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      Interview with the author of the Walking Dead Cookbook

      When it comes to The Walking Dead series, it's all about the noms. Everything in the popular show and comic series circles around survival - and eating is one of the most basic needs. Naturally, should we ever be trapped in the zombie apocalypse, it's always best to be prepared. What better way to have your wits about you than with a thorough survival guide and cookbook in one! Lauren Wilson, the author of The Art of Eating through the Zombie Apocalypse, did just that with her new cookbook AMC The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide.
       
      If you want to know which wild plants will kill you, know how to unconventionally start a fire, or try out some unique recipes for your Walking Dead premier party, this one is for you. This 143 page instructional book is just the ticket for any foodie. With eye-catching visuals provided by photographer Yunhee Kim and delightful show-inspired recipes, even zombies will be shuffling along for this one.
       
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      Survival of the Fittest
      The Walking Dead official cookbook has a lot to offer any reader, whether you are a show enthusiast, a food lover, or someone who prides herself on knowing how to survive when lost on a hike. Its versatility sets it apart from any other cookbook. The early chapters cover survival basics, while the latter section takes readers through the many recipes inspired by the show: from Lori's [Not So] God-awful Pancakes to Hershel's Spaghetti Tuesday Dinner.
       
      Of course, a book like this just doesn't fall into place and not just any author could tackle such a project. Lauren Wilson was just the chef to do it. Of course, how does one write an official guide to cooking through the zombie apocalypse? Well, we had a chance to talk with the author about just that, among other fun things.
       
      [gallery columns=2" size="full" link="file" ids="20783,20781]

      Deadicated Fans' Interview with Lauren Wilson

      1. Tell us a little bit about your background.
      Lauren: I am Canadian and have been living here in the U.S. for the last 7 years. I went to chef school in Toronto after graduating college with a marketing degree and deciding I wanted to pursue something a little more hands on. I am also half Italian and grew up with a Sicilian nonna, so food has always been a big part of my life, and it was a natural choice when I made a career change.
       
      I started writing about food not long after I started working in restaurants. When I moved to New York I got into teaching cooking classes and began working on my first book, The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse.

      2. What inspired you to write a cookbook quite like this?
      Lauren: The idea for The Art of Eating actually came from a dear friend of mine, Paul, who just said offhandedly to me one day: “You’re a zombie nerd and you’re a food nerd. You should write a cookbook for the zombie apocalypse.” I just loved the idea! But this was back in 2008 and I wasn’t quite sure how long the public appetite for the undead would last, so I waited. It wasn’t until The Walking Dead premiered on AMC in 2010 that I realized I needed to get moving.

      3. Tell us about your writing process for the cookbook.
      Lauren: For The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook & Survival Guide, the process was a pretty intense one. I had a short period of time to write the manuscript, and on top of that I was dedicated to making the book as true to the universe of the show as possible. That involved re-watching every episode of the entire series until that point (about 92 episodes), searching for food moments.
       
      Thankfully, writing The Art of Eating gave me a great foundation of knowledge for the survival section and all I had to there was tailor the content to the show and what we see characters on the show doing. I took a leave from my full-time job serving and managing at Rose’s Bar & Grill in Brooklyn and worked 7 days a week on the manuscript.


      4. What’s your favorite recipe?
      Lauren: I usually say the Wild Boar Chops with Juniper, Apples & Sage. And it is really high up there on the leaderboard. But today I am battling the sugar demon so I would say Carl’s Chocolate Pudding. It’s so easy to make and so satisfying to eat-though I try not to eat 110 ounces of it at a time.
       


      5. Has this inspired future projects?
      Lauren: Not directly, no. But it has inspired me to write another cookbook, which I am working on currently. If you had asked me after I finished The Art of Eating if I would ever write another cookbook, I would have said NO. But now that I’ve written a second, I have definitely been inspired to write a third. So maybe I will be a cookbook author when I grow up…

      6. What advice would you give aspiring authors?
      Lauren: Work hard and keep going. When I decided to write The Art of Eating I had absolutely zero idea what went into writing, pitching and selling a cookbook. I had no connections in publishing. But I rolled up my sleeves and figured out what I needed to do. I decided to go the agent route so I cold-called every agent in New York City. So I would say work on your craft, write something you’re proud of, and then be unafraid to go out there and do your absolute best to make it happen.
       
      Oh, and don’t forget about the business side of being an author. Hustle is a big part of the game because you have to work hard to find and really connect with people who are genuinely interested in you and what you’re doing. Even before you sell your book, you need to start trying to find your tribe. It’s a tremendously important part of the process, and it takes time and consistent effort. I wish someone had told me that while I was writing The Art of Eating.

      7. What would you say was the most difficult part of the process?
      Lauren: I really enjoyed the process! I think just the compression of work into a short period was the hardest thing. I didn’t take a day off for three months. But I was doing something I loved and very honored to be doing, so it made the whole thing pretty rad.
       
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      8. Which part was more difficult, the survivor guide or the research for the recipes.
      Lauren: Neither? As I mentioned, The Art of Eating gave me a great foundation for the survival section. And writing the recipes was just fun. While combing through every single episode was a lengthy process, I am so glad I did it because I am hoping it makes the book really satisfying for fans

      9. How did this project come about-were you approached by AMC, or did you approach them.
      Lauren: I was approached by Insight Editions, who is the publisher of the book. They licensed the rights from AMC to do the book. In some awesome and unexpected twist of fate, the fact that I had written The Art of Eating made me perhaps the most qualified person to write a cookbook for The Walking Dead, so it was a no-brainer.

      10. Have any zombies attacked while you were trying to forage?
      Lauren: Ha! No. However, even if they had I think my urban foraging guide, Wildman Steve Brill, would have dispatched them without hesitation. He’s a wily dude.

      11. What tips would you give fellow survivors in the field?
      Lauren: Make like a scout and BE PREPARED.

      Walking Dead's Survival of the Fittest “Good Guys?”

      (If you aren’t up to date, beware of *spoilers*)

      [su_quote cite=Shane Walsh]"Rick you can't just be the good guy and expect to live, not anymore"[/su_quote]

      For the characters in the Walking Dead, years of enduring this decimated world has made them strong survivors so when basic needs get scarce, there’s got to be a way to sustain the new life they have become accustomed to. We have seen Rick and his group use strong democratic morals and judgments that still aligned, albeit teetered on the edge, of our own feelings about what is morally acceptable behavior. We’ve also seem some behaviors, we didn’t agree with but we accepted for the greater good.

      Either way, it seemed up until this point in season 6, there were definitive lines on good and bad. We watch our main characters fortify their homes from outsiders and walkers, each episode fearing for the inevitable: another main character death, a walker invasion, or something else dreadful in this ominous series- an encounter with the bad guys. But in the last few episodes, we get a huge emotional twist: instead of renegades attacking, we see our “heroes” viciously tear down others in a desperate attempt for survival. This murderous and reactionary response created a shocked reception and forces us to ask the question:
      Good vs. Bad

      We have made our judgement about others based on the perspective of our main characters up until this point, cheering them on, caring and fearing for them. We decided that people who attacked our team or put them in danger were bad. We have also determined that people who were defending themselves, even violently, against corrupt or horribly immoral groups were good. We were glad when we watched Carol’s . And there was careless Nicholas cowardly killing Noahand almost getting Glenn killed numerous times. We were waiting with baited breath for the destruction of the , Terminus crazies. And we cheered for the demise of despite a glimpse into his sadness and personal strife dealing with his zombified daughter.

      We see this in the largest conflict throughout the beginning of the show: the between Shane and Rick. Not only in a fight for some resolution in a new family structure as Rick returns, but also a leadership struggle of which direction the group should take. In the end, Shane lost this battle and Rick took the lead. In season 6, we were sure that the scavenging Wolves were bad, but we considered Morgan’s choice to keep Owen acceptable when Owen saves Denise's life.

      But what of these pockets of tribes still enduring in their own ways, living according to their own neo-morals and post-apocalyptic values?
      A Gray Area

      Much like the feuding tribal communities before agricultural and industrial revolutions of our own historic past, in this post-apocalyptic society, it appears it is necessary to trade, barter and kill for your survival. Episode 13: The Same Boat forces us to consider the other survivors as our “heroes” aren’t acting so heroic anymore.

      Carol and Maggie are in captivity as a response to the group’s slaughter of sleeping Negan followers. With these deaths, the line of no return has been crossed putting us into a strange gray area of uncertainty and it is blatantly obvious when Chelle tells Maggie, “you’re not the good guys. You should know that.” Who’s to say who is right in this mangled social experiment? Even has a contemplative look in this scene, considering this new information- and with her, we wonder whose side we should be on. Ultimately, we are torn between our old associations of those bad extremists and the consideration of the emotional reactions and lives of the others just trying to survive.

      In Episode 14: Twice as Far, with everyone at their breaking point, we watch these emotions take over as Carol sneaks away, Daryl goes on a man-hunt and Morgan decides to leave the group. The search parties spread out and all hell breaks loose leaving us with a handful of loose ends to discover.
      In the End

      [caption id=attachment_3124" align="alignleft" width="80] We are all the Walking Dead[/caption]

      Season 6 forces us to look at what remnants of humanity endure after the main characters encounter zombified herds and tribal fights. Throughout each successive episode, we see individuals and groups thrown into situations that force them to consider their survival over morals and values even at the cost of the lives of others. These deep glimpses into the gray areas of morality and societal perpetuation are ultimately what draws us in for more insisting we contemplate our own personal morals to With the final episode upon us, what will happen to our heartstrings next?

       

       

       

      The Walking Dead "Betrayed" Review (Issue #150)

      THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE WALKING DEAD ISSUE #150, AS WELL AS PREVIOUS ISSUES! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!

      Hyped Up Issue #150 | Volume 25 Finale
      The long awaited "Betrayed" has finally released. Who is betrayed in Issue 150? Is it Rick? Who betrays him? Do you think it's Dwight? All of these questions get answered in January 2016's issue.
       
      If you remember, issue 149 ended with Dwight leaving with Lucille (Negan's barbed-wire-bat). This issue continues where 149 left off, only Laura joins him in his travels. The scene cuts to Rick and Eugene discussing putting together  military. after one short page of the discussion, Rick steps out into the night. This is only 3 pages into the comic, giving me the illusion that it would be an intense 20 or so finishing pages. That wasn't the case. Rick gets jumped by two hooded men (Mortan & Vincent), but things get heated when Morton goes too far by deciding to KILL Rick. Vincent tries to stop him. He's unsuccessful, but manages to knock him on his rump next to Rick, allowing Mr. Grimes to take a bite out of crime by performing his favorite Finishing Move.
       
      [su_spoiler title=SPOILER - Mmmm - Tasty][/su_spoiler]
       

       
      The comic then cuts to Andrea strolling the hallways when she walks into Carl becoming a man. That's right, knockin' boots with the creepy fetish-craved, Lydia.
       
      Rick is then found by Maggie and brought to the local hospital / care center. Rick sends Michonne to find Vincent since he fled from the scene. While she's searching for Vincent, Rick heads out to an emergency meeting all beat up and bloodied; Both his blood and Morton's. He wants them to see him in his current condition in order to get his point across.
       
      Rick explains his fear of returning to the way things were 3+ years ago, but can no longer allow the community to be 'weak' since they're 'safe.'  As he's speaking, Michonne arrives with Vincent and brings him up to the platform. Rick reaches out his hand and lets Vincent know that they need him. The community needs each other. Together, they can "Silence the Whisperers Once and For All!"
       

       
       

      The Walking Dead "No Turning Back" Review (Issue #148)

      THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE WALKING DEAD ISSUE #148, AS WELL AS PREVIOUS ISSUES! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!
       
      In the group's attempt to get Lydia to safety, she pulled out her gun, thinking she was being taken back to her mom, and that's where Issue 147 left us. Now, Carl shows he can use his head and turns the gun to Lydia to protect his mom (Andrea). They all have a moment. Hugs happen, everybody is okay.
       
      Meanwhile, Lydia's mother (Alpha) is found crying by a tree by another member of the Whisperers. This member seems reasonable. He removes his mask, and explains that he understands how she can be upset. He tells her that she doesn't have to worry about him challenging her, but not to get caught because the others won't feel the same. She takes care of that.
       
      People do things when they're afraid, and that doesn't change for the community of Alexandria. All havoc is starting to break loose. Everybody criticized Rick for his decision to protect Lydia. An all out brawl happens, and nobody is exempt from this
       

       
      Finally Rick pulls out his gun and ends the fight by threatening the Alexandrians. They postpone the meeting a day so that everyone has the chance to recollect themselves.
       

       
      And finally, Rick finally has to suck up his pride and asks he who shall not be named for help.
       
      [su_spoiler title=SPOILER - 'I Need Your Help'][/su_spoiler]
       
      And that's it! If you're not excited about the future of The Walking Dead (Comics & Show), you've been living under a rock! Let us know what you think in the Comments Section, Below!

      Fear the Walking Dead "The Pilot" Review

      The Fear is Here
      The biggest challenge for Fear the Walking Dead, the prequel series to AMC’s immensely popular zombie drama The Walking Dead, is to answer two questions, the first of which is why? Why start a spin off series while the main show is still in its prime? Fear will surely always live in the shadows of its sibling series so what’s the goal?
       
      It seems, based on the ragtag group of characters, that Fear will follow the lead of its sibling series in making the main focus on the people. How they deal with the zombie outbreak and how it changes them will surely be a main theme. Unfortunately, the new cast left a lot to be desired and little to get excited over. They felt like stock characters but hopefully they’ll be properly developed as the show continues. That development will be crucial over the rest of the six episode premiere season in order to convince the fans this show will have substance and bite.
       
      Second to why is what. What about this series is going to make it worthwhile? What will make it seem like AMC isn’t just riding the coattails of the main show? It has to be more than just The Walking Dead earlier in the timeline and in a new location. While it will be cool to see the city based zombie apocalypse outbreak, it isn’t something we haven’t seen already countless times. To be fair, someone waking up in a hospital after everything has already fallen apart isn’t an original idea either but that’s turning out well so far. If the main goal is to simply follow a group of characters until they cross paths with the main cast, following them in all the same ways, it may be tough to maintain interest.
      Overall, the 90 minute premiere was a mixed bag. It’s not uncommon for a pilot episode to be slow. As long as it sets the stage for something with promise and introduces real characters we can relate to over time, the flaws can eventually be forgiven. Fear the Walking Dead’s debut episode accomplished one of these two things and failed to answer the why and the what. One episode down, they have five left to answer those questions.


      Walking Dead's Season 5 Finale "Conquer" Review

      The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Finale "Conquer"

      Veni, Vidi, Vici

      A common complaint of The Walking Dead (as well as the basis for many jokes) has been the tedious pace it sometimes takes to reach the climax of a particular arc. Season 5 shattered that notion as it gave us three separate groups of episodes with only some sputtering in between. While the Alexandria arc is far from over, the last 6 episodes of season 5B had a very clear goal: show Rick’s swift rise to power. It was the tight focus on this goal that made the final episodes so enjoyable. We haven’t had much to complain about since “Them” and a lot of the same praises for the writing, directing, and acting could be said again this week. While Rick most definitely came, saw, and conquered, he couldn’t have done it without his family and that help is what made the finale so special.
       

      Mental Tug-O-War
      [caption id=attachment_1899" align="alignright" width="300] Maggie played an underrated role in the finale as she not only tried to preemptively defend Rick for the group, but she also gathered Sasha and Gabriel to pull them out of their lowest pits yet.[/caption]

      Rick was teetering on the edge of insanity for a while now and an unspoken battle reached its climax in “Conquer”. While the main conflict, on the surface, seemed to be Rick vs Alexandria, it was almost as if Michonne and Carol were fighting the real war. While neither won in getting Rick completely in their camp, they sort of cancelled each other out leaving Rick right where he needed to be. Aware of his mistakes but still willing to do what it takes to benefit his people. Michonne was like Rick’s right brain, a bit of a hopeful dreamer who didn’t approve of Rick’s actions so far and worried that he would screw everything up. Carol was Rick’s left brain, cool and calculated, pure and raw. By approaching Rick with both ends of the spectrum, they worked together to create a Rick that was able to run out the clock, to hang on just long enough for Pete to snap first. Combining this with members of Rick’s group defending him at the forum created one of the most enjoyable aspects of the night.
       

      The Carol Factor

      Did I say neither Michonne or Carol won? I lied. While neither gained full control of Rick, Carol most definitely saved the day and how she did it is what makes her one of the most interesting characters on the show. Whether she was smothering herself in Walker guts to take down Terminus or donning the ridiculous house wife garbs to fool the people of Alexandria, Carol is becoming a master manipulator. She was a survivor before the zombie apocalypse began and she’s one of the best amidst the chaos of the new world. Her victory was in her approach to Pete. She had the confidence to go face to face with the enraged doctor and push and pull him off his feet. Pete, who seemed to be struggling with his anger issues much like Rick struggled with his sanity, fully leapt from the edge after Carol left and it directly lead to the final moment of the night, the moment Carol saw her victory come to completion.

      After Rick approached the group with his dead walker and confessed, in true mad man fashion, that he was thinking about how many people he’d have to kill to save Alexandria, it was no surprise that the majority of attendees still looked scared and worried. Rick’s fate was still looking bleak until Pete murdered Reg in a fit of rage. Afterwards, Rick was given the ok to execute him and he at least had Deanna's support. This scene was fantastic and I wish we got a glimpse of Carol’s face and smug look she probably wore as she watched her seeds grow to fruition, it would have been great. I wasn’t huge on Carol before season 5 but after Terminus and Alexandria, coupled with Melissa McBride’s excellent performances throughout, she definitely rose near the top of my list of favorites.
       

      United It Stands
      [caption id=attachment_1902" align="alignright" width="300] As if the contents of the 90 minute finale weren't quite enough, we were treated to an after-credits bonus scene. The symbol circled is often used to represent rebirth. Not only fitting for Michonne and her katana blade but also for Alexandria as a whole following the events we just saw.[/caption]

      You could browse through our reviews from the past month and you’ll notice a common aspect of Alexandria that we love, the fact that so much was going on at one time. The run of episodes leading to the finale was, in a word, hectic to say the least. I was concerned on how they would tie all of it together for the finale and wasn’t even sure they would try to. When it was announced that the finale would be 90 minutes I was sure they’d make an attempt but could they succeed? The short answer is yes and they not only succeeded but they surpassed all expectations.

      Bringing all the subplots and conflicts together was surely no small task and some elements didn’t make the cut (Carl’s budding romance with Enid for example) but every important thread tied together with the rest, director Greg Nicotero impressed like usual. Just listing every element of “Conquer” would get our heads spinning, let alone watching it all unfold and trying to take in the fast and furious 90 minutes being hurled at us. Instead of dissecting everything, let’s just look at some of the highlights (and one lowlight).
       


      I wasn’t feeling much of anything towards Sasha this season and Gabriel became a pretty hated character after throwing the group under the bus to Deanna but both of these characters had a great sequence together in “Conquer”. Sasha, also balancing very perilously on the edge of insanity, was left holding a gun to Gabriel who was begging for death and accepting his sins as Maggie entered just in time to play peace keeper. Mixed in so well with the other current events created a very intense moment that was sure to be the end of Gabriel. I’m glad it wasn’t, Seth Gilliam is far too good an actor to have killed Gabriel at this point, it would have been a waste.
      Speaking of hated characters, Nicholas also survived the night. I could have lived with either outcome but hopefully he’ll also get a chance at redemption. If not, it’s always good to have a character you love to hate.
       
      [caption id=attachment_1900" align="alignright" width="300] Daryl's 3-point chain kill was the best of the night, if not the whole season. I still love the jack-o-lantern walker but I couldn't help but let out a hell yeah when Daryl went full ghost rider.[/caption]
       
      While I wasn’t too bummed by it, if I had to pick a flaw with “Conquer” it would be Glenn’s apparent plot armor. After shockingly being shot, Glenn managed to disappear almost immediately. If that wasn’t magical enough, he then survives being badly beaten and toppled on by several walkers. There’s no way Glenn would get an off screen death so his reappearance later was predictable. Steven Yeun’s performance was great yet again and I love seeing badass Glenn but this was handled in a silly fashion.

      Eugene and Abraham are always good for humor. On top of , we were treated to a lighthearted moment to cut all the layered tension when Abraham visits Tara. The shift from Rosita’s smug “accident” to Eugene’s blank stare after waking from his slumber was one of the funniest moments the trio has had yet. They’ve had so many gems that it would be hard to pick the best.
      While much is still to be determined, we got a great first real taste of the wolves. Two very creepy individuals gave us the most disturbing moments of the night. Their well crafted trap created real and believable peril for Aaron and Daryl, it seemed like one or both of them was surely not seeing the end of the night. The red poncho man was a great touch for the big, bad, wolves and even though we knew nothing about him, it was hard to watch his quick and abrupt fate. Something tells me Morgan will regret not killing these guys. Speaking of Morgan…

      Full Circle

      My favorite aspect of season 5B, besides the pure jumbled chaos of it all, was that the show sort of went full circle. There were a ton of throwbacks to previous events the group went through and we got to see a side by side comparison of the new group compared to the group we started following in season 1. It was hard not to look at Deanna as an alternate Rick from before the Governor, hunters, and Terminus did their damage. What better way to end the season than have Rick come face to face with Morgan again.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1901" align="alignleft" width="300] Get used to hating this guy because he is sure to play a big role in season 6. Let's just hope Morgan doesn't pay the ultimate price for sparing his life, along with his pal.[/caption]

      While it was a bit jarring and unexpected to see Morgan has become a ninja, it was pretty much the ultimate form of fan service we could have gotten. His newly found righteousness was a nice addition to his no longer crazy character. The best moment of the night might have just been when Morgan handed Daryl the map with Abraham’s message on it, another throwback to the past and where the group came from. Lennie James has done a great job in his brief moments as Morgan in the series so far, hopefully he sticks around in season 6 and we get to see a whole lot more of him.

      Why wouldn’t he stick around? Possibly because of the moment that proved to be one heck of a pisser to end the season. Morgan, who had told Daryl that all life is precious, arrives at Alexandria just in time to see Rick execute Pete. No happy, all smiles and hugs reunion between the two, just stunned stares and a gut wrenching feeling. We’ve got a while to stew over the fate of the show’s best bromance and, of course, speculate much more than is healthy on where the show will go next season. Wherever it takes us, good or bad, we’ll always have this fantastic season to look back on. The season where the Walking Dead got its bite back.
      What did you think of the jam packed, super sized Walking Dead finale? What about season 5 as a whole? Let us know what you think in the comments below and be sure to rate the episode!


      The Walking Dead "Try" Review (Season 5.15)

      The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode "Try"

      Ready To Fall
      [caption id=attachment_1867" align="alignright" width="300] The show almost hit Twilight levels as Carl slow motion frolicked his way into a romance with Enid. Squeezing into the tree with walkers all about was just a bit too cheesy.[/caption]

      The last month has been steadily turning up the heat on Alexandria. The arrival of Rick and company was pretty as a peach for all of 5 minutes as trust issues between the current residents and the newcomers quickly entered a downward spiral. It seems as though the whole team, from directors to writers to actors, has 100% bought into the direction the show is taking and it shows, big time. There have been very few flaws with season 5B (minus “Them”) and the ride to the highest point of the roller coaster was tense, terrifying, and sometimes even humorous. Imagine what it will be like when we enter the free fall.

      To me, I couldn’t ask for a better run of episodes leading up to the finale and “Try” was an excellent tone setter for next week. There have been so many different angles shown to the multitude of subplots and conflicts that the show has created a seemingly endless list of options for the 90 minute finale. The Walking Dead is, without a doubt in my mind, at its best when you truly don’t know what’s coming. We have survived a rut where the show seemed to have developed its own tropes and the scares were minimal but there’s only one thing we can count on heading into the finale; chaos.
       

      The Boiling Point
      [caption id=attachment_1868" align="alignleft" width="300] Sasha's bout with the crazies seems a little off. She confessed part of it was telling Noah everything will work out but it should be more about Tyreese and Bob. This subplot seems to be sloppy up to this point.[/caption]

      A lot of the conflicts we’ve been watching unfold seemed to be nicely summarized by the final scene of “Try”, easily the highlight of the night. After getting the affirmation he was looking for from Jessie, Rick and Pete threw down and grabbed the attention of the entire community. It’s clear Rick is teetering on the edge of sanity and his speech to Deanna was the most real and troubling moment yet. Rick is clearly mentally unstable at this moment in time but he isn’t completely gone yet and it’s hard to argue with his point. Alexandria is clearly flawed, we know this because the leaders are as naive as Rick and company were when the show first started. They need someone like Rick and if they don’t make the choice to work with him, it could cost them everything they’ve worked for. Andrew Lincoln did an excellent job in this scene, he really sold the matter and while we are on his side, he seems to be perilously close to going off the deep end. All in all, an excellent cap to the night that was well executed across all fronts. Rick's speech is when the Alexandria pot hit its boiling point. Corey Brill deserves just as much credit as anyone else for this scene, he did a great job revealing Pete to be a legit creeper and threat.

      While "Slabtown" was one of the weaker entries of the season, director Michael Satrazemis brought his best this time around. A few things stood out in the Rick and Pete fight that greatly helped boost the impact the ordeal was having. First, taking a panel right out of the comics when Rick and Pete go soaring through the window. A bit over the top but pretty awesome. Second, both of the fighters hit/shoved away the person closest to them. Pete backhands Jessie who tries to pull him away and Rick shoves Carl soon after. This was an excellent touch, it made it hard to root for anyone and it made the whole fight seem like an out of hand mistake.
       

      Try Final Takeaways


      Earlier in the season, we talked about Glenn’s tough guy act falling flat. Whether it’s improved writing or Steven Yeun simply bringing his A game week in and week out, he’s doing an awesome job as the tough guy now. He also played a major role in the tone setter of the night, a back and forth involving him, Rick, Nicholas, and Deanna. What better way to drive home the uncertainty of current events than show us both sides of the story while also rallying us up against Deanna and her family in preparation for the finale.
      The directors are getting a bit experimental at times in season 5B. While the to Deanna’s family grief, Carol’s baking, and Sasha’s craziness felt a bit odd, these out-there moments are a breath of fresh air and are much needed.
      There were two nice throwbacks in “Try”. The first was Carol’s heightened interest in Jessie’s affairs because of her abused past with Ed. The second was Michonne’s brief stumble into crazy land as she mowed down walkers amidst flashbacks from her earlier days when she still kept the company of chained loved ones. It’s nice that the creators aren’t forgetting where these characters have come from and it keeps hammering home the point that everything is coming full circle in Alexandria.
      While I wasn’t completely sold on Carl and Sasha’s plot lines, it was nice to see them come off the bench and play a significant role in the episode. It was especially nice to see Rosita get more than 30 seconds of screen time and to actually have a conversation with someone besides Abraham or Eugene.
      I would be shocked if the wolves don’t show up in the finale. While the hints were subtle the last few episodes, they were too blunt and plenty in this episode to not introduce this mysterious group next week.

      Conclusion

      For the first time in a while, The Walking Dead has become truly unpredictable and terrifying thanks to the plethora of possible paths the show could take in the 90 minute finale “Conquer”. Sunday night was the perfect set up, bringing all the conflicts to the tipping point and, on top of that inevitable explosion, there’s a tantalizing group of wolves out there somewhere surely ready to pounce. Season 5 began with a bang and another set of fireworks has had its fuse lit, sit back and enjoy the finale.
      What were your thoughts on "Try"? Does Rick need to dial it back or should the group rise up and take over Alexandria? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to rate the episode!
       


      The Walking Dead "Spend" Review (Season 5.14)

      The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode "Spend"

      The Bite Is Back

      We here at Deadicated Fans have been on the highest of highs with the Walking Dead the last few weeks but who could blame us? The show got its mojo back, it brought everything full circle, gave real meaning and weight to the group’s adventures from the prison on, and finally set a clear path forward. There’s so much tension and conflict brewing in Alexandria that it’s impossible to not be enthralled with the thought of seeing it all reach a boiling point. There was one thing still lacking, however, and it seemed like the show was trying to fix that wrong throughout season 5B but, unfortunately, they couldn’t get it right. “Spend” got it right. The problem? Walkers weren’t scary anymore.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1720" align="alignright" width="300] Steven Yeun knocked it out of the park in "Spend" and it all culminated in this intense moment, a very cool concept that left Glenn, Noah, and Nicholas trapped in a set of revolving doors.[/caption]

      The thought of the dead returning to life with a hunger for living flesh is a terrifying thought but we have been desensitized to it by now. The survivors in the post apocalyptic world proved how much more frightening they can be. Walkers were relegated to background noise, most of the time when they showed up they were never truly a threat. The latest episode gave the walkers their bite back and big time and what a joy it was to behold.
       

      Nightmare Fuel

      Not only did the walkers become scary again, they may have become more terrifying than they ever were before. Director Jennifer Lynch deserves a lot of the credit here, the death scenes were absolutely brutal, gut-wrenching, and (most importantly) moving. “What Happened and What’s Going On” was a solid episode but Tyreese being careless didn’t make the walkers scary and his death felt a bit unworthy, like he deserved something better (that’s a twisted way to think but it’s true). We first watched Aiden trap himself by not paying close enough attention, then admitting the others had died because of him and Nicholas being cowards before being ripped apart. They wanted us to see every bit of this, they made us watch his agony. It was disturbing and only part of the story.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1722" align="alignleft" width="300] We got to see Eugene finally man up and it was fantastic. The moment when he rolled by the entrance in the van was like his big "I've arrived and I'm ready to survive" moment and it was awesome to see him go right after Nicholas.[/caption]

      I almost felt at ease through the first half of this episode. It seemed like another standard supply run affair, the group would find themselves in danger but everything would be ok. Even after Aiden triggered the explosive, it was going to be ok. The group would get him and Tara out of there and return to Alexandria. Aiden’s death was a surprise but it also felt like the big moment. The rest of the episode would surely go smoothly.

      Then it happened. The most horrifying and vicious death in the whole show and it couldn’t have been executed any better. Again, they made us watch every second of it. Every second of Noah being torn to pieces and devoured by a group of walkers while Glenn watched with us, terrified and sick. This scene disgusted me, it made me feel terrible, but I couldn't look away. I still can’t get it out of my head. I also can’t stop thinking about how great of a setup this was for the final two episodes. Things are about to go down in Alexandria and what happened in “Spend” will be a big influence on what unfolds. When the show has this kind of lingering impact on you, you know it did its job and it did it well.
       

      Spend Final Takeaways


      The acting in this episode was some of the finest work by everyone involved. Steven Yeun had the highlight of the night as he watched Noah’s demise and then knocked Nicholas out in a (rightful) fit of rage. Gabriel’s plea to Deanna was well written and well delivered by Seth Gilliam. It was the perfect cap to the episode, we know the two deaths will lead to something big next week but now there’s a whole new layer added to the mix.
      The other layer added in the final moments shows just where Carol and Rick are mentally. Carol tells Rick that Peter is abusive, not just to Jessie but maybe to Sam as well. There’s no time to talk it out or get to the bottom of it though, no, not even close. Carol defiantly tells Rick he has to kill Peter. There is no playing around anymore and, again, the conflicts continue to build and build.
      A lot of times, the Walking Dead will have some minor sub plots in episodes that don’t do much. You just sort of sit around waiting to see the main event. This was one of the times they nailed the subplot with Abraham finding his place. It was pure entertainment to see Abraham stick his neck out to save Francine while also delivering possibly the greatest one liner in the show “mother dick” in the process. It was badass and awesome to watch Abraham fight the walkers and have the construction crew rally around him.
      While difficult to find a flaw in this one, I find myself sometimes agitated by the placement of commercials. They have to get people to not change the channel during the ads but it really kills the high you get from a crazy moment. The sequence with Aiden triggering the explosive and what happens afterwards could have been a lot more meaningful if uninterrupted, for instance.

      Conclusion

      “Spend” was one of the busiest episodes yet and it seems the show is doing exactly what people have been clamoring for. It’s ramping everything up, it’s moving all the characters along, it’s providing genuine scares, and the tension and conflicts are leaving us starving for more. While Noah wasn’t necessarily a main character, his death was the most impactful and moving
      . There’s also no doubt that his death will have a huge impact on the plot moving forward and that is the best sign that everything was executed well and it was all worthwhile. Noah’s departure may have made us sick and given us nightmares but remember, humor is always the best medicine. Too soon?
      What did you think of "Spend"? Still recovering like us? Let us know what you thought in the comments below and be sure to rate the episode!
       


      The Walking Dead "Forget" Review (Season 5.13)

      The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode "Forget"

      The Walking Dead Stays On Point

      The last two episodes of the Walking Dead brought us to a great and promising place, the Alexandria Safe Zone. We were given hope that the traveling was done and the roaming alongside barely threatening walkers was finished. “Forget” did, quite fittingly, make us forget all of that. It seems very clear now that the group is ready to stay in Alexandria for the long haul, no matter what it takes. Most of the group started to open up to the idea of staying put, most important of which was Rick. All of the trust issues and conflicts set up by “Remember” continued to grow this week, and grow they did. Rick falling for the married Jessie, Carol brutally threatening a child, and Daryl finally finding his place and making a new friend were the highlights of a very character driven episode that was well done across all fronts.
       

      Free For All

      While last week focused mostly on trust issues between Rick’s group and the denizens of Alexandria, this week focused on the awkwardness of everyone somewhat being forced to accept each other.
      and she seems determined to make it work. We aren’t exactly sure where Rick stands but we’re starting to get a pretty good idea. What this left us with was a party as awkward as a middle school dance, and every bit of it was great. 
       
      [caption id=attachment_1690" align="alignleft" width="275] Sasha seems to be making a run at Rick's title as most bonkers member of the group. Even Daryl is fitting in with the Alexandria crowd better at this point.[/caption]

      From Abraham and Rosita’s entrance to Rick kissing Jessie in the same house as her husband, we got a good sense of how odd it is to try and go back. To go from survivors on the road to members of a functioning society. Not every member of the group is handling it as well as the others and most of them are somewhere in the middle.

      This disparity amongst the characters is what is making Alexandria so great so far. While it’s mostly brief scenes and nudges, (almost) all of the characters are getting pushed along. We’re getting at least something for most of the cast which is refreshing after how the last season and a half had gone. What’s so well done is that each character seems to be in a different state of mind which helps fuel the conflicts and create interest moving forward where it seems like almost anything can happen. Sasha is off the deep end, Daryl went from total outcast to a useful and valuable friend of Aaron’s, and Rick finally seems to be making a decision on how to approach the whole situation.

      We could really sink our teeth into each character (almost) and speculate about where they’re going and how they’ll get there. These types of lingering thoughts that stick with you throughout the week are signs that the Walking Dead is back on track and set to stay there.
       

      Forget Final Takeaways


      “Forget” had plenty of memorable scenes but the one that sticks out the most was Carol’s almost “Grimm’s Fairy Tale” like story of what would happen to Sam if he didn’t keep her secret. I expected her to be a little tough on him to not risk anything but it turned out totally brutal and twisted. Great writing coupled with a great delivery by Melissa McBride.
      It was a relief to see Daryl and Aaron’s pursuit of Bubbles didn’t last an entire episode, and great thing it didn’t. The whole sequence from Daryl thinking about joining the party to having dinner with Aaron and finding out what his place in the community could be was fantastic. Another case of great writing and Norman Reedus really stepped up to the plate.
      Last week, it was blatantly obvious that the walls were poorly thought out and having the supports on the outside made absolutely zero sense. It was nice to see them address that in this episode, I sense that someone might use those supports to get in giving Rick a good “I told you so” moment.
      It could be the wolves that exploit Alexandria in the next few episodes as they were hinted at again. Usually, I would complain about such a brief hint at real potential threats but there was so much at play in “Forget” that it turned out to be a nice touch, making sure we don’t forget that they are out there somewhere.

      Conclusion
      [caption id=attachment_1691" align="alignright" width="300] Go get 'er Rick.[/caption]
       
      For the second straight week, we were shown that The Walking Dead doesn't need to be action packed or terrifying to be great. While we had some minor gripes with "Remember", it's hard to find any significant flaw with "Forget". Director David Boyd followed up his earlier work in the season, "Strangers", with another great effort. It was, put simply, solid across the board. It would have been nice to at least see every character, Gabriel was ignored for the second straight week and Eugene was no where to be seen, I can't recall Tara being around either but that's par for the course. Thankfully, the previews seem to suggest that Gabriel and Eugene will be featured in next week's episode which could greatly help keep the momentum going.
       
      What did you think of "Forget"? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to rate the episode!


      The Walking Dead "Remember" Review (Season 5.12)

      Remember The Name
      [caption id=attachment_1645" align="alignleft" width="300] Carol went from the female Rambo to the nice old lady next door in less than a season. Not the best character progression we've gotten to watch.[/caption]

      Season 5B has had its ups and downs throughout the first three episode but it finally found its identity Sunday night with “Remember”, an hour that kick started a nice collection of sub plots, created conflict moving forward, and brought us several familiar faces from the comics. While it wasn’t action packed, this episode was as good as it could get for a plot and character heavy episode. It reminded me of the earlier seasons, a simpler time when the only threat was walkers. The Alexandria that we were introduced to was what the prison would have been had the living not overtaken the dead as the biggest threats roaming the lands. Alexandria would have been a great fit for Rick and company had they not been through Woodbury, the hunters, Terminus, and Grady. It would have been perfect then, it isn’t perfect now.

      What made this episode great is that it gave meaning to the past two and a half seasons, we got to see the night and day comparison to how the group was and what they now were. Rick and Carl saw the Alexandria denizens as weak, Carol saw staying there as a means to become weaker themselves but everyone seems to be aware of that pitfall. They don’t want to conform to Alexandria’s standards, they want to improve them or eliminate them. Where the show is now and where the show will go moving forward is not in question anymore. There’s no more need to worry about traveling to vague places that may or may not be worth the wait, there’s no more wondering about inner conflict and split groups. We know what the Walking Dead will be now, it solved the identity crisis it has struggled with for some time.
       

      Multitasking

      Director Greg Nicotero always does a great job juggling multiple concepts but “Remember” is one of his finest outings yet. It was a full team effort as the writing and acting were just as enjoyable as the directing. I’m always hard on Walking Dead episodes that take it easy, episodes where it’s almost insulting how it thinks we can’t handle more than what it is spoon feeding us. Let’s take a look at some of the big things we got in the latest episode:
       


      Introduction to a huge location from the comics.
      Multiple new characters.
      Conflict moving forward in the form of the group not immediately fitting in with the locals.
      Sub conflicts featuring Rick struggling with getting back into a “normal” society and Jessie’s creepy husband.
      Inner conflict with ourselves on who to trust, it seems like we might not even be able to trust Rick at this point.

      It could have taken half a season to just establish all of that but we got it in one dose making it the second straight week where the road forward got a huge boost in potential.

      While there’s a lot to choose from, the highlight(s) of the night for me were the recorded interviews. These gave us a mix of throwbacks to the past and glimpses of the future and the short dialogue was very well written. Rick plays a verbal match of chess with Dianna, Carol does some self reflecting, and Carl talks about killing his mother while holding his baby sister. A great recap of where the characters were and where they are now, but all of this was perfectly wrapped up with Glenn who had my favorite line of the night. After telling Dianna that they need to make Alexandria work, he tells her it’s because “we were almost out there too long.” What a perfect summation of the post prison Walking Dead and how broken the characters were becoming, not to mention how cynical fans were (rightfully) becoming.
       

      Remember Final Takeaways


       
      [caption id=attachment_1644" align="alignright" width="327] We lost one of the most reliable and consistent elements of the Walking Dead in "Remember". RIP.[/caption]
       
      While great for the most part, the writing was a little iffy for the new characters. Dianna was, overall, ok in her introductory episode but Rick clearly carried that initial interview. I also feel like Peter could have been given a much creepier and intimidating introduction than “My wife cut your hair” as he sat in darkness.

      Carl saw Lori in one of the houses when first arriving at Alexandria, will we see him have mental struggles similar to Rick and his phone calls? Like father like son.
      The only bit of action we got was a small street brawl dominated by Glenn and Daryl, a simple conflict that paled vastly in comparison to other obstacles the group had overcome but this one seemed real. Another well done moment that brought the show full circle to the early days.
      There was an abnormal amount of humor contrasting the eery vibe we felt for most of the hour. While it wasn’t all top notch comedy (Dianna’s big joke fell flat), it was refreshing and nice to see. We can thank most of it to Rick’s baby smooth face and fresh cut.
      What were your thoughts on "Remember"? Can we trust Alexandria or is another Woodbury? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to rate the episode!
       

      The Walking Dead "The Distance" Review (Season 5.11)

      The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode "The Distance"

      The Walking Dead Cuts To The Chase

      “The Distance” was the first gem of season 5B. “What Happened and What’s Going On” was a solid episode but it was too much of a mixed bag in the grand scheme of things. A bit slow, no plot development, few characters getting screen time, and the dialogue was at both ends of the spectrum. It just didn’t seem to be quite there although it did have a lot of promise. This week’s episode nailed it across the board, improving on every flaw the first two episodes had. The directing, writing, and acting were all on point and most importantly, the pacing was perfect.

      Pacing is an odd topic of discussion with this show. I've noticed a lot of the hardcore fans mock people who complain about pacing as if it's some vague meaningless thing. There's always so much more to the episode in the minds of these fans but in reality that is what pacing is, everything. It's not a simple matter of slow vs fast, it's a matter of what is happening and is it appropriate for the flow of events. "Them" had pacing issues because the dialogue was weak, it wasn't engaging and it didn't make us care. The drawn out scenes of characters walking, burning themselves with cigarettes, pushing each other away emotionally, it was all over done and blunt. We got the point before the episode even began but still had an hour of tv with no real plot development to sit through.

      Contrast this to "The Distance". It took one full length episode with Aaron to get the group to the Alexandria Safe Zone. I'm sure I wasn't alone in expecting it to take three episodes of traveling but they took advantage of a new character and made him crucial to huge plot movement. Well written dialogue turned moments that are sometimes dull and tedious into tense and even comical moments tying everything together. The chaotic drive through a walker flood and subsequent scares for Rick and company provided genuine concern and a cloud of uneasiness that made it hard to see what could happen next. Pick any emotion and this episode had something to at least tease it.
       

      Rick vs. Aaron

      After last week’s dreadful dialogue, it seemed as though the writers put everything they had into Rick and Aaron’s tug-o-war in "The Distance". On one side we have the paranoid Rick, clearly weighing all of his past against this new stranger who had to be a threat. The other corner, championed by Aaron, represented logic and hope. Two things that the group was struggling to keep alive, Rick especially, and it’s important to remember this.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1601" align="alignleft" width="300] While expected, it's still disappointing that there was a bit of an outrage over showing a gay kiss on the show. That attempted rape of Carl was an awesome and totally ok scene though right![/caption]

      Although Rick took a dangerous route to finding his answers, risking the well being of his people, it’s hard to blame him for being cautious. After everything he had been through, how could he possibly trust Aaron? Nothing made the pressure he faced more apparent than his moments with Michonne who seemed desperate to trust Aaron and find that fading hope once again, even if Rick had her thinking it wasn’t logical.

      Rick wasn't making this decision for him, he was making it for his family. A family that is not limited to just Carl and Judith. Anything could happen to Rick, that didn’t matter, but if something had happened to even one of his people it could be the moment that makes everything fall apart. Rick seemed to put the weight of the world on his shoulders and he was handling it the best he could, he had self confidence, this moment was very real and sincere. The writing and acting for this scene was fantastic.

      It wasn't the highlight of the night for me though, that came at the end of the hour when the group approached the walls at Alexandria. Earlier in the episode, Rick had referenced past locations and one defining feature they had in common; silence. You wouldn't hear a sound approaching places like Terminus. Cue the close up of Rick's eyes. The look of paranoia, fear, and stress. As soon as he heard children playing from within the walls, all of it vanishes. One smooth transition back to hope and joy, back to the Rick we know and love. If he was starting to go the route of the Governor or Shane, he came back in that one moment.
       

      Not Quite Flawless

      I’ll be honest, I think I need to nit pick a little here to point out some of the not so great moments with this episode but they are worth noting at the very least. I’m a big fan of Glenn but his tough guy act just felt off. The writing was fine as he was given some good lines to deliver, there just seemed to be something amiss. He’s not cut out to be a Rick type character, it even seems odd when he steps to Rick to confront him or play devil’s advocate. I hope Alexandria lets him get back to his comfort zone. His scene with Abraham where he points out the emergency battery was a nice nod to his days learning from Dale and ultimately saved us from three episodes of walking to the safe zone. That bit of relief is a dark horse candidate for best moment of the night, it kept the hope alive that the show was in fact gathering steam. 

      There were a couple of cliches to point out. It'd be impossible to count how many times various characters were put in a spot of peril only to be saved just in time. Glenn in particular has been getting a lot of these lately, which not only worries me a bit as a Glenn fan, but also makes me wonder if they are building to something or just using these moments as crutches to inject some flavor every once in a while. It's becoming a dull taste, however.

      While I mentioned the nod to Glenn learning how to fix the RV from Dale, I'm not even sure if that was the intention with the break down scene. It was a nice bit of humor with the optimistic Abraham getting immediately shut down but I don't think that moment was completely necessary. It did send me into fits of panic as I quickly pictured the torture of the inevitable "travel to Alexandria" arc but Glenn saved us all from that. Really, this moment was just cruel.
       

      The Distance Final Takeaways


      Let me just mention again how amazing the night time thrill ride was. Director Larysa Kondracki has one heck of a great moment to mark her debut episode, hopefully just one of many. The views switching from outside the vehicle to inside as the windshield slowly became consumed with walker guts were nerve wracking and the sudden pause to show the flare going off in the distance left me feeling completely frantic. So much was going on and it was just a great and fun scene. I could go on and on but I'll contain myself.
       
      [caption id=attachment_1602" align="alignright" width="300] Well, it WAS a waste of a flare but....that flare kill![/caption]
       
      Well, just let me sneak in one more thing: that flare kill!

      I'm a sucker for new characters from the comics making their way onto the small screen. Eric was bound to come but it was hard to predict when these things will happen with the pacing of the show being as inconsistent as it is. I was glad to see him show up in this episode, it just made the hour even better. It was also a nice touch to have Rick observe Aaron and Eric together, seeing those two reunited seemed to ease his trust issues with the stranger he had been verbally sparring with.
      Speaking of Aaron, Ross Marquand seems to be a great casting choice so far. Time will tell if he and Jordan Woods Robinson (as Eric) make great additions to the cast.
      While brief, Abraham and Rosita had some nice subtle character development. Outside of one episode, it seems like all Rosita gets is subtle. There were still a couple nice moments I really liked, Abraham being concerned that Rosita thought he might hurt her and Rosita trying to help bring the relationship back to comfortable levels later on.

      Conclusion

      While I might be over reacting a bit because of last week’s disappointment, I truly feel “The Distance” was one of the best efforts in season 5. Every facet of this episode was well done with only minor flaws that are easy to look past. Every chunk of the emotional scale was poked at and the plot took a big step forward. The leap from Aaron to arriving at the walls of Alexandria was a quick one but far from uneventful and forgettable. Another new character was introduced and many possibilities are on the table now that we know there won’t be a lot of traveling the rest of season 5B. Here’s to hoping this is just the first momentous step in an exciting run to the finale.
      What were your thoughts on "The Distance"? Was it a season saver after last week or are we overrating it? Be sure to rate the episode and let us know how you feel in the comments below!
       

      The Walking Dead "Them" Review (Season 5.10)

      The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode "Them"

      A Tour de Sadness

      We all knew the group would be devastated by the events that took place at Grady Memorial Hospital, we saw glimpses of it in the season 5B premiere “What Happened and What’s Going On”. We also knew the events of the premiere would take the group to even lower depths. We expected to see a broken down and defeated group moving forward but I don’t think anyone expected the dull and depressing crawl down 60 miles of interstate who cares that made up the entirety of “Them”. We probably should have expected it though.

      We mentioned in our review last week how the creators seem to hate mixing in multiple concepts in single episodes, they often times take a one track approach. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, most of the time it’s a mixed bag. “Them” is, unfortunately, one of those times where it just simply doesn’t work. All the little moments with Maggie, Sasha, and Daryl, even Gabriel could have been mixed in with last week’s episode. Versions of these moments could have happened while they waited on Rick and Co. to check out Noah’s community. A fusion of the first two 5B episodes could have been great but instead the reality we got was much less interesting and much more frustrating.
       

      Can You Hear Me Now?
      The quickest way I could sum up what happened Sunday night is as follows:


      Everyone is depressed and sad, they walk a few miles.
      Everyone is still depressed and sad, although a new layer of anger is introduced. They walk a few more miles.
      Hope you didn't forget that everyone is still angry, depressed, and sad. If you did forget, well, that's all still happening.
      So on and so on and so on.
      [caption id=attachment_1490" align="alignright" width="300] In a sad way, "Them" was successful at making us feel the sadness and depression facing our group. We would have joined right in holding those barn doors shut if we could.[/caption]
       
      But surely there was some depth here, surely I'm being a jerk. The dialogue is what drives an episode like this! How much good dialogue did we get during the trek? None. No good dialogue. The writing was poor and director Julius Ramsay was given barely anything to work with, although he also directed the disappointing season 4 episode "Still" so maybe two makes a trend here. Either way, "Them" was almost a self deprecating joke played by the creators, a joke that was made at the expense of the fans. It sometimes gets annoying to hear how boring and slow The Walking Dead is. Sometimes it really is, other times (such as the 5B premiere episode) there's a lot more than meets the eye that might go over people's heads. This episode however, presents a feast for the Debbie downers.
       
      I won't go too much into detail to avoid spoilers for the books and (potentially) future episodes but I was almost certain that a critical moment from the books was going to come into play. While there were two adapted moments (more on that later), the big one I was waiting for never came and it was almost as if they were adding insult to injury. That moment would have worked, it would have been fitting, it would have been a great cap to this power hour of depression and self loathing. But it never came.
       
      What we got instead was a cheesy and blunt blow to the head in the form of the group all coming together to hold the barn doors shut from a rather large group of walkers who wanted shelter from the raging storm. Well, isn't that cute. Also, a bit insulting as a followup to the deep and thought provoking episode we got last week.

      The One-Two Closer

      While “Them” mostly was a let down, there were two great moments that lessened the blow. The first, Rick finally said it. The line all comic fans were waiting for. While it was in a much different situation compared to the comics, Rick finally said “We are the walking dead”. Honestly, I like how the show did it better and the whole speech by Rick was great, easily one of my favorite moments of his in the show so far.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1489" align="alignleft" width="300] Don't worry, it's almost over.[/caption]

      The other moment was at the very end. Almost as if the creators knew people would hate this episode and wanted to throw them a bone, they introduced a big time player from the comics: Aaron. His appearance means many things, the Alexandria Safe Zone being on our doorsteps the biggest of them but it may even suggest that the show is closer to the megaton home run hitter Negan than we previously thought. I won’t get ahead of myself, however. His appearance to me was like the storm to most of the group, just a flat out joyous break from the too somber mood. It was as if he descended from the heavens when we needed him most, engulfed in a beam of light as an angelic choir sung of his arrival to defeat this sorry episode, giving us hope for next week and the rest of season 5B.
       

      "Them" Final Takeaways


       
      [caption id=attachment_1476" align="alignright" width="350] Food for thought, Sasha caught Abraham with her knife that she had just used to kill some walkers. Will this be how our favorite ginger falls?[/caption]
       
      I quite liked the group of walkers slowly trailing behind the main group as they lurched forward in similar fashion and their effort to dispose of the threat was pretty intense. Sasha’s uncontrolled anger lead to some close calls and I even felt worried when Rick was nearly bit. That feeling kind of surprised me afterwards.

      The dog tease in the previews was kept in the back of my mind with hopes of it being able to inject some life into the episode. Surely they belonged to the wolves and the new villains were coming! I felt pretty dumb when the obvious happened, which is Sasha simply shooting them. I’m all for being realistic about things and how the group would approach various threats but this episode needed to dial back the reality a bit.
      Maggie is cruel when she hits rock bottom and her tongue bites harder than any walker Gabriel has faced so far. His poor attempts at helping Maggie were hard to watch but the two seemed to have a moment later in the episode when Gabriel burned his collar. This could be an interesting relationship moving forward.

      Conclusion
      While not the worst episode of the series, "Them" really exemplified all the problems you could have with the show. It was slow and relatively uneventful until the last 10 minutes, time and time again the show just seems to slam on the breaks plot wise. While last week's episode was good, the lack of plot development was a big problem and for the very next episode to follow the same approach is an even bigger problem. Episodes focused on character development need well written and interesting dialogue and "Them" just didn't have it outside of Rick. Shoddy writing is another issue that isn't new to The Walking Dead but it was at one of its lowest points on Sunday night. Despite all that, Rick said the thing and Aaron was introduced which surely means the plot is going to shift back into gear and get moving again.
       
      It's been a long wait but, just as the music box suggested, brighter days may just be right around the corner.
       
      What did you think of "Them" and are we being too hard on it? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to rate the episode!
       

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      The Walking Dead Season "What Happened & What's Going On" Review (Season 5.9)

      The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode "What Happened and What's Going On"

      The Walking Dead Goes Mental

      The wait is over, The Walking Dead is back. Last we saw our ragtag group of zombie and cannibal slayers, they were blindsided by a trade gone awry at Grady Memorial Hospital in the season 5A finale “Coda”. The cost of the ordeal was Beth’s life and it had quite the impact on the fans. The two month rest gave us enough time to recover from that loss but little did we know an even bigger emotional gut punch was ready to unload on us in the 5B premiere.

      “What Happened and What’s Going On” was deadicated to Tyreese and his untimely end but there was much more beneath the bitten flesh director Greg Nicotero wanted to show us. The whole experience was trippy, surreal, and most definitely creepy above all else. The odd cinematography, radio broadcast style summaries of past events, and the return of several dead friends all came together to create a disturbing and somber sequence of events, a death more emotional and depressing to me than most other departures in the show’s history.

      It might not have been the most fitting or fair way for Tyreese to go but it was impactful and tugged at the heartstrings, it’s not a death that will soon be forgotten.
       

      What Happened?

      After a mysterious and otherworldly intro, we find out that the show has jumped ahead in time a bit to show that the group is already closing in on Noah’s former community. No five episodes of traveling there? I’m on board for just a moment because, of course, the community is long gone and no one remains. While Rick, Michonne, and Glenn do a quick sweep, the still wounded Noah begins to stumble towards his home and somehow Tyreese can’t catch him until he’s already in his front yard. Tyreese decides to escort Noah inside and this is where the happening begins.

      In a moment that seemed surely a typical faux scare that wouldn’t lead to anything, Tyreese is bit by one of Noah’s (now zombified) younger brothers. This was genuinely shocking and something the show has been missing. Too often, the main characters are put in danger that is never really dangerous. Chad Coleman was truly given a chance to shine in his final outing and he made the most of it. The strange swelling of emotions as he looked at the pictures of Noah’s younger twin brothers left us weak and vulnerable all the same and when the walker sunk its teeth into Tyreese’s arm, we felt the same shock, the same sadness.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1454" align="alignright" width="300] Tyreese gets clever in his struggle to fend off a walker. No one can say this man isn't strong willed.[/caption]

      One by one, faces from the past began appearing before Tyreese, playing tug of war with his fragile psyche. Whether it was the termite taunting Tyreese with how things could have been different, the governor just outright mocking him, or Beth singing a sweet song (I guess the fan petition sort of worked), the whole ordeal was a calm, uneasy sort of chaos and mentally exhausting in the best of ways.

      It can never be calm for too long though, and the quick jump cuts back to reality were my top moments of the night. The first cut had the governor quickly turn into a walker and the ensuing fight was as tense and exciting as any other walker scare from the past. Already doomed, but never ready to give up, Tyreese used his already bitten arm to fend off his foe and that moment was just plain fun, an interesting way to use the illness as a weapon.

      The next cut went from Mika and Lizzy observing Tyreese’s wounds to Rick and company immediately hacking the arm off in a furious few seconds before cutting to commercial. We knew it was coming and the cruel reality of the situation is that you just need to get it over with and that's exactly what happened. These cuts, combined with the conflicting dialogue, radio broadcasts and slow motion walker slaughters really allowed you to see the end from Tyreese’s point of view and it was all executed very well.

      It didn’t take long for me to realize that the final moments for Tyreese were possibly the saddest I’ve watched, not just in The Walking Dead, but in any show. Tyreese, who told the ghost governor he could live and that nobody had to die, gave up. He asked Bob to turn the radio off and the screen began to fade in and out of the black void of death. Tyreese was finally gone.
       

      What's Going On?

      On paper, this episode should have been great. Awesome direction and cinematography, emotional moments involving not just Tyreese but everyone who played a part, the return of old friends and foes, and the passing of a major character. What’s not to like? Something, however, was off with this episode. Sure it wasn’t a bad episode by any means but it wasn’t as good as all these ideas should have been when put into practice.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1457" align="alignleft" width="300] As tough and determined as Tyreese was, he just wasn't built for the new world. Seeing him finally accept his fate and give up was tough to watch.[/caption]

      One of the biggest gripes fans have with the show is how long some things are drawn out. This is a case where maybe the creators over compensated. The individual pieces of this episode were all solid but to put all of them into one episode and leave no time to focus on anyone else or the bigger picture is a poor decision. The only major development we got was a few lines of sloppy dialogue about staying at Noah’s community and then settling on DC. For a show in its fifth season, we should be getting more than that from each episode.

      Sure, there were the cut up walkers and the hints of wolves but that’s all these were; hints. Do they create interest moving forward? Yes. Do they add to the episode individually? Not quite. I get that it was an episode with the sole intention of losing a major character and taking a fresh approach to dying but the show has always been about the sum of the pieces. No one is safe, no individual is too important to kill off. To focus an entire episode on one person is a curious choice.
       



      Final Takeaways


      The radio broadcasts giving a "news story" retelling of past events from burning prisons to revenge killings with a machete were fantastic touches and great mood setters. They were excellent compliments to the back and forth dialogue of the termite, Bob, and the Governor.
      The intro scene was as misleading as they come and set the stage well for one of the most somber and depressing episodes yet. All the attempts in this episode at remaining hopeful and optimistic were chilling and forced us to question if it really is best to just give up.
       "What Happened and What's Going On" was not a shallow episode by any means. It was, in fact, quite deep but there just needs to be more for us to digest in each episode when it comes to the show's identity and goals. The show runners seem to struggle with throwing multiple ideas at the viewers and episodes like this make it seem like they've given up on that approach but that is necessary to keep the wheels moving. Too often, The Walking Dead seems to slam on the brakes.
      [caption id=attachment_1456" align="alignleft" width="821] With scattered messages of wolves and walkers with a "W" marking, we may have been given cryptic hints as to who the villains of season 5B will be.[/caption]

      Conclusion

      It’s great to have the Walking Dead back and it’s an exciting time to know there’s still seven episodes left in what has been a pretty solid season thus far. While “What Happened and What’s Going On” might have had a flawed approach, it certainly had its fair share of great moments and interesting concepts. We didn’t get an action packed premiere like “No Sanctuary” but we got something more impactful and moving. Two opposite ends of the spectrum but there’s room for both and everything in between. It was a very memorable hour of television and an emotional farewell to a great character.

      RIP Tyreese.

      What did you think of the latest Walking Dead episode? Be sure to let us know in the comments below and give us your rating of "What Happened and What's Going On"!

      The Walking Dead "Coda" Review (Season 5.8)

      The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode "Coda"

      Rick To The Rescue

      The epic rescue mission to save Carol and Beth from the clutches of Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital finally unfolded Sunday night and while most of the hour was a mixed bag, they saved the best for last. The hostage exchange was as intense and psychologically exhausting as anyone could have hoped for. It was a nicely wrapped up mid season finale that opted to leave us struggling with what we had seen instead of hanging crazily off a cliff speculating on the future (although, with time, we’ll be doing the speculating part of that as well).

      The group, which had been split into three separate factions, came back together in the closing minutes. The reunion was almost too orderly and perfect, but I suppose that could have been intended to contrast the heart wrenching events that just took place inside the hospital’s halls. The deal to exchange two cops for Carol and Beth nearly went as perfect as Rick and company could have hoped for until Dawn threw them a curveball. What resulted was a thousand thoughts and fears racing through our heads while the reality of the situation was resolved in the blink of an eye, or, more appropriately, a single pull of the trigger.
       

      Dawn and Grady's Mixed Bag

      The Grady story arc felt almost like filler as it developed, a storyline created specifically for the show to not only differentiate it from the comics but to also (possibly) allow the show to remain a safe distance behind. It ended with the same feelings. Season 5 started at a breakneck pace and multiple scenes from the comics were finding their way to the small screen each week. I would imagine the last thing the creators would want to do is catch up to the comics and be stuck in a spot where both worlds have to be completely separate, they have an upcoming spinoff series to handle that.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1400" align="alignright" width="300] Officer Lamson paid dearly for his escape attempt and not obeying Rick's orders. This scene was an emotional tug of war as it was easy to see why both Rick and Lamson took the actions they did.[/caption]

      The problem with Grady was that it simply lacked the charismatic and terrifying characters that carried Woodbury, the claimers, and Terminus. Dawn felt like a cardboard cutout, her emotions felt flat and her dialogue didn’t connect on any deep level. Whether this falls on the directors, writers, or actors is irrelevant, this sort of carried through to the rest of Grady’s inhabitants and held back a plot line that certainly had potential. Every scene that took place inside Grady had me wishing they would just switch back to Rick, or the church, or Abraham, or anyone. The cops captured by Rick and crew even added greatly to their scenes but for some reason, these characters just didn’t exist at Grady itself. Doctor Edwards was the closest but he wasn’t developed to a great enough extent. No one at Grady was.

      What made parts of this episode great was the show’s bread and butter, Rick and Daryl. The show’s two most popular characters stepped in and saved the episode in the final fifteen minutes. Their emotions felt real, they struck a chord and made you care. They had you worried about their safety and if they could protect everyone else when it seemed like it was all going south in a hurry. That was the ultimate high point of this episode and one of the brightest moments of the season.
       

      The Exchange
      [caption id=attachment_1401" align="alignleft" width="300] Beth essentially saved Noah by going after Dawn. Noah's presence moving forward will be a lingering reminder of Beth's untimely demise.[/caption]

      Everything was going so well. Despite losing Bob Lamson (who made his escape in “Crossed” but was run down and executed by Rick early in the hour), the deal went through. Carol and Beth were exchanged for the two remaining cops but Dawn had one surprise demand; she wanted Noah back. Rick was not ready to add to the deal they originally agreed upon. Beth, who we saw hide a pair of scissors before the meeting went after Dawn. That precise moment was such a great moment. I was expecting a total blood bath, both sides were sure to open fire and in such a confined space there was no telling who would and wouldn’t die. Everyone was at risk but before I could even process a single possible outcome, a single shot ended it all. Dawn took out Beth and was promptly taken out herself for that decision. After that? Well, that was that. The Grady residents quickly called for an end, it was over and there was no need to escalate the situation further and cooler heads prevailed.

      This scene and the following one that had Rick and friends leave the hospital to find Glenn and his group making their way for the doors were executed superbly. They are perfect examples of what makes the Walking Dead so great and powerful. “Coda” wasn’t without its flaws but it sure left us stunned and reeling. Much like the premier episode "No Sanctuary", we had to try our best to keep it all together as Morgan took center stage in a short post episode scene. 
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1402" align="aligncenter" width="850] Morgan continues to follow behind the group but it appears he's closing in. What kind of role he'll play in the second half of the season remains to be seen but they are surely building up to something.[/caption]

      Coda Final Takeaways


      Seth Gilliam is becoming the underrated hero of every episode. The directors and writers just put him in good spots and this type of short and sweet character development is what seems to work the best for any character in the show. In “Coda”, Gabriel finds his way to the school where Gareth and the Termites were staying. He finds a bible and Bob’s cooked leg and the wealth of emotions that strike him at that one moment was simply compelling.
       
      [caption id=attachment_1404" align="alignright" width="300] The group thankfully reunites in the second half of "Coda". Hopefully they stay united in the episodes to come as the show is simply on a higher level when everyone is together.[/caption]
       
      In this week’s “Was that really necessary” segment, Michonne carrying Judith on her back as she fought the walkers invading the church. I questioned if it was in fact Judith on her back during this scene but thought “no, no it just can’t be” as the sack was swung around helplessly but low and behold it was, in fact, Judith going for the traumatic ride as she waited until things calmed down a bit to start crying. I was dumbfounded by this bit of silliness.

      It was a bit hard to buy into the emotions involved in the last scene. Maggie, as we’ve mentioned multiple times, has not seemed to care about Beth at all since they were separated after losing their father. She finally cared in “Coda” but it almost felt too little too late. This is something I feel the show runners just goofed up on but I expected her to show some emotion here and it was still a moving scene to close out the episode.
      Dawn never developed into a solid character. She felt shallow right up to the very end, as did Grady as a whole. Director Ernest Dickerson had his work cut out for him in crafting the moving finale and did an admirable job. Still, I can't help but wonder what could have been compared to what we got.

      Conclusion

      “Coda” had its fair share of flaws but it saved its finest moments for the end. Rick and company did their best to save the episode and they succeeded to an extent. The Grady story arc came to a close and, overall, it felt like filler. It felt that way from “Slabtown” and it struggled to become more than that. It also felt like the creators thought it was necessary to kill off a major character and this episode is the what they came up with. It was a bit of a disappointing end for Beth but life is full of disappointments. Just because it’s a TV show doesn’t mean that everything has to wrap up perfectly and obviously it never does in the world of the Walking Dead. Despite the flaws, I feel losing Beth will have a profound impact on several characters and the plot moving forward, it might just take some time to develop. And time is exactly what we have as we begin the long wait to February when the Walking Dead returns.

      What did you think of the latest Walking Dead episode? Be sure to let us know in the comments below and give us your rating of "Coda"!

      The Walking Dead "Crossed" Review (Season 5.7)

      The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode "Crossed"

      The Walking Dead Sets The Stage

      We made it through a string of episodes dealing with each individual group trying to move forward after Terminus. “Crossed” tied everything together in a neat package, one that is sure to be quickly undone in the mid season finale. It’s been mentioned in our reviews throughout the season but never is it more clear than in this episode how much better the show is when they focus on everyone instead of using entire episodes to focus on a small group. Sunday’s scenes involving Glenn and company (Abraham is a bit too shaken right now to be seen as their leader) would have been fleshed out into a full episode in season 4. They didn't add much to “Crossed” but they sure felt like they were setting up something for next week and that was the point. This entire episode was one big set up for the mid season finale and it was well executed.
       

      Tension and Trust Rule The Night
      [caption id=attachment_1368" align="alignleft" width="300] Rick comes up with a pretty detailed plan on how to rescue Beth and Carol but he is met with some resistance. Rick lets majority rule but he seems to be getting pretty cocky, could something be ready to send him back to Earth?[/caption]

      The tension was paper thin in “Crossed” and it came from so many different directions. Director Billy Gierhart, who hasn't directed an episode since the mid season 3 finale “Made to Suffer”, returned with quite the impact. While you can say “Crossed” was rather predictable in the end, it had you guessing and feeling nervous all along. It was easy to think Daryl would survive the fight with the Grady cop and it was easy to think the other male cop was going to pull a fast one on Sasha but there was a cloud of concern that lingered from the beginning. I wasn’t 100% sure Daryl would survive that scene and I really wanted the Grady cop to be sincere. Everything may have had the most likely outcome but it wasn't obvious and the emotional ride made for good television and an entertaining hour.

      The best aspect of this episode, which also gave more much needed importance to “Slabtown”, was the question of who can and cannot be trusted from Grady. Terminus brought with it a very direct and brutal form of terror. Dawn and the rest of Grady Memorial Hospital bring a more psychological approach to the table. The cops had one story, Dawn had another, the doctor told Beth which medicine to give to Carol but we saw previously how he previously lied in order to take out the other doctor. I don’t think there’s one thing that can safely be predicted about next week’s episode (except maybe death, there will probably be some death) and “Crossed” was the perfect set up, the perfect ride through smoke and mirrors as we’re left with many questions to stew over with bated breath for the upcoming week.
       

      Crossed Final Takeaways



      Daryl has always been one bad dude but he must have felt he was lagging behind Rick and even Carol because his move of ripping a walker’s head clear off and bashing his foe with it could have come straight from the comics. It tip toed the line between realism and campiness but regardless of which side it leaned, it was just plain awesome.


       
      [caption id=attachment_1369" align="alignright" width="300] Maggie steps up and lays down the law to Abraham who is still reeling from Eugene's revelation. Rosita also continues to show a bit of fierceness making it feel like she's more than just eye candy.[/caption]

      The Grady patient who creates a distraction for Beth, who is trying to grab medicine for Carol, was the weekly “was that really necessary?” moment. It was fine for the most part, but the “oh I’m suddenly fine now” trope as he watched Beth walk by was a head shaker.



      It's just plain fun to watch Seth Gilliam portray Gabriel. His scenes, while brief, created a whole different layer to contemplate going in to next week. The music was creepy and he looked to be going a bit crazy as he watched his church be dismantled. He’s clearly struggling mightily in the new world but Gilliam makes it entertaining to watch.


      Tyreese and Sasha were given some nice sentimental development in this episode but, as is usually the case, any positivity is quickly taken away leaving us wondering if it's even worth it for the characters to look on the bright side of life.

      Conclusion

      I really could go on and on about this episode, it wasn’t the best of the season but it did its job as well as you could hope. Everything we witnessed in the previous six episodes came back into focus and every sub plot was touched on. There’s so many possible paths the next episode could take that the week long wait will be excruciating but this is when the Walking Dead is at its best. It’s fun to speculate but with so many questions to answer, it’s best to just sit back and watch the mayhem unfold and mayhem is exactly what we’ll get.

      What did you think of the latest Walking Dead episode? Be sure to let us know in the comments below and give us your rating of "Crossed"!

      The Walking Dead "Consumed" Review (Season 5.6)

      The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode "Consumed"

      The Walking Dead On Cruise Control
      [caption id=attachment_1336" align="alignright" width="300] It was a little odd that a hobbled Noah was able to hold Daryl back from rushing in to save Carol from the Grady Cops. On the other hand, the more level headed Daryl might have known the right course of action despite his demeanor.[/caption]

      “Consumed” would be right at home with the episodes from the second half of season 4 and is the first true filler episode this season. Even Slabtown brought some new characters to the table and advanced the plot. Sunday's episode was very safe, they knew where they wanted the show to go and they didn't throw any punches or surprises at us along the way. Director Seith Mann put two popular characters behind the wheel as we were driven to a known destination. 

      Sure, there were bumps along the way but they never veered off road. Carol was devastated after being exiled from the group? I’d be surprised if she wasn’t. Daryl and Carol run into Noah? We knew Daryl was with someone in the quick cliffhanger at the end of “Four Walls and a Roof” and saw Noah escape Grady Memorial Hospital at the end of “Slabtown”. I’m sure most of us were able to put two and two together. Carol gets taken to Grady Memorial Hospital but how? In a pretty silly and rushed scene that made it feel like they almost forgot how they had to end the episode and tacked it on last minute. Despite the flaws, "Consumed" did have some nice highlights however.
       

      Noah Joins The Chaos
      [caption id=attachment_1332" align="alignleft" width="300] Subtle hints of character development like this really leave a lasting impression. The toughest part of healing is facing the source of the problem and we find out that Daryl is taking that all important first step.[/caption]

      Tyler James Williams put in another solid effort as Noah and his scenes were the highlights of the night. He kind of creeped around Daryl and Carol early on and these bits were well done and created a sense of uneasiness. I couldn’t tell who it was stalking the star duo but it helped add a much needed edge to the episode. I really enjoyed his stick up of Daryl and Carol. He picked the perfect moment to make his move and showed some creativity in using the tent walkers to help him escape. Despite that, Carol still had a weapon on her and could have taken him out if she wasn’t stopped. This sequence shows that Noah is doing what he feels he needs to do to survive, gather supplies, and keep moving but, as Daryl said, he’s just a kid. He didn’t do enough to survive that plan but lady luck (really Daryl) was on his side and it made him a likable character to me. 

      The scene near the end where he's left trapped after a Daryl charge as a walker enters the room was the best moment of the night for the fan favorite red neck. Throughout the hour we see that Daryl has become a pretty level headed person, someone who could start to survive on their wits and not just their physical abilities. He could have left Noah to die and it seemed that was his plan but he had a sudden change of heart which shows he wasn’t as sure of himself as he made it seem. They could have killed off Noah here and I was worried because I was starting to like him, it wouldn’t have been the first time a recently introduced character was killed off after a bit of development (it happened multiple times already this season). I look forward to seeing how Noah reacts when his world changes from a dystopian hospital to an on-the-road Ricktatorship (that’s really more of a democracy, even if Rick wouldn’t agree).
       

      Consumed Final Takeaways


       
      [caption id=attachment_1337" align="alignright" width="300] Carol's flashbacks brought her back to Earth and reminded us she is only human despite her Rambo rampage in the premiere "No Sanctuary".[/caption]

      The bridge scene was something I thought would be very predictable but it turned out to be the opposite as I wouldn’t have ever guessed Daryl and Carol would be inside when it eventually went over the edge, let alone them being the reason why. I couldn’t bring myself to buy into the result, however, as the van did a full flip and landed perfectly on all fours. I know it's not a realistic show but this was a bit too much.



      This season has made a gimmick of sorts out of brief flashbacks scattered throughout various episodes and they’ve done it very well. Until “Consumed”. Carol’s flashbacks didn’t bring anything new to the character or plot, they didn’t reveal anything we couldn’t have already assumed was the case. They did, however, serve as a nice summary of what Carol has gone through over the last couple of seasons.



      Yet again, the sights and sounds of the episode contributed just as much to the experience as anything else. There were a couple of nice throwbacks to season one and more great images of Atlanta in ruins. The opening flashback was saved by
      since using The Mountain Goats in a season 4 episode that shall not be named. 


      Conclusion

      While it had its highs and lows, “Consumed” was as safe as you could get. Nothing great but nothing terrible either. The worst moments were just “meh” and the good moments were just, well, good. Director Seith Mann gave us an episode that wound up in the middle of the road with little swerving. The actors went along for the ride but they are likable characters so it wasn’t that bad for the viewers at home. The biggest downside that hurts the episode was the lack of any real or surprising plot developments. Whether you enjoyed it or not, or don’t really care either way, it took us to a point we can all be excited for. That point? Rick coming back and attempting to save Carol and Beth from the hospital. We can always use more Rick.

      What did you think of the latest Walking Dead episode? Be sure to let us know in the comments below and give us your rating of "Consumed"!

      The Walking Dead "Self Help" Review (Season 5.5)

      The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode "Self Help"

      The Walking Dead Rebounds
      [caption id=attachment_1223" align="alignright" width="300] Tara remains an outsider of the group but she's trying her best to fist bump her way into everyone's hearts. A bond with Eugene is budding after "Self Help."[/caption]

      After a stumble last week, the Walking Dead is back on track following a solid character building effort in “Self Help”. I am not a fan of how the show has divided the main group and taken the approach of focusing entire episodes on each faction, especially since this was done last season and the group reunited in the premiere episode "No Sanctuary," but it’s pretty clear that the quality of these episodes hinges on how much you care about who is in the spotlight. After Sunday’s episode, I can say I am a fan of Abraham and Eugene and I was always a fan of Glenn. Maggie has been hit or miss and Rosita is just simply there for the time being but the trio of males in this group provide good tension, emotional back stories, and some much needed humor in the post apocalyptic landscape.

      The writing and directing behind this episode was solid and I enjoyed the performances put in by Michael Cudlitz (Abraham) and Josh McDermitt (Eugene). I really appreciated the humor that was sprinkled in throughout and I don’t think any other characters can bring that to the table as well as this group. What drew me into this episode and sold me was the use of music. Director Ernest Dickerson, who’s been a solid member of the Walking Dead team since season one, created an ominous and mysterious tone throughout and the subtle humming that persisted as the hour progressed was just plain creepy. It was the sounds, not just the sights, that made it seem like they were building to something big, and build they did.
       

      Eugene Porter Comes Clean
      [caption id=attachment_1224" align="alignleft" width="300] Abraham's wound on his hand is a constant reminder of his painful past and how he lost his family. As he breaks down in "Self Help" we see that his wounds dig much deeper than just his hand.[/caption]

      What they were building to was another key moment from the comics finding its way to the season 5 plot. I am a sucker for these types of scenes, I spend a lot of time speculating how they will adapt different aspects from the comics and they always do a solid job. I didn't expect this reveal to come so soon but it was timed perfectly. The tone created by the first 3/4 of the episode was perfect for what they wanted to reveal. Ever since Eugene entered the show, he was always a huge question mark. Was he telling the truth? Could he possibly save the world? In a very tense moment where Abraham was just about losing his mind, Eugene shouted out the answer to our questions. He is not a scientist, he is not the savior of mankind.

      After a very ballsy reminder to Abraham about how the two stack up intelligence wise, Eugene finds himself knocked out as Abraham’s trek off the deep end closes with the sergeant on his knees about to sob. This scene was a fast and furious roller coaster ride that created more questions and the episode ends leaving us guessing what direction this group might take next. I’m glad they bucked their own trend of throwing in a quick cliffhanger in the closing moments and instead let the progression of the episode come to a clean end that still left us wondering and wanting more.
       

      Self Help Final Takeaways



      I thought Abraham’s flashbacks were well done. Much like the flashbacks to the prison in season 4’s Finale “A” and Gareth’s flashbacks in the season 5 premiere “No Sanctuary”, they accomplished a lot considering how brief they were. As a fan of the comics, I thought they missed an opportunity to fully flesh out what happened to Abraham and his family but it was still moving and made me care more about this character which is ultimately the goal of these character driven episodes.


       
      [caption id=attachment_1225" align="alignright" width="300] Abraham had his morale lifted and seemed very pleased with the turn of events after a clutch save from Eugene. I can't complain about some dark humor working its way into the show.[/caption]

      Speaking of those flashbacks, the final one was a little bit of a letdown. Having Abraham about to kill himself as Eugene appears at just the right moment to stop him seemed very typical and unsurprising. Were we supposed to think Eugene’s attempt at running (I use that term loosely) from the walkers was anything else but silly?



      Another nod to the comics has Eugene creeping on Abraham and Rosita going at it, season 5 is following Robert Kirkman’s comics closely.



      The most light-hearted moment of the night actually came in a tense scene as walkers pushed through a stack of tires and attacked the group. Eugene taking them out with water from the fire truck was executed nicely on all fronts and Abraham’s reaction turned it into one of the most comical scenes on the show so far. If anything, I hope this group sticks around for a long while so we can keep getting moments like these.



      Conclusion

      “Slabtown” didn't create any newfound faith that the Walking Dead could improve on these character driven episodes but “Self Help” raised the bar to a level I hope it stays at. Taking into account the second half of season 4 and what we’ve seen so far in season 5, I would say this episode ranks as the best non-Rick episode of the “separated group” series. It didn't have much competition but it blew most of those episodes out of the water. I could see this episode getting mixed reviews from fans, as I stated earlier these types of episodes live or die on the strength of your feelings for the characters. I always felt Abraham and Eugene’s characters had potential and “Self Help” showed it’s there. Now, they just need to keep the wheels spinning.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1226" align="aligncenter" width="600] Abraham shows us it isn't so easy to move on from past pains and "Self Help" doesn't leave him in a great spot. How do you think Abraham will move forward after Eugene's big reveal?[/caption]

      What did you think of the latest Walking Dead episode? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to rate the episode!

      The Walking Dead "Slabtown" Review (Season 5.4)

      The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode "Slabtown"

      Poor Beth
      [caption id=attachment_1189" align="alignright" width="300] We were introduced to Grady Memorial Hospital alongside Beth who was put on intern duty in the episode "Slabtown".[/caption]

      I think it’s safe to say we all knew the highly tense and brutal string of Walking Dead episodes would come to an end eventually. I had mentioned in the review of “Four Walls and a Roof” that some concerns were created moving forward and while “Slabtown” did address a big one, it also confirmed that my worries were legitimate. The biggest question answered was "where's Beth?" I have no problem with Emily Kinney, she’s pretty talented, but she has to be the unluckiest character from the show. Episodes with a heavy focus on her just come across as lackluster, often relegated to filler status. I do not think this is because of Kinney, the problems go deeper than that. From writing to directing to plot, she isn’t given an opportunity to show she can carry an episode or even a scene. Her character was never built up to do that yet they tried it anyways. While I like Kinney, she isn’t good enough to put all of that on her shoulders and elevate everything around her to a higher level. To be fair, it's a difficult task only a few characters on the show could handle.
       

      Welcome to Slabtown

      The biggest draw of “Slabtown” was to introduce a new group of survivors who set up shop in Grady Memorial Hospital. It doesn’t take long to get a peak at the potential darkness contained in Beth’s new home. This was the one big concern they didn’t waste any time addressing. We saw Gareth’s demise in the previous episode which left us without a clear villain and threat. In one hour, we were given enough to know that there are some shady and outright dirty people taking care of Beth. I don’t care much for Dawn yet and she didn’t bring any great villainous presence to her first appearance like Gareth did. Gorman was set up to be THE bad guy to worry about, despite him being under Dawn in the hierarchy. This was what bugged me the most about “Slabtown”.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1191" align="alignleft" width="300] There wasn't much mystery to Gorman's character as he made it clear he wanted women and power. It didn't work out so well though as Joan got the last laugh.[/caption]

      I wasn’t a fan of Gorman or the performance that was put in. Whether this was the actor or director, it doesn’t matter because he was killed off swiftly. Why develop this character at all just to see him die so soon? Because it’s the Walking Dead and that’s what they do. These “filler” episodes have gotten pretty predictable. When I saw Gorman I couldn’t help but think back to the prisoners from season three. Many of them didn’t last long and it seemed painfully obvious that their whole existence on the show was phoned in. Much like the “
      ” guy from the prison, Gorman bites it (gets bitten actually) and it’s for the best. How it was handled wasn’t as rewarding though.
      Joan, who Beth found dead in Dawn’s office, turning at just the perfect moment could be seen from a mile away. Gorman’s pressure on Beth and his lollipop scene were clear indicators that the guy is a big awkward sleaze bag but it’s hard to care when you were just introduced to the character. Even more predictable was the faux tension created during the escape down the elevator shaft. Not only did Noah get a quick scare from a walker on his way down, he got another one when he reached the bottom. This was like the home run swing teases from the premiere episode “No Sanctuary” except there wasn’t much else going for the scene this time around.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1192" align="alignright" width="300] Dr. Steven Edwards, played by Erik Jensen, provides a good example of settling for what you have instead of taking the risk of fighting for something better.[/caption]

      Speaking of Noah, he and doctor Steven Edwards were some of the bright spots of the night. While neither made a big splash, the actors (Tyler James Williams and Erik Jensen respectively) put in a solid effort and they created the moments we’ll be waiting to see more of. Noah was able to escape and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of him while Dr. Edwards had a bit of a good vs evil vibe going for him. I didn’t see him as a villain but his current situation has him making some tough decisions that we can ponder over (see his tricking Beth into killing another doctor). We weren’t really given enough to get a good read on him yet but I’m at least curious to see where the character goes.
       

      Slabtown Final Takeaways


       
      [caption id=attachment_1193" align="alignright" width="353] Beth and Dr. Steven Edwards look out over the remains of Atlanta. An eerie reminder of the current state of the world.[/caption]

      Director Michael Satrazemis, who directed one of the better season 4 episodes “The Grove”, didn’t give us a great episode but he had his moments. The scene where Beth and Dr. Edwards have a rooftop conversation set against the ruins of Atlanta looked amazing and ominous, it really drew me into the world. The escape scene also had a nice look and feel to it. Beth’s shots in the dark and the slow motion break for the fence were the highlights of the night.



      While I doubt anyone was surprised to see Carol being brought in at the end, we at least got a quick answer to part of last week’s closing question. The other part probably involves Daryl finding Noah and returning to the church.



      When the group is split and we get these character focused episodes, it can really only go as far as the viewers care about the characters. I can’t speak for everyone but I only care about Beth because Daryl does, I’m not really interested in seeing her on her own. Maggie doesn’t even care about her.



      Conclusion
      The intense and horrifying ride finally came to a stop and while “Slabtown” felt like it would be right at home with the filler episodes of a season ago, we at least got some answers and the plot kept moving. We lost Gareth only to immediately get a new set of mysterious survivors that pose a threat to the main cast. Whether this episode drew you into Grady Memorial Hospital or not, we got our first look at a big part of the episodes to come.

      I’m sure the incredible run the show was on had our expectations too high for a Beth-centric episode, but even if I’m being a bit too harsh, there were still some clear shallow and predictable elements scattered throughout “Slabtown”. I wanted this episode to rise above “filler” status but it just didn’t get there despite some opportunities to do so. The momentum stalled out and we’ll be looking for Abraham to get us back on track next week.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1194" align="aligncenter" width="300] It remains to be seen if Dawn Lerner can be as charismatic and disturbing as Gareth or as intimidating as the Governor but she's public enemy number one for now.[/caption]
       
      What did you think of the latest Walking Dead episode "Slabtown"? Were we too harsh or not harsh enough? Let us know in the comments below and make sure you rate the episode!

      Walking Dead “Four Walls and a Roof” Review (Season 5.3)

      The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode "Four Walls and a Roof"

      The Walking Dead Rolls On
      The previous two episodes of the Walking Dead have taken tension and terror to new heights and they kept this momentum going in the third episode of season 5, “Four Walls and a Roof”. Director Jeffrey January opened the episode with a chilling comparison of the dead and the living as he showed the Terminus survivors eating Bob’s cooked leg mixed with images of very hungry walkers. Bob will be missed but he got his moment in the sun when he revealed to everyone that he was bitten and that they had consumed “tainted meat”. A great adaptation from the comics.
       
      [caption id=attachment_1157" align="alignright" width="300] After the chaos, the group still had to say their goodbyes to Bob. His parting words, while brief, reminded us all that we don't have to be shaped by the bad as long as we stay focused on the good.[/caption]

      Bob essentially book-ended the episode as he offered some meaningful parting words to Rick, coupled with his emotional goodbye to Sasha, to basically close out the night. It was hard to buy into Bob’s moments with Sasha, however, as their relationship seemed to pop up out of nowhere and their love was ending very abruptly. Seth Gilliam also gave us a solid follow up performance as Father Gabriel Stokes, his big moment was confessing to Rick and company what he had done and why he would burn for it. Another excellent adaptation from the pages of Robert Kirkman’s comics and Gilliam deserves a lot of the credit.

      While the episode sputtered a bit and hit several high and low points, it was hard not to remain on the edge of your seat as the night moved on. Rick’s conflict with Abraham was well done and it’s easy to forget the humor that Abraham and Eugene bring to such a serious show. On the other hand, we have another awkward moment with Tara who comes up with a self proclaimed great plan. What’s the plan? That she would leave with Abraham if he stuck around to help them one last time. Who could turn down such an offer? I guess she deserves some credit for opening the door for Glenn and Maggie to make the same, but way more enticing, offer that is eventually accepted.
       

      Rick Grimes is a man of his word
      [caption id=attachment_1159" align="alignleft" width="300] Rick proved he was a man of his word when he slaughtered Gareth with the same red handled machete he referenced in "No Sanctuary".[/caption]

      Sunday’s climax was possibly the most tense and brutal moment of the Walking Dead’s entire history. January threw a curve ball at the fans of the comics by having Gareth and the Termites move into the church after half the group left to find them. The camera slowly panned from one group to a center point where we waited for what seemed like an eternity until shadowy figures finally emerged from the woods on the opposite side of the screen. What happened next is a great lesson in how to execute a slow burn. Just gradually turn the temperature up until the water reaches its boiling point. Gareth slowly moving through the church was the rise and the bullet to his hand was the first sign of bubbles.

      The water was completely out of control and flooding from the pot when Rick delivered on his promise from “No Sanctuary” and absolutely slaughtered Gareth with the red handled machete. Rick had some help from his friends who dispatched the rest of the Terminians as the show jumped back in line with the comics. Some key players (mainly Glenn, Maggie, and Tyreese) watched on in horror and the actors all did a great job setting up and selling this scene. This was, by far, the highlight of the episode and maybe even the season so far. Fans won't be able to get this scene out of their heads for a long time.
       



      Four Walls and a Roof final takeaways


      We basically were given a three episode season premiere, it would have taken at least 8 episodes to unfold all of these events in previous seasons. Will this pacing continue?


      Even as a big fan of the comics, Gareth’s execution was surprising. I thought for sure they would switch up the plot to keep him around longer. His final scene was excellent but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed we won’t get to see him around any longer.


      Tyreese was given some significant character development amongst the chaos. He tried his best to get Sasha to stay with Bob and I must say, I agreed with what he was saying. I was kind of upset Sasha was so willing to risk missing out on her final moments with Bob just to get revenge. Tyreese stepping up at the end to finish off Bob for Sasha was also huge.


      It’s pretty common for the Walking Dead to use a quick twist to create a cliffhanger but Daryl’s return just seemed a little off. We’ll see next week how big a cliff we’re actually hanging from.
       

      Conclusion
      [caption id=attachment_1165" align="alignright" width="300] A small, but enjoyable, moment from "Four Walls and a Roof" gave us an apology only Sergeant Abraham Ford could give.[/caption]

      While a solid episode overall, I was left with some concerns moving forward. It looks like we are getting a Beth-centric episode next week which I can’t say I have much faith in. We are left without a main villain and lost a significant lingering threat for the group, we all saw how this played out in the second half of season 4. It seemed forced and even a bit silly for Glenn and Maggie to just offer to leave and take the bus with Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene. I was really enjoying the entire group being together and they hinted at some great conflict between Rick and Abraham. It was odd to see the new Rick simply be told by Glenn that he had no say in the matter and that was it. At least we got Abraham's lighthearted apology to Rick.

      Those concerns, however, are on hold until the rest of the season airs. For now, “Four Walls and a Roof” has season five batting a thousand. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to rate the episode!

      The Walking Dead “Strangers” Review (Season 5.2)

      The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode "Strangers"

      Introduction of a 'Stranger'
      The season premiere of the Walking Dead brought us an action packed hour full of mayhem and  emotion. Carol emerged as a legitimate tour de force in the walker plagued world, Rick did stuff….thangs, and everyone was finally reunited! The group was left on the road at the end of it all and the viewers were left completely exhausted. The follow up episode “Strangers” took a different, yet effective, approach to moving the story forward. It was a more character driven episode, low on action, but high on tension. These types of episodes tend to be hit or miss, often times dubbed as “filler” episodes when they are the latter, but “Strangers” avoids this with a focused and balanced approach and some edge of your seat moments. Let’s dig a little deeper into what did, and didn’t, make this episode work.

      David Boyd's Direction
      David Boyd, who has a strong track record directing for the Walking Dead, seems to have a knack for character driven episodes. The way he splices in tension throughout helps more than it might appear on the surface and he’s no stranger to a surprise ending (see season 4 episode Internment). He did, however, have his work cut out for him by taking on the task of balancing screen time between such a large group of characters. Similarly to the premiere episode “No Sanctuary”, most of the characters were just nudged along while a few characters stole the show. The difference this time around is the lack of action which creates a lot of space that needs to be filled with story and character progressions. This is an area The Walking Dead has struggled with in the past.

      This episode features recaps of all the characters and very brief reminders of what their story is. Rick shares a moment (albeit an awkward fist bump type of moment) with Tara, the elephant in the church. Maggie also comforts Tara and does her best to make her feel at ease concerning what happened at the prison. Tyreese wants to forget about Lizzie and Mika, Carol doesn’t want to talk to Daryl about what she has been through, and Rick tries to address the rift that lead to him exiling Carol from the group. This is just part of it and when you list all these little moments out, it’s quite a lot but each is a small piece of the “Strangers” puzzle.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1092" align="alignright" width="293] Gabriel's fear of the walkers, accented by a personal connection, put Rick and company in some deep water.[/caption]

      So you have these different sections coming together, but how does it all form the final picture? Boyd is subtle, but he did a good job creating a sense of tension that kept everything together. Teasing the hunters early on planted a seed that grew with each passing minute, waiting to see when they would strike. There wasn’t much the way of special effects in this episode, but there were some interesting water logged walkers about half way through. There were slow and predictable moments throughout but the hunters did indeed strike when all was said and done. They didn’t spend three episodes playing up the hunters, who ended up being Gareth and the surviving Termites. Instead, they brought them right back into the fold at the end and this was Boyd’s best moment of the night.

      The final scene, Gareth’s “A man’s got to eat” speech to Bob that was set against images of the whole group laughing and smiling is the type of moment that makes me lose sleep. Anytime things seem to be looking up in the Walking Dead, anytime things seem right with the world for a moment, we are quickly reminded that things are never right. We go from Bob smiling as he watches from outside, to Bob breaking down, to Bob waking up with a missing leg that’s being devoured in front of him by the man that threatened him and his friends just one episode prior. This scene was eery and surreal, it made me feel uneasy and queasy, and it was awesome.

      Boyd did get a lot of help from his players, though. Most of it from…
       

       Superb Acting from Episode 2

      Seth Gilliam stole most of the show this time around. It’s always fun when a character from the books is introduced into the show and it’s always surrounded by a ton of hype. This could be a bad thing, it’s not always easy to meet the hype people not involved in the creative process create but, just like with Gareth, they picked a solid actor to fill the shoes of Gabriel.

      What makes Father Gabriel Stokes so interesting in the books is the suspicions around him. You know he is hiding something but you can’t decide if you should trust him or not. First instinct is always to trust no one but Gilliam sold the part so well that you question it right from the beginning. His answers to Rick’s questions seemed impossibly true and they planted doubt right away but his love for his God and his fear of the walkers directly challenges your first impression. While director David Boyd deserves some credit for setting this up, Gilliam made the most of his first effort and sold the character.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1093" align="alignright" width="300" class=" ] The final scene of "Strangers" confirmed what we assumed from the beginning: Gareth and the Termites are most definitely cannibals.[/caption]

      While most of the characters only had to worry about being focused on for a few minutes, their reactions to Gabriel did a pretty good job creating that sense of mystery. Beyond that, a lot of the cast was on cruise control for most of the episode. The character that made the most of their brief time in the spotlight was Gareth, played by Andrew West. I don’t know what it is about him but his approach to his character just has a certain extra bit of flavor with it. He plays the nonchalant villain so well and his cold attitude towards the terrible things he and his people do makes him all the more frightening. At this rate, he’ll easily surpass any villain the show has seen so far.
       

      Did Episode 2 Keep up the Pace?

      “Strangers” is a bit slow at times but short moments here and there provided jolts of life in between the character development. The whole group being reunited will help the show’s pacing tremendously (more on this in a bit) and I feel we already got a glimpse of this improvement in this episode. The lingering tease of the hunters is anchored in the middle by a walker scare for Bob and Gabriel and “Strangers” goes into a furious sprint at the end with Bob’s capture, the Bob-B-Q, and Daryl taking off with Carol in pursuit of the car that left the scene of Beth’s kidnapping. This end sequence went at just the right pace. 
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1095" align="alignright" width="300] Carol and Daryl took flight in a car they found for an emergency that comes much sooner than expected.[/caption]

      What seems the most improved from the last few seasons is the focus. They didn’t make us wait for Gareth to come back, they didn’t make us wait for a development on Beth’s story. They gave them to us right away, sure they were brief but a little can go a long way and it’s a positive sign moving forward. Terminus was destroyed in one episode and it seems the group won’t end up staying at the church for very long either. For the first time since season 1, it seems as though there will be constant movement and the group won't be taking too much time at any pit stop along the way.

      Having a clear villain is also lending a helping hand towards the pacing. In the second half of season 4 we really only had Joe but he was just a filler foe in between the Governor and Gareth, his sole purpose was to push Rick into what he is this season. The Governor’s story was inconsistent and had lots of ups and downs but there is already some evidence that they learned some lessons. Gareth’s story, and its impact on the show’s pace, is off to a solid, yet subtle, start. I believe it will be more pronounced as the season progresses.
       

      "Strangers" Plot Shows Lessons Learned

      Tying into the pacing of “Strangers”, the best thing this season has going for it so far is the reunited group. My problems with the second half of season 4 weren’t due to the lengthy journey down the train tracks to Terminus, despite a strong feeling of “just get there already”. My problems were with the group being severed into so many smaller groups. It became clear that certain characters, who are great in support roles such as Daryl, were not great characters to lead an episode. The focus of the season was to DEADicate entire episodes to each sub group but it just didn’t work out half the time. Episodes that focused on multiple groups seemed jumbled and it was jarring jumping around when each group was so detached from each other. It was a novel idea but the execution left a lot to be desired.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1096" align="alignleft" width="300] Just one sign from "Strangers" that Gabriel Stokes is indeed hiding something from Rick and his group.[/caption]

      Jumping ahead to season 5, this problem is remedied. They can once again progress the characters at whatever pace is necessary because they can shift focus around to anyone they want. A few characters will get the spotlight each episode while everyone else takes a back seat but there's nothing stopping them from being nudged along the way. This episode is a solid example of how this could be executed in episodes that aren’t so action packed (which will most likely be the majority of episodes, as is usually the case). It’s early, but “Strangers” is a good sign of things to come but only time will tell.

      The highlight of the plot to "Strangers" is the introduction of father Gabriel Stokes. You can give all the credit in the world to David Boyd and Seth Gilliam but fans of the comic have to be pleased with how this part of Robert Kirkman's story was adapted for the small screen. There's still a lot of Gabriel to see but the set up was faithful and true.
       

      Writing Had its Moments. Cheesy And Clever
      [caption id=attachment_1097" align="alignright" width="300] Rick warns Carl that he is never safe and to never let his guard down. Gareth later proves the worth of this wisdom to Bob.[/caption]

      There aren’t a ton of highlights with the script in this episode due to most of the juice coming from its direction and acting. Rick’s “you are not safe” exchange with Carl and Gareth’s speech to Bob stood out as the biggest moments. They powered home the themes of the season, mainly "hunt or be hunted" and "never let your guard down". Gareth is just a creep but it's fantastic to watch. Gabriel’s lines worked well for how the character should be introduced. Bob and Sasha shared a humorous exchange near the beginning of the episode that worked well with the “happiness vs grim reality” bit the episode played up, although it got a bit cheesy with the kisses. You could have guessed right then that something bad was going to break up this relationship right from the start. Glenn and Maggie fill the love meter enough the way it is. 

      Most of the other characters were just recapping past events that we are all well aware of. It served as a good round up and reminder (still waiting for Maggie to care about Beth) of what position these characters were in when the prison fell to the Governor’s attack which feels so long ago now. The writing didn’t have to provide much of a punch in this episode to get the character’s wheels in motion but I feel it was a little shallow.
       

      Conclusion of our Review of "Strangers"

      While a bit slow at times, “Strangers” never seemed to stall. Jolts of energy kept the episode going until it reached a furious conclusion. The introduction of Gabriel Stokes was well done and we weren't left waiting too long for Gareth to pop up again. Director David Boyd even threw a curve ball at us by bringing back Beth’s captors, leading to Daryl and Carol going on the pursuit. Overall, it was a solid follow up to “No Sanctuary” that packed a few punches of its own.
       
       
      [caption id=attachment_1098" align="aligncenter" width="602] Bob certainly wasn't happy with the events of "Strangers" but he tasted better than Gareth thought he would![/caption]
       
      What did you think of "Strangers" and the introduction of father Gabriel Stokes? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to rate the episode!

      The Walking Dead “No Sanctuary” Review (Season 5.1)

      The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode "No Sanctuary"

      The characters of AMC’s popular zombie apocalypse drama The Walking Dead have come a long way through four seasons. It doesn't seem that long ago that no one had faith in Rick as a leader and he himself was not very confident that he was up to the task. It doesn't seem that long ago that Carol was content doing laundry, preparing meals, and getting beat by her sexist husband. In a two episode span, these two characters have made huge leaps into who they are, leaving behind who they were. This is the biggest take away from the Season 5 Premiere, "No Sanctuary."

      To be honest, I was not a fan of Carol before Sunday’s episode. With the exception of the second half of season 4’s "The Grove", I thought the Carol-centric episodes of last season were weak entries and I never seemed to care much before them either. The show does seem to have a problem creating powerful and respectable female characters. To an extent, they righted this wrong. I can say I am now a Carol fan. This was basically her coming out party.



      [caption id=attachment_998" align="alignleft" width="300] Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier from the season 5 premiere No Sanctuary[/caption]
      It’s not just because they made her an action movie badass or because she threw out the claws against Mary, it’s more than that. Melissa McBride put forth a great performance. She clearly has the potential to be a leader of this show, from both an acting and character stand point. I didn't expect that to ever happen in The Walking Dead when we had the likes of Lori and Andrea setting the precedents, probably the only two protagonists on the show that people were glad to see bite it.

      Let’s give credit all around, however. McBride performed admirably, but director Greg Nicotero and writer Scott Gimple deserve some praise, not just for Carol’s part of the story but for the whole episode in general.
      had me feeling incredibly uneasy and was the scariest moment from any Walking Dead episode. The special effects were solid throughout Carol’s assault on Terminus and the group’s escape that followed. All the actors were on the top of their games (the ones that needed to be there). The ending packed a blitz of emotional punches in a short time span. We had Carol reunite with Daryl and share a nice moment with Rick when he realizes he survived because of her help, we have Rick and Carl finding out that Judith is still alive, and a silent but moving exchange between Rick and Tyreese. And, of course, the return of Morgan at the very end.


      [caption id=attachment_1000" align="alignright" width="300] The most unexpected moment of "No Sanctuary" was the surprise return of fan favorite Morgan Jones.[/caption]
      It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, however. The Terminus butcher teasing two swings to the back of Glenn’s head only to be interrupted both times was predictable, although I was still on the edge of my seat. Many characters didn't play much of a role and only got nudged at best in terms of their development. While Tyreese had a nice moment of badassery that I loved watching in the moment, reflecting on it made me realize that it was actually pretty silly. I get that they were trying to paint him as a “good person” ignoring the fact that he has to get his hands dirty sometimes in this new world but to only tie the Terminus Termite’s hands together was mind-boggling. He and baby Judith nearly died because of it. In the grand scheme of things and with how well the episode turned out, these things could be considered nitpicking. If you have to nitpick for flaws then that’s a pretty good sign of the overall quality.

      As much as I loved the much improved Carol, there were two aspects to this episode that really put it over the top for me. Rick and the opening scene. I can’t speak for everyone but the Rick we saw in “No Sanctuary” and season 4 finale “A” is the Rick I wanted to see for a long time. I don’t want to see the Rick that gets his ass kicked by the main villain *cough* the Governor *cough*. I want to see the Rick that does whatever is necessary to keep his people safe *cough* Joe *cough*. No matter how impossible the situation seems, I want to see Rick delivering lines like he did to Gareth when he told him what weapon he would use to kill him. Rick had no legitimate reason to think he could get out of there alive but he had all the confidence in himself anyways, and I love that. Rick finding Judith was an otherworldly reminder of the passion and emotions that drove Rick to do the brutal things he had done. He deserved that payoff and it was great to see him get it. Judith could be the key to stopping Rick from becoming the next Governor or Gareth.

      [signoff predefined=Movie Review Signoff" icon="icon-quote-circled]To be honest, I was not a fan of Carol before Sunday’s episode. With the exception of the second half of season 4’s The Grove, I thought the Carol-centric episodes of last season were weak entries and I never seemed to care much before them either. The show does seem to have a problem creating powerful and respectable female characters. To an extent, they righted this wrong. I can say I am now a Carol fan. This was basically her coming out party.[/signoff]



      [caption id=attachment_1001" align="alignleft" width="300] Rick and Carl are reunited with Judith in a heartwarming moment that emerged from the ashes of Terminus.[/caption]
      As I mentioned earlier, the opening scene was easily the most terrifying thing I had seen in any Walking Dead episode. I never cared much for Bob but I really did not want to see him get taken out that way. No one would deserve that. I felt awful watching the first four victims get taken out even though I had no connection to them, minus Sam (Robin Lord Taylor) who came back just to be brutally disposed of.

      What really sold this scene for me was Glenn. He looked genuinely terrified throughout. He didn't have to say a single bit of dialogue to draw me in to how nightmarish this moment was. I’ll split this credit with Greg Nicotero, however, who used an Alien throwback by not telling the actors what was about to happen. Just like the famous
      in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic, they had no idea what was coming. Imagine if Steven Yeun had no idea whether Glenn was supposed to survive this scene or not, even though it is fake I think there was some authentic fear that came through there. This turned out to be very important because I knew, deep down, that Glenn wasn’t in any real danger. This was made obvious by bringing in some fodder to take out in order to create a faux sense of peril for those we actually cared about. It’s not the first time they’ve done this and it won’t be the last.


      [caption id=attachment_1002" align="alignright" width="400] Glenn almost met his end twice, did he use up all is luck?[/caption]
      The last thing I want to go over before the final verdict is two very brief scenes involving Gareth and the history of Terminus. The episode was bookended by two quick looks into Gareth and his group before they became the cannibals of the present. In just a couple of minutes combined, these moments really made me eager to see more of their story and how the show will present it moving forward. While they tried to create sympathy for the Governor, it was very hit or miss to me. They may have already topped all of that with much less screen time.

      All in all, this episode was a bit shallow and didn't try to balance the whole cast, opting to focus on a fraction of them instead. It was predictable at times but I don’t think anyone expected just how crazy things were going to get. This is a good example of how less can be more. I've had my issues in the past with how The Walking Dead approaches pacing and character development. Sometimes, they nail it like in the season 2 episode “Nebraska”. Other times, it’s completely botched, see (but not again) season 4 episode “Still”. They usually do a solid job on action heavy episodes but they still got in some great moments and progressions for a few of the characters. No Sanctuary, coupled with season 4’s finale “A” might be the best two episode sequence we’ve gotten yet in terms of combining extreme mayhem with character development.

      What's your final verdict on "No Sanctuary"? Rate the episode and let us know what you think in the comments below!



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