“I hate California, I want to go to the east coast. I want to go where culture is, like New York, or Connecticut or New Hampshire.” Lady Bird/Christine
There are many coming of age stories. They come in different guises. Some are serious (Dead Poet’s Society) and some are silly (Super Bad) and some are a little of both (Juno). Lady Bird is a little of both.
Lady Bird was born from the mind of Great Gerwig. Gerwig has developed a style as an actor that is quirky and funny and vulnerable. She started writing with her partner (romantic and creative) Noah Baumbach and starring in these films while he directed (Frances Ha, Mistress America). Lady Bird is her directorial debut and it’s as assured an effort as you’ll see. She based the script on her own upbringing in Sacramento, California and her relationship with her mother and you can tell she knows the time and place and these characters inside and out. Even though I didn’t grow up in Sacramento I did grow up in California, a small town called Ontario and I empathized with Lady Bird. I felt exactly the same way. I also empathized with Gerwig. While I wanted out of the small town I grew up in I’ll always feels nostalgic about it.
Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is a high school senior who prefers to go by the name of ‘Lady Bird’. She’s a quirky teen with bad skin and dyed hair and she longs to get out of her small town and be where the action is. Her mother, played wonderfully by Laurie Metcalfe, is not exactly supportive. Their relationship is the crux of the film and it’s very honest and real. Lady Bird’s father, played sweetly by Tracy Letts, has lost his job and the family is struggling to make ends meet. Lady Bird longs to go to a college in New York which of course her parents could not afford and enlists her dad’s help while keeping her mom in the dark. Meanwhile, she attends an all-female Catholic school and she and her best friend Julie imagine themselves living in nice houses and dating the cutest boy. Of course, Lady Bird and Julie will drift apart as friends do when one gets in a relationship and starts hanging with a different crowd. Lady Bird has high expectations of herself and what she thinks her life should be like and she’s determined to meet them no matter what. The story never gets too big and that’s good. It’s a slice of life, a character study, a coming of age story, all those things. But ultimately, it’s just a really good movie with great characters and performances that is filled with so many small touches that ring true.
Lucas Hedges and Timothee Chalamet are very good as Lady Bird’s respective boyfriends. Lois Smith (True Blood) and Stephen Henderson (Fences) are delightful in small roles as Sister Sara, the high school principal and Father Leviatch who is the drama director. It’s Saoirse Ronan’s show and she is terrific in the part. Laurie Metcalf equals her as her mom. Their scenes together are funny, touching and powerful. Gerwig has made a lovely film and I look forward to seeing many more from her. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll walk out of the theater feeling all the feels!
Look, Rick, I know you have this, like, big master plan to defeat The Saviors but, come on! You walk into the garbage dump to try and make another deal with back stabbing Jadis and the garbage people by yourself? Armed with only poor polaroids? And King Ezekiel, get it together! Jesus! How can you be so naïve? Daryl and Tara! Calm down! Michonne, Rosita, Aaron, Enid! Why do you all continue to venture out on your own without telling anyone. It never turns out to be a good idea. So, all of this is a means to create drama, conflict, suspense, I get it. But they should all be smarter by now. And there must be consequences for such foolish actions. I’m saying the trigger needs to be pulled, Scott Gimple. You need to kill off some of these major characters.
“Talks too much.” Jadis
Rick marches in on The Scavengers during arts and crafts class. Apparently Jadis likes to work in the nude wearing only a brown leather apron. He brings polaroids to show them that The Saviors are going to lose and that they should side with him. It doesn’t work. He is promptly locked up. They also take his clothes and shoes! This is on weird, kinky group. Are they going to now go to aid Negan at The Sanctuary? I’m thinking yes and that means they are going to run into………
DARYL, TARA, MICHONNE AND ROSITA
Michonne got bored sitting around, recovering from a serious beat down, decides she wants to go see The Sanctuary for herself. To do what? Lord knows. Rosita, also recovering from being shot decides what the hell! I’ll go with you! They hear singing and decide to check it out. They find 2 Saviors prepping a truck with speakers intended to lure the walkers away from The Sanctuary so the others can get out. Rosita executes the male Savior with a rocket! As my friends, Erin and Charlotte shouted in unison as we watched, “VAPORIZED!”
Michonne battled the female Savior but she is still weak and the Savior gets in the truck and starts driving away. But she didn’t get far because Daryl and Tara rammed the truck with their bigger truck. You See, Daryl and Tara want revenge. They don’t want to follow Rick’s plan anymore. They want to end it and every Savior in The Sanctuary. The four of them decide to join forces and finish the job. One of them must die for this terrible decision.
“I can’t be what they need” King Ezekiel
The community grieves and makes memorials for their fallen soldiers as King Ezekiel sits on the stage in the theater looking depressed and clutching Shiva’s chain. Jerry stands guard outside but carol walks right past him and tries to get Ezekiel to stop feeling sorry for himself and get back in the fight. He can’t do it.
“You can’t have wolves walking around amongst the sheep…it’s as simple as that.” Gregory
Maggie agrees to allow Jesus to bring the Savior prisoners inside the gates of The Hilltop against Gregory’s advice. In fact, she tosses Gregory in the fenced off prison with them. I actually felt sorry for him when she did that but he is a traitor who can’t be trusted. Jesus thanks her but Maggie warns him that she only did it to use them as bargaining chips. If they prove not to be worth any trade she will have them killed. It’s only a matter of time before they get loose and wreak havoc.
Another idiot goes off on his own! Carl finds Saddiq out in the woods and agrees to take him back to Alexandria with him. They come across a group of walkers and decide to take them on. I almost thought that Carl got bit! It would have served him right. It was a stupid thing to do. Let’s see what Saddiq brings to the table and how mad Rick will be when he finds out.
Carol found another kid, Henry, to toughen up. Will he end up like all the others? “Look at the flowers……..”
Gregory calling Maggie “Margaret”. He can’t stop being annoying.
This may be the year Daryl finally gets it. His thirst for vengeance will have consequences. If not for him then for Michonne, Rosita or Tara.
Aaron, who promised to take care of Gracie, has now decided to go off on his own! (Another one!) To do what? Lord knows. But that’s good enough for Enid! She goes with him!
The only one that is acting with a clear head is Maggie. But with everyone deciding to do whatever they want and leaving The Hilltop can she alone protect them? With two episode left before the Winter Break, I see disaster on the horizon.
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947) DIR. GEORGE SEATON – the one movie you MUST see on Thanksgiving. Adorable little Natalie Wood, the beautiful Maureen O’Hara, the ‘Ray Milland” doppelganger John Payne and Edmund Gwenn as the best Santa ever!
BROADWAY DANNY ROSE (1984) DIR. WOODY ALLEN – the scene where Woody and Mia are being chased by the nob guys and they hide in the hanger where they keep all the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade floats! Then of course, the wistful finale where Danny Rose has cooked up all those frozen turkey dinners for his clients in his small apartment.
HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (1986) DIR. WOODY ALLEN – the film uses Thanksgiving as a time marker for the story. I probably went to see this film 7 or 8 times in the theater when it came out. The most optimistic of all his films. Always gets me.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (1995) DIR. JODIE FOSTER – This is a little known one but a good one. Great cast! Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr have great chemistry. It really nails the family dynamic at these gatherings and it isn’t all pleasant as in life.
PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (1987) DIR. JOHN HUGHES – this has become a real holiday classic. John Candy’s best performance. Martin and Candy are comedy gold. Funny, sweet, heartbreaking and heartwarming.
THE MYTH OF FINGERPRINTS (1997) DIR. BART FREUNDLICH – another little-known gem. A typical indie film before they became typical. A holiday family drama with Roy Scheider, Julianne Moore, Noah Wylie, Blythe Danner, a great cast. This is the movie where director Freundlich and Moore met and fell in love.
THE GOLD RUSH (1924) DIR. CHARLIE CHAPLIN – worst Thanksgiving dinner ever! Classic comedy sound or no sound.
NOBODY’S FOOL (1994) DIR. ROBERT BENTON – not much to do with Thanksgiving. It’s the backdrop of the film but I include it because it has my favorite actor of all time, Paul Newman giving one of his very best performances. Kudos to Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith as well.
SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT (1986) DIR. SPIKE LEE – again not much to do with Thanksgiving but Nona darling does have her three suitors over for Turkey Dinner and it’s now being rebooted as a Netflix show. It should be interesting to see how Spike Lee has updated the story.
A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING (1973) It’s not a holiday until you watch the Peanuts gang celebrate it! I instantly reverted to being 8 years old when I watch them.
I saw Martin McDonagh’s play The Pillow Man on Broadway back in 2005. It was a tale of a totalitarian state reminiscent of 1984. It was scary, it was funny, it was original and it was incredibly well written. When he started making movies I was excited. His first feature was In Bruges (2008) with Brenden Gleeson, Colin Ferrell and Ralph Fiennes. It was a dark comedy about hit men and the accidental killing of a child. It was funny, sad, violent and incredibly well written. I guess what I’m saying is that I think McDonagh is a great writer. His plays and films are hilarious, very dark and disturbing. I like that. But not everyone may be into it. His new film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is all the above and more. It’s a great film!
The story is simple; Mildred Hayes notices three unused billboards on her drive home one day. She inquiries about how much it would be to rent them for a year. She pays the first month and the signs go up: “RAPED WHILE DYING”, “AND STILL NO ARRESTS”, “HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?”
The uproar is quick and furious. Her daughter was raped, murdered and burned seven months previous and the police haven’t found the people who did it. Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) understands why she’s so upset but he claims they have no leads. The tension in the small town escalates and things spiral out of control. Mildred stands her ground to the chagrin of her teenaged son (Lucas Hodges), abusive ex-husband (John Hawkes) and the racist Deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell) who seems to have no idea that cops should follow the law along with everyone else. I can’t say anymore because the twists and surprises are just too good.
This is a tough film. It’s completely open, not politically correct, hilarious and kept me on the edge of my seat until the last scene. I was laughing out loud throughout. The performances are all top notch especially Frances McDormand as Mildred. McDormand can play tough as nails as well as any man. She is badass in this film but she’s also an asshole. She may be right to act on her pain to try and get some justice for her daughter but does she go too far?
Sam Rockwell is delightfully idiotic and scary. Woody Harrelson is heartbreaking. I was delighted to see Clarke Peters (The Wire, Treme) show up in this! Zeljko Ivanek also turns in his always solid support. You’ve seen him in loads of films and TV shows. He was in the Broadway version of The Pillow Man and currently stars in Madame Secretary.
McDonagh is a fine craftsman. He takes a simple story and complicates it beautifully. The language and the characters are true and honest and may shock and make an audience uncomfortable. No punches are pulled here. It makes for an exciting and entertaining film. I expect to see many Oscar nods come January including Best Picture, Actress (McDormand), Supporting Actor (Rockwell) and McDonagh for Director and Screenplay. The Oscar race is on! McDonagh just lit the match.
OK. I know some of you hate Negan. Last season was a downer. Sure. But I love Negan! He’s a great character! I’ll admit things could have been handled better, his introduction and last season. But I still think there are a lot of interesting places you can go with Negan and The Saviors. This episode tries to go there and partly succeeds. Some of the dialogue is dumb and there are at least 100 references to the penis in this episode (“thick and veiny show of force”). Lots of testosterone! But, overall, I found it to be a very good episode filled with surprises. I just hope TWD pulls the trigger on some of these characters before the Winter Break.
THE UNNECESSARY FLASHBACK
“I like killing people.” Negan
The episode begins with Father Gabriel praying in his church in Alexandria. He prays for a fruitful death and that he finds his purpose. He is preparing for death but the show is also preparing us for his death.
We then see a sleeping Gregory being awakened by creepy Simon who has brought him pancakes that he made himself! Remember Gregory left The Hilltop to warn Simon and Negan about Rick’s plans. The scene is cute but unnecessary.
We then see Gregory trying to explain to Negan and his top lieutenants about why he came to warn them and to say he had no idea that Maggie was still alive. All bullshit and Negan knows it. Simon tries to back Gregory and Negan warns him about ‘back sliding’. My eyebrows raised but I didn’t think much about it until I was watching Talking Dead and Lisa Edelstein (House) theorized that Simon was top dog until Negan came along and took over. The reference to ‘back sliding’ actually made sense and added a layer of complexity. Maybe that will be explored maybe not but it made for an interesting back story for Negan and Simon.
The flashback ends with Rick and the gang arriving and Negan and his team stepping out for the chat that we witnessed in the season opener. Interesting but it didn’t really add much to the story.
NEGAN AND CREEPY ‘GABEY’
“See, I killed the widow’s husband and the ginger, but I didn’t get them killed. That was your boy Rick.” Negan
We then move to the present with Negan and Father Gabriel stuck in that trailer surrounded by walkers. These scenes are the best part of this episode. Father Gabriel believes everything happens for a reason and that being stuck in that trailer was meant to be. He may have found his purpose: to hear Negan’s confession. We get to hear Negan talk about his life before the apocalypse and if you’re familiar with the comic you will probably already know his back story. He talks about working with kids (he was a high school gym teacher) and tells Gabriel that when he came along this group was a mess, that he was the one to bring order and safety and therefor saved lives.
Gabriel finds a moment to take him out later. He grabs the handgun Negan took from him and shoots at Negan, missing. He then locks himself in a separate room. The following scene is like being in confession which the priest on one side and the penitent on the other, except here, Father Gabriel goes first and confesses his biggest regret. He tells Negan what he did to his parishioners. Negan responds to this genuinely, I believe, and reveals his biggest regret. He tells Gabriel about his wife, his real wife. He says that he cheated on her and took her for granted. She got sick before all the zombie stuff started and died soon after. He couldn’t put her down. That was his weakness. Gabriel opens the door and says, “You’re forgiven”, to which, Negan promptly pops him in the nose.
As they feel no one is coming for them they decide to make a break for it. Negan bashes in the head of a walker and they proceed to cover themselves in walker guts. He lets ‘Gabey’, as Negan calls him, keep the pistol and Negan has Lucille. They walk out amongst the throng of walkers. I mean, it reminded me of getting on the subway at rush hour! Gabriel trips over a walker and the jigs up! They start having to fight for their lives! They reach the stairs and Negan says, “Oh damn” as a bunch of walkers fall on top of them.
Meanwhile, inside The Sanctuary, Simon tries to keep it together but they know that someone in their group has been helping Rick. Eugene, of course, feels all eyes on him but Dwight backs up Eugene’s assessment of their situation. They are in a pickle. When Eugene goes to Dwight’s room to thank him he notices Dwight’s chess set. He picks up a piece but the pieces are still wet with red paint and he gets some on his finger. He sees this red paint on a bag that may have been used by the traitor and Eugene puts it together. Other problems arise when the workers come up to complain about the heat and lack of water. Simon tries to calm them but everyone thinks Negan is dead and they are starting to get antsy. But before things get out of hand a familiar whistling is heard. Negan and Father Gabriel emerge. His presence assures the workers and they all kneel before him. “Thank God for you, Negan!”, we hear someone yell. Father Gabriel just shaking his head.
Negan has Father Gabriel put in a cell and has a little chat with Eugene. He knows Eugene is smart and can figure out who the rat is. He assures him that if he does he will be well rewarded. If he doesn’t he assures him that he will kill him quickly. “I have your back, either way”, Negan tells him. Great.
When Eugene goes to see Gabriel to bring him some welcome goodies he finds the padre shivering and sweaty. Gabriel says that they need to get the doctor out of there so that he can look after Maggie. Maybe that was his purpose? I think he got bit while they were fighting those walkers. He wanted his death to be fruitful and getting the doctor out to help Maggie may be his dying hope.
RICK AND DARYL
Rick and Daryl find the driver of the truck still alive but barely. The Savior tells them that everyone at that outpost is dead. “Neither side won”, he tells Rick. He does describe the three survivors so Rick knows that King Ezekiel, Jerry and Carol made it but all the other members of The Kingdom perished.
They find dynamite in the Saviors truck and Daryl packs it into his bag with the intention of blowing up a hole in The Sanctuary so that the walkers can get in and kill everyone inside. Rick has a problem with that, though. The workers in there are no0t their enemy and he doesn’t want to put them in danger. But this is the ‘new’ Daryl. This Daryl is in the same mindset as Morgan and Tara. He doesn’t care about those workers. He wants revenge at any cost. He blows off Rick and plans to do it anyway. Here is where we get another shocker. Rick tries to stop him and Daryl punches Rick! His buddy! His bro! Rick ain’t taking that! They start fighting! Rick tosses the bag of dynamite back towards the car which is soon engulfed in flames. The explosion destroys the truck, the guns and the dynamite.
This does not mean that Rick and Daryl are okay, though. Apparently, there is one more piece of Rick’s ‘plan’ that needs to be carried out but he must do it by himself and on foot because Daryl drives off on his hog and leaves him. Will this bad blood lead cause real problems for everyone? The preview seems to set up further conflict over the ‘prisoners’ that Jesus brought to The Hilltop. Tara and Daryl seem to be up to something. I have a bad feeling about this.
UP, UP, UP……….A HELICOPTER?
Rick is walking along the road all by his lonesome when he hears something. He looks up and sees a helicopter! Whaaat? Is he seeing things? Where did this come from? Is this another group yet unknown to us? Rick looks completely bewildered. It’s a great twist!
He eventually ends up back at the garbage dump and that means he’s going to try and make a new deal with Jadis and The Scavengers. I don’t know. That seems like a bad idea. These guys can’t be trusted!
The photography in the trailer was especially good.
I want to see flashbacks to what Negan was doing before the apocalypse and at the start of it.
Daryl has gone loco. He’s going to get someone killed. Or maybe this season is finally his time? (Stop yelling at me!!!!)
I don’t think I want to see Eugene turn on Negan and go back to Rick’s side. He’s a formidable opponent. I want to see him help Negan and become like the Bond villain of the apocalypse!
“I see evil on this train.” Hercule Poirot
You know what I see? A lot of big name stars in a big deal movie! Based on the 1934 novel by Agatha Christie and the terrific 1974 film of the same name, this Murder On The Orient Express starts thrillingly before getting stuck in the snow midway through. It manages to get back on track to finish with a nice flourish and hint at a Death On The Nile sequel.
If you’re not familiar with the plot the long and short of it is this: A colorful assortment of characters board the famous train including the great Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. One of the passengers is murdered in the middle of the night and as the train has gotten stuck in the snow, Poirot is asked to conduct an investigation and solve the murder before the train reaches its next stop.
“My name is Hercule Poirot and I am probably the greatest detective in the world.”
Kenneth Branagh not only directs but he also plays Poirot. He is wonderful as Poirot. He’s a smug perfectionist who is amazingly attentive to details. And that moustache!! I have never seen anything like it in my life! It works as does his performance. The direction he steers the film is not as successful, however. He mounts a beautiful production. It looks great! He’s put together an excellent cast and he extracts some good performances, especially from Michelle Pfieffer. Pfieffer not only looks amazing but she gives an impressive performance as Mrs. Hubbard, a woman looking for another husband or at least some fun along the way. She makes everything look effortless.
“Your eyes linger any longer and I’ll have to charge for rent.” Mrs. Hubbard
I think what caused the film to frag in the middle is the tone that is set. An Agatha Christie novel is usually something one can finish in an afternoon at the beach or on a long flight. It should be light and move swiftly so as to get confused by the twist and turns. But this Orient Express gets caught up in too much seriousness. Branagh goes for something deeper than just a whodunit. He injects pathos, pain, regret, reclamation, a mourning of the soul. These are all worthwhile themes and obviously allows for me scenery to chew from the actors but it just slows things down.
Even with all that said, I did enjoy the film and would recommend it, especially for the performances of Branagh and Pfieffer. Even with its flaws its still a top notch Agatha Christie murder mystery with a top notch cast. It’s also nice to see a film propelled by story and good acting. Johnny Depp is fun to watch though he twirls his moustache a little too much as the villain. Josh Gad and Derek Jacobi are reliably good. I liked Poirot’s immoral young friend, Bouc (Tom Bateman). I hope Branagh does do Death On The Nile and I hope he lightens up the mood a little. He is an excellent director and actor and these big old-style Hollywood films are always fun.
“I’m not your king – I’m not your majesty… I’m just some guy,” King Ezekiel
The optimism of King Ezekiel was crushed at the end of last week’s episode when most of his loyal subjects were mowed down by The Saviors. This week picked up right at that moment. The King climbed out from beneath the bodies of those who tried to protect their king from the bullets. The façade of ‘the king’ fell away and what we were left to see was just ‘some guy’ named Zeke.
FALL OF A KING
“Thank you, your majesty, for being such a cool dude” Jerry
King Ezekiel, badly shot in the leg, is in constant danger throughout the episode, not only from Saviors but from his own subjects who rise as walkers looking to feast on ‘king’. One of his subjects who didn’t perish straight away comes to his aid but is also dispatched by a Savior’s bullet. He is then taken captive by a goofy looking Savior who plans to bring him to Negan. They get to a chain link fence and a locked gate and are about to get swamped by walkers when good ole’ Jerry shows up with his handy axe and splits the Savior in two! Gnarly! King Ezekiel tells Jerry he doesn’t have to address him as ‘your majesty’ anymore but Jerry isn’t having it. “Yes, I do, dude.”
CAROL IS A BADASS
Carol is back! I’m glad! I was getting sick and tired of all her belly aching the last two seasons. She spots the guns that Rick and Daryl were looking for last week. She takes out a passel of Saviors while inside the compound but once outside she gets cornered behind a car. She sees that The Saviors have loaded the guns onto a truck but she also sees Jerry and King Ezekiel by the gate and that they need help. She decides to help The King and allow the Saviors to drive off with the guns. How did she know who was zooming in a fast car towards their direction?
RICK AND DARYL DERRING DO
Rick and Daryl show up out of nowhere! They are immediately in pursuit of the truck with the guns. It’s a pretty exciting car chase. Daryl is on a motorcycle, of course! (A little cross promotion for his show Ride!) He even takes a spill! (a million women held their breath!) He was fine! He got back on his bike and took out the Savior sitting in the back of the truck with a machine gun while Rick jumped from his car into the Savior’s truck, shivs the bearded Savior and runs the car off the road!
SHIVA TO THE RESCUE!
The whole episode King Ezekiel kept shouting to anyone trying to help him that they needed to leave him and save themselves. But he is their king and they weren’t about to do that. As Carol and Jerry helped Ezekiel they come across a stream and some barrels leaking chemical waste! Of course, they also run into nasty mutated walkers! That is what ‘befell that creature’ that they ran into in Episode 2. Again, The King tells Carol and Jerry to go on and leave him while he fends off the walkers to buy them time. Jerry won’t do it. This is where King Ezekiel loses it! “I’m not your king – I’m not your majesty… I’m just some guy!” Just then, Shiva showed up! She starts pouncing and ripping into those nasty walkers allowing our trio to move out of danger. Shiva, however, doesn’t make it. She gets eaten by those nasty walkers as King Ezekiel watched on in horror.
The three of them make it back to The Kingdom and walk through the gates looking defeated. We see the flashback to the moment The King led his band of merry men out to battle full of confidence and smiles. Now, he returns with only two other survivors, wounded and bloody. His people gather to greet their king. The little boy whose father we know was killed runs up to him. The king puts his hand on the boy’s shoulder but there are no words of comfort. He walks off silently and sullenly. Will he continue to be ‘The King’ or will he re-emerge simply as “Zeke’, some guy?
I really liked seeing how Ezekiel turns himself into ‘King Ezekiel’ every morning. Nicely done.
Strong acting by everyone in this episode. The best episode, so far, this season, without a doubt.
Bummer to see Shiva get eaten but we knew there would be casualties this season. They’re just getting us ready by killing off the CGI tiger. Next up will be a character we know and love, right?
Now that Jerry survived this episode I’m not liking Dwight’s chances next week.
“You can say all the words: Lori, Shane, Andrea, Glenn. They’re all dead, and somewhere along the way … Officer Friendly died right along with them. Just like I did, with them.” Morales
Rick’s battle plan is still being waged going into Episode 3. The fates of Eric and Morales are decided but there is a break in the ranks on how to handle The Saviors who surrender. Mercy or Wrath is the moral quandary that The Walking Dead is wading knee deep into and while most viewers are probably saying “kill all those nasty Saviors!” a few of our heroes disagree. Though honorable, I fear there will be deadly repercussions to these mercies given. Who are the ‘monsters’? The Saviors? The Grimes Rebels? War makes monsters of both sides.
AARON AND ERIC
As expected, Eric was mortally wounded. Aaron dragged off to a nearby tree and Eric urged him to get back to the fight. When Aaron returned he found only a bloody tree trunk and no Eric. In the distance, he could see Eric, now Walker Eric, ambling off toward a herd of walkers. Aaron wanted to go and put him down but it was too dangerous and he was pulled back by another Alexandrian. ‘That’s not Eric.” Nope. But still, hard to see your lover turn zombie just wander off into oblivion like that. Poor Aaron. My friends are already shipping him and Jesus. Too Soon!
MORGAN, JESUS AND TARA
“I’m not right. I know that I’m not right. But that doesn’t make me wrong. I can’t be a part of this.” Morgan
As expected, some of those saviors made a break for it when a pack of walkers rolled down a hill and into the group. Morgan went after them and started shooting them only to be stopped by Jesus. Well, Morgan wasn’t having it. Morgan and Jesus engaged in a terrific mana a mano battle royale with everyone watching. Jesus prevailed after taking Morgan’s staff away. But he tossed it back to him thinking Morgan had calmed down. He hadn’t. He plunged that staff right up to Jesus’ throat. I thought for a moment that he had killed Jesus! But he didn’t. He then admitted he ‘wasn’t right’ but didn’t mean he ‘wasn’t wrong’. Tara agreed with Morgan. Morgan then wandered off, I assume to meditate and go on a walker killing spree to ‘clear’ his senses.
“I did not eat those pancakes!” Gregory
Gregory shows up at The Hilltop to find the gate locked and an angry Maggie refusing him entrance. She sees that he is driving Father Gabriel’s car and asks where he was. Of course, Gregory says he doesn’t know any Father Gabriel. Gregory is TWD’s only comic relief at this point so we suffer his presence. He pleads and begs and Maggie eventually lets him in. “He’s not worth killing….for now.” She tells Enid.
Soon after, Jesus and Tara show up with the Savior prisoners. Gregory adamantly argues against letting them in. (Oh, the irony!) Maggie tells him to shut up but basically agrees that it’s too dangerous. Jesus talks her into to it though. They’re going to keep them in the two empty trailers in the back under 24/7 guard. You know, they’re going to escape somehow and kill many people. Mercy may be too big a price to pay for savior wrath.
RICK AND DARYL
“I know who it was. It doesn’t matter. Not one bit.” Daryl after killing Morales
Rick and Morales have a short exchange at the opening of the episode. Morales, having lost his family was taken in by The Saviors and now he is a loyal follower of Negan. He tells Rick that they’re both the same, willing to kill for their people. Rick doesn’t want to believe that but before he can try to sway Morales to his cause, Daryl came along and shot an arrow through Morales’ face! Rick was shocked. Daryl didn’t care. The guy had a gun to his friend’s head.
Later, after the battle at the compound had been won, a stray Savior took a shot at our Dynamic Duo. Rick reasons with him. If he told them what he knew, where the guns had been moved, he would let him go. He gave him his word. The guy came out and gave them the info and just like that! Daryl shoots him in the head! Rick, again, looks stunned! Daryl has no mercy to give. These two are going to come to a crossroads soon.
KING EZEKIEL AND CAROL
“They probably have the numbers, but we have strategy.” Carol
Oh! The joyful and optimistic King Ezekiel is on a winning streak! They spend the episode outwitting The Saviors left and right, fighting guerilla style all the way to their destination: Their designated Savior outpost. All is well! Not one of their rank had been lost! But all good things come to an end. Just as Carol ventures into the building for a looksee, Zeke senses something is wrong. An ambush! Machine gun fire rings out and many of King Ezekiel’s people are gunned down. A group of his followers rush to get in front of the King to shield him from harm and are killed. I assume King Ezekiel is unharmed beneath three or four of his ‘merry men’.
Towards the end of the episode Rick emerged from the Savior compound with Baby Gracie. Aaron takes her and plans to bring her to The Hilltop for safe keeping. So, the big scoop of the week is this baby. In the old man Rick flash forward/fantasy we see a little girl we assumed was Judith. But if you notice, the stuffed bunny she was carrying is also present in Baby Gracie’s crib! So, the little girl is most likely Gracie and not Judith. Does this mean Judith will perish this season? (A couple of my friends have been mercilessly rooting for her demise since the prison!)
Gregory tells Maggie that he wasn’t the one that warned Negan about their attack, that he already knew. This feeds into the theory that Father Gabriel is a spy, a la Dwight, and has been feeding Negan info. Could be! (Again, some of my friends have been rooting for the demise of Father Gabriel since his arrival)
I’m worried about Jerry.
Michonne is getting a nice long break from the action.
Tara pointing her finger and pretending to shoot a Savior captive. Cold as ice.
Next week will bring the demise of a major character. But not Judith, Father Gabriel or Gregory.
The war continues. It seems the first four episodes will take place over the course of the same day as battles take place in various locations. Pretty interesting though it was a little confusing at first. Since they never made it clear what the plan was in the first episode you just have to figure it out on your own. Each team was leading an assault on different Savior outposts. Aaron attacked one from the front while Rick and Daryl took the back. Jesus, Tara and Morgan attacked a 2nd and King Ezekiel and Carol a third. You can see the themes of wrath or mercy popping up all over the place as well as the consequences of all out war. The body count has gone up immensely after two episodes and I don’t see any let up anytime soon.
THE KING AND CAROL
“Fake it till you make it, baby” King Ezekiel
During a skirmish with walkers streaming out of an Urgent Care facility, a Savior escapes! King Ezekiel and Carol and their merry band take after him. King Zeke is extremely positive and self-assured which concerns Carol but soon enough she lets out an ever so small smile and starts buying into his hopefulness. I think Zeke is crushing on Carol. Sheva eventually comes along and finds the Savior they were looking for and mauling him to bits.
JESUS AND TARA
Jesus and Tara lead an assault on the same outpost that they attacked during Season 6. This brings back bad memories for Tara. They encounter strong resistance but eventually take control of the outpost. They have a serious difference of opinion when they come across a guy hiding in a closet who has pissed himself. Jesus shows mercy but Tara would rather kill him. Of course, the guy was just putting on an act and takes Jesus by surprise. Jesus manages to get the upper hand but he won’t allow Tara to kill the man. He knocks him out and ties him up instead. When they encounter the last group of resisting Saviors Jesus asks them to put down their weapons and surrender which they do. This also doesn’t sit well with Tara. “Maggie may side with you but Rick will agree with me” she tells Jesus. Morgan also doesn’t see the point of taking prisoners.
“I don’t die” Morgan
Morgan is worrying me. He created a diversion at the fence and a bunch of walkers gathered where he was. He lingered a long time there. Then he told the guys with him “I don’t die”. As the actor, Lennie James, explained on talking Dead afterwards, he felt that that line was more like a curse. Morgan has survived while watching others die. He felt it was also a warning to his team that they’d better watch out because everyone dies around him. He ends up going on a killing spree inside the outpost which reminded me of how Morgan was before he met Eastman. He seems to be succumbing to his PSTD behavior now that he has started killing again.
When he emerges from the outpost he sees Jesus and Tara and the surrendering Saviors. He recognizes one as the Savior that killed his young protégé Benjamin. He walks right up to him and plans to shoot him but Jesus intervenes. “That’s not what we do” Jesus tells him. “Then what do we do?” Morgan responds.
I see Jesus’ point. Shooting people who have surrendered is execution. But taking prisoners doesn’t make sense either. Where will they keep them? How many prisoners do you take and how many guards will it take to control them? It’s the makings of trouble for sure.
AARON AND ERIC
Aaron leads an assault on another Savior compound and this is the biggest firefight of the episode. Pretty exciting though The Savior group leader, Mara, seemed tough at the start later looked panicked when confronted by one of her own soldiers turning and biting her neck off. Eric performed heroically but perhaps too recklessly as he took a belly shot and was dragged off the battlefield by Aaron. We don’t see him die but come on, he needs to. I don’t say that because I don’t like Eric but there needs to be some casualties on the good guy side, right?
RICK AND DARYL
Rick and Daryl enter an outpost that Dwight said was an arms stash. They go floor to floor but don’t find any guns. Daryl runs across a room that reminds him of the cell he was kept in when he was a prisoner at the Sanctuary. Rick comes across a Savior that almost takes him out. Rick sure loves to take a beating! He gets the better of the savior and manages to kill him only to find out what he was so fiercely trying to protect; not guns but a little baby named Gracie. Rick is shaken to the core by this discovery. The people they are out to kill are mirror images of their group. They are trying to survive against a perceived threat and they have families and children too. A good moment in a hectic episode.
MORALES? IS THAT YOU? WHO ARE YOU AGAIN?
Rick continues looking for the guns and comes across another room and picks up a photo and seems to recognize someone in it. Just then, a gun gets pushed against the back of his head. He turns to see a familiar face. “Morales?” Yes! It’s Morales! The last we saw him was waaaaaaay back in Season 1, Episode 4! After the attack at the camp, Morales takes his wife and kids and leaves the group. It seems he is now with Negan but what about his family?
Most people don’t remember Morales and others who do aren’t really enthused about his return. I love it! I think it’s a great idea! Why not? Most characters are either still with us or have been killed. Very few have fates unknown. This is a wonderful way to get some insight into things that happened that we haven’t seen and perhaps into Negan and how things were at the beginning of The Saviors.
The episode was confusing. We needed better markers as to what was happening where.
How did Sheva know who to maul? That is one smart kitty kat!
I like Morgan in Terminator mode. But how long before he turns against his own team?
“If we start tomorrow right now, everything we’ve beaten, everything we’ve endured, everything we’ve risen above, everything we’ve become …if we start tomorrow right now, no matter what comes next, we’ve won …we’ve already won!” Rick Grimes
The Walking Dead returned with their 100th episode and the beginning of All Out War between the Grimes Gang and The Saviors. It was a good season opener and it looks like the season is going to be action packed. You can see what the backbone of the season is going to be already. Everyone wants vengeance but how far do you take that? What will winning this war mean? What will it cost not just in lives but in what humanity is left? I think they are setting up the idea that Negan may not die when the dust clears and The Saviors are defeated. Could he survive to become one of the good guys?
There were rousing speeches by Rick, Maggie and King Ezekiel who laid a little Henry V on the crowd. Rick and Maggie talking as if by defeating Negan it will be smooth sailing going forward. Rick pledging to Maggie that once this war is over he will be stepping down as the leader and following her instead. I’m afraid they will be in for a rude awakening. Unless the show is ending this year, I’m assuming there will be something worse than Negan coming along. But, for now, we fight this war. And the war is just getting started.
The episode played out very methodically, plans being made but you really didn’t know what the plan was. Daryl and Dwight exchanging messages via arrow. Daryl, Carol, Morgan and Tara on a mission to draw a horde of walkers to The Sanctuary. Savior guard posts being taken out. Cars and the RV being fortified with metal shields, very Mad Max like.
Eventually Rick, Maggie, Jesus and Ezekiel drive their fortified vehicles up to the Sanctuary gates where they are greeted by Negan and his executive team which includes Dwight and Eugene. Rick tells them they have one chance to surrender and this was it. Negan trots out Gregory to say that The Hilltop stands with Negan. But that ploy didn’t work because no one at The Hilltop recognize Gregory as the leader anymore.
“The Hilltop stands with Maggie!” Jesus shouts.
And just like that, Simon pushes Gregory down the stairs. Gregory is so pathetic! Rick starts counting back from 10 but only gets to 7 before he opens fire. They shoot up the joint! Meanwhile, Daryl has been riding his motorcycle and settle off explosions along the way to draw the walker horde to The Sanctuary. Soon enough, they arrive as Rick thinks he has Negan cornered and wants to take him out. But Father Gabriel reminds him that ‘this isn’t about you’ and it was time they had to go. Only Father Gabriel sees Gregory and because he’s a priest and a good guy he decides to get out of his car and go help him. Bad move. Gregory takes off for the car and drives away leaving Father Gabriel behind. Stupid! Sure enough father Gabriel finds refuge and wouldn’t you know it, Negan is there in that room with him.
“I hope you got your shittin’ pants on. Cause you, are about to shit your pants.” Negan tells him.
My friends were upset at Father Gabriel and worried that Negan will use him to get Rick to trade with him or compromise but we’re past that (I hope) There is no more bargaining. Its winner takes all. Which leads me back to what will be the focal point of the season. How far do you take vengeance? Is there still mercy in these characters?
The episode plays with time as well. We see a future that is peaceful and happy where Rick is older, gray and walking with a cane. Judith is older and talking. Is this a dream or is this an actual time jump we’re seeing? We also see a third separate time frame. We see a weary, bloodshot eyed Rick who seems to be in emotional distress. When is this? In the closing scene of the episode Rick says something that will be his characters dilemma this season.
“My mercy prevails over my wrath.” Rick Grimes
What does this mean? Who is he talking to or about? There is a lot to ponder here and I hope the season rises to the level of what is being promised or at least to the ambition of this first episode. I enjoyed it and I’m ready to see some risks taken this season and expect a lot of action and death. Be prepared.
I really like Tara’s look and attitude so far. She’s chewing on a Twizzler and wearing funny looking shades and she has an attitude of cold anxiousness to kick ass. She reminded me of C. Thomas Howell in the original Red Dawn. She seems to be someone who has crossed over into a hardened soldier who is seeking revenge. Will this bring her to a bad end?
I like the call back to episode 1 with Carl walking down the road, carrying a gas can and looking into cars just as Rick did way back when. We even see Rick notices a young girl walker just as he encountered in episode 1. Nice.
Morgan is not on the fence anymore! He is in battle mode and he’s pretty damn handy with that staff.
Scott Gimple says there going to explore Negan more this season so I hope we get that Negan back story episode I thought we’d get last year.
We’re of and running! Welcome back Walking Dead!