The Walking Dead Mid-season Report

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The Walking Dead has made noticeable strides towards becoming a competent television drama. Carol has been turned into one of the shows most beloved characters, behind only Daryl and Rick (and arguably Glenn). It learned how to end conflicts fairly quickly. The group’s Terminus situation was wrapped up in three or four episodes. We also haven’t apparently seen the end of Morgan! Let’s hope he sticks around for a while.

Unfortunately, the finale took a minor step backwards. Instead of letting the story dictate what happens, the show runners decided to end the mid season finale with a bang. Literally, and figuratively. There was no reason Beth should have been killed in that situation. The deal was done. She was home free, mere minutes away from seeing her only living family member. Instead she decided to make an attempt on her “mentor”’s life. Dumb, dumb, so dumb. If I have anything positive to say about the scene, it’s how well acted it was by Rick and Daryl. That moment swiftly came to an end when you see Maggie start wildly screaming.

Lauren Cohan, while immensely attractive, is not a great actress. On top of that, I have no attachment towards her character. She didn’t bring up Beth once this whole season (or much of last season if I recall). Who really tunes in for the Glenn/Maggie relationship? Maybe it’s more authentic in the comics, but the show hasn’t done well by them. Whenever either of them are in danger I end up hoping for one, if not both, of their demises. Beth and Daryl had more chemistry towards the end, which is why Daryl’s reaction stung.

I’m sure most people are fine with the group going from spot to spot, foe to foe. But eventually you need to map out an end game. There has to be some background as to what the virus is. Otherwise why keep watching? To see what underdeveloped minor, POSSIBLY major, character will die during the season. The arc with D.C. was a good start, even if it Eugene’s confession came as a shock to no one.

The Walking Dead is a fine show. I respect the viewership numbers it brings in. I’m for any show that will gravitate the medium away from cop procedurals. Every Sunday I’ll watch, just don’t ask me to care.

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The Walking Dead 2-4

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It’s been three episodes since I’ve last talked about the show. In that time Terminus became terminated, my favorite character, Bob, lost his life (after losing his leg), and Beth has taken up a career in the nursing industry.

I’m not nearly as invested in this show compared to the rest of the world. The fan base is massive, as evidence from its NFL Sunday Night Football beating numbers. But at this point I’m watching due to lack of content.  I’m only watching a handful of television dramas right now.

  • The Walking Dead
  • Arrow
  • The Flash

That’s it right there. Breaking Bad ended a while ago. Boardwalk Empire much more recently. The Netflix originals have already been devoured. Justified, Game of Thrones, and Mad Men don’t return until 2015. Sons of Anarchy hasn’t been watchable since Season 3. FX decided to axe The Bridge. And there are a bunch of shows I’ve yet to start (Hannibal, Masters of Sex, The Americans, etc.).

A few years ago, The Walking Dead may have been on sixth or seventh on my “TV Priority List”. Right now it’s probably third behind the CW’s superhero dramas. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the show, I totally do. It’s dessert for me. Not essential, don’t have to watch every Sunday. Boardwalk Empire on the other hand, had to be watched immediately. I don’t want people telling me how Chalky died. I need to experience that in the moment. But if someone lets slip that Daryl had a bite taken out of his neck? No worries. Unlike him, I’ll live.

Beth’s episode captured what the show can be. I’m always for the episodes centered around a specific character. The Governor’s weren’t entirely all that special, but it was better than any treatment he received the year prior. It also helps that I find Beth incredibly attractive. Hands off, Daryl!

Keep on doing your thing Dub Dee. Head shot zombies, let Rick growl, and keep trying to make me care about Glen and Maggie (do people really?). I’ll take it all in with genuine enjoyment, along with a good supply of eye rolls.

The Walking Dead – “No Sanctuary”

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If nothing else, The Walking Dead knows how to do a premier episode. They tend go heavy on the zombie killing, light on everything else. “No Sanctuary” was no exception. After four seasons I can’t say I’m disappointed, this isn’t exactly the show I turn to for deep fictional meaning.

Carol rescues the gang with the help from some of her walker friends. More specifically Rick, Daryl, kicker from The Waterboy, and Glen were saved just in time. Did anyone actually think they were in harm? The whole lining them up sequence was a bit cheesy to me. Rick makes a promise to the lead cannibal that he has a machete waiting with his name on it. Probably the most bad ass moment of the show.

The plot didn’t real move all that much. The whole group escaped without a scratch, reunited with Tyreese and Lil Ass kicker. Daryl and Carol shared a nice moment, but I’ve never cared for their lingering romance. I don’t want anyone in Daryl’s life other than his crossbow. I have to assume that we haven’t seen the last of Terminus, Rick still has a promise to fulfill.

I’m not sure there’s another character on TV who didn’t deserve a punch in the face more than the kid who was going to snap Lil Ass kicker’s neck. For some reason I don’t think Tyreese killed him, though. Those punches were deadly, no doubt, but his status was strangely left in the air. That punk kid had the best line of the episode. “That’s kind of like saving an anchor when you’re stuck on a boat in the middle of an ocean”, in regards to saving babies. Well, he’s not wrong. Enjoyed their interactions more than the zombie attack personally.

My favorite moment came during the after credits scene, Morgan hovering behind Rick and friends the whole way. Any time we get more from that actor I’m all in. He’s been part of two of the best episodes this show has ever done, and it’s not even arguable. Now that The Strain is over it’s up to The Walking Dead to fulfill that horror element in my television life. So far, so good.

The Strain – “Loved Ones” and “The Third Rail”

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The Strain is not a good show. The actors are putting in some of the worst work of their career (I want to support my fellow “Bald Brother”, Corey Stoll, but him and his wig are making it difficult), the dialogue has more cheese in it than any calzone I’ve ever ordered, and much as I trust Guillermo when it comes to special effects, I can’t help but laugh every time I see The Master.

Yet I keep coming back, Sunday after bloody Sunday. If I don’t find out what happens at the end I’ll go crazy. As terribly written as they are, I’m invested in all the main characters. Eph, Fet, Setrakian, and Gus at least. I look forward to the showdown between Eph and his, now Strigoi, wife. I want Fett to live up to his true potential in this new, infested world. There are bigger plans for Gus whether he knows it or not, and I’m eager to see where his path leads. And most of all, I want to witness the end of Setrakian’s story. I want to continue seeing into his past and living in his present. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and Abraham has two dishes reserved especially for Eichorst and The Master.

You can’t change what you love. When it comes to post apocalyptic disaster stories, I’ll always support it. Even the amateur hour that is The Walking Dead maintains appeal. There’s nothing like seeing humanity have their world turned upside down.

Kelly is the new pupil of The Master, Gus has gone nomad, and the “Old Jew” wants to take on a nest full of Strigoi. Bring on the last two episodes.

The Strain – “Runaways” and “Occultation”

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We’re finally at the stage where the main character desperately tries to convince people of the danger surrounding them. It’s one of my favorite sequences during every horror film. The naysayers always get what’s coming to them, and our protagonists can only give them the “I told you so” look.

Eph is aware of how real this threat is. Unfortunately for him, the government believes he’s killed a person. While Eph did murder in cold, ergh, white blood, the victim was certainly not a human being. Now he has his own government against him, on top of trying to control the spread of this virus. As boring as his story line with his son has been, it paid off in this episode. You could tell how frantic Eph was trying to convince his ex-wife to get out of New York City. After hearing Setrakian tell him about how the “Strigoi” go after their loved ones first, I have a feeling someone in Eph’s family isn’t going to make it. And seeing how the show is setting up Nora as the love interest, it looks like Kelly Goodweather might be in for some dark days.

It’s flashback time as we’re given a glimpse into Setrakian’s past. We now know Eichorst and the old man go way, way back. Setrakian is confirmed as a survivor. One who was kept up all night during Eichorst’s feedings. I’m really excited to get deeper into the back story of these two. We’re already aware of the death of his wife. I can only imagine how much pain this monster has put the “Jew” through. I know this is Eph’s story and he’s our good guy, but man am I connected to Setrakian. Already I emphasize with him and yearn for revenge. He’s had a life long battle with these creatures and he’s ready to settle the score. It appears he’s also a victim of his old age. Strigoi killing isn’t as easy as it was thirty years ago, eh?

Gus and Fet both encounter the diseased for the first time. Fet being visibly shaken by what he sees. He just HAD to go check out what was freaking out his rats in the sewers. What he found were a pack of vampires gunning for his throat. It’s funny how great the vampires aim is when attacking non main characters. But once Fett or Eph confront one, they’re ducking and dipping like Floyd Mayweather. Not a big deal, just an observation. No different than Daryl one timing every zombie or stormtroopers never being able to hit anything at all. Fet comes across a weakness to the creatures, though. They are prone to turning to dust whenever sunlight hits them. Unfortunately for his co-workers, he had to open the shades and light the infested up . Very powerful when he did it to the chick in his office. The way they filmed it and the fact he genuinely cared for her.

Poor Gus had to find out how much of a boss Eichorst really is. While he is quite the skilled boxer, he’s just no match for a long dead, blood sucking monster.On top of that, it looks like his portly friend is not long for this world. I couldn’t tell if he got the worm all the way out of his hand, but I think the police got to them both before the deed could be done. Typical cops, am I right?!

We get some good scenes from our early turned vamps in these two episodes. The poor wife of the shed guy was found hung by her own hands by Eph and the old man. I know this isn’t real life, but you have to feel for the kids of that family. Well, I guess you have to feel for all of the kids. Their world is about to be turned into a vampire’s playground. Bolivar is wreaking havoc as usual. Taking out that hot chick first, and then the guy who came to clean up his mess. For some reason I can never take Bolivar seriously. I don’t know what it is but I always just end up laughing when I see him. The best scene involved the lawyer who was one of the four survivors. The scene where her black housekeeper tried to get the kids out of the house was fantastic. Very tense. I’m hoping she doesn’t bring those kids back, ever. If I saw someones eyes blink like an alligator, I too would get the hell out of dodge.

New York City is getting closer to infestation with each new episode. It’ll only be a matter of time before the Strigoi outnumber humans. That’s fine with me. More chances to see Setrakian behead these bastards.

The Strain – “The Box”

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Last week we watched the premier of FX’s new drama The Strain and were mildly entertained. There was a bit of mystery that will keep me attached, but I’m not going to like myself for it. I’m not one of those people who needs to be blown away by the pilot. If the subject matter piques my interest enough then I’ll stick around. I like Guillermo Del Toro. I like the bald dude from House of Cards. And I fucking love The Lord of the Rings movies. You’re not getting rid of me so easily, mediocre television show.

What was my reaction after watching episode number two you ask? It didn’t excite me, but still kept me interested. I’m pretty sure we know, and more importantly, the show knows what it is. We have a concept (vampires) that appeals to the masses and we have the mystery dynamic that will keep audience members going. What exactly is this virus? Why are these people spreading it? Who exactly are these…people spreading it? And after a while it will be, “When will I find all of this out because I’m going to give up soon?”. This is a show that’s fit for TNT, not the sole competitor to HBO’s dominance in quality television programming.

Highlights of the episode include meeting Vasiliy Fet, the apparently kung fu oriented exterminator. He will surely have a big part of the show going forward. His background is certainly well suited for what’s about to come. The showdown at the jail with Eichorst and Setrakian was surprisingly tense. We gather they’ve had past experience with each other, in what seems to be a holocaust environment. All that talk of being just a number and Eichorst darkly referring to the old man only as “jew”. Walder Frey is the main reason I’m keeping with this show right now. Between this and the scene with his wife’s heart, I really want to see where his story takes us, past and future.

Corey Stoll’s wig is still awful. Sean Astin is again being woefully underused. The rocker Bolivar annoys me every time he opens his mouth (though the licking blood off the floor scene was respectable). The actress who plays Nora could be replaced with a rock and the show wouldn’t skip a beat. I could go on but then you all would keep asking why I’m watching this show. We all have morals. One of mine is to finish every season of television I start. I will admit the scene where the girl in the tub tongue attacks her father is visually appealing. Saw it coming of course, but it was cool to see the milk white water mixing slowly with blood. Yeah, I’m straining to get through each episode, but I’m not at the point where I should re evaluate my life. Also known as what everyone watching the last season of True Blood is going through.