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Sunday, March 25, 2018

[RECAP] Season 8, Episode 12 of The Walking Dead, "The Key"

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By Carolina Gallardo (@carolgallardo)

Episode 12 of Season 8 entitled "The Key" was arguably one of the best episodes of the season.  While many out there (including us) were expecting this episode to be merely a setup for the final battle (a "filler" episode, essentially), it was far beyond that.  It was action packed and set in motion many developments that will be hopefully quickly resolved by the season finale.  There were definitely some "suspension of belief" moments but the exciting developments far outweighed the critiques.

The episode starts off with Negan's men following his orders: Infecting all of their weapons with walker blood, in preparation with their altercation with The Hilltop.  They have been firmly instructed by Negan that they are only to maim the Hilltop and not shoot to kill.  This battle is meant to be a warning of what The Saviors are capable of and, in theory, they should cower and surrender.  We can see that Simon, Negan's right hand man, however is not convinced but he goes along with the plan.

Back at Alexandria, Rick and Michonne arrive and Rick takes some time to compose himself before gearing himself up for the next wave of battle.  It's at a quiet moment at Glenn and Abraham's graves that Daryl approaches Rick and probably delivers the most heart felt and longest monologue he's been given in years (for God's sake AMC, give this man more lines...geez).  He in essence apologizes for his impulsiveness at The Sanctuary but it was a coming from a place of just wanting to end this war for good.  Rick understands and they move forward with what to do next, but Rick doesn't leave without thanking Daryl for all he's done to get everyone here safe and sound, including no doubt Judith (IE. the John Conner of this series).

As part of the plan, Rick puts down roots at the side of a road to keep an eye out for the Saviors and to send out the signal once he sees them.  Finally, the convoy of Saviors come down the road (with freshly infected weapons) and Rick notices not just the convoy but that Negan is isolated in one vehicle at the back of the line.

Not quite sure why your leader would be traveling by himself in the BACK of the convoy but okay.  We'll just go with that.

Rick simply cannot help himself and he gets in his car and immediately pursues Negan's car until he manages to go down a random side street and t-bone Negan's car off the path.  They then continue a wild car chase, while Dwight and Simon stop their cars and ponder what to do...but not before Simon looks back in his side mirror with a smirk.

This is because during their car ride together, Simon attempted to pick Dwight's brain on his thoughts on this mission because on Simon's part, he had serious reservations on this tactic.  He felt that an endeavor meant to scare Rick and team was a futile attempt considering that Rick and team don't seem to scare easily.  The possibility that Rick could have eliminated Negan from the equation seems to embolden Simon to flat our recommend to Dwight when they attempt to "look" for Negan (honestly, I'm reaching here to even say that they made an attempt) that they should just cut their losses and move on.  To Dwight, this sounds extremely tempting: Cut our losses and just move away.  Not only does this save Rick and team, but it also allows Dwight a chance at a new life.  

Unfortunately, Simon, being the manipulative person that he is, takes the opportunity to leverage this in a different direction.  He proceeds to inform the Savior crew in tow that while they tried to look for Negan, he was gone and all that was left was some blood and an overturned car.  The Saviors are lost at what to do and Simon does exactly what he's been wanting to do: Step into the position of leader of The Saviors and disregard Negan's orders but informing everyone that to "honor" Negan they will now go to The Hilltop with a new objective.  That is kill everyone there until they can erase that this whole episode ever happened.  We can see that Dwight has made the realization that Simon is far more dangerous and psychotic than Negan ever was and we will now need to see how he plays into the new plan.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, Rick apparently pushed Negan's car off the road and overturned in front of a building.  Negan survives (of course) and runs into the building, with Rick feverishly chasing after him but not being able to land ONE SHOT.  This is one of those incredulous moments, particularly since we have to remember that Rick was a SHERIFF.  But hey, again, we'll go with it.

Once both men are inside the building, Rick runs out of bullets (of course) and proceeds to try and get Negan with his hatchet.  After a some back and forth however, Negan falls through the floor and both men end up in the dark (is this a metaphor?).

While in the dark, Negan states that he's still alive because he "is a goddamn cat" (GREAT LINE) and the two men go back and forth with comments while trying to orientate themselves in the darkness.  While in the dark, it is revealed that Negan was in the dark about something else: The events at the junk yard.  When Negan tries to negotiate a ceasefire solution (25% of all their earnings rather than 50%), Rick questions him on why should he listen to him based on what he did to the whole junkyard community.  It's at that point that we see the realization on Negan's face that Simon disobeyed him...and is likely in no rush to come and save him.  

Rick and Simon continue to do their back and forth dance of fighting (this time with a flaming Lucille), but in the end, Negan escapes out of the window...And disappears from Rick's view.

In reality however, one of the most significant things that likely happened this episode occurred with the women of the Hilltop.  Specifically Maggie, Michonne, Enid and Rosita.  While on watch, Maggie notices in the distance some empty crates with a flag and a note.  They go out to see what his is and they uncovered that it is a request for records or food, in exchange for "The Key" to their future.  While most of the ladies are skeptical, Michonne thinks it's worth investigating.  Ultimately they go and encounter a strange black truck with twin female soldier looking individuals guarding it.  Finally an older woman comes out in a very Hillary Clinton-esque outfit and style.  She introduces herself as Georgie and as someone who means no harm.  She has been watching them for some time and believes that her knowledge could be useful but they would like an exchange of records (music, no spoken word crap allowed).  Maggie is skeptical and they decide to bring them back to The Hilltop.

Once there, they have a bigger internal discussion on what to do with them but Michonne manages to convince the ladies that these people could really be the help that they need (even citing Carl's saving of Siddiq and now they have a doctor).  Maggie eventually comes out with crates filled with records (again, music, no spoken word) and Georgie changes the terms of the deals, for the better: She gives them food that they desperately need and "The Key".  This is literally a makeshift book entitled "The Key to the Future" with plans for building dams, bridges, aqueducts, mills for producing grain, etc.  Essentially the key to rebuilding society.  Georgie informs that she confident that they will be able to implement this and that they will be back at some point to see how they've done.

Now, there are a LOT of speculations on who Georgie and her people are but in my opinion, I believe that they are the same group that were in the helicopter that was flying over Rick when he was on his way to the junk yard.  To go out on a limb, I'm going to say that this is the government, scoping out the land to see what pockets of communities may have formed and which ones are strong enough and capable enough to rebuild society.  I have no doubt that this will be a major (and quite frankly exciting) story arc for season nine.  Oh yeah, and I'm going to say Heath is with them too.

But what happened to Negan?  Well, we end the episode with Negan coming in and out of consciousness in the passenger seat of a car...being driven by Jadis of all people, and who is driving while keeping a gun on Negan.  Negan comes to and Jadis swiftly pistol whips him and the episode ends.

What Jadis has in store for Negan is anyone's guess, particularly since she no doubt suspects that Negan gave the call for Simon to murder all of her people.  Unfortunately, it seems we wont find out their future until episode 14 (dammit).

In the meantime, expect episode 13 to be the beginning of the end of The Saviors and the start of the epic last stand at The Hilltop.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

[RECAP] Season 8, Episode 11 of The Walking Dead, "Dead or Alive Or"

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By Carolina Gallardo (@carolgallardo)

This week's episode of Walking Dead entitled "Dead or Alive or" we got a seemingly filler episode focusing on mostly Daryl and the now refugee Alexandrians and a Father Gabriel/Dr. Carson team now on the run.  At first glance, the episode appears to be a filler episode but there were plenty of Easter eggs that could potentially develop into something much larger.

In the case of the Alexandrians, our group is on their way to the Hilltop, the last remaining beacon of hope.  With Daryl is Tara, Dwight and Rosita and there is an uneasy alliance to eventually comes to a head.  Dwight has now completely turned his back on The Saviors and is fully supporting Rick's cause, however Tara is still incredibly mistrustful of Dwight and would like to see him eliminated immediately.  Daryl at least has enough sense to understand that Dwight is incredibly useful to their team but Tara cannot put aside her emotions to see this.  Which quite frankly is surprising and hypocritical considering that we MET Tara via her alliance to The Governor.  But I digress.

Eventually Dwight leads them to a swamp that if they can make their way through, they will be on track to get to the Hilltop as well as not be detected by Negan and his team, since the area was deemed "too dangerous". 
As Daryl and Rosita work toward executing all the swamp walkers (some with growing mushrooms...gross), Tara finally cannot hold herself back any longer and decides to take a shot at Dwight, forcing him to flee.  She chases and they find themselves hiding in a bush from a group of Saviors, patrolling the area for the Alexandrians.  Dwight eventually pops out and fools the Saviors as being just one of them and being wounded.  The group of Saviors is none the wiser and they all go off, Dwight having essentially saved their lives.  Daryl is livid with Tara that Dwight got away but Tara now realizes that Dwight can in fact be trusted. 
The group eventually arrives to the Hilltop with the news of what happened at Alexandria as well as Carl's death.  As viewers we do not exactly hear what is said, but we can read Daryl's lips and understand that he says the word "Carl".  We see Maggie and Enid eventually crumple to the ground, weeping at the news.

In another area, we see that Dr. Carson and Father Gabriel have escaped from the Sanctuary and are trying to figure out how to get to Rick and his group.  They are in a car but they are very much lost.  Eventually they stumble upon a random house that contains (3) very important elements that could potentially become factors in the future:

  • Antibiotics that curb Father Gabriel's infection (A possible link to a potential cure?)
  • A map to the Hilltop hidden in a piggy bank (Why the Hilltop?  And why would the map to the area be hidden?)
  • A ham radio (***SPOILER ALERT***: For those that have read the comic, I'm sure that many viewers' eyes enlarged at the site and reference to that ham radio; $20 says that that ham radio is affiliated with the mysterious black helicopter; Just sayin')

Beyond these elements, we realize that sadly Father Gabriel's infection has done serious damage to his eye sight and he is slowly going blind.  This is a sad and horrifying premise for existence in this world: How can one survive this apocalyptic environment as a disabled person?

Finding all these elements however, further makes Father Gabriel feel that God has a purpose for them and that these are all signs that they are on the right track.  It's interesting to see the dynamic between this Man-of-Faith vs. Man-of-Science relationship.  At a certain point, after Father Gabriel finds the strength to be able to miraculously shoot off a walker from an already injured Dr. Carson, the good doctor starts to come around to this positive way of thinking...until they are ultimately recaptured by Saviors.  In a seemingly act of suicide-by-cop, Dr. Carson grabs a Savior's gun which gets him immediately shot and killed.  They drive off with Father Gabriel weeping throughout the car ride back to The Sanctuary.

Meanwhile back at the Sanctuary, Negan is putting the pressure on Eugene to get his Armory outpost up and running and making bullets to replenish their supply.  Eugene is not working fast enough and during a confrontation when Negan brings him a captured Gabriel as extra help, Eugene suggests using walker parts as weapons (throw the bodies over the wall to the Alexandrians to slow them down).  Hearing this and seeing Father Gabriel's state gets Negan's brain immediately working and we can tell he's come up with an idea.  They are to coat all of their weapons in walker blood so that just a cut or scrape or touch with an infected weapon will be enough to do just that: Infect the enemy and turn them into weapons themselves.  He gathers all his men together and informs them that they will be utilizing the might of the walker illness to their advantage.

Post-Apocalyptic Bio-warfare if you will.

With all all of our heroes now gathered at the Hilltop, expect next week's episode to be action packed with many of our main characters on center stage.


Sunday, March 4, 2018

[RECAP] Season 8, Episode 9 of The Walking Dead, "Honor"

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By Carolina Gallardo (@carolgallardo)

Well, we all knew it was coming.  We had (2) months to prepare ourselves for it.  But when the time came, the emotional impact was still felt.  The Walking Dead's mid-season premiere, entitled "Honor" did exactly that:  It honored the life and contributions of Rick Grimes' son, Carl Grimes.  The episode actually explored a few story lines simultaneously, including further exploration of the "Flash Forwards" so let's get into it.

We start the episode going back into the past, before The Saviors arrived and torched Alexandria.  This gives us the opportunity to see HOW exactly The Saviors escaped The Sanctuary and diverted the walkers (FYI, they employed the use of The Fat Lady) and, in relation, how Morgan inevitably found himself at The Kingdom.

As we last left off, Ezekiel is being held by Gavin and his Savior outpost that is most closely affiliated with The Kingdom.  Ezekiel keeps trying to impart some wisdom on Gavin, in an attempt to reach him and offer him a way out of this situation.  Gavin speaks to him as if this IS the only way and that Negan will inevitably win, so they have no choice other than to lead him to certain death (but with a pillow so that he's not, you know, uncomfortable).  You keep getting the impression that Gavin doesn't REALLY want to do this but his fear of the unknown far outweighs his desire to venture out on on his moral conscience.  

He doesn't have much time to really think about this however, since Carol and Morgan are at the Kingdom's doorstep and it doesn't take very long for them to make quick work of these Saviors.  This is particularly the case with Morgan, who kills his victims in some of the most brutal ways we've seen, including, literally reaching into a man's open wound and pulling out his intestines.

The Dream Team...or Nightmare

I honestly can't believe I just wrote that, but yes, that really did happen.  Word for Word.

Inevitably it becomes a showdown between Morgan and Gavin, and Morgan's morality is fiercely tested.  We can see him torn and unsure of what to do.  After much deliberation, he finally decides that he MUST kill Gavin....only to have the task handled by Henry, the brother of Benjamin (the Kingdom knight killed by this particular Savior Outpost).  This shakes him to his core and will likely have future repercussions on how he chooses to move forward.

The real heart of the story however, is of course, is the death of Carl.  One might say that this death was perhaps a little TOO dragged out, since we spend a good 90 minutes on his demise, ultimately succumbing to his walker bite toward the tail end of the episode.  At one point, I think I thought to myself, oh my God, are we not going to get to this death in this episode?  But we do (thank God).

We get a complete picture of Carl's last day(s), starting with the WHEN and WHERE did the walker bite occur.  As most of us suspected, the bite occurred during his scrimmage with Siddiq and the walkers that overcame them.  From that point, we see Carl comes to terms of the inevitable fact that he will soon be passing away from this: He puts on a clean shirt, spends some adorable brother/sister time with Judith, writes letters to all his loved ones (my suspicion is that those letters will cast a tone over the rest of the season, not to mention that one those letters could have potentially been written to Negan himself), and helps get Siddiq situated, before he is gone.  

We then join Carl where we last left off, in the sewers with Michonne and Rick.  They are notably shocked at Carl's wound but with the Saviors bombing Alexandria, they ultimately have nowhere to go and nothing to do, other than make Carl's final moments as comfortable as possible.  Carl's final moments alive are filled with wisdom, including some thoughts that he imparts on Judith, before she is taken away by Daryl (Daryl gives Carl credit on saving everyone but geez, I kind of thought they would have more of a MOMENT you know?).  He informed her that he wasn't able to beat this world, but SHE will.

Do you think that's the end of the show?  Judith walking the wasteland, the future leader of humankind (aka, like John Conner, Terminator 2)?  Something to think about it...

We also get an amazing heartfelt monologue from Siddiq, who we learn was a medical resident before the apocalypse (I'm thinking he's going to be sticking around for awhile), but he also says that he will spend the rest of his days honoring Carl, and everything that he believes in.  Carl spends the rest of HIS time on earth in an attempt to talk Rick out of his current wrathful state even as far, as walking him through his fantasy...aka, the "Flash Forwards".  We come to realize that those images were all the visions that Carl pictured, in his ideal world, including an adorable Judith greeting a now farmer Negan, tending to their crops. 

Does this mean that this is NOT a representation of the future?  Not necessarily.  By explaining that these visions are Carl's visions, but with Rick adamantly promising that he will "make them real" it opens the door to a VERSION of Carl's future.  I still feel that we will get a time jump and see a future Alexandria that is rebuilt and thriving...but you know, Negan may not be picking strawberries with them in the fields.

As Carl's condition worsens, Rick and Michonne opt to bring him to a nearby blown out church in order to lay him down to rest.  One of the big looming questions leading into this episode was who would put down Carl?  Will it be Rick or Michonne or someone else altogether?  As it turns out, Carl had the maturity and the sensitivity to decide to shoot himself and spare his closest loved ones from having to do the unthinkable.  The scene when Rick and Michonne are standing outside waiting and we see their devastation when we hear the singular gunshot, was as painful to watch as viewers.  We didn't need to SEE the action, to feel the impact.

At this point, we see Rick and Michonne digging Carl's grave but we also see again the same future bleary eyed Rick from the (not so distant) future.  We see that he is alone and sitting under a tree with stained glass panels hanging from the branches, muttering, "My mercy prevailed over my wrath".  He is also nursing a nasty bloody wound on the right side of his body.

So what does this all mean?  Clearly we are slowly but surely marching to the answer to that question.  Here's hoping we get to the answer BEFORE the season finale.