Showing posts with label season 6. Show all posts
Showing posts with label season 6. Show all posts

Monday, November 2, 2015

TV Recap: THE WALKING DEAD Season 6, Episode 4, “Here’s Not Here”

Shock Till You Drop
TV Recap: THE WALKING DEAD Season 6, Episode 4, “Here’s Not Here”


TWD642 THE WALKING DEAD delivers a masterpiece of television with the 4th episode of this 6th season.

THE WALKING DEAD is firing on all cylinders this season, opening up its narrative, playing with timelines and space, pounding out suspenseful set pieces and offering a much broader, more epic canvas to paint its arcs on.

With that, this 4th episode dials back the dense story forged in the first three installments, with the horror of the Alexandria fallout and the death of a pivotal character (IS Glenn dead? Everyone wants to know!) pushed to the margins in favor of etching a somber, 90 minute spin-off film.

Indeed, this episode plays like a quasi-western-cum-samurai movie, with minimal carnage, maximum atmosphere and many wide, open spaces; a stand-alone 2-hander that is as existential as it is affecting, while still providing essential backstory for a major character and giving an actor the platform to deliver some career best work.

In this episode we follow Morgan (Lennie James, who is mesmerizing) and the origins of his stick of death and life of peace. The show opens with Morgan addressing the camera directly, an obvious substitute for another character who is left off-screen, to be revealed later. Morgan promises to reveal “every last bit” before the action smashes to the character having some kind of mental break in a blood smeared room, ranting at everyone and no one as flames lap at the walls.

This is the pre-credits set-up for what will be Morgan’s story, the bridge between his life in Atlanta first charted in Season One and his new existence as TWD’s resident zen warrior.

We see Morgan running through the woods, slaughtering ghouls with wild abandon. The KNB –sculpted corpses keep-a-coming and Morgan keeps killing (including one head pummeling shot that rivals that of Gaspar Noe’s IRREVERSIBLE), piling the double-dead onto an ever-burning pyre. In one horrifying shot, a not-quite-decimated zombie leaps from the fire to continue his cannibal quest before Morgan puts it down once and for all.

But it isn’t just the dead Morgan wants to destroy. It’s everything and everyone. Any living person that crosses his path is murdered with equal efficiency. Every stretch of wood Morgan wipes out, he uses a stick dipped in blood (in one revolting scene we see the makeshift quill inking up in a zombie’s stomach) to write the word ‘clear’ on trees. He simply eats, sleeps, camps, kills, erases and moves on…

When he finds a fortified cabin in the woods, a voice warns him to drop his rifle. The same voice also offers him falafel. Morgan, still in a state of singular, homicidal delirium ignores this request and continues his raid, that is until he’s clubbed into unconsciousness by the unseen owner of that voice.

The home belongs to Eastman, a man who lives a life of solitude and peace in the woods. He locks Morgan in a cage and hands him a copy of the book ‘The Art of Peace’ and prepares a vegetarian meal for him, while lecturing about how man was not meant to kill. He keeps a goat in his yard that he protects and cares for, defending when stray ghouls drift onto his property looking for a quick bite. At night he brings the goat inside to sleep and asks Morgan to be kind to his pet. Morgan responds by demanding Eastman kill him. Eastman shuts off the lights an goes to bed.

We learn that Eastman was, before the end of the world, a forensic psychiatrist employed by the state to assess prisoners and see if they were contenders for reform. He tells Morgan that he, like all of the murderers and criminals he encounters, is not bad, just suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and he offers to help Morgan and train him in the ancient art of Aikido,  to find a higher, peaceful purpose.

Morgan retorts by telling Eastman that he will kill him once he escapes. That he will do this because he ‘clears’; it’s what he has to do. Eastman tells him to reject such notions and it is revealed that Morgan’s cell was never actually locked. Morgan attacks Eastman. They fight. Eastman overtakes Morgan twice and, eventually, Morgan breaks down in defeat.

Over the span of days, maybe weeks, the two men bond and slowly, Morgan reconnects with his humanity. When a troupe of ghouls come into the yard and go after the goat, Morgan kills them, and, following the guidance and morality of his newfound mentor, buries the zombies in a make-shift cemetery. Even the living dead deserve respect and dignity…

Eastman shares more of his anti-murder philosophies while also training Morgan in his stick-wielding ways. In one poignant moment, Eastman promised Morgan (who, as we know lost his wife and son) that he will one day hold a baby again, which in the season opener, he did after Rick offered him a cuddle with Judith. But after a botched attempt to kill a zombie infiltrator (that is actually the ghoulified version of a boy Morgan previously killed), Eastman is bit on the back and, very quickly, the dream unravels.

With Eastman on borrowed time, Morgan continues his duties farming and protecting the house. But then the damned goat wanders off and is eaten by a sickening ghoul. Eastman is devastated by  this and the end of his life and the world he so lovingly created and passes on some final wisdom to Morgan before the zombie disease takes him and Morgan opts to leave the home.

In the show’s final moments, we smash back to where we began. As it turns out, Morgan is in the now re-fortified Alexandria and is relating his tale to the member of The Wolves he confronted last round. The thug is Morgan’s prisoner and Morgan is now attempting to rehabilitate this man, like Eastman did to him. But the killer is having none of this and calmly, distressingly reveals that he must abide by his code and that if and when he escapes, he will kill Morgan and everyone else, babies too. It’s what he is wired to do…

Morgan leaves the prisoner in shackles and re-emerges to the street. He hears a sound, turns and rushes off camera towards it and…
And that’s it.

How remarkable that THE WALKING DEAD used an extended time-slot to devote to this character and deliver such a beautiful, haunting piece of work.

This season is a masterpiece of television.

And here’s a look at next week’s episode:

The post TV Recap: THE WALKING DEAD Season 6, Episode 4, “Here’s Not Here” appeared first on Shock Till You Drop.

Monday, October 26, 2015

TV Recap: THE WALKING DEAD Season 6, Episode 3, “Thank You”

Shock Till You Drop
TV Recap: THE WALKING DEAD Season 6, Episode 3, “Thank You”



SHOCK is in shock after the death of a major THE WALKING DEAD character.

After the ballistic blood orgy that marked last week’s peripheral cast-culling episode, THE WALKING DEAD, episode three shifts its attention from the ruins of the wolves-battered Alexandria to the central super-heroes of Rick, Michonne and Daryl, as they lead a gaggle of dead-weight Alexandrian’s to help sway the herd away from the city.

Of course…there’s that damned horn. The same horn that we heard at the climax of episode 1 and whose origins were explained in the middle of episode 2.

As the zombie pack starts making its way toward the sound, the heroes splinter off into groups, with Michonne, Glenn, Nicholas, Heath and other assorted zombie-fodder Alexandrian extras along for the ride.

Daryl continues to rampage down the highway to the pulsing strains of Bear McCreary’s music, and Rick makes a sprint back to the slaughtered-ghoul wall where they left the RV.

The dead are everywhere. And we mean EVERYWHERE. This season is in fact the most zombie-heavy round of them all and it gives us a chance to pause and really admire just how bloody (literally) miraculous KNB’s work here is. It’s an embarrassment of amazing design and nightmarish application. Truly, no matter your take on the show, no filmed entertainment has ever shown us the living dead as expertly, imaginatively realized as TWD. We’re actually rather spoiled by how good this show is…

I digress.

In the Michonne/Glenn gang, one Alexandrian gets his throat ripped out, the other gets his back bitten. After the offending ghouls are dispatched, the unfortunate bitee acknowledges his impending fate but opts to soldier on anyway an help the gang. As they walk, we get to explore some of Michonne’s softer, human side as she tenderly discusses the soon-to-be zombified man’s wife. It’s a mildly affecting passage that further exemplifies the emotional core that has always been essential to TWD’s success.

Meanwhile, Rick continues his mad dash, finds a slaughtered survivor now a hot mess of guts and parts all torn asunder that Rick has to gruesomely pick through to raid needed supplies.

Glenn and the increasingly distracted Nicolas split from their team, with the intent of letting off a smoke signal when they reach their destination, leaving Michonne and Heath and a recently shot Alexandrian (as well as the chomped lad) in a pet store. Nicolas is breaking down, a condition realized by having the sound drop and a tinnitus-esque ringing take over the audio. Glenn tries to bring him back down to earth (“you’re not that guy anymore!” he says).

We know Nicolas will die soon. What we don’t know is how and what the consequences will be.

Rick makes it to the RV and is off.

Back in the pet store, Michonne hears a banging behind a puppy poster and suddenly ghouls spill out from behind a hidden door. The noise from the zombie’s groaning attracts the herd and in seconds thousands of zombies are at the store’s door. The gang escapes, people die.

At the same time, Glenn and Nicolas get trapped on a dumpster by the herd, who come at them from every which way in an intense, terrifying sequence. Nicolas goes deeper into his daze, turns to face his panic-stricken partner and blows his own brains out, dragging a shocked Glenn in to the crowd of zombies.

And Glenn is promptly ripped to shreds in slow motion.

There are those who swear that it was Nicolas’ body getting consumed by the dead and that Glenn may have rolled under the dumpster and will live to fight another die.

We don’t buy it. Glenn is dead. And it sucks. In fact, it’s going to be hard to forgive THE WALKING DEAD for a while. I feel like I did at the tail of Frank Darabont’s adaption of King’s THE MIST. Cheated. Like the show has contempt for me, the devoted audience.

With 10 minutes left to go, Rick is attacked in the RV by members of The Wolves, which he quickly lays waste to. But then, the RV won’t start. And the zombies move in…and move in…and…

See you next week!

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