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Sunday, February 25, 2018

[CAROL'S COMIC CORNER] Season 8, Episode 8 of The Walking Dead, "How It's Gotta Be"

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By Carolina Gallardo (@carolgallardo)

We finally land at the mid-season finale entitled, "How It's Gotta Be", an episode that follows the comic very closely...and then dramatically veers left, throwing comic readers and viewers alike for a shocking loop.

The episode continues from the point that Rick realizes the Walkers have been diverted from The Sanctuary and The Saviors have escaped.  He is picked up by Carol and Jerry, who all inevitably split up and feverishly run to each of the communities, to prepare for the inevitable retaliation.  We get to see each of the community's deal with the Saviors' wrath (The Kingdom being overtaken by The Saviors completely, The Hilltop having their weapons seized and a man killed while their convoy was on the road).  The most significant of confrontations being of course, the arrival of The Saviors at Alexandria and the eventual utter bombing and torching of the entire community to the ground.

To begin with the similarities, Dwight's betrayal of his fellow Saviors was accurate to the comics.  In the comics, Jesus is shocked to see that Dwight is indeed on their side, since he notices during battle that Dwight clearly turn on his own men.  This happens on the show, but in the presence of Daryl, Rosita and Tara.  It is to be noted however, that Laura, a fellow Savior, did notice that Dwight is the traitor among them and escaped.  So it remains to be seen what significance that will play in the future.

In addition, we start seeing how Eugene will likely aid the doctor and Father Gabriel in escaping from The Sanctuary.  This is similar to the comic, since it is Eugene and Dr. Carson that work in smuggling various individuals (including themselves) from The Sanctuary and back to Rick and crew.

But let's move on to the heart of the episode: The Torching of Alexandria.  Many aspects of Negan's attack on Alexandria are indeed accurate but were contrived from the comic slightly out of time sequence and essentially "remixed" to adapt it to the show's progression.  Originally in the comics, Negan arrives at Alexandria unannounced when Rick and crew are first concocting their plan against The Saviors at the church.  He gets everyone's attention by throwing an initial bomb into Alexandria and then proceeds to negotiate a "peace offering" by returning Holly, with a bag over her head.  Once she is handed over and the bag is removed, it is revealed that she is a Walker and Negan uses this diversion to stage a full on bombing of Alexandria.  It is only the arrival of Maggie and the Hilltop that forces Negan and The Saviors to eventually retreat.

This was "remixed" in the show's adaptation since that attack was basically split up throughout the show.  The portion of the attack that included the returning of Holly happened last season when Negan returned a zombified Sasha back to Alexandria and the shock of her being a walker provided an opportunity for Carl to open fire and a full on battle began.  In the season 7 finale when this occurs, Negan is forced to retreat due to the arrival of Maggie as well as the arrival of King Ezekiel and the Kingdom (not to mention that awesome attack by Shiva, RIP).

In the season 8 midseason finale, The Saviors proceed in bombing the living hell out of Alexandria after Negan and Carl have a fairly heartfelt exchange.  Once Negan realizes, however, that Carl is not being FULLY forthright and this part of a larger scheme to get the Alexandrians out of there before The Saviors could really do some damage, Negan is enraged and orders "Bombs Away" on Alexandria.   He does make it clear however that Carl is NOT to be killed and that anyone that comes across Rick should bring him directly to him.

Which brings us to the elephant in the room: Carl.  *SIGH* Where to begin with Carl...Let's start with the comic version.  In the comic, Carl doesn't play NEARLY as large as a role in this sequence as he does on the show.  In the comic, Carl is still very much under Rick and Andrea's care and he is by no means leading anyone anywhere.  On the show however, upon Negan's arrival, it is CARL who quickly comes up with a plan to get everyone out safely, as long as he can manage to distract Negan long enough, which he obviously does.

"I thought we were having a MOMENT you little asshole!!!" - Best Line of the Episode

That is however, where the similarities end.  As we all know, by the time we get to the end of the show, we find out that the reason Carl was acting so bravely in the face of danger, mostly because he already knew that he was living on borrowed time.  As it turns out, Carl has been bitten by a walker on the abdomen, most likely during the confrontation he and Siddiq had with those random walkers (which was honestly a reckless move on both characters parts).  He is clearly feverish and starting to succumb to his wounds and we end the episode with Rick and Michonne kneeling at his side, within the underground sewer system, as Alexandria burns to the ground.

To be clear, (*SPOILER ALERT*) CARL IS VERY MUCH ALIVE IN THE COMIC VERSION, TO THIS DAY.  With that said, this deviation from the comic is by FAR the most significant.  The death of Carl is a major departure from the comic source material and will also set up a LOT of questions for the future of the show.  Most significantly is the much talked about "Flash Forward" scene at the onset of this season that showed an "Old Man Rick" living happily with Michonne, Judith (we think) and Carl.  

But since we know that Carl will not survive, what does that mean for that scene?  It can no longer be looked at a "Flash Forward".  And if that is no longer what it is, then what significance does that scene hold?  In addition, there is the the question of what will happen AFTER the war with Saviors is concluded.  In the comics, Carl continues to have a very close (almost familial relationship with Negan) and the next major story arc is HEAVILY reliant on Carl and his romantic relationship. 

Without him present, it makes one wonder if this story arc might be skipped altogether in favor of moving into other comic storylines that may prove more enticing (i.e, that black helicopter, *cough cough*).  Many viewers/readers, would probably be disappointed however, since this is one of the groups/story arc's that many have been waiting for, almost as much as the eventual arrival of Negan.

At this point, all bets are off and we can only watch and see how the writers will choose to continue and eventually resolve this All Out War story arc, particularly in light of Carl's death.  Hopefully Sunday's mid-season premiere will give Carl the proper send off his character deserves.


Friday, February 23, 2018

[CAROL'S COMIC CORNER] Season 8, Episodes 6 & 7 of The Walking Dead, "The King, The Widow, and Rick" & "Time for After"

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By Carolina Gallardo (@carolgallardo)

As we approach the middle of season 8, we finally become reacquainted with our old friends the The Garbage People.  They are central to these next (2) episodes "The King, The Widow & Rick" as well as "Time for After".  In reality, however, they simply do not exist in the comic source material and therefore the comparisons are far and few in between in these episodes.

In regards to what was going on with other characters, and as was touched upon earlier, we finally saw the downtrodden King Ezekiel confess his depression to Carol.  He is still reeling from losing all of his Kingdom Knights during the attack on the Savior outpost where they were essentially ambushed.  Carol listens to him and emotionally pleads with him to not abandon his people and be the leader that they need him to be (that she needs him to be), in order to continue to provide this community with hope.

While King Ezekiel's interaction was very heartfelt and emotional, in the comic, it is far less so.  Since in the comic, King Ezekiel is in a romantic relationship with Michonne, he confesses his insecurities to her and she, well, punches him in the face and call him a p$%y.

Well, damn.
Not necessarily as warm and cozy.

Moving onto the episode "Time for After", we get more insight to Eugene and Dwight's complicated relationship, with Dwight very much acting as a double agent, playing both sides and Eugene acting out now as very much a Negan devoted Savior (likely out of fear).  Eugene inevitably learns about Dwight's plan to assist Rick and crew to eventually fully destroy Negan and The Sanctuary, but unlike in the comic, he does NOT join the cause but warns Dwight to cease what he is doing.  That is the extent of Eugene's threat since he doesn't have the guts (no pun intended) to rat him out to Negan.

During this episode, we also find out that there is a side mission being spearheaded by Daryl and Tara who want to essentially go rogue and crash a truck into The Sanctuary walls. 

This would allow the Walkers to stream in and effectively kill everyone inside.  They eventually carry out this less than well informed mission, crashing the truck and then fleeing the scene.

This bears some resemblance to earlier in the comic when Holly (Abraham's love interest), against Rick's wishes, crashes a truck into the Sanctuary but instead she is taken prisoner, killed and eventually delivered back to Alexandria as a Walker.  On the show, Abraham's love interest Sasha infiltrated the Sanctuary (rather than crashed a truck into it) and killed herself, before being delivered to Alexandria as a Walker, unbeknownst to Negan.

There are also some very subtle nods to the comic in this episode that pass by very quickly.  At one point, Rosita and Michonne are expressing to Daryl and Tara why they want to stick to Rick's directives and not go off on their own on this side mission.  Rosita very matter-of-factly states, "I believe in Rick Grimes".  

This is actually a HUGE line in the comic, as part of a major speech that Maggie delivers to The Hilltop community to rally them around Rick's plan during the war.

Personally, I feel that this line was wasted on the TV show and could have been better executed and given to Maggie in order to make her presence more significant (rather than secondary).  But oh well.

There was also a teaser inserted at the end of the episode, when Rick and The Garbage people approach The Sanctuary.  As Rick starts to approach one of the look out points, he notices one of his snipers hanging upside down from the telephone pole, being eaten by Walkers.

***SPOILER ALERT*** In the comic, this is precisely how Father Gabriel dies during the war with The Whisperers. He falls from the post and is stabbed by Beta (the second in command of The Whisperers) before being devoured by the Walker herd following them.

Premonition that The Whisperers are coming?


[CAROL'S COMIC CORNER] Season 8, Episode 5 of The Walking Dead, "The Big Scary U"

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By Carolina Gallardo (@carolgallardo)

In episode 805, entitled "The Big Scary U", we finally got the long awaited Negan-centric episode we've been longing for (or was that just me?).  This episode provided some much needed depth and dimension to our newest villain that added a layer of complexity to the character and, most likely, began the framework and argument for why the show will likely NOT kill him, come the end of the All At War story arc (much like what occurs in the comic).

This episode primarily centers on the dialogue between Father Gabriel and Negan, as they are trapped in what appears to be a General Construction trailer right outside The Sanctuary walls.  This is due to the swarm of walkers that has descended onto the Sanctuary after Rick and Team's offensive attack at the onset of the season.  Negan immediately disarms Father Gabriel (not like he was a serious threat, come on) and they then choose to wait it out until the Saviors manage save them (Negan thinks).  As they wait longer and longer, the trailer becomes a sort of "confessional" for Negan who decides to confess his deepest regrets to Father Gabriel, when it starts to look as if they may not make it out of this situation alive.  He doesn't regret any of the people he's killed but rather who he COULDN'T kill: His sick wife.  Apparently, before the Apocalypse, Negan was a married man, though admittedly a philandering husband, who was running around on his terminally ill wife.  Upon her hospital death, he could not bring himself to fully put her out of his misery, since at that point,  she turned, as everyone else at that point when they passed away.  Instead he ran and left her in the hospital.

This is his only true regret, and we see the emotion resonate on his face and he explains all this to Father Gabriel through the barrier of a door within the trailer.  Upon his confession, Father Gabriel opens the door and the two plot their escape from the trailer and make their way back into The Sanctuary (after, you know, Negan punches Father Gabriel in the face).

This background information coincides with Negan's history that is illustrated in the comic, albeit in a different format.

In the comic, Father Gabriel and Negan NEVER interact and this whole "confessional" scenario never occurs.  Instead, the reader learns about Negan's backstory through a separate number of issues that run parallel to the comic story line (sort of like when we all of a sudden got a Morgan backstory episode for example, like "Here's Not Here").  In those issues, we learn that Negan was a school teacher, before the apocalypse,  He was indeed married and although he loved his wife very much, he was not able to remain faithful to her, even through her sickness.  He is by her side, however, in the hospital during her last few days and moments and is there when she inevitably dies and turns.  Negan, stricken with shock and grief, cannot bear to kill his now walker wife and he leaves her behind (not all that similar to Morgan's situation with his own wife).

Oh and by the way, Negan's wife's name was Lucille.  It all makes sense now right?

Beyond that, though, there weren't too many other direct similarities to the comic.  Some of the fighting that we see when Negan and Father Gabriel escape the trailer and start fighting off the walkers can be compared to the moments in the comic when Rick's walker herd first descends on The Sanctuary.  In the comic, Negan doesn't get trapped in a trailer but rather fights off a considerable amount of walkers before being trapped inside the Sanctuary with the rest of his Saviors (much as Simon and his lieutenants are during the duration of this episode).  

Perhaps the biggest DEPARTURE from the comic source material is the TV interpretation of Eugene versus the comic version of Eugene.  On the show, Eugene is a spineless coward with moments of bravery but by far, most of us can agree that he is the weakest link.  In the comic however, Eugene is DEFIANT in Negan's presence, even as his prisoner.  While I have a feeling that we likely see more moments of bravery from Eugene, he will likely never mimic the courage that his comic counterpart exhibits.

This episode however was very much all about Negan (he is after all, "The Big Scary U") and, as already stated, started to lay the very important groundwork for humanizing his character and making a case for how he and Rick are perhaps not THAT far off in their intentions.  My thought is that we will continue to see more of this development in the second half of the season, especially in light of Carl's imminent death and the effect that will have on his conscience.


Monday, February 19, 2018

[CAROL'S COMIC CORNER] Season 8, Episode 4 of The Walking Dead, "Some Guy"

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By Carolina Gallardo (@carolgallardo)

Probably one of the best episodes of this season (so far) was episode 804, entitled, "Some Guy".  The entire episode is mostly a character study of specifically and almost entirely King Ezekiel, beyond the facade that we have seen. On the contrary, by the end of the episode, the entire grand facade crumbles until he admits he's not a strong leader but rather just "some guy" (hence the title of the episode).  King Ezekiel's complete collapse of confidence in the face of huge loss is very much documented in the comic source, although told from a different perspective.

On the show, we follow King Ezekiel as he leads his troops/knights (including Carol and Jerry) toward a Savior compound, continuing Rick's plan of assault.  King Ezekiel's immense confidence (dare I say, cockiness) at the beginning of the episode allows him to preach and pontificate to his people on how what they are doing is just and they will never be defeated.  By stark contrast, we are then immediately transported to present day, where King Ezekiel's entire army was killed by The Saviors' heavy artillery that was transported to that particular outpost (unbeknownst to all).  King Ezekiel survives, just barely, due to his people sacrificing themselves to cover him and he is inevitably detained by a lone Savior.

In the comic counterpart, we do in fact see that King Ezekiel and his men very much walked into a trap and were almost entirely all gunned down by the Saviors' artillery.  The difference being that in the comic, this is all being recounted and told by King Ezekiel to Michonne, since in the comics, the two have a romantic relationship.  King Ezekiel is overwhelmed with sadness explaining to Michonne how so many knights of the Kingdom died, including Sir Richard, his right-hand man.  This is different from the show since on the show, Sir Richard was killed by Morgan, in light of his role in young Benjamin's death.  Sir Daniel took over Richard's TV role as the right-hand man and he was one of the losses that weighed heavily on King Ezekiel.

The moments from the show that continue to follow King Ezekiel and the lone Savior (honestly, the Jeffrey Dahmer look-a-like, what a freak) are unique to the show and are not from the comics.  This includes Jerry's epic kill of this guy (pretty gross but definitely justified).  Eventually, we see how Carol rescues Jerry and King Ezekiel and the three of them wade through some radioactive swamp waters to try to escape the incoming Walkers (many of whom are the Kingdom Knights, now regenerated).  As they struggle to get away, Shiva makes a miraculous appearance to allow them a moment to escape but unfortunately, in one of the show's saddest moments, Shiva is overcome by the force of the Walker herd and she is devoured and killed, before King Ezekiel's very eyes.

I'm not crying, you're crying
On a side note, is it incredibly wrong that I get more upset when animals die on this show than the actual people?  Well, with exception of Glenn and Abraham of course.

In any case, Shiva's demise was very much pulled from the comics and this is what brings King Ezekiel to his breaking point in his discussion of the events with Michonne.  He is grief stricken with the fact that she always protected HIM but he could not protect HER. 

This sentiment is very much depicted on the show as well.  We see that King Ezekiel is completely broken by the time Shiva is killed and her death only serves to push him fully over the edge.  At the the end of the episode, the three return to the Kingdom as the sole survivors and Ezekiel walks past all his waiting servants in pure silence. Since in the comic, this entire event is told as a flashback, we do not see how King Ezekiel returned to the Kingdom but we can imagine it was in a very similar state of mind.

It should be noted, that the reaction and response of King Ezekiel's love interest in the comic (Michonne) versus his love interest on the show (Carol) are COMPLETELY different: Michonne punches him in the face and essentially tells him to "man up"; Carol appeals to him and pleads with him to remember he is the King and his people need him to LEAD.  No punch in the face.

Tough Love
Overall however, the show did an excellent job of depicting a monumental event in King Ezekiel's life during the War.  While some embellishment was made to "fatten up" the story, it was well done to add to the depth of King Ezekiel's loss.


Friday, February 9, 2018

[CAROL'S COMIC CORNER] Season 8, Episodes 2 & 3 of The Walking Dead, "The Damned" & "Monsters"

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By Carolina Gallardo (@carolgallardo)

Before starting this blog post, I just want emphasize the importance of rebooting your websites (whether Blogger, Tumblr, etc).  I made it a point to stay up until almost 2AM EST last night, after my children went to sleep, to finalize and upload this latest Squawking Dead blog post, only to press PUBLISH...and have the site freeze on me. Despite periodically SAVING the post, I'm guessing because I had the window open for some time, I must've been logged out.  Hence NOTHING SAVED.  So here I am, trying to recreate the magic from scratch again so bear with me.

In any case, in preparation for the upcoming Walking Dead, mid-season premiere on February 25th, we're going to keep going through each episode and comparing it to its comic counterpart, as a refresher to what happened and what could POTENTIALLY happen.  In this post, we're going to focus specifically on episode 802 (The Damned) and episode 803 (Monsters).

These were (2) episodes that pulled from the comic source material but in a very GENERAL way.  Meaning, that the overarching, consistent fighting and battle lines being drawn are heavily depicted in these (2) episodes.  If last season could be accused of lagging and containing a lack of action, the beginning of Season 8 was quite the opposite with non-stop action and firefights throughout.  This obviously is consistent with the All Out War story arc (some would argue on another level).   

A specific incident pulled directly from the comic, however, is the death of Aaron's partner, Eric.  Fans had been speculating and awaiting his death, mostly due to the fact that in the comics, he dies during battle with the Saviors.  In addition, the general perception of the TV version of Eric was that he was weak and feeble and not likely long for this world.  When it came time to kill off Eric however, it deviated from the comic, in the sense that the TV version was far more subtle than in the comic.  In the comics, Eric is shot in the head and killed instantly.  On the show, Aaron (and viewers) do not immediately realize that he has been mortally wounded until after the fact.  Aaron gingerly brings Eric under a tree to "recover and rest", and we are still not fully sure that Eric will die.  

It isn't until Aaron returns to the tree to see that Eric is gone, leaving a trail a blood behind him and in the distance, we see a presumably Walker-Eric stumbling slowly to join another Walker herd.  It was actually quite a poignant and well done end to Eric's life (very similar to the opening credits with the random Walker stumbling through the fields).

In addition, we had the return of Gregory to the Hilltop community in the third episode entitled, "Monsters".  This was also taken straight from the comics, with Gregory sheepishly and desperately attempting to return to his former community, after being rejected by The Saviors.  Both on screen and on paper, Maggie shows her own level of mercy by allowing Gregory to return, something that in the comics, at least, comes back to haunt her.

Otherwise, these particular (2) episodes focused more than anything on combat in order to relay to viewers how this is very much a WAR with various BATTLES that will continue until there is a resolution.  That said, there are some key moments during this war that occur in the comic and are in fact depicted on the show and we will of course, cover those in greater detail as we get to them.