Blogging Dead (s7ep6): Swear

Posted: November 28, 2016 in Television, The Walking Dead
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Having split of from the rest of the group after the attack on the communication outpost, Tara and Heath continue their search for supplies. While Heath continues to wear down after the experience of killing the Saviors, Tara maintains a constant optimism and focus on supporting their community. After coming across a bridge that appears to have been walled off, they explore and find a mini settlement that has since been abandoned. They also find a hoard of walkers hiding underneath the sand pile on the opposite side of the bridge and get overrun, causing Heath to go for cover and Tara to fall over the side into the water. She washes up on the shore unconscious and is found by two young women, who spare her life for the time-being.

Dealing with the Apocalypse:¬†There was an interesting contrast in how various characters dealt with their predicaments throughout this episode. Near the start, Heath and Tara were caught up in a fight over whether to continue searching or turn back to Alexandria. While Tara maintained her optimism and focus on the future, she held that perspective at least until she eventually made it back to Alexandria. Heath and the rest of the original Alexandrians had never really dealt with threats like the Saviors until Rick took control. He was having trouble processing what it meant to take lives the way they did, and it still is not clear if he made it back or if he knows about Negan’s revenge.

As for Oceanside, their group had an interesting story as to why they were an all-female community. Having lost so much to the Saviors, they adopted a kill-no-questions-asked policy. Natanya and her group revealed their fate to Tara and their hesitation with keeping her alive. Cindy ended up being the only one willing to give her a chance, holding onto that sense of humanity that Tara ascribed to.

Dropping a Bombshell:¬†There were two major moments in the episode where the viewers and Tara learned what has been happening with the¬†Saviors. Tara’s discovery of Oceanside and the reason for the lack of men was representative of the murdering mentality of Negan. For every community the viewers have encountered, Negan has already spread his control. While Oceanside is separate at this time, they are affected in the way that they are trying to stay hidden and have already lost so much or standing up to the Saviors.

Tara’s return to Alexandria brought forth a moment that viewers may have been dreading for her. She had no idea that Denise was killed by the crossbow or that Glenn and Abraham lost their lives directly to Lucille. She looked broken and unable to reconcile what she missed. She promised to Cindy that she would keep Oceanside a secret and held up her end of the bargain as she got grilled by Rosita. It is hard to tell how she will recover and what role she will play in the eventual challenge to the Saviors. Will she eventually give up Oceanside or will someone else discover its existence?

Question of the Week: Was that the last we will see of Oceanside?

In Memoriam: a bunch of dried out walkers

Waking up at the Hilltop, Maggie jumps directly from a  consultation about her baby to catching up with Sasha. They visit the newly filled graves for Glenn and Abraham and share a moment before Jesus arrives. While the recommendation for Maggie is to remain at the Hilltop to recover, Gregory arrives at the graves and immediately insists that Maggie and Sasha go back to Alexandria. While they are given the night to rest, they are woken up by loud music and a horde of walkers marching through the front gate. Meanwhile, Rick and Michonne go off on their own separate adventures, leaving Carl to chase after and protect Enid.

The¬†Cowardice¬†of Gregory:¬†It was clear from the first meeting with Gregory that he is a self-preservationist. He cares not for the safety of his people nearly as much as he does for himself. He was a bit dismissive of Rick and his people at the beginning, but he saw Rick’s promise to eliminate the Saviors as a chance to preserve his quiet piece of the world and his belongings. Maggie and Sasha have brought significant challenge to his order and have no issue with expressing their distrust of his leadership. He was willing to give the two up to the Saviors, but Jesus was smart enough to predict Gregory’s cowardly decision-making.

The Continued Strength of Maggie: Unlike many other characters on the show, Maggie has used tragedy as an immediate turnaround to focus on next steps. While she needs to give herself a chance to recover from her trauma, she refused to ignore opportunity to protect the Hilltop from walkers and even got worked up in front of Gregory in a challenge to his leadership. There is a clear sense that she is on a path toward power. Gregory is not long for his role and is likely one or two more errors away from either Maggie taking hold of the opportunity or Jesus helping to get her to assume the role.

Complicated Young Love:¬†Carl has acted¬†like he’s been done with Enid a couple of times, but this episode had him tell her directly, only to break that statement almost immediately. He truly cares about her, and he took a moment to show it with the kiss after their skating date. The young couple may actually have a chance if Enid can find a way to stay put and if Carl can survive the trip to the Sanctuary. Will Negan allow Carl to continue to explore his romantic future?

With the Saviors showing their force against the Hilltop, they have visited all three communities within the first part of the seventh season. Negan’s influence is all-encompassing at the moment. What will be the action or force to push back?

Question of the Week: What type of leader could Maggie become?

In Memoriam:¬†walkers (by knife and vehicle), Gregory’s pride

Way ahead of schedule, Negan arrives at the gate of Alexandria, ready to get to work on their new relationship. The surprise visit starts off a little rocky, as the townspeople were not prepared for an army to walk through the gate. Spencer almost pushes Negan’s button, but Rick steps in to ensure that they just get down to business. The Saviors begin their tour of the town and the process of taking half of their belongings. The interaction does not go well at time, with Carl struggling with the taking of all of the medicine and Negan realizing that a few of the guns are not with the rest of the inventory. While all of the bumps are smoothed over, Negan drives off leaving the town miffed about what their future will be under Negan’s rule.

It’s Negan’s World:¬†…and they’re just living in it. The instant Negan walked through the gate, he knew that he owned everyone in his presence. It did not matter that the town was heavily armed or that some of the Alexandrians are still ready to fight. He knew how to manipulate everyone around him. He handed Lucille over to Rick to emasculate him through carrying it around the entire visit. He calmly handled Carl while he was handling a loaded gun. He kept Olivia captive while waiting for the missing guns. He broke Daryl to the point that he did not even¬†tempt the idea of speaking up to see if Negan would let him go. At the very end, he was able to walk away knowing that Rick was a tamed animal, at least at the moment.

Rick’s Controversial¬†Passive¬†Presence:¬†There were times were Rick appeared ready to take a swing at Negan. Surprisingly, it was not when Negan was threatening Carl. The split second when Negan took out the walker with the candlestick was the moment where he appeared to be the most ready to take a swing with Lucille. It was not until late in the episode that it became apparent how aware Rick was to the potential dangers to his people’s lives. There were certain people who were missing and Negan looked ready to assert his dominance at numerous moments.

Also…bombshell…Judith is Shane’s daughter. While this may not have been a major surprise, there did not seem to be a reason before to revisit that part of the story. The moment with Michonne where he got a chance to explain his passive behavior around Negan and the Saviors finally allowed him to explain how Judith’s presence had an impact on his decision not to fight or plan to attack the Saviors…at least at this point.

Setup for an All-Out War:¬†For those that know the comics, you know what is coming. For those looking just at the show, there were a number of moments that helped to push the story forward in this one, including points where it seemed that Negan was gaining more position. Carl’s anger, Michonne’s realization that Negan was messing with them, and Rosita’s visit to Eugene to get him to make bullets all provide seeds for the group to reorganize and start to develop a new plan. Rick prevented himself from lashing out but he appears more broken at the moment.

What they have not realized at the moment is that there are three communities out there that are being terrorized and could potentially have the manpower and resources to consider a fight against the Saviors.

Question of the Week: Father Gabriel seems to believe in Rick more now than before the invasion of the Saviors into their lives. What do you believe has changed Gabriel’s mind?

In Memoriam: several of the Savior walkers

Blogging Dead (s7ep3): The Cell

Posted: November 7, 2016 in Random
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Back at the Sanctuary, Daryl has been locked up in a small, windowless room and tortured with loud, obnoxious music for hours on end. While Dwight enjoys his fresh sandwich, he tosses Daryl one made from dog food. Dwight continuously returns to the room to feed him while waiting to see Daryl break to Negan’s will. When Dwight leaves to deal with an escaped member of Negan’s clan, Daryl makes an attempt to escape. The failed attempt leaves him trapped again in the room and awaiting his fate.

Daryl’s Will:¬†While Daryl has been tested in the past, he has never experienced such torture. The “mine” guys pushed him to break his care for others, though¬†running into Rick and Carl helped him snap back into reality. Now in imprisonment, Daryl is being pushed to his limit between the sleep depravation, loud music, poor food, and lack¬†of light. Negan is waiting for Daryl to abandon his name and what makes him an independent person, but Daryl¬†in the moment of truth refused to break. He has always had this inner strength that other characters have only shown in glimpses compared to his consistent stalwart personality.

The Complicated World of Dwight:¬†It is easy to look at a guy like Dwight and see the angry follower who seems to hate everything about Daryl. The beginning of the episode helped to push this concept as the contrast of him taking what he wants was put against the way he treated Daryl in the cell. As the episode pushed forward, his interaction with Gordon only served to reinforce this thought. The image of Dwight became more complicated when Negan tried to finally break Daryl.¬†After placing the picture in Daryl’s cell to make him fully break down, Dwight stayed to wait for Daryl’s tears to become real. After Daryl’s refusal to take Negan’s name, Dwight actually appeared to acknowledge that breaking to Negan’s demands would at least save his life. Daryl’s refusal challenged Dwight for just long enough that it felt like he finally commiserated with the idea that Dwight sold out while Daryl actually took the moral high ground.

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Negan’s Rule of Thumb:¬†There have been a few encounters where we have experienced the “we are Negan” comments. Being such a charismatic leader, he is able to get nearly everyone¬†around him to accept his rule. He is a threatening presence, but there is something else that holds him in a position of power. In a broken world, he is willing to put himself out there to lead the sheep. His people are looking for someone to provide direction and protection. He is smart enough to know what to promise and what boundaries to push in order to take people to the edge. This will certainly serve him well until someone, maybe Maggie or Rick, is able to find a weakness in his style of rule.

Negan’s style of rule will be on full display next week, as we will see him take a trip to Alexandria and push a broken Rick to admit defeat. Will we see Maggie take over for Rick’s weakness? While Rick find his groove back? Will Negan enact a takeover of the quiet community? We’ve got a 90 minute episode to find out.

Question of the Week: How long would it take for the music from this episode to make you go crazy?

In Memoriam: Gordon

Away from Negan’s chaos, Morgan and Carol are approached by a couple of young men checking if they are alright. They lead Morgan and Carol back to an unknown community for her to recover. When she wakes after 2 days, Morgan takes her to an auditorium, where she meets Ezekiel and his pet tiger Shiva. Taken aback by the medieval presentation, Carol goes into survival mode while she continues to feel out her safety and look for a chance to escape. Meanwhile, Morgan continues to explore the intentions of Ezekiel and find his place as part of the Kingdom.

Carol’s Trust Issues:¬†When we last left Carol, she was ready to die. Taking lives just weighed too much on her, so to be dragged into a new community left her in a state of distress. She cannot accept Morgan’s attempts to try to save her physically, emotionally, and morally. While she can be real with him, she also refuses to listen to anything he says. The sweet persona works on the residents of the Kingdom initially, but Ezekiel saw right through it. He told his story in an effort to make a connection, but it was actually his refusal to let her live in peace outside of the Kingdom that may have finally taken a brick out of the wall.

Morgan’s Purpose:¬†Throughout the episode, Morgan spent much of his effort trying to protect Carol and convince her not to leave the Kingdom. Since leaving Rick, he has made it his mission to protect a member of his new family. Now at the Kingdom and with Carol trying to make her escape regardless of his effort, he has decided to spend more time with Ezekiel to understand how this community seems to work so well. It was a shock to him to find out that the Saviors know about and syphon off resources from the Kingdom, but he also seemed to understand Ezekiel’s hesitation with revealing the reality of the Saviors to the rest of his¬†people. While he first believed that Ezekiel brought him along because of his last encounter with a Savior, he discovered that Ezekiel actually respected Morgan’s desire for peace.

Ezekiel’s History:¬†For fans who have not read the comics, the presentation of an overdramatic king and his tiger probably felt like the show has lost its way. Not until Ezekiel revealed his backstory did he seem to have a true sense of understanding of the world he was in. Being a zookeeper seemed like an odd place to have started from to become the leader of this community, but anyone walking in with a tamed tiger makes sense for becoming the king of the kingdom. What his story truly revealed was that he was just trying to find a sense of purpose like everyone else after the apocalypse. Being able to help people feel safe and be productive made him feel good. He looks to be a significant influence on Carol, helping her try to recover her broken connection with the world and with those that care for her.

Palate Cleanser:¬†A couple of quick things…this episode was necessary after the season premiere. It was quite gruesome and many actually had significant issue with it. There were even some groups that wanted to attack the show for going too far and being too gory for children. The show airs at 9pm on Sunday and is rated for more mature audiences. The comics provided the roadmap for the deaths of Glenn and Abraham (even if only slightly altered). I agree that the images were hard to get out of my head, but that moment was so iconic of the show that I can accept it for what it is. Just like the Red Wedding for Game of Thrones, Glenn’s death and Negan’s reveal are critical for pushing the story forward.

If you are too put off by the first episode of season seven, then do not worry about continuing with the show. Things are only going to get more gruesome in a zombie apocalypse.

Question of the Week:¬†Given Carol’s attempt to distance herself, do you think there is opportunity in her meeting Ezekiel to find a meaningful connection to the world?

In Memoriam: a handful of walkers

On the heels of Negan’s show of force, Rick’s crew is left with realizing that they have lost part of their family. Watching Abraham stand strong but left to become a pool of death, anger and loss immediately overwhelmed the group. Not wanting to let it stand and unable to deal with Negan’s taunting, Daryl lashes out and gets a punch on Negan’s chin. Rather than immediately retaliating and hitting Daryl,¬†Negan takes a moment reflect on the backlash. Choosing to respect Daryl’s grit, Negan turns his bat toward Glenn and strikes. Rick is dragged into the RV, fails on an attempt to take out Negan, and is later returned with a similar loss of control. Believing that Rick still did not get it, he forces Rick to believe he had to cut off Carl’s hand or sacrifice the entire group but stops him just before the cut to capture that moment of Rick’s full break. Negan gathers his crew, throws Daryl into the back of a van, and leaves the rest of the group to pine over the loss of their family.

The Great Reveal:¬†While I believe that I called the deaths of both Abraham and Glenn, it still does not prepare anyone for how the production crew would pull off the scene. Abraham’s moment of strength likely encouraged Negan to pick him. In the comics, Abraham would have died a couple¬†episodes earlier when dealing with the Saviors, pre-Negan. This felt like more of a continuity correction than Glenn’s death did, but it was well-crafted to weave into this telling of the story. No more one liners from the king of one liners.

Glenn…we will miss you. The scene was so well acted and mirrored elements of the comics almost perfectly. Having his head bashed in with his eye popped out was just incredible, shocking, and devastating. You could feel the pain from Maggie, Rick, and the others as they watched the moral compass of their group have the life drained out of him. The image of Negan in the shadows and backlit still wailing on Glenn’s husk of a body was haunting. This will be a moment of building for the group, but Daryl will not be able to let this go.

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Balance of Power Shifted:¬†The entire episode was a tribute to Negan’s strength and power. Fans were so angry at the end of season 6 because of the cliffhanger ending. I believe that the significance of Negan’s introduction was lost. The episode did drag out the reveal a bit, but I believe that the focus on suspense was perfectly done.

Now to the actual power, Negan has an army and now Rick’s confidence in his pocket. He has taken out two of Rick’s closest¬†people and stolen away Daryl. He nearly forced Rick to cut off Carl’s arm. He broke him. Rick had that moment of confidence that he and his family could do anything, survive anything. The group will need time to rebuild their strength and their sense of purpose. They will need to figure out how to save Daryl. For now, Negan is king.

Dealing with Loss: This will be a season/series-long issue. While there has not been much conversation about most of the people who have been lost for a while, their presence is still felt and Glenn and Abraham will remain a spiritual part of this show for years.

Sasha and Rosita were able to grieve together for a moment, but both of them will be lost for a while. For Rosita, she had¬†somewhat separated from Abraham, but Negan taunted his death in her face while Sasha had to fear and cry indirectly in the shadow of the encounter.¬†Sasha and Abraham were envisioning a life together. She was seeing hope, which is something you never want to do in this type of world. Just as Rick’s confidence is gone, Sasha now has had her life stolen from her. Whether she will become reckless or break into despair will remain to be seen.

Daryl’s lashing out against Negan was the type of lone wolf response you would expect from him. He finally felt like part of the family and struggled watching Abraham’s sacrifice and Rosita’s torture. He will likely be at the whim of both Negan and Dwight, while torturing himself for feeling accountable for Glenn’s death.

I’ve already talked about Rick’s tourture…but then there is Maggie. She lost the love of her life and had to watch the brutality in-person. She should be completely broken. Once Negan left, she was driven to want to fight back. Knowing what her comic future looks like, she is showing immediate leadership qualities. She wants to avenge her loss, not be paralyzed by it. She will bring to question whether people trust Rick to continue to lead Alexandria or trust him against the rule of Negan. Maggie will likely appear to be the stronger of the two and may take away any sense of leadership people still connect with Rick.

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Question of the Week:¬†What do you believe Daryl’s fate looks like considering his misstep against Negan?

In Memoriam: Glenn & Abraham…rest in peace…

I have not posted on this blog for quite some time, as this has mostly become a Walking Dead-related focus, but I would be remise if I held in my opinions about the current state of the election season. It has been said that holding in such stress/tension can be bad for your health, so let me do this for my betterment.

The election process this time around can be said to be one of the worst of American history. Whether you focus on the scandal or the continued division of the American people, both major party candidates hold the highest disapproval ratings in history and neither seems to be the real choice that their parties would have preferred rise to the surface (Clinton better than Trump but still not with much confidence). The third party candidates are laughable, either because they lack understanding of the global community, foreign policy, or economic growth or simply because they are too narrowly focused to understand the breadth of presidential responsibilities.

 

I could go into a breakdown of Hilary versus Donald, but most people know the issues (or at least the surface-level presentation of the issues). What I want to address is truly how bad this election is.

The Better of Two Evils:¬†Although I¬†do not believe that Hilary is truly an evil candidate, the way that people are voting seems to be more about preventing one candidate from getting elected rather than truly believing in their party’s nominee. So many Trump supporters now did not support him in the primary. They have gravitated to him because they are so against Hilary and are simply voting on party lines. The same could be said for Hilary, after the Sanders fans struggled following their candidate’s loss to Clinton.

Trump is truly the evil candidate, as his character is in constant question.

The Question of Preparation: There has been an interesting question about whether preparation is a good or bad thing. I agree that canned answers and soundbites are off-putting. Tim Kaine was a huge example of this during the VP debate, as was Hilary with the Alicia Machado addition to the end of the first debate with Trump. I am not saying that their prepared statements lacked value, but that value is distorted by the fact that they appeared to simply be inserting these comments as soon as they could be relevant.

The bigger concern to me is this idea that Clinton is too much of an insider rather than simply being an experienced candidate. I agree that corruption exists in Washington and Clinton is tied up in some of that. She is still the most prepared candidate in American history, having held positions in multiple states and throughout DC.

On the other hand, Trump has no political experience and is touting this as making him incorruptible. As much as he wants to promote this, he seems to be representing all of the evil elements of politics in his public statements and debate involvement. He has his own canned answers and flip-flops on issues all the time. He dodges and redirects with almost every question answered from reporters and moderators. The lack of experience seems to me to be a major negative rather than a reason to select him over Hilary.

Character & Temperament: With Clinton, it is simple. She has remained level-headed and metered throughout the campaign. She has certainly participated in the negative campaigning against Trump, but she has used his own words and temperament against him to contrast her readiness. Her issue is trust. The emails, Benghazi, and the Clinton Foundation have been areas she still is trying to explain away, and they will haunt her throughout the rest of the campaign and beyond. She has apologized and attempted to show remorse, but it seems that people also have trouble with her being more of a facts & figures leader rather than an emotionally-aware one.

Clinton’s biggest challenge is that she is a woman. It is still hard for many to believe that a woman can be president. It is hard for people to see a more metered, focused, and intellectual woman and label those qualities as presidential. Instead, people assume that she is unemotional and untrustworthy. While some of her issues are related to trust, her temperament should not be misattributed as unprepared or non-presidential.

Then there is Trump… This is a candidate who does not care about going off the handle or insulting large populations of people. He has discriminated against every population in American and abroad, and he somehow still holds a strong enough population of voters to be considered a threat to Hilary’s potential win. The latest controversy with women is the most disconcerting because of how it paints pictures for both candidates. For Hilary, she is being forced to answer for her husband’s infidelity while also having to answer for the way she handled the women associated with the scandal. For Trump, he has been quoted supporting sexual assault and his involvement in assault behaviors and actions. While Bill Clinton have been paraded out to alter the conversation off of Trump’s indiscretions, there are now accusers¬†speaking out against Trump and his foolish and abusive behavior.

Turning away from the offensive comments he has made, Trump also fails to pass the honesty test. His constant changing of opinions makes it too difficult to nail down what his true beliefs are. He used highlight liberal ideology but has changed to conservative opinions since he chose to run as a Republican. Even during the current campaign, his opinions have changed week to week, day to day.

Is the System Rigged?: The answer is both yes and no. The news media tends to be more liberal than conservative, so more liberal ideas tend to dominate the airwaves than conservative ones. At the same time, Trump could not survive without the media coverage. He has been a glutton for media coverage. His empty podium gets significant coverage, leaving correspondents to fill the void with Trump talk.

It this election more rigged than other elections? No! Trump’s negative representation in the media is his own doing. While Hilary is not clean by any account, she does not parade her issues in speeches and debates. She gets to focus on her platform and responding to Trump’s crazy comments. Trump has continuously thrown his indiscretions in people’s faces. He cannot complain about the coverage if he is creating it.

Voter fraud is also a non-factor. It has been studied on numerous occasions and has been found to have virtually no effect on elections. Trump has been boasting about his awareness of the rigged nature of the election process, but he is simply creating doubt in the event he loses. He wants to ensure that people question his lose to help him save face. If he wins, he will claim it a victory for the truth. Let it go…


I don’t know how the election will truly go, but I hope that people find some sense and just elect Hilary. She may not be the cleanest option, but she has prepared for this moment and will at least keep things stable following Obama’s term in office. A vote for Trump is a vote for chaos. The third party candidates do not have enough experience or awareness to take on the responsibility. Let’s get this election over with and move on to the real issues and demand better from our politicians to work together to get it done.