28 Days Later (2002): The Evolution of Selena

This was number four of the five Black Women in Horror reviews I wanted to do for October.

When I first saw this movie I had no idea who Naomie Harris was. I ‘d heard about the movie in a magazine and I was already a Cillian Murphy fan, having loved him in Kinky Boots, so I was pretty much just watching the movie for him. Naomie Harris came out of nowhere and just killed it. Literally!

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Now, I’m going to go off on a bit of a tangent, and mention once again, that this is why we need diverse reviewers of Pop Culture. When I read the early reviews of this movie, all of the focus was on Murphy, which is understandable, because his star was definitely on the rise at the time, and people were enamored of him. (He is very pretty!) But Selena was barely mentioned, and I feel some type of way about that. I think if I had known there was  an awesome Black woman in this movie, I would’ve paid more attention to her.

And people really should pay attention to Selena. In fact, I would argue that though the film is from Jim’s point of view, the movie is really about Selena, and Jim, as they both grow and change, and adopt what the other thought of as each other’s worst traits to survive. Selena grows from someone who is cold and calloused, who disparages Jim’s compassion for others, into someone warm and compassionate, willing to love and let herself be loved. Jim grows from someone who is too trusting and idealistic, and saying he could never live the way Selena has been living, into someone willing to fight and kill for the people he loves.

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When we first meet Selena, she is essentially  the Sapphire stereotype, of a cold an unfeeling Black woman. She loves no one, isn’t capable of loving anyone, and is angry, cold, and bitter, saying she would cut Jim loose, in a hot second, the moment he jeopardized her survival. That her anger and bitterness is justified is not made specifically clear, but she has reason. Her entire world and life has been destroyed. She believes the only thing worth doing is surviving, for survival’s sake. She is unlikable at first, (and Jim says as much), but she grows into a  more sympathetic character as the plot moves forward. Selena is the co-protagonist of this movie. She has a definite character arc, and her decisions  help to carry the plot.

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Jim wakes up alone in a hospital and discovers that the entire city of London has been evacuated because of a disease called Rage, which makes the infected viciously attack anyone they encounter. When he meets Selena, she really isn’t all that different from the infected herself, violent and quite vicious. She is travelling with another young man, who is accidentally infected, and Jim witnesses the brutal manner with which the uninfected, like Selena, have had to deal with the situation. She is cold, and incompassionate, and does not want to get attached to him. Nevertheless, she agrees to travel with him because she doesn’t want to be alone. Being alone is not good for survival either, it seems.

Over the course of the movie, she does get attached to him, and the young daughter of a family they meet in their travels., named Hannah. When they encounter an AWOL military company, who threaten to imprison and rape her and the girl, and execute Jim, they both have to use all their wits and bravery to save themselves, but ultimately it’s Selena’s attachment to her new family, and his love for her, that’s saves all of them. One of the most poignant moments in the movie is when Selena, unable to prevent their degradation from the soldiers, offers Hannah drugs to survive what’s about to happen. Not because she’s trying to hurt her, but so Hannah won’t care what’s happening. The woman who was willing to cut anyone loose, who impinged on her survival, offers to do this from a place of compassion.

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I initially didn’t like Selena, and it took some time for me to understand that that was the point. The things she says to Jim when they first meet are mean and callous. She is a hardened woman, and he rightfully chides her for it, telling her he can’t live that way. Ironically, he has to become  hardened, and more than a little brutal himself, if he wants to save the woman he’s fallen in love with. He brutally slaughters all the soldiers he meets in an effort to find and rescue the two women. Selena, in turn, has to adopt the qualities she hated in Jim, when they first met, if she wants to save Hannah, and herself.

In the end, Selena and Jim declare their love for each other when he walks through a nightmarish landscape of screaming zombies, and military men, to rescue her and Hannah, and I am totally here for it, as it echoes the plot of Django Unchained, which was based on Siegfried’s Story from the German opera, Der Ring des Nibelungen. Siegfried, who rides through a ring of fire, in a locked tower, to save the Shieldmaiden Brunhilde, and make her his wife. Selena could be classified as a Shieldmaiden like Brunhilde. She is a warrior, who at first only fought for her own survival , but later fights for those she loves, Jim and Hannah.

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If Selena were White, it would be insulting to see her dameseled in such a fashion, but since we so rarely get to see Black women be vulnerable and loved, but still brave and smart, it overturns the stereotypical narrative of the strong Black woman, who don’t need no man. At the beginning of the movie she declares she doesn’t need anyone, but she is wrong. Hannah tells her midway through the movie, that they all need each other, and by that point Selena is willing to accept that.

The movie has three different endings. In the first ending, which was not filmed,  everyone arrived at a research medical center, and gets trapped there. The second involved Jim dying in the hospital, with Hannah and Selena continuing their journey without him. The third ending involved Jim waking up in the hospital to discover it was all nothing more than a dream. The director decided to go with the more positive ending we eventually got, of Hannah, Jim, and Selena  being rescued.

28 Days Later was the best zombie movie released that year, so it got a lot of attention, not just for Murphy’s presence, and its fast zombies, but because of the multiple endings. If you have no quarrel with zombies that are not strictly zombies, then this is an excellent film to add to your zombie film collection.

It won’t be October, but I’m still going to do that last review, which is Gugu M’Batha-Raw From Blade. Stay tuned!

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The Girl with All The Gifts (2016)

This is the first of my five posts reviewing horror movies where the stars are Black women, all part of the Graveyard Shift Sisters posts on 31 Black Women of Horror, for the month of October.

Okay, despite the fact that I read the book, I still didn’t know what to expect from the movie. I should have because the movie is mostly very faithful to the source material. It had not occurred to me that the filmmakers would do the thing, and make Melanie a little Black girl. I loved the character’s voice in the book and was looking forward to whoever they would cast as she would be carrying the movie, and I’m glad the director made that decision.

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When the writer, M.R. Carey was asked about the development of the movie he stated:

‘We went a slightly different way in the movie, especially when it came to point of view. Where the novel moves between the five main characters and lets us see what’s going on in all of their heads, the movie sticks with Melanie all the way. And there are no Junkers in the movie. The base falls to a hungry attack. But it’s a case of two different paths through the same narrative space. The ending is absolutely faithful to the book.’

— M.R. Carey, in an interview with Mom Advice[7]

The plot of the movie is very faithful to the source, so if you’ve read the book, you know the ending. Most of humanity has succumbed to fungal spores and become what are known as “Hungries”. ( Basically they’re zombies. They attack and eat people. (This is not  unprecedented in nature, as there are actually fungal spores that infect hosts, and force the hosts to  propagate itself.)  Some of the zombies are intelligent, and Melanie is one of the smartest ones.

Melanie, and a group of like children, all of whom were infected in utero, are being taught, studied, and experimented on, at a specially guarded facility, by Dr. Caldwell, played by Glen Close. She is attempting to find a cure for the fungal infection by vivisecting  the children’s brains, and Melanie is her star pupil. One of Melanie’s teachers is Ms. Justineau with whom Melanie develops a close  relationship.

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Melanie is played by the unknown Sennia Nanua, and she is absolutely perfect. She doesn’t try to play Melanie as sinister, or evil. She’s just like any other regular little girl, smiling, curious about the world , and happy, until her hunger is triggered. Those scenes are shocking in their viciousness. We watch Melanie attack and bite people, and at one point she captures and eats a cat. Although the movie has kids in it, it is not for children. Her behavior isn’t sugar-coated  or glossed over, and the soldiers are correct to be afraid of Melanie, as her Hunger appears to be something she seems to control. Gemma Arterton is great as Justineau, and I enjoyed seeing her relationship with Melanie.

Justineau doesn’t try to control, or change Melanie, seems to accept Melanie just as she is, and unlike the soldiers, seems unafraid of her. She doesn’t seem to want Melanie for what Melanie can provide for her like Caldwell. Seeming to genuinely love and care for her, worrying about her safety when she’s not around. The two of them seemed to have formed a real and loving bond, and that bond between them, goes a long way towards the audience accepting Melanie for who and what she is, too.

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Justineau was constantly cautioned against attaching herself to the children she is teaching, but  she seems unable (or unwilling) to do so with Melanie. There are several scenes of the soldiers being verbally abusive to the children in their care, in order to teach Justineau to avoid them, but Justineau always behaves towards them with dignity and respect.

 

When the facility is overrun by Hungries, Melanie and Justineau escape inside a mobile lab, with some other soldiers. Caldwell, who has been bitten by one of the Hungries has developed sepsis, but still continues her experiments. The soldiers are wary that Melanie will turn on them so they make her wear a muzzle ala Hannibal Lecter.

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They soldiers fear her but Melanie is useful because she can walk among the infected with impunity. In their travels, they use Melanie to lure the Hungries away from them so that they can more successfully forage for supplies. Melanie uses that time as an opportunity to feed. During her explorations she encounters a group of feral infected children who have formed a gang to hunt  any wayward humans.

In one of the movie’s most exhilarating moments Melanie challenges and kills the gang’s leader, and commands the gang afterward, keeping them in line with the threat of her strength and ruthlessness. I’m not sure how to feel about these scenes. On the one hand, I applaud Melanie’s ability to survive and be a leader. On the other hand, I’m witnessing children committing shocking acts of violence, which is something I’m just not used to seeing. I generally avoid movies where children are killing each other. Melanie’s leadership of this gang is something that will come into play at the end of the movie.

I have to admit I felt some type of way about watching this little Black girl kicking ass, and being so vicious, because that actress looks so sweet and innocent, when she’s not doing those things. I can only guess that’s why this particular actress was chosen. There’s also the stereotype of the vicious Black brute, who is uncivilized and must be controlled, restrained, and made useful, which is illustrated in Melanie having to wear a plastic muzzle for at least half the film. All of Melanie’s captors are White, and with the exception of Ms. Justineau, they are all deeply frightened of her, which gives this movie a  disturbing racial angle, that it would not  have otherwise had, if Melanie had been cast as a little White girl. Her Blackness gives the end of this movie  a wholly different meaning, which I’ll have to discuss in another post.

There’s very little wasted space in this film, which is less than two hours, but feels   longer because the director takes time to have quiet moments to explore Melanie’s world from her point of view. She is in nearly every frame, she is the one around which the other characters revolve, and she moves the plot forward with the decisions she makes, especially the last one.

I considered giving away the ending of the movie, because I wanted to discuss how groundbreaking this is, but if you’ve read the book you already know it, and if you haven’t, I really don’t want to rob you of your feelings (and you will have some) when you see it for yourself, as everything that happens in 90 minutes of the movie is what leads up to Melanie’s final decision.

This is an excellent movie to watch on Halloween night along with, 28 Days Later, and Train to Busan, two other films that have WoC dealing with a zombie apocalypse.

28 Days Later will be my next review.

ETA: The Website featuring this list is available at the Graveyard Shift Sisters.

http://www.graveyardshiftsisters.com/2017/09/watch-31-horror-movies-starring-black.html

 

Into the Badlands Season Two: Series Review

Plot:


The plot this season was much more intricate, with multiple characters, arcs, intentions, and designs. There was a lot to fit into eight episodes, and that the show managed to keep so many plot lines coherent, while tying up several from last season, is a testament to the skills of the writers. As outlined in the character reviews, everyone got to have a plot. The overriding theme seemed to be everyone seeking power, in the vacuum left behind by Baron Quinn’s rumored death.

The overriding character arcs were the Widow’s corrupt rise to power, Sunny’s search for his wife, MK’s escape, and Baron Quinn’s last hurrah. The writers juggled these four plots with a number of subs, managing to keep most of them untangled, and comprehensible, while still throwing  in a number of unpredictable twists and turns, which I enjoyed. The betrayals were flying fast and furious at one point, and if you blinked you’d miss who was aligning with who.

My biggest complaint is the treatment of the black characters, Edgar, Silver Moon, Veil, an unnamed black teenager at the monastery, and an unnamed butterfly, who were all brutally killed. Of them, only Silver, and Veil, had backstories. The show can do better than that.  I don’t think the show wants to get embroiled in a discussion of anti-blackness, but it will, if it keeps killing off  all its black characters like that.

Plus, it gives us one of the worst types of  character trope, in the show’s finale, with the fridging of Sunny’s love interest, a black woman who sacrifices herself, to save her man. It seems no matter how progressive white male writers believe themselves to be, they simply cannot seem to avoid the trope of the Sacrificial Negro.

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That said, my favorite character this season was Silver Moon. I loved this character but I don’t know why. Probably because he reminds me of the character from the RZA’s Martial Arts movie, The Man with the Iron Fists. I also think it’s very interesting that Sunny, even after he had his own sword returned to him, kept using the one he took from Silver, giving his old sword to Lydia. This character had lines and a backstory. They tried really hard to flesh him out, and that’s to be applauded.

Complaints aside, I am glad that the show remembers there are Black people in the future, and in a fantasy setting, just walking around in the background scenes. The show does need to add more Asian characters though, and Baron Chau is a good start. I loved watching her kick some ass, and liked that she lives to see the next season. She’s played by actress Eleanor Matsuuras, who is from Hertfordshire by way of Tokyo, and has mostly starred in British productions.

 

Worldbuilding:



We didn’t get to see much architecture and landscapes in the last season, and what there was, seemed more of an afterthought, but with the show’s bigger budget this season, we got some very ambitious, sometimes epic, background scenery. From the shot of the huge walls that cut off the badlands from the rest of the world, to the  intricate and lush gardens surrounding the Widow’s home, we got treated to some tremendous worldbuilding. And the details of this world are simply incredible, as seen in the Widow’s study, and the map of the Badlands above, that’s only glimpsed in a brief moment in a single episode, which outlines where this takes place in the US, and marks the different baronies.

I remember that first season, I had some major questions about food and textile production, and we get a partial answer, in learning that not everyone grows poppies. There are oil fields, and if that is the case, then there are also textile mills somewhere as well. These things aren’t knowledge that would be lost, since creating fabrics is one of the most basic human skills. Certainly the working and tooling of leather hasn’t been lost, or car repair either, it seems. We got such a small glimpse of the world in the first season, that we were left with a ton of questions, but the show has really built on that in a way that makes sense for the Badlands. This world is set to become even bigger in the third season after Bajie’s Morse code message is received.

We’re also given some startling glimpses into what type of world we’ve joined. Apparently this world is set about a hundred or so years from now, (how far into the future is unclear, so I could be wrong), but it’s long after some sort of soft apocalypse, that left lots of infrastructure, and fewer people. In one of the episodes, MK and Ava visit a long abandoned mall/dept store, that still has Christmas lights and decorations. It can’t be too far into the future because the lights still work. There’s electricity in some places. There’s little literacy, but some knowledge of medicines and machines ( like X-rays) is still available in the Badlands. And then there’s this unseen city (Astra) that everyone keeps talking about.

And it’s not just the landscapes, but all the tiny details inside the homes of various characters, like Baron Chau’s all white interiors, and grand wall paintings, the dark, old-world, furnishings of the Widows home, the dark majesty of Quinn’s home in exile, in an abandoned metro station. We may have started the show traveling through the classic Mad Max dystopia of the mines, but not all of the Badlands looks that way, and it was very exciting to get these glimpses into a broken past.

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Costumes:

The series had some stunning costume work this season, with rich colors, and beautiful, very sexy, outlines. This is very probably one of the sexiest martial arts shows I’ve ever watched, as usually the costumes for this type of genre can be somewhat pragmatic.You can see there’s real intent  to create a feeling of lost majesty/ bygone luster.

And every  character (even the most minor of them) gets the luxury treatment. From Silver Moon’s  old and tattered Clipper outfit, to Tilda’s pragmatic, newly minted Regent uniform,  from Baron Chau’s sumptuous furs and glittery dresses, to Quinn’s scuffed and grubby finery. These details really bring home the kind of lifestyles of the Baron’s, as the Cogs are dressed in the simplest colors and practical, easily cared for, fabrics.

Everything, and everyone, is given gorgeous detail, from hair, to  shoes, to makeup, furniture, and housing. From Baron Chau’s pearl jewelry and on-point makeup, to the Widow’s more action oriented look, with everyone receiving more elaborate hairstyles, including MK. Even Waldo gets some scrumptious blue velvet to wear.

Each Barony has its own color scheme. Quinn’s was dried blood red, but now that it’s been taken over by Jade and Ryder, it’s a fresher, magenta red color. Baron Chau’s color scheme is white. Another Baron’s color is green. The Widow’s colors are a deep royal blue. The monks and MK are wearing various shades of purples, and oranges. After he escapes the monastery, MK is seeing wearing a gorgeous green surplus, that I wanted for myself, along with some more gentle earthtones.

 

Even the lowest, most minor characters, got the full costume treatment. Look at the detail on this Junkyard King, in his darkened purple, and mother of pearl buttons. Contrast that with the  fresher and more vibrant purple of MKs monk’s robes. I love the matching color schemes in these two photos.

The duplicitous and conniving Jade. Her hair and makeup also reflect her character. Contrast that with her more innocent look in the first season.

Veil is often associated with soft natural colors, and earth tones, in keeping with her honest, down to earth, nature.

The details this season are incredible. Check out Waldo’s pince nez glasses, the little crossed cufflinks, and the chair handle ornaments! I also liked MK’s more elaborate hairstyle, with its tiny twists. Most of these things you’re never going to notice during the series, except for a quick second, but the set designers and prop masters went the full one hundred, anyway. This is the first time I really noticed Waldo’s knuckle tattoos, from his time as a Clipper.


I have since learned that the painting in Baron Chau’s home is called “Leonidas at Thermopylae”, and is a reference to Sunny making a commitment to a fight he knows he won’t survive. It’s by a Neo-Classical French painter of the 19th century, named Jacques Louis-David. Sunny’s and Chau’s postures imitate the formal poses in the painting. This was a hallmark of the Classical style in which grand Mythological and Historical themes were painted in a clean, formal manner.

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Contrast Chau’s white minimalist environment, and  the marble columns, with Minerva’s home which is  very Old- World traditional, with lots of greenery, velvet, and hard-wood.  Chau’s home, and costumes are also a reflection of her character, which is just as cool and calculating, as Minerva’s is cool,yet determined.
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I love the details here as one of the girls wears a matching blue ballerina skirt under her coat.Just a touch of whimsy for a little girl Clipper. I also like the natural hairstyles on the black girls. I’m glad this show remembered black women exist, even if they’re not treated especially well.
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Baron Quinn is like the Badlands version of Darth Vader. Everyone is afraid of this grim creature, come back from the dead, to destroy all their lives. Check out the tiny details like the little glimpses of red in his new outfit, a callback to when he used to be a Baron, and the tiny rivets on his  belts. The rough, nubby, texture of his coat is in keeping with his new rugged lifestyle, and gives the viewer some idea of his rough character, and disturbed mindset. Except for his voice, he’s just rough all over.

Contrast Quinn’s look with Jade’s smoothly streamlined look,  since moving into a more comfortable position of power with Ryder, below. There’s more than a touch of the Antebellum South in Ryder’s suit coat, which is a deliberate choice on the part of the costume dept.
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Ryder Welcomes His Guests - Into the Badlands Season 2 Episode 3

 

Cinematography: 

Everything this season was given an upgrade, including the lighting and  cinematography. No detail has been spared. There’s a rich three dimensional feel to the environment, which allows the viewer to see every detail of a character, or event, and totally immerse themselves in the show. It’s equal parts dream and nightmare.

There’s some gorgeous lighting happening here, in the final scene of the series, as Sunny walks off into this frosty looking sunset with Baby Henry.

The monastery is full of candle light, giving its inhabitants a deceptively soft appearance. The irony is that these are some of the most lethal beings in the Badlands.



Sunny is fighting the monks in an old, worn, Nativity scene, at an abandoned dept. store. No one knows the meaning of any of the decorations, but check out the penguin with the Christmas wreath around his neck! The old religion has been supplanted by an even older one, that involves dark Chi, and superpowers.

 

I think it’s  really cute that they chose a baby that looks Black and Asian.

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Whenever possible, the creators tried to use natural lighting on all the sets, so we get some wonderfully lit scenes, like Veil with Henry, above, and Sunny’s fight with Silver Moon, below. Veil is often given the Madonna treatment with her  lighting.


Action:

The show has also upped the ante on the fight choreography this season, with much more elaborate stuntwork, and ambitious fight scenes involving multiple highly trained characters. The show also added some explosives work, which is something most shows don’t have a good sized budget for, but the larger budget shows how much confidence the network has in the success of this series. Whereas last season I struggled to get the word out about this show, its popularity has really soared this season because of its move to Netflix, and basic word of mouth. There are also more than a few websites dedicated to the show, on Tumblr.



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Bottom line: 

All of this adds up to one of the most visually stunning action series on television, and I’m so happy to be alive during its airing. I cannot wait for whatever new visual treats we’ll get next season.

 

 

 

The Mist Vs. Nightworld: Writing the Supernatural Apocalypse II

I just recently listened to the audiobook versions of these two stories, and was as  struck by the similarities,  as much as the dissimilarities. Suffice to say, if you’re going to write a Kaiju Style Apocalypse, for maximum terror, these are the things you’re gonna need to include: monsters, death, intrepid survivors, and some human villains.

Nightworld, written by F. Paul Wilson, waaay back in 1992, (it was heavily revised in 2001) ,  was the conclusion to a seven book series that started with The Keep, and starred Wilson’s original character, Repairman Jack, (who is sort of like Jack Reacher, only he fights the supernatural.)

In Nightworld, the entire world is beset by  monsters who have emerged from sinkholes that circle the globe. This invasion is the precursor to the rise of an of Anti-God, named Rasolom, and Hell on Earth, as the sun begins rising later every day, and setting earlier every evening. Worldwide. (To someone with even the most basic understanding of Astronomy, that’s already pretty terrifying.) The endgame is an endless nighttime, where the various monsters, that are  allergic to sunlight, can roam, and eat, freely.

In The Mist, a novella written by Stephen King, and first published in 1980, in the anthology titled Dark Forces, the world is overcome by a dense fog, in which all manner of different  monsters live. It is theorized, by the characters, that scientists accidentally opened a portal to another universe, that flooded into Earth.

First, something naturally unnatural has to occur, in the sky or in the earth, like the sun setting at the wrong time everyday, fogs, mists,  tsunamis, or giant holes opening up in the ground. The precursor to all hell breaking loose (literally), for these characters, is if the natural environment has suddenly gone horribly awry.

Second, you are going to  need monsters, and not just Leviathans. You’re gonna need a variety of sizes to induce maximum terror. After all, you might be able to fight off,  or avoid, the big ones, (I say “might”) but smaller monsters can creep into human hiding places, and cause general havoc, as well as sleeplessness.This is what makes these books different from a Kaiju story. They’re more like Kaiju-Adjacent.

You must have gruesome deaths. Some of these gruesome deaths must involve the use of some kind of acid that dissolves its victims alive. In Nightworld, there is a thoroughly disgusting collection of acidic  critters that fly around eating people’s faces. In The Mist there are giant spiders with acidic webbing, as if the idea of giant spiders isn’t  quite terrifying enough,I guess.

Some of your monsters must have wings. It doesn’t particularly matter what type of wings, as long as the creatures can fly. In Nightworld they have insect wings. In The Mist bat wings seem to be the preferred method of flight.

At least some of your monsters must have tentacles. Nightworld fulfills this requirement admirably, by having lots (and lots) of creatures with tentacles, grabbing people and pulling them into small apertures. The Mist has giant tentacles just sitting outside a grocery story, not even attached to anything, apparently. They’re certainly not attached to anything aquatic as grocery stores are normally on land. The Mist pours some extra gravy on its tentacular horrors by giving them tiny mouths.

At least one of the monsters encountered has to be so fantastical, that it defies belief , like The Mist’s Leviathan, or the creature that decides to take up most of the Atlantic Ocean in Nightworld.

Speaking of giant monsters, they have to come from somewhere, and out of giant holes, whether under the ocean,  or out of the ground, as in Nightworld, are the perfect portals for entry. You must have portals. What?! Them monsters gotta get here somehow.

Okay, once you’ve got your monsters sorted into their various sizes, along with where they’re visiting  from, and their transportation, you then have to lay out who it is they’ll be eating. You must have an intrepid group of people, whose job it is to be eaten, trapped, survive, or defeat the monsters.

Intrepid – fearless, unafraid, undaunted, unflinching, unshrinking, bold, daring, gallant, audacious, adventurous, heroic, dynamic, spirited, indomitable;

I’m not sure if The Mist qualifies in that department, as the people in that story seem scared shitless, throughout the entire ordeal. Nevertheless, since all the other criteria are met, we’ll refer to them as intrepid anyway. After all, they do some brave things,  like fighting the giant spiders, and arguing with the crazy religious lady. The characters from Nightworld are actually described as brave and fearless in the book. In fact, one of the characters has a speech about it, and they all engage in some boldness, some daring, and  even some indomitable behavior.

Your intrepid group of people must consist of, at least one straight, honest, stand-up, White guy. It is a requirement that he be both honest, and White, and no substitutes will be made. He must be the kind of White guy who is strong and bold, but also compassionate, idealistic, and willing to protect the little guy. He must be able to clearly articulate why things need doing, and convey those beliefs to the other characters.

In other words, you need Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

Nightworld fulfills this quota with two…count’em!, two stand-up White guys. Although,  I feel the writer is clearly overdoing it, by having one of them be a former priest, and the other an ancient swordsman.

In accordance with the James Kirk Axiom, you will them need a pretty  blond  White woman. A redhead or possibly auburn haired woman can be used in a pinch, but she must be heterosexual, and conventionally pretty. No arm fat, tattoos, arthritis, or nervous diseases need apply. Not even allergies. She must be in perfect physical health and form, and above all else, she must remain un-traumatized by any of the preceding events attending the end of the world, like watching her family and friends be eaten.

And for Gob’s sake, no women of color! Apparently women of color, (and any women with tattoos) all get eaten first…or something. Whatever is happening though,  they never seem to make it to the being intrepid  part of the story.

There must be at least one child, preferably a boy, but a young girl will suffice. They can be White, but it is not a hard and fast rule, as it is not  required that they be genetically related to either the White man, or White woman. Sometimes it can just be some kid one of them picked up somewhere. Extra points if the child is an orphan who  just witnessed their family be eaten by the monsters, for maximum trauma. How else are you going to convey to the reader how dangerous the world  is, without the help of crying, screaming children. Also, you can always fill up some time by having the child be in extra special danger, by having them wander off alone, or be autistic, or something.

Nightworld is interesting in that there is a perfectly healthy and un-traumatized child in the story, which is turned on its head, by having the child become autistic, when he helps save the world.

Surrounding this trio are what I like to call the intrepid, but disposable people. They are the  literary equivalent of non-playable characters. Don’t get too attached to them, these characters could be eaten at any second. They should consist of at least one (if not more) men of color, preferably Black or Latino.  You can break the rules and have there be at least one  woman of color in the story, but they can’t have any lines of dialogue, unless its exclamations like “Look out!”, or “Aaaaaahhhh!” Any exposition should be left to any extra White men, that you have added,  preferably a teacher, or a scientist. Nightworld has a priest, who knows what’s happening, and can explain it to those characters who are out of the loop. David Drayton, from The Mist, is an illustrator, which kind of changes things up a bit, but he is still the narrator.

Nightworld is not a good template for casting your characters because all of its major characters are White. (People of color probably didn’t exist when it was written. I have it on good authority, that we weren’t invented, in Horror literature, until about 1999. Well, Stephen King had discovered us, but we had to be magical to get in his stories.) There should be no more than ten of these non-essential characters. More than ten and the reader will  lose track of who they should be terrified is going to die next.

And last, but not least, you must have at least one asshole. No story about the end of the world is complete without at least one human being, who is trying to kill off the other human beings, and  that you wish would hurry up and be eaten by something. By anything.

The Mist is exemplary in that it has two…Count ’em! Two assholes. Norton, the asshole neighbor of David Drayton, and Ms. Carmody, the asshole religious townie. Norton fulfills the role of the asshole who wants desperately to be in charge, but no one will listen to him, who becomes increasingly unhinged. He eventually dies by skipping out into the mist to feed himself to the monsters.

Ms Carmody fulfills the role of the asshole, who is already thoroughly unhinged, before the story even begins, and the intrepid people are now trapped with her crazy ass, and the other scared  people start thinking that human sacrifice makes sense.

Nightworld  fulfills this requirement, in exemplary fashion, by also having multiple assholes in the script. In the unrevised edition of the story, (from before 2001), it was the husband of one of the intrepid people. In the newly improved book, its some random bad guys from  previous books, who mostly don’t come into contact with our intrepid gang.

And finally, the ending can’t be all wishy-washy. (We’re looking at you Steve!) In The Mist, there really isn’t much of an end to the story. We don’t know if David Drayton and his friends ever get out of it, or how long it lasts. (Thankfully the movie corrects this problem, which is all I have to say, in that the movie definitely has an end.) Nightworld correctly follows the rules, by having the good guys win, at the last possible second. You know the rules. Disaster is only averted when the countdown reaches one.

Now my people, go forth, and kill your darlings.

Gruesomely!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penny Dreadful Series Three Finale (?)

Penny Dreadful Series Three Finale (?)

The Penny Dreadful season finale consisted of a two episode arc titled Perpetual Night and The Blessed Dark. I’m still not sure how I feel about this season or the finale. I’m still processing the ending. It appears that  Lily’s and Vanessa’s stories are truly over. I’d love to see more of Kaetenay in the future and we still never got to meet Mr. Hyde. Basically the other character’s  stories…

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Penny Dreadful Series Three Finale (?)

The Penny Dreadful season finale consisted of a two episode arc titled Perpetual Night and The Blessed Dark. I’m still not sure how I feel about this season or the finale. I’m still processing the ending. It appears that  Lily’s and Vanessa’s stories are truly over. I’d love to see more of Kaetenay in the future and we still never got to meet Mr. Hyde. Basically the other character’s  stories aren’t over and I’d love to see their conclusion, but I’m told this is the last episode for the series. I really don’t want to believe that. It sees so abrupt, with so many threads left dangling. I believe the show could endure without Eva green because the other characters are all very compelling, but we can only hope that the PTB will see it that way.

Also, this season felt  shortened. Wasn’t there supposed to be twelve or thirteen episodes? The season seemed to be moving at the usual leisurely pace of a twelve episode season, when suddenly Vanessa is throwing herself on Dracula, the world is ending, and then she’s dead and everything is back to normal, only without her. I’m not satisfied with the explanation given by the shows writer that basically he meant to do that. I think there much more to the story than that. The show ended much too abruptly, and even introduced brand new characters I’d love to see more of, like Seward, and Jeckyll.

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In the previous episode, titled Ebb Tide, Vanessa discovered the shocking truth about Dracula. She confronted him but eventually surrendered to him, bringing about a kind of vampire Apocalypse, but only  in London, which is where we begin the finale. This isn’t  the most fascinating episode, or even the most interesting event, although I was reluctant to believe Vanessa would do such a thing. No, the most fascinating  event turned out to be Lily’s and Dorian’s story, and the dynamic between Kaetenay and Ethan. I also had finally decided that I liked Catriona, who turned out to be a total bad ass, and I hope there is a next season because I’d like to know who she is, where she came from and if the Mummy storyline will be introduced through her and Lyle, because I’d watch the Hell out of that.

Perpetual Night and Blessed Dark are fairly straightforward episodes, though. I wont recap them, just cover the highlights because there’s not a whole lot of plot. Even during the finale, the show manage to keep that same leisurely tone, as if wasnt about to end in 90 minutes.

Ethan , Kaetenay and Malcolm arrive in London and find  the entire city fogbound, people getting sick from some kind of plague, (from the mal aria), and that Dracula’s minions are roaming the streets as they please, taking whom they will, just like the prophecies stated.The highlight is when Ethan wolfs out among a bunch of minions and is  joined by Kaetenay, who is also a werewolf. Apparentl,  Ethan didn’t know this. Kaetenay says he kept it a secret from his own family even. Well, I’d kind of speculated about  what happened between them. Kaetenay was the one who turned E. into a werewolf.

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Victor sets Lily free after the two of them have a heartfelt discussion about why he shouldn’t obliterate her memories of who she was, and why she did what she did. She harbors a lot of rage for about her dead daughter, the things she felt she had to do for her, and her daughter to survive, because of the life restrictions placed on women at that time. I never thought Lily’s anger or reasons were illegitimate ones. Hell, I was angry for her. Hell, the British trampled every culture and continent they encountered. She wasn’t the only person getting shafted by Englishmen, at that time. I just didn’t think that slaughtering them, one by one,  was the answer to that particular dilemma.  I don’t care how mad you are, that’s a lot of killing.

John, the Creature, witnesses the death of his son. He’s implored by his wife to take him to Victor to be resurrected, but John refuses, and buries his son at sea. That story felt truncated too. In an ideal world there’d be a fourth season where John had made a different choice.

Hyde confronts Victor about not using the formula on Lily and informs him that his father has just died. He is Lord Hyde now, having inherited his fathers titles and estates. We never got to see Hyde at all, and the funny thing is, this finale is something of a surprise to the actor as well, because in some earlier interviews he mentioned the conventional makeup used to create him.

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The three men are still looking for Vanessa, when Dr. Seward comes calling. She takes them to Bedlam where she has imprisoned Renfield. They need to find Dracula’s whereabouts, so  Seward hypnotizes Renfield into giving up the location.

Dorian goes back to his home and kicks out Lily’s army of women. When Justine refuses to leave, he kills her. Lily discovers her broken body on the floor of the ballroom, and after saying goodbye to both of them, decides to leave Dorian, which I thought was a fitting response. They’ve got no more to offer each other. He betrayed her to Victor, and killed her girl, after claiming she bored him, although I really think he thought she would decide to stay with him. Once again, because of his ennui and cynicism, Dorian ends up alone and I gots no sympathy for him.

The Five; Seward, Kaetenay, Malcolm, Ethan, and Catriona, arrive at Dracula’s lair, where there’s a long drawn out battle with Dracula’s minions. I’d like to point out the fight choreography is great here, as Catriona gets in some really nice stunts, and Drac’s minions have some great body movement. I’d like to believe Cat’s not entirely human, and it would’ve been nice to find out what she was, and if Dracula, or Amenhotep, had something  to do with that. Ethan finds his way down a long hall to a room full of candles, (which is something I always find especially funny. Who takes the time to light all these tiny damn candles?). He finds Vanessa, who convinces him that the only way to stop the end of the world is to kill her, so he shoots her. Everything stops. The minions all stop, the sun comes out and Dracula simply flies away. Why wasn’t he killed?

Episode 309

Later , everything goes back to normal, as London cleans its streets, the group bury Vanessa, and all go their own ways.Its cute and touching to see Victor grabbing and hugging Ethan, like a little brother. I’m still mad at him for being a dick to Lily, so it’s not that cute. I’m not gonna be shipping these two anytime soon.Later, Ethan, who has nothing to go back home for, decides to stay home with Malcolm, who is the closest thing he has to family now. That’s fitting.

The world spins on without Vanessa being miserable in the middle of it, and the series ends with waaay too many dangling plotlines and characters , we will never get to see.

Oh well…

 

The Walking Dead: Bugging Out

In honor of The Walking Dead Finale, I thought I’d repost this, (from waaay back in 2014), with some minor edits:

If you’re a fan of zombie fiction you know  what “bugging out” means. For those not in the know, it means having a packed bag ready, with a couple articles of clothing, water, and food, so you can vacate that urban environment, that will soon be overrun with zombies and wild humans.

Well, I ain’t buggin’ no-damn-where. I sure as Hell am not going to run out to the woods, to survive the apocalypse. And, should you ever find me in the woods, you will know that civilization, has gone horribly, horribly wrong.

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No, no! I’m good here.

Seriously! Have you even watched the show The Walking Dead? Its as dangerous running around in the woods, with wild animals, cannibals, bikers and walkers as it would be to live in the city. At least, in the city, there’s no chance of also being eaten by bears or starving to death when you run out of granola.

And why would I go running out to the woods, when I don’t know one damn thing about living in the woods. I do know about living in the city. What’s more , I know about living in the city sans utilities. I don’t like it but I got that shit down. I know where everything is, which buildings are the best fortified and most importantly, where to find the best vending machines.

It doesn’t matter how many countless hours of Survivorman I have watched, there’s a lot of shit that just isn’t covered by that show. How am I going to get my hair done? (There are no Natural Haircare specialists in the woods.) What about moisturizer?( I have very dry skin, especially on my elbows.). Or sunscreen?

What happens when I get my period? (There’s no chocolate in the woods and I don’t believe bugs are a good substitute for that, no matter how many people say they’re good for you.) How am I going to stay clean during my monthly, with no water, when I’m not even allowed to wash my hair? What happens if you get sick out in the wilderness? I have asthma when it gets cold, and my nose likes to have a sinus infection, at least once a year. Something tells me that running around in the forest would up that quota. I would run out of Puffs in about thirty minutes.

Also, where would I go to use the toilet? I ain’t fo’ no squattin? That’s just not my bag. I have lived with the Porcelain God (and his accessory,Toilet Paper), my whole life. I shall worship them forever.

Command me, Lord!
Command me, Lord!

And, most importantly, what am I going to read? There ain’t no books in the woods and I’m not making my own. There’s only so many I could carry. I could scavenge them from any houses I stumbled across, but I don’t want to risk being shot because I needed new reading material, and Americans don’t read, anyway,  so the likelihood of finding books is pretty low. Since Americans who do read, have atrocious taste in books, the likelihood of finding a good book to read would be nil.

It’s also extremely difficult to find yarn, for  my crocheting, in the woods.

Let’s face it, most of us are not equipped for forest living. I know far more about living  in the Big City, than I do about  living in the woods. I live on Lake Erie, so water would be readily available. There’s plenty of food and other resources to scavenge and sleeping under a ready-made shelter, like in an office building, is way nicer than sleeping in a bag on the ground. It most certainly would be less wet.

Yes, there will be more zombies in the city but there’s also more people to fight them. And Black people don’t have a problem working together and cooperating with each other to meet a common goal like food production or zombie fighting, although, the going narrative seems to be that people in the city would have less of a chance to survive. I call bullshit on that narrative. I’m assuming whoever came up with it,  thinks Black people would lose their shit and start that race war, they’ve all been hankering for. Trust me, we wouldn’t. We’d be too busy building rope walkways between our houses.

Quite frankly, I don’t think our lives will be greatly upheaved. We all know our zombie lore, having completely memorized the Dawn of the Dead remake.

What not to do.
What not to do.

Also, Black men are some amazingly clever tinkers. My brother and his friends, will probably have the whole neighborhood hooked up with electricity and running water, using car batteries, electrical cords and duct tape in the space of a week. Plus, it’s just safer hanging out in our own neighborhood because there’s more than a few White people who are just itching to use a zombie apocalypse as an excuse to execute Black people. They’re too scared to come here, now. They’re not going out of their way to visit during the apocalypse. I’m sure they’ll be too busy.

The place to not be be during a zombie apocalypse is the suburbs. In the city: plenty of places to scavenge for medicine because it’s where all the pharmacies are, if you shop early. I don’t drink booze, but hey, liquor stores are  everywhere, although I suspect that’s the first place people will raid. Bottled water – check. Diapers – check. Formula – check. Neighbors who are trying to shoot you – probably not. And do you know how much non-perishable food there is in the city? At my place of work alone, there’s about ten vending machines, full of soda, chips, peanuts and those little Chef Boyardee microwavable cups, with the pull tabs.

A full banquet.
A full banquet.

Also, some of us don’t have the luxury of “bugging out”. I have an elderly parent with a lot of medical issues. There’s no way I’m going to talk her into going out in the woods. I can’t even convince her to go outside when it gets below 50 degrees. Plus, she requires a small pharmacy just for her medical needs. Hell, I need diabetes medication and my glasses. What happens if I lose my glasses in the woods? I can’t even see to drive without them. I’m certainly not going to stumble around in the woods without them. Jeebus help you, if you have a physical disability or a mental illness more desperate than glasses. You better have a damn good group of friends to help you out. There’s a reason we don’t see people complaining about the arthritis in their knees. People suffering from arthritis are probably all dead.

Let’s be truthful. “Bugging out” is an activity reserved for fit, single, young, White, video game playing men, who dislike their families. Young men who are barely equipped to survive in the suburbs, with running water and microwave ovens. Young men who think they will find a hot woman and fall in love, when they can’t even attract a woman while theyre able to practice good hygiene. In other words, they think they’re Glenn from The Walking Dead, when  most such men are like Eugene. They will have to get other people to protect them. And they’d have to use lies and deception because they’re certainly not going to be able to use their charming personalities. Glenn is likable. They’re not. They’re the kind of people most people want to shoot after spending just five minutes alone with them.

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It’s all well and good for someone like Michonne, a Black  woman, alone, wandering around in the woods chopping up zombies. She’s not even remotely concerned about being raped, taken hostage for some nutjob’s  harem, or shot for being Black during the apocalypse. She’s got skills. I harbor absolutely no illusions that I am Michonne. My vast knowledge of Samurai and Kung Fu movies is not going to be very helpful.

Not me!
Not me!
          Still not me.
Still not me.
            Nope!
Nope!

What the hell is this huge crowd of young men and their hot, but conveniently helpless girlfriends, going to be doing in the woods? My guess would be trying to look tough while carrying blunted Samurai swords they have no fucking clue how to use, and drawing the population of zombies out of the city. Those of us who couldn’t “bug out”, can get to rebuilding civilization, without being bothered by their macho silliness.

Either that or being victimized and killed by all of the other people, much tougher than them, who have watched the same zombie movies, but who actually know how to use a Samurai sword.  People who all decided to leave the city, thinking it would be safer.

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With most of the population eaten, those of us with family members we actually love, will have to work it out for ourselves.

Is anybody writing a book for those of us who can’t Bug Out? This needs doing.

No?

I guess I better hop to it, then.

The Walking Dead : JSS

Last nights episode of The Walking Dead was  almost entirely action, yet still had enough depth to be unpleasantly satisfying. JSS is short for Enid’s motto, “Just Survive Somehow”, and the episode picks up the narrative in two places; how Enid, a young woman of Carl’s acquaintance, came to Alexandria, and where we left off last episode, with an alarm blaring out of Alexandria, attracting the zombies the townspeople were trying to herd out of the area.

We’re shown Enid getting in full touch with her survival instincts, hiding from Walkers and eating a tortoise, after her parents were killed by zombies, on the road. After several days of Just Surviving Somehow, she arrives at Alexandria. Like most people in this world, she is severely damaged and finds it difficult to emotionally commit to the people, or  the town. She really  has one foot in Alexandria and one foot out in the world. I don’t blame her. I would find it incredibly difficult to come close to people, after such an event, and not just for safety reasons. She is willing to set foot near Alexandria solely because her chances of survival might be better there. After the events of tonight’s episode, she has changed her mind and finally decides to leave.

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Deanna and Maggie talk about Deanna’s responsibilities and Petes wife, Jessie, tries to talk to her oldest son, Ron, who is mostly known for moping around Alexandria, pining for his late, abusive father. Tara and Eugene meet the new doctor, Denise, who is super under-confident about her new position, because she has panic attacks. Well, today is going to really test her competency and her nerves. Eugene’s advice is not helping and he should shut up now.

Father Gabriel tries to talk to Carl about helping the town. I guess it’s better if he talks to Carl, rather than Rick, as Rick will just ignore him, maybe. Carl agrees to teach him how to use a machete. Carol plans to fix a casserole. She admonishes her neighbor, Ms. Neudermeyer(?), that she should stop smoking because there’s enough ways to die, in this world, without adding smoking. Ms. Neudermeyer gives her the stink eye, but Carol’s words are prophetic, as Neudermeyer is one of the first people killed, when The Wolves, taking advantage of the absence of the town’s top dogs, decide to attack. Carol watches while she is macheted by a strange man, who blitzkriegs her, on her front lawn.

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Maggie and Deanna watch as the wall is struck by Molotov cocktails, burning some people, alive. Jessie and her youngest son hide in a closet, when someone breaks into the house. Enid comes to visit Carl before she leaves. Carl convinces her to stay for a while longer, so he can protect her and Judith. Enid was always ready to run at any time. JSS!

Various townsfolk are shown being chased down and stabbed or bludgeoned to death. One of the reasons this episode is so intense is because the Wolves are so thoroughly  unhinged. They stab and hack and chop at their victims long after they have expired. I guess to keep them from rising as zombies. I guess it hasn’t dawned on them that a blow to the skull would do the trick. It’s more brutal than just about anything we’ve seen on the show, because they don’t have guns. Carol, seeing one of her neighbor’s attacked, kills the attacker, and finishes off the neighbor after she dies in her arms. Carol dons the attacker’s clothes and, masquerading as a Wolf named Aphid, proceeds to kill every Wolf she encounters.

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The alarm that was heard was a truck horn, that got stuck in the on position, when the Wolves tried to ram a truck through the walls. The driver was shot by Deanna’s surviving son, Spencer, and the driver resurrected in the cab of the truck. Spencer hesitates to kill the Walker but Morgan does not. Morgan tells him to hide while he goes inside. He comes across a Wolf hacking at one of the townspeople and tries to talk him into leaving, but Carol, disguised as Aphid,  kills him first. They argue about killing the Wolves but Carol wants to get to the armory before the Wolves do and needs his help. It’s interesting to watch her because she seems so utterly fearless, at far remove from the timid creature we knew, in season one. All the fear has been burnt out of her, but people like Eugene and Spencer seem to have an endless capacity for it.

Denise’s first patient is Holly, brought in by Eugene, and Rosita and Aaron. Denise tries desperately to save Holly’s life, while Aaron runs off to help protect the town, and Eugene, who is of course, not a fighter, decides to stay in the infirmary. Denise is afraid to to do surgery on Holly but Eugene wisely states, don’t start off being a coward, as it becomes a bad habit. Deanna decides to stay outside the wall because she can’t fight and will only become a liability to Maggie, inside. Carl kills an attacker who was trying to kill Ron and offers Ron protection but Ron would rather sulk about Enid being in Carl’s house and runs away. A very strong part of me says good riddance to him, the little fuck.

One of the Wolves breaks into Jessie’s house and she brutally stabs the woman to death with the scissors she was going to use to cut Ron’s  hair, when she tried to talk to him about his father. I guess Ron was trying to establish a precedent becasue he got pissy and ran away then, too. This seems to be Teen Response # 2, from his roster of annoying human behaviors.

Carol makes it to the armory by pretending to have captured Morgan. Morgan runs off to protect Father Gabriel, while Carol is pursued by one of the Wolves. Carol kills the Wolf, arms Olivia, who was hiding in the closet, and then goes out to cause more damage. Morgan ties up Gabriel’s attacker. When the Wolf tries to explain why they attacked, Carol shoots him. Any excuse he gives will simply be self servingly batshit, I’m pretty sure.

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Morgan faces off against several Wolves with nothing but a Bo staff and some threats, and in one of my all-time favorite Morgan moments, manages to successfully talk (and beat) them into leaving. Morgan is totally the shit, but for the completely opposite reason, that Carol is. (I cannot help wishing Michonne had been there though, for maximum carnage.) Carol, her cover as happy homemaker now blown, contemplates her actions.  What is Olivia going to think of her? What does Morgan think? How many of the townsfolk have seen her without her mask? It’s the only time, since the beginning of the series, that we see her cry. Later, we see Jessie, Carol’s doppelgänger,  dealing with what she’s just done, as well. She was a mother bear. It’s impossible for me to pass judgment on her. That kind of judgment is for people who think they know where their line is. That line beyond which they’ll never step.

Aaron finds his old bag near the body of one of the Wolves, and inside, his photos of Alexandria. We know he thinks he’s to blame now, but he couldn’t possibly have foreseen something like this happening, I think. Denise loses the battle for Hollys life. She does not handle it well. I feel so deeply for her. She tried so hard. Maggie and Deanna come back inside the walls to survey the damage. Enid leaves. She’s a survivor. It’s what she does, but I sincerely hope she does not come in contact with any of the Wolves. JSS!

Morgan checks out a house and encounters the same Wolf who tried to kill and rob him last season, and whom he let live. The man taunts him about how he shouldn’t have. Morgan apologizes before delivering a final blow. It’s unclear whether or not he killed him, but I think he did. The episode ends with Carol passing Morgan on the street, completely ignoring him. She has no use for people who won’t do what needs to be done.

In Addition:

At the top of the show, Enid kills and eats a tortoise. It’s funny but the moment I saw it, I got totally invested in it. It was so cute. And then, I was shocked at the next scene of her eating it raw, and thought to myself, well of course. Nothing in this world would go to waste and she must be extremely hungry. I don’t think it would have occurred to me to eat it, no matter how hungry I was. I think part of my reaction was because we see so few animals, on the show. From time to time, we see rabbits or something small. But are there no deer in Georgia? We saw some wild horses last season and we saw the crew it a dog, but where are all the cats and birds? If the cats aren’t dead, the whole place should be overrun. What happened to the zoo animals? Are any of them running free, like monkeys, for example? I still don’t think there are enough animals shown in a world that’s been mostly denuded of people.

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I was not at all surprised to see Carol under the mask, later in the episode. Not surprised at all. Of course that’s what she would do, although I do realize it’s not an idea that would’ve occurred to me. Jessie  and Carol are such mirrors of each other. Abused wives, who were meek and submissive, to their husbands, but with nerves of steel underneath. Is  Jessie some kind of Proto-Carol?

When Morgan encountered the lone Wolf, I was rooting for him to not kill him. Not because I cared about the Wolf, but I wanted Morgan to stand by his principles and not kill. He’s been so adamant that he wouldn’t, what kind of person can he be if he folds the first, or even the second time, his resolve is tested? I don’t know if he killed the man, but I would be disappointed in him to find out he did.

Next week, we find out what the top dogs, Rick, Daryl, Michonne, Abraham and Sonya, were doing while Alexandria was being attacked? We’ll get to see what their reaction is, if they encounter the Wolves, themselves and if the successfully here’d away the swarm of zombies.

The Walking Dead: Remember

Last week our group settled outside the walled town of the Alexandria Safe Zone, where Rick, the father of apprehension, heard the laughter of children. Is this really a safe space? Can everyone finally settle down and start to rebuild a semblance of normalcy? I do care about these characters, so I’d definitely watch such a show, as boring as it sounds, but somehow, I don’t think things are going to play out that way and, sooner or later, the group is going to find themselves on the road, again.

imageOkay, once again, Daryl doing some hardcore shit. He shoots a possum on the road outside the walls and offers it to Aaron as dinner. Inside, Aaron asks for their weapons. He must know they wouldn’t possibly want to do such a thing. He says they should talk to Deanna first, as Sasha shoots an approaching Walker.

Deanna Monroe has a beautiful home. She asks if she can film her talk with Rick, in the name of transparency, and asks him a series of questions. How long have they been out there? Did they know each other before? She says she was once a congresswoman and that Alexandria was a planned community, completely self sufficient. She and her people got dumped there by the army. They built a community from day one and that they’re always looking for new citizens.

imageRick says they should always keep their gates closed and delineates the rules of the new world order. She asks if he’s already trying to take care of this community. Ricks confession of being a killer, their entire conversation, sounds unutterably sad. She has her own regrets to bear. She says she killed people by exiling them. She thinks Rick and his group can help them survive. She says she’s very good at reading people and she thinks they can be trusted.

Deanna gets the group to reluctantly stow most of their weapons and they are given houses and space, to relax and explore. The first order of business should be to shave off Rick’s raggedy ass beard because…ugh! I wonder how long it’s been since he took a hot shower. Cleaned up, Rick Still doesn’t look like his, rather plump looking, old self. He  looks like  pared down version of his essential self.

imageJesse, a pretty, blond woman offers Rick some home cleaning products and offers to style and cut his hair. She tells him she has two boys that Carl can meet.

Deanna interviews Daryl and it’s interesting. He’s not a talkative sort. He’s not going to discuss his feelings. He refuses to sit or get comfortable. She has no idea what to make of such a feral creature. I expect, that’s something that was true of him, before the apocalypse.

Carol, Carl and Rick explore the houses, which are huge. Daryl, of course, is still not cleaned up. He won’t give an inch. Rick says they’ll all stay in the same house that night. So they all camp out in the living room. Michonne, brushing her teeth, says she’s never seen Rick without a beard. Deanna stops by to see how they are doing. She marvels that these former strangers all think of themselves as a family. She’s given all of them jobs except Rick, Sasha, Michonne and Daryl.

imageMichonne’s interview is more positive. She says it’s something they’re ready for and wanted. The next day, they all explore the neighborhood. Rick has a panic attack when he loses sight of Carl and Judith, but Jesse calms him.

Carl meets other teens. They’re the first teens he’s ever met. Most certainly the first teenage girl he’s ever met, named Enid, who seems as traumatized as he is. She doesn’t talk at all but  they’re all very understanding about how overwhelmed he must be. Carl’s interview is tragic. He confesses about how he killed his Mom. He tells Rick that these people are weak and doesn’t want to become like them, even though he likes it there.

That night, while Rick is walking off his sleeplessness, he’s greeted by Jesse’s husband.

imageCarol talks about her old life, in her interview,  and how she thinks of herself as a kind of den mother. She is totally lying. The clincher for me, is when she says, she’s a people person. Nope! Carol treats it like a job interview that she needs to ace.  She gets a cooking gig out of it. When she sees Daryl she advises him to shower or she’s going to spray him with a hose.

Glenn doesn’t appear to have showered, shaved, or changed clothes, either.

Rick goes out to inspect the walls. Carl witnesses Enid climbing the wall to the outside. Glenn, Tara,  and Noah get nabbed for a supply run, while Carl follows Enid into the woods and loses track of her. Rick goes back to the place where he hid his weapon to find it missing. He’s met by Carl and they kill a bunch of walkers together.

The others are given a tutorial on how to do a supply run. Apparently there’s a system. The leader, Deanna’s son, Aiden,  is trying to sound tough but mostly he just comes across like an ass. I’m more intimidated by Tara than him. He almost gets Tara killed because he and his partner would rather fuck around with the Walker than kill it.

Back in town Aiden tries to strongarm Glenn, who is completely unimpressed. When he tries to attack him, Glenn lays him on his ass. When his partner tries to jump in, Daryl takes him down and has to be talked out of killing him by Rick. Aiden can’t possibly think he can make his manhood by going up against such people. These “warriors” have been fighting and killing for five or six years straight. Did he really think they’d be intimidated by the local ROTC?

Deanna, who witnessed most of this, gives Rick the job of town constable, with Michonne as his partner. She says that’s their truest selves. I have to agree with her on that. Michonne and Rick are protectors. Caretakers. It’s what they do. They accept, but Daryl is disgusted.

Deanna thanks Glenn for knocking Aiden on his ass. I guess Glenn wasn’t the only one who was tired of Aidan’s “top dog” act. Maggie thinks ths is hilarious, and it’s the first time we’ve seen her smile since Beth died.

That evening, Rick puts on his new uniform and, talking to Daryl and Carol, strikes an ominous note. Carol,wearing her harmless, people-person,  Grannie ensemble, says that staying there will make them weak. Rick says that weakness isn’t a part of them anymore. If the residents of Alexandria are too weak, they’ll just take the place for themselves.

There’s a real possibility, that they may have to do that. I think Deanna’s purpose in having them there, is not to make them weak, but to make Alexandria strong. The people of that town are not warriors and Rick’s group is there to teach them how to be that.