Archive for March, 2014

Briefly looking back to the prison, Carl helps let Rick, Maggie and Glenn drive back in. Rick checks with his son about how things have gone at the prison and then walks off to kill walkers at the fence. Flashing back to the present, Rick finds himself broken and bloodied against the side of a car out in the woods, alone.

763bebcb-12a4-493d-80e1-ba82b4ed54f8_zpsa865d403Out in the woods, Rick’s group sits by the fire and chats about how hungry they are. Rick agrees that they should check the snares before heading out to Terminus. Feeling that it is only a day or two away, Carl thinks about how they can share who they are. Struggling with revealing too much of their past, they get interrupted by a walker. Michonne takes it out. Up ahead, Rick pulls a rabbit off a snare and then teaches Carl about how to set the trap. Suddenly, they hear yelling in the distance. A man is stuck in a field with walkers all around Rick stops Carl from shooting leaving the man to die in the mob. The walkers spot them, but they run away. With just a couple of walkers ahead, Rick runs up to stab the first one in the head.

Flashing back to the prison, Hershel wakes up Rick to take him on a task. Beth takes Judith while they head out.

They finish taking them out and continue to run. Searching for a house or signs of food, they come across a car and a lone walker. Choosing to camp at the car, Carl gets some sleep while Rick and Michonne chat about the harsh world they live in. Rick continues to believe that they are close and they will be welcomed. A branch breaks in the woods, but nothing reveals itself. Just when they settle back down, Joe and the marauders show up and hold a pistol to Rick’s head. All three of them are held hostage but Daryl reveals himself from behind the car. Daryl stops Joe’s countdown and tries to reason with Joe. He offers himself instead of Joe killing Rick. Joe gets angry and sends his men to rough up Daryl. Carl gets dragged out of the car, but Rick speaks up to try and take all of the blame. All of their initial attempts to break free fail, but Rick finally builds up the strength and takes a bite out of Joe’s neck. Distracting the rest of the marauders, Michonne turns the gun pointed at her head on out of them and then kills one who is beating up Daryl. Free of the beating, Daryl takes out another one. Rick then turns his attention to the one hold Carl hostage, takes a knife, moves toward him and guts him. Carl watches which being held in Michonne’s arms while Rick takes out his rage on the final marauder.

Back to the flashback, Hershel talks to Rick about farming and trying to start a garden. Hershel says that he needs the help because he cannot do the work himself. Rick struggles to see himself as able to let his guard down, but Hershel pleads with him to take a simpler turn after all of the chaos they have experienced. Hershel admits that Rick has done so much and is owed a debt. Rick tries to get ready to go on a run, but Hershel continues to say otherwise.

Stuck in his thoughts after the events of the previous night, Rick sits bloodied against the car. Carl and Michonne are inside trying to rest, while Daryl tries to take car of Rick. Daryl admits that he did not know much about them other than that they were bad and lived by a code. He talks about how he ended up with the group and how Beth went missing. Daryl starts to quietly blame himself but Rick tries to redirect the anguish. He welcomes Daryl back to the group, calling Daryl his brother. Daryl tries to console Rick for his anger the previous night, but Rick admits that the anger is part of him and justifies it as his way to protect Carl. They continue on their journey and Rick tries to check on Michonne. Though a little wary, Michonne admits that she is okay because Rick is okay. They sense they are close and head into the woods to finish their trek.

Coming up to the fences outside of Terminus, they spread out to spy on the buildings. Rick tries to ask Carl to stay close but Carl turns him down and goes with Michonne. She takes a moment to tell her story about Andre’s death. Mike and Terry had gone with her to a refugee camp. She had been out on a run, when she returned and saw the destruction of the camp. Mike and Terry were high when they died, so she took her anger and turned them into her walker pets. She calls herself a monster and how she was lost until Andrea, Rick, and Carl helped her find her humanity again. She helps him rethink his fear of his father. Carl admits that he has continued to struggle with bad thoughts and that he feels like he is a monster underneath. Michonne hugs him while Rick watches in the distance. Rick prepares his guns and buries a bag of them as Daryl returns.

The-Walking-Dead-416-terminus-wide-560x282

Jumping over the fence, they hold their weapons at the ready and move in on Terminus. They find a room with people sending out signals. Rick interrupts the room and tries to introduce themselves. Gareth introduces the Terminus crew and confirms that they have found sanctuary. Gareth asks the group to lay down their weapons, which they comply to. After a search, Gareth continues to say his welcome and returns their weapons to them. Following Gareth between the buildings, he talks about how they have been around since the start of the turn. They get a chance to meet Mary near the grill. She prepares some plates for them, but Rick sees something in Alex’s pocket. He pulls out his gun, holds Gareth hostage, and asks about where he ended up with Hershel’s/Glenn’s watch.

In another flashback. Patrick is playing with some building blocks while Carl is off to the side cleaning his gun. Seeming a little distant, Rick tries to talk to him about needing help with the something and puts down his gun.

With a standoff continuing to build, Rick continues to demand for answers. Gareth admits that trust had been lost, but the tension finally breaks with gunfire. Rick and the group run for covering, with the gunmen on the roofs aiming to steer them around the compound. They hear some yelling from inside one of the storage containers while on the run, but they continue until they find a room full of candles. With messages across the wall such as “Never Again” and “Never Trust,” they continue their run until they get caught on all sides with gunmen. With the gunfire at a halt, they are ordered to drop their weapons. Rick gets ordered to head for the train car nearby. Daryl is ordered to follow and then Michonne. They are ordered to stand by the door in order. Carl is finally told to follow them. Rick is commanded to open the door and go in. The rest of the group follows and the door is shut behind them. Glenn  and Maggie appear out of the shadows. The rest of the group appears behind them. Maggie introduces the new members as their friends. They

In a final flashback, Rick, Carl and Hershel are farming, while Beth is caring for Judith. Rick gives Beth Carl’s hat. They feel good about the calm.

Looking at the group, Rick tells them that Terminus will feel pretty stupid. As the rest of the group is confused, he says, “They’re screwing with the wrong people.”

Reaction: The season finale definitely did not disappoint. It was full of surprises, gore, and suspense, all of the things that have made this season so fun to watch. With all of the guessing prior to the premiere of this episode it was anyone’s game of who would make their exit from the series. It was nice to get a little return of Hershel, but there are plenty of questions still hanging in the balance.

140330walking-dead2_300x206Rick has been suppressing his brutality throughout the season. He started with farming and trying to accept a calmer lifestyle, but the Governor drove him back to accepting his anger. The flashbacks in this episode served as a chance to revisit a time when Rick transformed into the flamer version of himself. He was weak for a while after the attack on the prison, but protecting Carl rose the surface. He needed to make the change from protecting his son’s humanity after Carl shot the boy outside the prison to protecting his life from the harsh world they were thrown back into. When Michonne rejoined the group, they found their struggles periodically but were able to survive and have a little more of a lightheartedness, minus the close call with the marauders at the house. Their vulnerability did not wait for their arrival at Terminus, but rather with Joe’s ambush on the road. Rick was forced to watch his closest family get held at gunpoint and beaten, leaving him with virtually no options. Joe was not going to give him a choice, but he unwittingly reawakened the brutal side of Rick. Getting to Terminus, Rick continued to be wary and with just reasoning. At the end of the episode, he was left to have that moment with the group about finding a way to survive and the intense, action-oriented Rick had officially reemerged.

Carl went through some rough issues in this episode. He realized that he had been going through something since they were back at the prison. He killed the kid outside of the walls, saved his father from walkers, and been actively supporting the group in their travels to Terminus. The attack left him feeling vulnerable again and he was unable to defend himself. Watching his father go made with rage, he saw the monster that was possible in him as well. Carl was not afraid of his father, as he was able to see Rick come down after taking brutal measures for the group of his loved ones. He just does not know if his father will accept a similar brutality in him after all of Rick’s attempts to save Carl’s humanity. The moment where he unequivocally agrees with Rick at Terminus about being justified with having to kill was a moment of acceptance of his father’s actions but also an attempt to hide some of the other fears he was having. Michonne’s story may have helped, but Carl may still have some issues to deal with next season once they survive Terminus, assuming they all do.

Michonne finally revealed a bit more of her story, but it was done without the actual flashback. She explained that the walkers that she had in chains were her former family, but they were also failures in protecting her son. It would be very interesting to see that flashback if they have a chance to fit in into the show. Regardless, Michonne has taken to being a guardian to Carl, as she comforted him multiple times this episode. She has acted more like a friend but may actually treat him more like her nephew or even her son once they get clear of Terminus.

Daryl’s development was a little light, but his breakaway from the marauders and newfound brotherhood with Rick was a nice touch for the episode.

TWD_416_GP_1121_0284.jpgThe whole second half of the season was building up to this discovery of Terminus and what the characters were about to encounter. At the end of episode 15, Glenn’s group had finally arrived and it seemed like a lovely place. Rick and company did not seem to trust it so quickly. They were willing to appear like they were putting their guard down, but they were mentally ready for it to turn bad quickly. The questions about the reality of Terminus have not truly been answered yet. It is clear that Terminus is not a good place to be. It may have been at one time, but it looks like they have dealt with a lot of death and they were prepared for Rick to change his mind about accepting their false kindness. Terminus could be comprised of the cannibals from the comics. It could just be a community that has lost faith on the outside world and any survivors that present themselves. They will probably make that more clear within the first couple of episodes next season.

It would be a shame not to break down the results of the incident with the marauders. Joe got the jump on Rick but clearly should have fired immediately before Daryl threw off his concentration. Rick’s moment of insanity was glorious. It brought back the question that has appeared a few times throughout the series of whether the survivors are all that different from the walkers. Rick’s ability to survive hinged on him taking a page out of the walker handbook. Joe’s group was not the cannibals from the comics, but they possessed some of the qualities of that group. They lacked humanity, but rather survived off of a heartless and selfish set of rules that did not allow for outsiders to feel like they had a chance. Rick took his opportunity to give his family a chance to survive.

Terminus has presented itself and Rick is ready to enact revenge on his captors. Season five looks like it will have an explosive start and likely a few losses that had originally been predicted to take place in this episode. There are still questions about the other survivors, including Beth, Carol, Tyreese, and Judith.

I will continue to post periodically but probably not weekly with the show on break until the fall. Keep following, commenting, and voting in my Walking Dead polls.

In Memoriam: Joe and the marauders, random man in a field, Alex from Terminus

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March Madness is Upon Us!

Posted: March 24, 2014 in Basketball, College

While my team failed to make the NIT, there are 68 other teams that have high hopes to end their season the champion. After the first weekend, 68 has been reduced to 16, with some pleasant surprises in the early rounds.

In the first four, Albany, NC State, Cal Poly, and Tennessee survived. While these teams are given a chance to continue, it is never assumed that they really get any momentum from their play-in game. Cal Poly and Albany were set up to take on Wichita State and Florida, respectively. Meanwhile, NC State and Tennessee had more favorable match-ups against Saint Louis and Massachusetts.

The first full round was a wild ride! There were a number of upsets that truly stunned audiences and gave some cinderella teams real hope to press forward. The #1 and #2 seeds all survived, though Virginia was given a scare against Coastal Carolina, but here are the most interesting headlines from the Round of 64.

  • dm_140321_ncb_duke_mercer_highlightPittsburgh had a 9-8 match up with Colorado and dominated the game with a 29-point win.
  • VCU’s experience with the tourney has been beneficial in the past, but Stephen F. Austin University was ready to play and steal a 2-point win.
  • Dayton looked to be the upset king on day 1 with a last second win against state rival Ohio State.
  • Stanford upset a lot of brackets that believed New Mexico had a shot to go deeper this season.
  • Harvard achieved a rare tournament win against the struggling AAC team Cincinnati.
  • On day 2, North Dakota State surprised Oklahoma, as the state came up 0-3 with loses for OSU and Tulsa as well.
  • Tennessee became the only play-in team to steal a win versus their first real tournament opponent versus UMass.
  • Mercer joined the BEAT DUKE club (with Lehigh) with a 78-71 win against the Blue Devils. This makes Duke’s 2nd first round loss in the past 3 years.

The second round was a little more straightforward but included a few fun upsets as well. There was a lot of faith in the undefeated Wichita State, but Kentucky’s youth and energy propelled them to a close victory after WSU’s final shot was just off the mark. The rest of the #1s survived, but a few other big teams were not so lucky.

  • -61997e82daf0f2a7Dayton was ready for the second round as well and shocked Syracuse, who failed to sink a single 3 the entire game. The Flyers move into the Sweet 16.
  • Kansas gets sent home early after Stanford surprises the Jayhawks, though they were not the only #2 seed to fall.
  • Iowa State squeaked by UNC. Though not an upset by the rankings, the Tar Heels are left with a controversy with the game clock operation that changed the play on the court in the final 1.6 seconds.
  • Connecticut plowed through former conference foe Villanova in this AAC-Big East matchup.
  • Baylor demolishes Creighton, as two players from the Bears are able to outplay and outscore McDermott after 40 minutes.
  • Tennessee and Mercer made up an 11-14 matchup, which left Tennessee to join Dayton as the two sub-10 seed teams to make the Sweet 16.

There are a number of great match-ups coming up this Thursday and Friday. Virginia and Michigan State are two very possible Final Four teams, but have to face each other (and Iowa State or Connecticut) to get there. Louisville and Kentucky met up for a state rival showdown. We get a break for a couple of days, but the action starts back up later this week.

March-Madness

While traveling along the road, all Eugene can seem to do is ramble about video games and the virus. Abraham catches Tara that night and recommends that she needs to get some sleep, but decides to chat her up for a bit first. They connect a bit but the next day is just more of the same at first. Along the tracks, the group discovers a sign from Maggie, Sasha, and Bob about meeting at Terminus. Glenn immediately starts to run down the tracks. After a while, Abraham calls Glenn back to set up camp. They disagree initially when a walker falls out of the tower. In the scuffle, Tara gets knocked down and hurts her leg but agrees she can keep going. In order to stay on the move, Glenn agrees to give Eugene his riot gear.

06c0e91e-9fc7-4b7a-43e9-d3fbbba86e2f_TWD_415_GP_1106_0261Out in the woods, a walker sneaks up on the marauders but gets caught in the barbed wire. One of the men takes care of it. They notice that Daryl has stepped out but left most of his belongings at the camp. Len goes to find him and catches Daryl hunting. Jumping in on his shot, they get into an argument about who gets the rabbit, but Len continues to run his mouth about losing a woman. Just before drawing his knife on Len, Joe stops the fight and settles the dispute by cutting the rabbit in half. Joe continues to explain to Daryl the rules of the group along the path. Daryl continues to struggle with joining the group but cannot convince himself to leave out on his own just yet.

Rick leads his group along the tracks, but Michonne and Carl are having a little fun walking on the rail beams. Carl keeps his balance a little longer and wins one of Michonne’s candy bars. Carl splits the bar in half and reminds Michonne that they always share their treats.

Further along the path, Glenn’s group comes across a tunnel but there is another sign from Maggie. They can hear walkers in the tunnel, so Abraham tells Glenn that they will need to part ways so that he can keep Eugene safe. Glenn and Abraham share a moment, Rosita says her goodbye, and Eugene tosses them a compliment but with an aside to Tara. Abraham’s group doubles back while Glenn and Tara make their push into the tunnel. Tara talks about her sadness with losing her family but also seeing Hershel dead. They come across a collapse in the tunnel with a number of walkers trapped in the stone. After scoping out the mess, Glenn starts to kill some of the walkers to climb on top of the stone. At the top, Glenn and Tara discover that there are a hoard of walkers waiting on the other side of the rubble. Glenn notices that there are no bodies on the ground or walkers that look like Maggie, so he assumes they made it through. Glenn sets up a flashlight on the top of the rocks while they try to sneak past. Tara slips as one of the rocks breaks and gets caught in the rubble.

o-WALKING-DEAD-2Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene discover a car and dispatch the walker inside. Rosita and Eugene get into a little dispute over who gets to navigate. Rosita gets made about Eugene’s poor navigation, but Eugene admits that he wants to see if they can save Glenn and Tara on the other side of the tunnel. Eugene accidentally knocks a sleeping Abraham in the head in the back seat when they see something down the tracks that catches their attention.

The marauders take refuge inside an auto shop as Daryl shuts the door. The men claim all of the cars, leaving Daryl to lay down on the ground. Len gets mad at Daryl and believes that Daryl stole the other half of the rabbit. Joe starts to mediate and gives both men a chance to confess the truth. They both claim not to have done anything. Joe turns on Len and punches him in the jaw, telling the rest of the group to punish him. Joe admits that he saw Len plant the rabbit in Daryl’s bag and uses the moment to try to snare in Daryl a little more. The next morning, Daryl finds Len slaughtered outside of the building as the group presses forward. They come across a Terminus sign, when Daryl asks about what they are doing. Joe admits that he was attacked (by Rick), as one of his men was strangled and turned on the group at the house where they had settled.

Tara tells him to leave but Glenn refuses and starts shooting until he is out of ammo. Suddenly, someone down the tunnel shouts to get down and a barrage of gunfire takes down the rest of the walkers. Out of the shadows appears an ecstatic Maggie who runs up and kisses Glenn. They set up the tunnel to be safe for the night. Glenn introduces Maggie to Tara, who appears challenged by all that she knows. Abraham tries to rally the group to head to Washington, but Eugene admits that they are best to go to Terminus and stock up on supplies. Abraham is resistant but agrees, especially since most of the group confirms they will travel to DC with him. Maggie and Glenn cozy up and reconnect about how they survived. Maggie gets Glenn to burn the picture he has of her as a symbolic gesture of her decision to never leave his side again.

The group finally reaches Terminus and slowly makes their way through the gates. They see a sign to lower their weapons and eventually come across a woman at a grill. She introduces herself as Mary and says that she’d like to get them some food.

04e3374d-c833-e05c-1a02-4ec63f7b70c8_TWD_415_GP_1106_0175-630x419Reaction: A little less focused than the past couple of episodes, the main theme settled on a sense of belonging. Each of the main characters found themselves struggling with needing to connect, reconnect, or find a sense of belonging that had been eluding them.

Daryl has been stuck with this group of marauders and Joe is trying at all costs to recruit him. While most of the men are out for themselves, Len was looking to make a statement against the new guy. He saw Daryl as a threat, while Daryl still was not seeing himself as a true member of the group. Joe used the tension as a way to recruit Daryl. Still throughout the entire episode, there was a clear hesitation about trusting these men, especially with Len’s aggressiveness, the comfort with killing Len for breaking a rule, and Joe’s calm demeanor. Daryl may be a tough guy at heart, but he has not forgotten about Beth or the rest from the prison. If he is faced with reconnecting with any of the prison survivors, he will likely turn back to rejoin them.

Glenn was so set on his task of finding Maggie that he refused to let Abraham slow him down. Even parting ways, Maggie meant so much to his reason for survival at that point that nothing else even mattered. It appeared that he was using Tara’s willingness to follow him as a means of pressing forward, even with Rosita’s and Abraham’s disapproval. In the tunnel, he had a moment to reconsider his choices and go around, but he felt too close to give up. When he finally reconnected with Maggie, both characters had a sense of relief that their worries about the other were finally over. While the rest of the group seemed willing to press on to DC, they also wanted assurance for whether the rest of the prison survivors were alive or not.

Tara is a woman without a true home. While she has been traveling with Glenn and is considering pressing on to DC, she still seemed to feel like she was stuck on losing her niece and sister. She followed Glenn out of necessity and guilt for what happened at the prison. She blames herself so much that she could not break away (at least until Glenn found Maggie) but she also seems like she will never let herself lower her guard. Glenn may have accepted her but he lied to Maggie about Tara’s real connection to traveling together. There may eventually be a conflict between Maggie and Tara, but she may never let that happen out of both fear and guilt. If she survives long enough, she may eventually be able to defect and join a different group.

o-WALKING-DEAD-570Abraham’s group is in a bit of a different situation. While their mission still focuses on getting to DC, Eugene shooting up the army truck diverted their efforts for the moment and forced them to follow with Glenn until they found new transportation. Abraham’s situation is simple: build a group and get to DC. He is not as concerned about who joins the cause as long as they are willing to participate in their mission. Rosita is basically under the same goal, though she seems less concerned with increasing the group size. Eugene is a different story. He has control over the group because he is the one with the answers, but he also just wants to belong. He believes that he must surround himself with good people, so he purposely misdirected Rosita in the car to circle back. He seems much more about self-preservation than he has actually led on at this point. If his role in the comics is any indication, some drama will unfold in the near future.

Rick, Carl, and Michonne did not have much going on other than their railway game, but it appears that a lot is coming their way in the next episode. Trouble is coming and Terminus is likely not all that it seems. While this episode played it out like a peaceful community behind some relatively open gates, it is likely that something shady is on the inside of that place. It is still unclear if Daryl with survive the group he is with or if he will fall by human hands.

In Memoriam: Len

[flash forward] With water boiling on the stove, a couple of children are seeming running around outside.

The-Walking-Dead-Season-4-Episode-14-2Carol, Tyreese, and the girls are settled in for the night near the tracks but Lizzie cannot sleep. Carol talks with her for a moment about being saved by Tyreese but Lizzie explains that she saved him back at the prison. Hoping to see more kids at Terminus, she asks Carol about whether she had kids. Carol talks about how she misses her, when Lizzie challenges her about whether she will be upset if she dies too. Carol insists that she needs her to get some sleep. Just when she gets down to Tyreese, he appears to be having a nightmare. The next morning, they find some sap in a nearby tree to treat Tyreese’s cut on his arm. Carol warns Tyreese that Lizzie is not aware of the reality of what the walkers really are. As they continue forward, they begin to talk about Tom Sawyer. Suddenly, they smell fire somewhere nearby, but Carol takes an opportunity to stop for water and takes Mika with her. While waiting for them to get back, Tyreese hears something nearby and goes to investigate. The walker ahead trips and falls on the tracks. Just when he is about to kill it, Lizzie stops him from doing it. Out in the woods, Carol admits that she took Mika with her to talk about how to survive. Mika admits that she can kill walkers but cannot kill people. She even brings up the two that Carol killed during the infection outbreak at the prison. Carol pleads with her that she needs to be able to change how she deals with danger, but they exit the woods and find a clearing with a house out in front of them.

Regrouping, they head in the direction of the house. Happy about a chance to relax, they notice the smoke in the distance. They go up to the house and Tyreese and Carol head inside to clear it out. Lizzie and Mika get into an argument about the walkers when one falls out of the house. Lizzie tenses up but Mika is able to draw her gun and take it out in 3 shots. Mika helps Lizzie calm down after she gets upset from the encounter. Later that evening, Lizzie admits that she is still a little upset. Mika runs in with a new doll. Tyreese comes in happy about their supplies and their ability to enjoy their new house/camp. Mika bursts out that they should choose to live there.

The next day while setting up water to bowl in the kitchen, Carol catches Lizzie playing around with a walker and runs to save her. Pushing Lizzie out of the way, she tackles the walker and stabs it in the head. Lizzie flips out and starts screaming at Carol that killing the walker is the same thing as killing a person and even bellows about if she were to kill Carol. Tyreese catches the incident from the kitchen.

Back in the woods, Carol takes Mika on a walk. Pleading that she needs to toughen up, Carol tells her that she is stronger than her sister. On their walk, they find a deer and Carol has Mika prepare to kill it. Mika freezes and admits that she cannot do it. Returning to the house, Tyreese admits that they could forget about their trip to Terminus. He admits that he loves Carol and the girls and that he trusts them.

Mika follows Lizzie back out to the train tracks, where she finds Lizzie feeding a rat to the walker they left behind. They get into another argument about the walkers and Lizzie nearly lets herself get bit by it. Out of the woods emerges a group of walkers from the fire, causing the girls to make a break back to the house. Mika gets caught on the barbed wire fence, but Lizzie jumps back to free her and Carol shoots the walker at Mika’s feet in the head. The group lines up and opens fire on the walkers, but Lizzie appears to be emotionally upset about firing at them. That night, Lizzie admits that she had to help stop them but still appears to be struggling with the change to her world. Tyreese continues to appear to have nightmares, but it does not distract the girls from making some pecan treats.

mgid-uma-content-mtv.com-1724210The next day, Carol tells Tyreese that she is comfortable with giving up on Terminus and staying at the house. Tyreese is relieved but recounts on his dreams about Karen. He admits that he gets to interact with her in his dreams in a world without the apocalypse, but sometimes he sees someone killing her instead. “The people who are living are haunted by the dead,” he says. “The whole world is haunted now.” Carol struggles to get her words, but she tries to rationalize a positive side to being haunted by the spirits. Tyreese commends her on being there for the girls and the group back at the prison. Continuing on their hunt, Carol tells a joke from when her husband was still alive. They arrive back at the house to find Lizzie standing over her dead sister and Judith crawling on a blanket nearby. She says that she wanted to prove that there was more to walkers and wants to wait for Mika to come back to life. Carol gets Tyreese to take Lizzie and Judith back inside and tells Lizzie that she will just tie up Mika to allow for the change to happen. Carol waits till they go inside, pulls out her knife, and begins to cry.

In the house, Tyreese says that he cleared out her room and took away all knives. He says that he finally discovered that she was responsible for the rats at the prison fence and the dissected rabbit in the tombs. While he thinks that she was responsible for Karen, Carol says that she would have wanted Karen to turn. Carol admits that she feel guilty for letting it happen. While trying to figure out what to do, Carol suggests that Lizzie cannot be around other people. Out away from house, Carol takes her to pick flowers for Mika. Lizzie senses that Carol is upset and starts to cry. Carol tries to comfort her and tells her to look at the flowers just before she shoots Lizzie in the back of the head. Tyreese watches from a distance. Carol digs graves in front of the house to bury the two girls. That night now left with just the two of them and Judith, Carol slides over her gun to Tyreese across the table and admits that she killed Karen. She tries to rationalize it as needing to stop the illness from spreading. Tyreese takes a moment before he slowly grips the gun against the table. Carol tells him, “Do what you have to do.” He pauses and then releases the gun. He forgives Carol but says that he will never forget that it happened. Changing his mind from earlier, he says that they should not stay at the house. The next morning, they leave the house and continue toward Terminus.

Reaction: Focusing on Carol, Tyreese, and the girls, this episode sought to push each of the characters to their limits in terms of how far they were willing to go for survival and humanity. All of them faced serious issues and two of them had unfortunate results. Mirroring a little of what happened in the comics with the two boys, Lizzie and Mika were victims of the harsh new world.

the-walking-dead-the-grove-episodeLizzie was just simply unable to reconcile the reality of the walkers. She had been naming them back at the prison and had never let go of this sense of humanity she believed she saw in walkers. The incident at the train tracks started with her justifying not killing the walker to Tyreese and then getting caught by Mika feeding it a mouse. She thought that she was playing with the one in the grove when Carol had to run out and save her. She was never going to get it that the world had changed and she was in real danger almost all of the time. In Lizzie’s mind, killing her sister was an attempt to make a plea to the adults and prove that there was more to walkers than undead killing machines. She left Carol and Tyreese no choice but to part ways in some fashion, as they were in danger for as long as they continued on together. Even though it appeared that she was upset in the end, she still had not reconciled her choices or opinions about the walkers.

Mika grew up quickly in this episode but it did not save her from her sister. There was always going to be that element of looking up to her sister, even when she had to try to calm her down. She had the same innocence that Carol saw in Sophia, who appeared to reemerge in this episode through both of the girls. Carol was working to convince her that she needed to toughen up to survive and could not run away like Sophia did. While Lizzie froze during the first walker attack at the house, Mika rose the occasion and was able to take it down. She did not see what her sister did in the walkers but admitted that she could not kill the living, which was also portrayed through how she could not kill the deer. Carol had seen something growing in her, but it was too late. It was not explained how Lizzie got the jump on Mika, but she was doomed from having a sister obsessed with proving herself.

Carol was dealing with trying to raise these girls the right way in this harsh world but also still admittedly had Sophia’s death haunting her. On several occasion, Sophia was brought up both directly and indirectly and it was taking its toll on her. She attempted to spend time with both of the girls at different times throughout the episode and had opportunity to see how different they both were. Mika was sweet and innocent but also smart. She could sense Mika’s growth and understanding of the dangers of the walkers. She could also see that Mika was very much like Sophia. Both of the girls had run for survival but Sophia paid with her life for it, and Carol did not want the same thing to happen to Mika. For Lizzie, she was disconnected from reality and Carol wanted to guide her back. It was not until she found Mika dead that she realized Lizzie had no chance of survival because of her inability to reconcile. Finding Mika dead and having to kill Lizzie was very much like the single story for Sophia, who was discovered turned in the barn and then needing to be killed in front of her. There were mirrors in the way that the girls’ mother’s words came flowing through Carol’s lips in that final moment with Lizzie, but this was an episode for her to relive loss of Sophia.

Tyreese was involved in all of the action with Carol and the girls but was going through his own challenges. Suffering from nightmares, he finally admitted that he was dreaming about Karen, sometimes for the better and other times not. He had not let her death go and still was haunted by finding her charred body. The walkers being charred may have brought something out of him with having to kill them, but it was more impactful that he had to deal with Lizzie’s admissions, Mika’s death, and Carol’s huge confession. While he opened up to Carol earlier in the episode, he did not expect her to confess her responsibility for Karen and David. At that moment, he had a chance to finally deal with his anger and frustration. Previously, he had gone berserk and slaughtered walkers, like outside and at the gas station. With everything that he witnessed and experienced with Carol, he finally had an answer and no reason to continue with more bloodshed. Forgiveness was his way of letting the tension and stress go and finding a way to justify his position and need to keep the trust he had in Carol.

This episode was heavy and dealt with the total harshness of their situation. While the charred walkers may have come from the house that Daryl and Beth burned down, the survivors have not actually found each other yet. Terminus is coming soon, for better or worse

In Memoriam: Mika and Lizzie

Maryland’s season is over (pending a potential bid to the NIT) and the Terps have nothing to show for it other than a big regular season win versus rival UVA and a look to the future. There were a number of close games, including the start of the season versus UConn. At times, the season felt like a roller coaster. Seth Allen injured before game one. Hosting the President for the Oregon State game but losing at home. Winning the Paradise Jam only to pick up back to back losses to Ohio State and GW, and then to lose to Boston University at home. Getting close games at home but suffering staggering defeats on the road at Pitt and FSU. Not being able to close out games against major opponents until the final game of the season. Taking FSU to the wire in Greensboro but allowing a jam to close the door on the Terps in the final appearance in the ACC.

Highlights Throughout the Season

kwyant-20140309-0007On the high side, nothing was bigger than closing the season against UVA and taking the game to overtime. Even though there were times that UVA looked like they had a chance to make a run, the Terps were able to find ways to stay in it. The Paradise Jam was a great set of games as well. Even though the teams were not the top in the country or from the major conferences, the win over Providence in the finals was a quality moment to make up for the close UConn loss. After the rough 24-point loss to FSU in Tallahassee, the team was able to rally at home for a redemption 12-point victory to split the series (until matching up in the ACC tourney).

The problem was that the low side was much, much larger. The season started with a 1-point loss to UConn where the Terps had the final shot to make an early season statement. The third game of the season against Oregon State saw Maryland losing to the Beavers at home in front of the Obamas. While the loss to Ohio State was not a surprise, the 2-point loss to the Colonials was a tough one to swallow, especially when that was followed by a 6-point loss to Boston University at home. Pitt and Florida State were able to bully the Terps on the road. After a wavy middle part of the season, the Terps found ways to lose their match-ups against ranked teams by no more than 4 points per game. They played Pitt at home, Duke on the road, and Syracuse at home. The double overtime loss to Clemson did not help either.

The Terps ended the season with a record of 17-15 (9-9 ACC). This was actually a step back from last season, when the Terps started with a tough close loss against Kentucky at the start of the season, finished the regular season with a record of 20-11 (8-10 ACC), went on a mini run with wins over Wake Forest and Duke in the ACC Tournament, and ended up in the NIT semifinals (losing to Iowa). Losing Alex Len was tough but the hope would be that the incoming recruits can fill the gaps currently in the roster.

Breaking Down the Team’s Performance

Rather than ranking the individual players, I have chosen to look at this from a positional standpoint. From an overall perspective, the team played small with no truly dominated inside players. While it appeared that there should have been an outside game with the 3-point shooters, the team struggled at time, especially with its top shooters. The incoming recruits are bringing more size and inside game, which should fill the gaps in the final ACC season.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at MarylandPGs: Seth Allen is the clear best player on the team at this point. Although he does not always play as a 1-man, he can score and pushed himself to clean up the play of the rest of the team, particularly in the second half of the season. His 3-point shot is a little off at times, but he is the future of the team to build around. The only other player to truly play point was Roddy Peters. He has a lot of development left to do. His passing/assist game is not clean. He can smoke it through the paint on the fast break. This is a team that needs a true point guard…one who can actually run the offense effectively. B-

SGs: The conversation in this category is all around Dez Wells. He is a talented, NBA-style player, but his play this season was inconsistent. He disappeared during the first half of games in the second half of the season. He averaged less than 5 points per first half. In the second half of games, he seemed to turn it up. A lot of his points were from driving and drawing fouls. It is not clear if he is playing tentative and scoping out his opponents or if he has something else going on. The other significant SG was Nick Faust. He played with passion but not with consistency. He may be one of the better defenders, a guy who can disrupt offenses and score on the fast break. His 3-point shot was not as on-point later in the season, but there were a few solid makes that turned the tide of a few games. C+

SFs: The bulk of the 3-point shooting seemed to come from Evan Smotrycz and Jake Layman. These guys seemed to play well at different times. Smotrycz was bothered by back spasm issues at different points but seemed to play with passion. Layman started the season hot, especially from 3, but cooled off later in the final games. Their defense was something that was suspect at times. Shooting guards and small forwards were able to have their way against Maryland because of the poor match-ups. Both players have potential to improve their game prior to next season but there is some serious work to do. C

PFs: This section of the team had the most depth but struggled the most overall. Free throws are supposed to be high percentage opportunities. Jonathan Graham had the best percentage at 47%, Charles Mitchell struggled with a poor 32.9%, and Damonte Dodd truly was abysmal at 12.5%. None of these forwards were taller than 6’9″ and none of them played larger than their actual size. Charles Mitchell did rebound relatively well at 6.3 per game, but the others fell below 3 per game. Second chance opportunities were hard to come by. This was a squad that failed to make a presence inside and failed to put up great point averages to cause the overall game for Maryland to be balanced. It is not clear who will be the lead player from this group for next year. D+

bal-terps-trio-maryland-basketball-20140314C: There was only one true center this season. Shaquille Cleare stands at a short 6’9″, particularly in the way that he played like the rest of the PFs. In the end, it is tough to say that there was a true center in the first place. Cleare finished the season with only 3 points per game and under 60% at the stripe. Like the power forward position, this is the biggest area of need to strengthen the inside game and open up opportunities on the outside. D+

Coaching: It is easy to highlight that Mark Turgeon struggled in his third season, but he also showed a lot of passion for the team. It is hard to know how a coach impacts the game when you cannot be in the huddle or follow the stats and visuals on the court in the same way, but there was a tentativeness that plagued his coaching throughout the season. He allowed the ball to stay along the perimeter on offense too long, leaving the Terps without points on many trips down the court. Defensively, the Terps did not seem too bad, but there were a number of possessions when the defense forced opponents to hold their shots until the end but still dropped them in. There have been some questions about his post-game interviews as well. He has placed blame on everyone except himself. There is time to turn this around, and the basketball team is in a better position to succeed in the B1G move than the football team, but he is going to need to do it quickly. C-

Definitely hoping for some major, positive changes for our move to a new conference.

TheWalkingDead_season4-400x224Prior to the fall of the prison, Bob was out on his own. Looking weary from fighting for survival, Bob was struggling and walking alone when he found an abandoned shelter and started drinking a bottle of cough syrup. After his pitstop, he climbed an abandoned trailer to scout the area and then used the height to avoid being spotted by a walker herd. After getting himself down and starting to proceed forward, he was spotted by Daryl and Glenn. Daryl started to grill Bob with the standard questions regarding his skills in killing walkers and whether he had killed a living person. Bob admitted that he had killed one woman but she asked him to do it. Daryl offered to Bob to join them, leading to the three men returning back to the prison.

Flashing forward to their present struggle, Bob, Sasha, and Maggie are caught in a thick fog with walkers groaning all around them. Suddenly, they start to appear and threaten the group.  Sasha is forced to shoot a few of them that are overtaking Maggie and Bob, but the group survives. They realize that they are low on ammo and their compass is broken. Bob tries to pull up the morale. Maggie spots a sign when they come out of the woods which is the same sign the others had seen. Maggie and Bob are both interested in going, but Sasha remains skeptical about their chances with what they will find at the end.

Daryl continues his lessons with Beth to teach her to track and hunt. Beth begins to recognize the trail of a walker and get a little cocky. She sneaks up on a walker when she is suddenly taken down by a metal trap. She shoots the walker in the head but Daryl has to rush in to finish it off. Beth’s foot is still hurting, so Daryl offers her a piggyback ride. Daryl makes a comment about good people not surviving but places some flowers on a grave in the graveyard they start to walk through. Past the graveyard, they find an funeral parlor and start to explore the building. Daryl grabs some medical supplies to wrap up Beth’s ankle and sarcastically comments about the dressed up dead bodies.

Setting up a new camp, Bob and Sasha start to talk about her apprehensions with their journey. Sasha’s new focus seems to be self-preservation. He belief is that Glenn is dead and they are not far behind. She believes that they would be better off setting up in a building in the next town rather than continuing forward. After waking up from a nap, Sahsa finds Bob leaning over a message written in the ground from Maggie. Distressed by her choice to go off on her own, Bob convinces Sasha to pack up and continue forward to find her. Out on her own Maggie finds another sign down the tracks but is caught by a walker. She kicks it to the ground, stabs it in the head, and slices its stomach open.

Finding stash of food in the kitchen, they realize that there must be someone visiting the parlor and keeping their belongings there. Daryl agrees to leave some of the food untouched in the event the person comes back. After setting up the perimeter, he reenters the house to find Beth playing the piano and singing. He takes the chance to lay down in the coffin to rest and asks her to keep playing.

MAGGIE-1

Bob and Sasha continue their journey but Sasha continues to harass Bob for his optimism. He explains that he is just happy to not be alone. They finally come across the same walker that Maggie killed and find a message that she has left for Glenn to go to Terminus. The settle down for the night and continue talking about sleeping and survival. The sounds of the walkers keep both of them awake and alert. Sasha continues to remain pessimistic, but Bob challenges her on whether she believes Tyreese is alive or not. He tries to charm her but she does not break. They find another message from Maggie down the tracks and continue forward.

Daryl and Beth go to the kitchen to get food when they hear a rumbling outside. Daryl finds a white dog at the door but he cannot get it to enter the house. It runs away and he returns inside. Beth begins to write a message to thank the person or people responsible for the parlor, but Daryl suggests that they stay there a while and potentially meet them. They hear the dog again but Daryl is surprised at the door with a pack of walkers. He leads them away from Beth and traps a large number of them in the embalming room. Escaping out to the road, he finds her pack on the ground and a car speeding away. Daryl shouts for Beth and tries to chase down the car.Daryl’s attempt to find Beth leads him away from the parlor but he loses track of her. Instead, he finds himself near some train tracks.

Sasha spots the next town down the railroad and tries to convince Bob to stop. He refuses and continues to remain focused on finding Maggie. He challenges Sasha and continues to call her afraid. They get to a point whether they appear to nearly part ways. Bob takes a risk and kisses her. Sasha tries to tell him to stop but he presses forward. Sasha lets him go and starts to survey the town. Alone in one of the empty buildings, she drops her stuff and begins to break down. Walking toward the window, she pulls out her compass and spots someone who looks like Maggie in the distance. Tapping the window, the panes of glass fall to the ground and awaken the walkers hiding out in the area. She runs out to go rescue her. The two of them cut and club their way through the herd. Maggie admits that she overheard Sasha’s negativity and that Glenn must be dead. She then admits that she wanted to wait for the two of them to press forward. Sasha finally admits that she is afraid that we may not survive to find the rest of their friends but agrees to go find Bob and the others.

A group of men walk up on Daryl sulking on the ground. He punches out the leader and gets the group to draw on him. Joe, the leader, talks Daryl down.

Having pressed on, Bob finally reunites with Sasha and Maggie when they walk up behind him.

Glenn finally finds the same signs that others have found and appears to seem like he will head toward Terminus.

ir.ashxReaction: After the single story arc of last week, this episode felt like it was set to advance the story much closer to its conclusion for this season. Maggie’s group finally discovered the same path that Rick’s and Tyreese’s groups have already found, and even Glenn discovered the same path right at the end of the episode. The only problem with Maggie’s group was that they each seemed to have different reasons for pressing forward. Maggie’s completely focused on finding Glenn and she continues to believe that he can be found at Terminus. She even got to a place in this episode that she has given up on dealing with Sasha and has chosen to go off on her own. Sasha is done running. She would rather give up on finding the other prison survivors and just find a place to hold up.

Bob’s story is a bit different at this point. He always seemed to survive prior to the prison but also always lost everyone he was with at the same time. With the prison, he was taking time to adjust to being with a large group of people and the same result seemed to emerge. Instead of breaking down and falling into the same despair, he has a new sense of survival now. He wants to maintain his relationships with Maggie and Sasha and hopefully find anyone else alive. While the audience knows about his alcohol addiction, he actually appeared to be a bit beyond the struggle and ready to let people in. Bob’s role in this episode actually served another purpose. He became the glue to hold Sasha and Maggie to reality. Both of them were going off the rails with their reactions to their situation. Bob’s determination convinced Sasha to let her guard down a bit and Maggie to calm her rage to a certain extent. Even though Maggie’s and Sasha’s battle scene at the town solidified their respect for each other, Bob relieved the tension for a moment.

For Daryl and Beth, they are truly rubbing off on each other. Beth continued to appear more confident in herself, even though she is now hampered by her ailing foot. She continues to be the voice of hope and reason for Daryl, who still struggles to keep good spirits. Daryl kept holding in survivor mode and only had brief moments of breaking from his focus. The relationship between the two of them has brought forth a newfound understanding of both of their characters. Beth has now given Daryl something to live for, so her disappearance after the funeral parlor attack has the potential of being truly devastating. Beth’s fate will remain to be seen, but there has been too much character development recently to allow her to suddenly be killed off.

Daryl is discovered by a group near the end and now the question is out there regarding his fate. There is no sense what this group is. Are they the group that took over Rick’s house? Are they something out of the comics? Are they something new with consideration of Daryl’s existence being different from the comics? He willingly goes with Joe and his gang after their confrontation, but the group’s intentions are completely hidden at this point. Joe’s willingness to take a punch and just laugh it off makes his appearance a possible trap for Daryl and anyone else they encounter. There is now a real question about Daryl’s survival because he could put himself in danger by trusting this group or if they cause him to choose between them and his friends.

Terminus is coming closer and closer to revealing itself and there is no clue as to what will happen there and what Terminus really is. Will the groups find a neighborhood, a train station, or something less desirable?

Just for the fun of it, I included one of the recent images from a photo shoot with Lauren and Steven. Here’s hoping they find each other soon.

In Memoriam: just some walkers…

A small fire fading away, the sound of the wind through the trees passes by a vacated campsite. The brothers Dixon are down by the nearby stream washing up after their day’s hunt of squirrels and rabbits. The blood seeping out from between their fingers, Daryl glances toward Merle right before turned back toward the camp. Merle glances up. “Where are you going, little brother? You in some sort of hurry?” Daryl glances back but remains silent. Merle reaches into his pocket and pulls out a prescription bottle for percocet. Shaking the bottle, he asks, “Don’t you want to relax?”

Daryl looks toward the ground. “Nah, man. I’m good.” He continues back to the camp.

“Your loss, little brother,” says Merle sarcastically.

Leaving his brother by the stream, Daryl kneels over the fire and drops in some more sticks to feed the flames. After poking at the coals for a few moments, he pulls out his knife and begins to clean out his fingernails. A slight rustling of a nearby bush catches his attention. He stands up with the knife at the ready. A second rustle of the bush causes him to take a step back, waiting for something to emerge. Suddenly, Merle pops out from behind and pulls Daryl knife hand behind his back. “Can’t defend yourself if you lose your knife,” Merle proclaims as he slams Daryl’s hand against his thigh, dislodging the knife. “You can’t let your guard down. If you have to defend yourself, you’re going to die with mistakes like that.”

“What am I defending myself from, Merle?” Daryl continues to struggle to reach back and shove Merle off his back. “You’re the only one messing with me.”

“You never know what could happen, little brother. Guys like us are becoming the minority. Only a matter of time before the government gives our opportunities away to all of the illegals overrunning this country.” Merle finally pushes Daryl away and leans down to grab his knife.

“Whatever, man,” Daryl exclaims. “It’s not like we’ve got jobs or nothin’.” Daryl glares back at his brother. Walking over, he grabs the knife back and sheaths it back in his belt.

Merle begins to laugh at his brother. “You are soft and weak. Good think you’ve got me around.” Settling down next to the fire, the drugs finally start to kick in, causing him to lay down and begin to rest his eyes. “Better get your beauty rest. Don’t want you to be cranky for tomorrow’s hunt.

Daryl stays silent and begins to walk back toward Merle. Ready to grab Merle’s shirt, he leans down over him just before realizing Merle has quickly passed out. Daryl shakes his head and finally decides to turn in for the night. Leaving the fire roaring, he crawls into his tent, pulls the knife out of his belt, and slips it under his sleeping back.

—–

“Little brother!” Merle quietly called. “Wake up! There’s a group that just showed up over the ridge. Let’s go scope it out.”

Daryl groans and rolls over. Merle taps him on the head with the the back of his gun. “Let it go, Merle. Just let them pass through.”

“Fine!” Merle barked. “You’ll get nothing from what I find at their camp.” As Merle starts to stand up, Daryl abruptly grabs his arm. Sliding his knife back into his belt, he grabs his binoculars and shoves Merle on the shouldering while standing up. “That’s what I thought, little brother.”

Climbing up the hill toward the ridge, Daryl begins to hear the sound of a radio. Wafting through the air is the smell of burnt marshmallows. Taking pause, he finally identifies the song as Ain’t No Good Life by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

“What do you see?” Merle whispers. “How many of them are there?”

“Hold on,” Daryl snapped back. Pulling the binoculars to his eyes, he sees that the group is a young family. The husband and two sons are sitting by the fire holding marshmallows over their campfire. The youngest kid is holding his stick with two flaming marshmallows that look like they are burnt to a crisp. The father glances over and rushes to pull the stick out of the fire, blowing on the charred remains on the end of the stick. Over by the camper, the wife appears to be sitting in a folding chair, reading a book. She glances up, shakes her head, and returns to the novel.

“Just a family,” Daryl explains. “Let’s head back.”

“What’s the rush?” Merle asks. “Why not see what they do? I’m sure they’ll leave sometime soon.”

“I’m not taking anything from those kids! What’s wrong with you?!?” Daryl slings the binoculars over his shoulder and slides to his feet. “Do what you want, but I’m not messin’ with them.” Daryl bumps his brother as he passes him back down the hill. “I’m goin’ fishing. Join me if you want.”

Merle snickers as Daryl walks away but stays behind to continue to spy on the family.

—-

With three fish on his chain, Daryl reels in his fishing pole and starts to hook up his line. Hearing some chuckling off to his left, he sees that the family has come down to the stream to play in the water. The kids begin to grab at the rocks on the shore and try skipping them in the shallow water. The wife still appears to be reading the same novel but the father looks to just be taking it easy by the edge of the stream. Glancing back up the hill, Daryl wonders if Merle gave up at the family’s camper or has returned to their camp. He retreats back into the woods before being seen by the father.

Getting back to the camp, it appears that Merle has not returned. Rather than going after him, he pulls out his knife and starts to clean off the fish. Descaling and deboning the fish, he packs the fillets into the cooler and grabs his canteen to rinse off his hands. Merle suddenly crashes through the bushes with his arms loaded with items stolen from the camper.

“You missed a good haul,” Merle boasts. “I could’ve used your help carrying stuff back. I’ll give you a beer but the good stuff is mine.”

“I don’t need your beer, man.” Daryl sneers at his brother and grabs the frying pan to begin to heat it up. “Alright, Merle. Give me a beer.”

“Never mind, brother. Too slow.” Merle cracks open the tab and takes a sip from the can. “If you come back with me, you can get some for yourself. I think they’ll be gone for awhile. There was plenty more booze I left behind.”

Daryl glances over but chooses not to say anything. Instead, he grabs a couple fillets and tosses them in the pan. As the fillets begin to sizzle, the wind gusts briefly. Daryl picks up a strange odor causing him to think that an animal must have died nearby. He shrugs it off and focuses on the finishing his lunch.

—–

Having gone on a hunt after lunch, Daryl returns to the campsite with a couple more rabbits. Choosing to skin them on the way back, he drops off his haul and heads down to the stream to wash up. As he gets to the water, he notices that the family had left, thinking that they must have returned up the hill. Before turning back, he notices something floating floating down toward him. Fishing it out of the water, Daryl realizes that the woman left her book behind. He decides to take it with him and returns back up the hill.

“Where have you been?” Merle questions. “Let’s go back up the hill and see what else we can grab.” Merle slings a backpack over his shoulder and turns up the hill toward the camper.

Daryl pauses but chooses to follow his brother. He initially tosses the book into his tent but turns back to grab it and slide it under his arm. Having fallen a bit behind, he rushes up the hill to try to catch up to his brother.

Upon reaching the top of the hill, he sees Merle rummaging through what appears to be a torn up campsite. Merle appears to be unfazed by the mess. “What did you do, Merle? Where’s the family at?”

“Who cares?” Merle grunted. “Come over here and help me see if there is anything good left.”

“They weren’t down by the river before I came up,” Daryl proclaimed. “They’re going to be back any minute. Let’s  get out of here.”

Merle ignores his brother’s concerns and wanders into the camper. Not approving of his brother’s scavenging but feeling unable to convince him otherwise, Daryl follows him into the camper. Daryl spots his brother grabbing medications out of the cabinets in the kitchenette. “Look, Merle! We’re down the hill from these people. Let’s get out of here before we get caught.”

Suddenly, they hear something hit the floor back in the bedroom area. The curtain blocking it off moves slightly, sending a shock through both of the Dixon brothers. Daryl immediately takes off out of the camper with Merle following close behind. Daryl drops the book near the folding chair before heading back down to their camp.

“You know we are going to have to pack up and get out of here,” Daryl yells. He begins to take down the tent and pack it into his bag, but gets thrown off when he hears a woman’s scream back from the area near the camper.

“Hush, Daryl!” Merle quietly barks. “They must have just realized what happened to their camp.”

Daryl continues to try and pack his belongings while Merle just pauses and listens for more commotion from up the hill. “Doesn’t seem like they know where to find us.”

“Man, I mentioned we were down the hill,” Daryl says.

“If they had heard you, they would have already gotten down here,” Merle scoffs. “I bet they have no idea. Just relax and chill out, brother.”

Daryl pauses and settles down near their campfire. Taking a moment to listen, the only sound floating through the air is the rustling of the branches and leaves. A similar smell from earlier seems to be wafting along with the wind as well.

“You smell that?” Daryl asks. “I think something’s wrong. I think I’m going to check it out.” Daryl grabs his knife and his crossbow and starts to make his way up the hill. Merle ignores Daryl’s suspicions and chooses to just grab a beer and kick back.

As Daryl climbs the hill, the smell of death appears more fragrant but he also senses a slight rumbling up ahead. Slowly peaking over the top of the hill, the site appears more disturbed than before. The only movement appears to be the wind against an open camper door, but none of the family appears to be nearby. Daryl slowly creeps down toward the camp to get a closer look. The area near the campfire shows signs of a scuffle, with footprints in multiple directions and some drops of blood leading toward the camper.

“Hey, anyone here?” Daryl shouts. “I heard screaming from nearby and wanted to see if everything’s alright.” Pausing for a moment, he gets no response. The book he dropped by the camper appears to still be there but a not exactly where he left it. Looking up, he sees a bloody handprint on the edge of the doorframe.

“Are you alright?” Daryl shouts again. He still gets no response from inside the camper. Instead, the wind settles and the world around him goes silent. Cautiously, he peaks into the camper to see it as disrupted as around the smoldering fire. Around the counters of the kitchenette are a few more bloody handprints. The silverware is scattered all over the floor. Puzzled by the sight of the camper, Daryl backs out and turns back toward his camp to share his findings with Merle. Just before heading down the hill, a weak moaning sound emerge from the camper.

[end of part 1] [feel free to comment or suggest the ideas for the next installment of the Dixon Beginnings]