-for-word from the comics.  This show uses the comics as inspiration but they do not give one single crap about trying to be faithful.  If the show wants someone to die who is alive in the comics– like, say, Andrea, they die.  If they think it’s more interesting to keep someone alive for a while– like, say, Shane, who was dead almost right away in the comics and survived until the end of Season Two in the show– they stay alive.  And they remix storylines as they see fit.  See, I think I know what’s coming in the next couple of episodes, right?  Because I know what happened next in this arc in the comics.  But in the comics, this happened to Dale, who was already missing one of his legs– which is a thing that happened to Herschel in the TV show– and Dale had been bitten.  And that made things interesting.  In the show, Dale died three seasons ago, and Herschel lost a leg, and got beheaded by the Governor.  In the comics, Dale lost a leg, and got eaten by the hunters– and Tyreese was the one beheaded by the Governor, although he killed Herschel too, but in a different way.

This is great.  It means that the show can hit the high points of the comic series, but that the people who have been following them never really know what’s going to happen.  And it’s one of the best things about the show.

NEXT WEEK ON THE WALKING DEAD:  Oh, so very many jokes about this TV show. tumblr_static_c7dkxjfmskgg084wowsk4cgosAnd, no doubt, absolutely insane amounts of brutality to go with it.

Is it next Sunday yet?

 

Doctor Who Review: Series 8 Episode 9, “Flatline”

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by William Hohmeister

I think I’m ready to love again. Jamie Mathieson, will you marry the Doctor and become showrunner? You wrote my favorite episodes of Doctor Who series 8: “Mummy on the Orient Express” and this week’s episode, “Flatline.” I actually like Clara (Jenna Coleman) again! Longtime readers know I generally see no good in Clara’s character. She’s used so… generically, like a stand-in for a real Companion. “Mummy on the Orient Express” kept her out of view, but “Flatline” gives her a chance to act in a uniquely Clara way.

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) tries to drop Clara off after their latest adventure, but lands in Bristol. As he tries to deduce a solution to the problem, Clara points out something more worrying: the TARDIS’ door has shrunk. The Doctor and Clara squeeze through and find a shrunken TARDIS outside.

tardis_flatline“Flatline” introduces cool ideas about dimensions of space that I think the writer stole from Flatland. The interior of the TARDIS is infinite; the exterior is the size of a police box. As Whovians know, this leads to many humans gushing “It’s bigger on the inside.” The Doctor guesses that something is leeching power from the Tardis, causing it to shrink. He goes back inside, while Clara explores.

Clara meets Rigsy (Joivan Wade) and Fenton (Christopher Fairbanks) cleaning up Rigsy’s graffiti. Rigsy tells her of missing people, and shows her a mural that depicts each person from behind. She asks for his help, and goes back to get the Doctor.

Here’s where the show took a turn it really needed: the TARDIS has shrunk to the size of a paperweight and the Doctor is trapped inside. Clara picks it up, and we find out something really cool: the Doctor can adjust the TARDIS ’ weight. Since the Tardis is infinite, it would also be infinitely heavy if not for the weight adjustment. Usually it weighs as much as a police box, but now Clara can pick it up and stow it in her purse. It’s a great piece of world-building that I really liked.

Why is the TARDIS ’ size so important? The Doctor, just able to fit his hand throughclara_flatline the door, passes Clara his tools: sonic screwdriver, psychic paper, and an ear piece so he can communicate. Clara picks up Rigsy to investigate the homes of the vanished people, and introduces herself as: “The Doctor. Doctor Oswald.”

The episode unfolds as you expect from here: investigation, discovery, running, enlightenment, running, taking control of the situation, running, and a final plan. Clara drives each of these moments instead of the Doctor, however. The Doctor provides exposition, but he does not play a crucial role until the end. And the Doctor himself has admitted that sometimes he just talks until he hears a solution he likes, making him sort of an exposition-machine even to himself.

Clara plays the Doctor’s role in a way I think is unique to her. We’ve seen other Companions – Rose and Donna come to mind – play at being the Doctor. Rose was terrified (“The Christmas Invasion”) and Donna nearly died (“Journey’s End”).

Clara is a human Doctor, and she’s very efficient at it. She tells Rigsy the truth – or at least part of it – and when he tries to leave Clara shows him the Doctor and the Tardis. While investigating one home she pretends to be MI-5 to get PC Forrest’s (Jessica Hayles) help. The Doctor decides the vanished people must be in the walls of the house; in a moment worthy of the Looney Tunes, he passes Clara a sledgehammer through her purse. Clara explains simply: “Apparently they’re in the walls.”

Continue reading

Weekend Music: Everybody Wants to Rule the World (and announcements)


I know I’ve shared this here before, but I’m playing the world domination thing for laughs this week, and I’ve heard lots of people like the Hunger Games ;-)
Things you need to know:
  • I am on vacation next week with the family. I’ll be keeping tabs, but only around if something comes up or someone really needs to chat, and only responding in the evenings. Contributors’ posts will go as normal, and we may even have a surprise thrown into the mix.
  • I’ve done a little mini promotion for Suze81’s #SundayBlogShare this week. If you plan to share links on Sunday, you need to give Suzie’s post a read. I’m using a couple of Follow Fridays today to give people an easy way to spread the word. If you’d like to join in, I have a post for you at Just Gene’O, and if it’s not your thing, no worries.
  • I’ve got drafts piled up around my ears, but nothing that can’t wait and nothing that won’t be much improved if I work on them a little more. My Saturday Coffee post at Just Gene’O will be my last personal post until I get back unless something comes up that can’t wait.
  • Photoblogging is not going away. I’m just a little short on time to do the loading-and-publishing part of the blogging right now. If you’re following for the photos, stick with us. They’ll be back.
Have a great weekend, all!

American Horror Story Freak Show: “Edward Mordrake, Part 1″ Review

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I quite enjoy the American Horror Story tradition of a two-part Halloween episode, something that began in the Murder House initial season. In its third episode of the season, Freak Show gives us an hour of Halloween build-up before announcing, rather audaciously, “to be continued.” Ethel is dying-but-not-dead, Elsa Mars is even more determined to be a star, Bette and Dot fight over their success, and the ghost of Edward Mordrake (Wes Bentley) rises.

Denis O’Hare and Emma Roberts are also introduced in the episode, so we finally get to see what iterations they’ll take on this season. Roberts and O’Hare are in The American Morbidity Museum, peddling a gaff. They’ve been found out, though, and are on their way out with their baby-Sasquatch-in-a-jar in tow. Evidently the Museum is having a difficult year, what with the Ed Sullvian Show and all, so Roberts and O’Hare are assured that the museum *will* pay well for genuine artifacts, but it *won’t* ask questions. Queue their departure for Florida, to one of the last freak shows. (Major spoiler warning!)

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Mordrake?

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Definitely Mordrake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethel’s gone to the doctor, and she only has 6 months to a year to live. Liver cirrhosis, though she hasn’t had a drink in several years. The scene between Bates and the good doctor who delivers the bad news is suitably poignant, and when Ethel wonders what her life might’ve been like it she’d been show kindness by such a doctor (or any other man) before, it’s a little heartbreaking.

And then we’re in a tussling, moving, hive of activity in a tent. Many of the performers are carousing, laughing. Except Jimmy, who cannot forget Meep’s death long enough to carouse, and Bette and Dot, who are still at war with one another.  Dot is aghast at the commotion, especially when Jimmy is clearly still so upset. She suggests they rehearse and get ready for the evening’s Halloween performance…

But Ethel quickly stands, saying there will be no performance. She relates the story of Edward ahstalkingaboutmordrakeMordrake (Wes Bentley), a British nobleman’s son who was cursed with a double-sided head. He was sent to Bedlam to be hidden, but he murdered an attendant and escaped. He wound up at a freak show, parading his aristocratic skills across the stage and performing music he wrote. The other head was a constant source of worry and trouble for him, though, always telling him awful things. One Halloween, Mordrake killed everyone in the freak show before hanging himself. And evidently, if a freak show performs on Halloween, he returns and takes someone with him.

But before Mordrake can visit, it’s time for Emma Roberts to make her appearance as Mystic Maggie, who is looking for a job at the freak show. She surmises, from a set of quick, appraising glances, what has been Elsa’s fate, and explains her past—that a woman stole the limelight from her, stole the applause that should’ve been hers for her beautiful music. Elsa is entranced, and when Maggie gives her hope for a new future—in a vision, she sees a dark stranger who comes to ahsmysticmaggietown and unlocks Elsa’s true potential–Elsa is convinced that Mystic Maggie has the Gift. When Maggie later talks to her partner (O’Hare) over the phone, she is shocked by his cavalier suggestions of murder—or at least she seems to be. But it’s fairly clear that she’s paving a path for O’Hare to walk down when he comes to town.

Dot and Bette are asleep in their tent. They’re having dreams, now, strange ones in which Dot has Bette surgically removed. And Dot is openly hostile, vowing to have the surgery performed, though she knows it will mean Bette’s death. And across the way, Dell and Desiree are in a fight—seems it’s been a while since they’ve had sex because of Dell’s erectile dysfunction.

Dell storms out of the house and into Ethel, who has again opened the bottle of liquor she was advised would only hasten her death. She asks him to take care of Jimmy, but Jimmy is never to ahsanoddconversationknow that Dell is his father. It’s another poignant moment, underscoring the ways that Ethel’s life–and Jimmy’s–could’ve been different outside of the carnival. But it’s also a really weird one, in which Dell proclaims loudly that he never loved Ethel but then stares into the distance wondering what could’ve been and Ethel  wants him to hide his parentage but help Jimmy “become a man” somehow.

Dot and Bette, meanwhile, have decided to rehearse. They’re making everyone nervous, because of the Edward Mordrake story, but they don’t care. And neither does Elsa, who sweeps on-stage in a glorious green gown and boa to dethrone the girls. She needs to practice. Her dark and mysterious gentleman will be there soon, and Edwardahsgreendress Mordrake is a myth. Unless he’s not. The moment Elsa starts crooning “Gods and Monsters,” we something’s coming. There’s a thick green fog, and there’s then there’s Edward Mordrake.

He departs, though. He’s looking for a soul to take with him, a “true freak.” Not entirely sure what that means, yet, but apparently it isn’t Ethel. She’s the first person visited by Mordrake, and he asks for her story. Ethel was a young woman and a favorite on the vaudeville circuit, but when she met Dell, he convinced her to start more highbrow acts reciting Shakespeare and the classics–which no one liked. It tanked her career, and we see a pregnant Ethel reduced to dependency on Dell. In one of the most cringe-worthy-but-not-gory moments of the season (maybe ever?), we see Dell selling tickets to the birth of his child, see Ethel give birth, and watch Dell hold up the baby, charging people to “hold the freak.” But this life of sadness somehow disqualifies Ethel from what Mordrake wants, and he leaves her, shaky but completely intact.

Meanwhile, in Twandy-land…

Dandy and Gloria are preparing for their annual Halloween celebration. So far as I can tell, this involves Patti Labelle donning a Woody the Woodpecker costume, doing lots of work, and Gloria standing around waiting for Dandy in a room that looks like the 1950s went to Pinterest for Halloween decorating tips. Gloria has gotten Dandy a Howdy Doody Halloween costume again, and he abhors it. He starts breaking things, and we finally see more of what’s underneath the facade. He stomps out and makes his own costume, a clown-suit with a mask. On his way out of the house, he threatens Dora (Patti Labelle) but can’t bring himself to harm her, and is in tears by the time he storms away to the trailer where Twisty is holding the others.

Dandy goes to the trailer and begins trying to stab the captives through the wire, but his reach isn’t far enough. He decides to use a stick to poke at them, and he’s in the middle of this operation when he’s interrupted by the  arrival of Twisty, who has acquired a new hostage, the brother of a Young Girl Who is Very Afraid of Clowns.

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My guess is that in our Halloween finale we’ll see some Twandy-inspired gore and a conclusion to Mordrake’s appearance at the freak show.

Episode Grade: B+ This one is a little messy, and it was difficult to structure a review around, as there are so many overlapping subplots and characters. It’s still a solid entry in the series though, and it lays a lot of groundwork for what could very well be a hell of a Halloween episode.

Nightcrawler by Chris Claremont


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Cover to Nightcrawler #2. The cover art has been some of the best part!

This week, I want to look at the new run of Nightcrawler by Chris Claremont. It makes sense that it’s Claremont writing it – he’s put decades into the character. Of course, that also means you might not expect to see something new from the comic – but instead more of the same.

Then again, more of the same took a lot of work. When I got back into comics, I found out that my favorite character – Nightcrawler – had died. I wrote about some of the signs they gave about potentially bringing him back. And finally, as talked about here on Sourcerer, Nightcrawler came back!

It happens all the time in comics – the dead character comes back. Clones, time travel, alternate dimensions, never dead in the first place… but in Nightcrawler’s case, he actually and fully died. And went to Heaven. And that’s where the X-Men found him – and brought him back from. That’s all chronicled in Amazing X-Men.

So he’s back, and has a solo comic – something actually pretty rare for the blue elf – and has his old creator back at the helm. What are they up to? Why bring Nightcrawler back? A few thoughts on that and on the comic Nightcrawler!

You Can Never Go Home Again

Oh. Except that you can.

That’s where things start in Nightcrawler. Kurt Wagner’s been dead. Ten years or so in outside world time (so who knows how long in the comics…). And he’s back. So what do you do? What would you do?

Cover to Nightcrawler #4

Cover to Nightcrawler #4

He goes looking for old connections, of course. He find Amanda Sefton, his lifelong companion and often lover. That leads them away to their old home, the circus that Nightcrawler was so quick to remind everyone of in X-2. There he is: back home again. The people are still there, and he knows them, but they don’t believe he’s back alive, and it’s full of laughs and happy. And action. And lots of teleporting.

From there, back to the X-Men, where Nightcrawler has to find a home back among his brethren, in a landscape that has changed quite a bit. New school, new headmaster (Wolverine?), and lots of new students.

Oh, and more swashbuckling and teleporting. They definitely know their audience!

It’s 7 issues in so far, and honestly, I don’t know what I think. It feels like a nostalgia ride, like a last hurrah, like a pet project and labor of love for Claremont. It’s some pretty obvious sorts of things that Kurt does once he’s back, some pretty normal sorts of adjustments. And by normal, I mean I’ve seen Buffy: the Vampire Slayer season 6. He was in Heaven!…

But can the comic be more than that? The thing I maybe have to compare it to most is the older run of Nightcrawler, a 12-comic run from before Kurt died. In it, he’s not going around fighting at every chance. He’s investigating a mystery – the sort that seems to follow him around. Demons and magic. Sure, there’s been magic in the new comic, but that older comic had some real twists and was a lot of fun. This is just a stroll down memory lane so far… once that’s done, will it become more? Or will it end, like a lot of one-character comics do?

Nightcrawler (2004-2005) #8

Cover to #8 of the 2004-2005 12-issue Nighcrawler

I have a theory (it could be bunnies! oh, no, not Buffy, sorry), and it has to do with the most recent issue. Continue reading

About my personal blog . . .

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Just so you know, I’ve got a new set of about pages and a new tagline for Just Gene’O coming soon. Posting this here because I want Suzie81’s #SundayBlogShare to spread as far as possible before the end of the week, so I’m not ready to disturb Just Gene’O’s front page yet. That’s an ultra-low-traffic blog, but every blogger counts. No telling who might see it and share it if I leave it up. The hardest part of blogging is knowing when not to post.

I’ve struggled for most of the year to figure out how my own blog fits into the scheme, and I believe I have nailed it down. It is an epiphany. It’s thanks to all you marvelous peeps who chatted with me about my Feminist Friday wrap-up at Part Time Monster and my crazy-long planning post here on Sunday, and who responded to my #SundayBlogShare tweets. I saw all those Twitter notifications yesterday after work. It was gratifying.

Just Gene’O can’t be writing-centric any more because it has to be blogger-centric to get us where we’re going. I haven’t done a serious writing piece in ages, and I need a blog for bloggers because that’s more inclusive.

I need an online space to introduce myself specifically to bloggers: geek bloggers, food bloggers, mommy bloggers, diarists, and every other type of blogger you can think of, as well as writers and book lovers. Not to worry, you writers and writing bloggers who have supported me this year. You have my gratitude, and you’re still getting the love from me. I value reading and literacy more than almost anything else, and I am a writer. Thanks for all you do.

I didn’t see the need to do this until now because I didn’t have the portfolio to make it work until recently. But now I do see it. My writing about blogging and social media is the most popular thing I’ve done this year, and it’s mostly bloggers who pay attention to me on Twitter. This change is the next logical thing. It needs to be done soon, while we’ve got things buzzing a little and before the heavy writing starts. I’m thinking I’ll make the changes live on Friday afternoon and roll them out in my coffee post on Saturday, but that is contingent on my schedule.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to write about blogging over there 24/7. The personal stuff will stay,  and I’m still planning to add a fun feature or two. It’s not a space to publish tons of content about blogging so much as place to do things like Social Saturdays and to pass along information (like #SundayBlogShare) that other bloggers might like to know.

Thanks, Luther, for the meme! Follow Luther on Twitter @nfinitefreetime and buy his books. You know you want to. (#JediMindTrick)  ;-)

- ed. If we manage to get through this next phase and come roaring back in January, there will be pirate and world-domination themed comedy aplenty!