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Sunday, July 16, 2023

People Are A Resource |1x03| The Walking Dead: Dead City

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Santa's going to have a tough time figuring out, relatively speaking of course, who's been naughty or nice! As more of The Croat 's origin is revealed amidst Marshall Pearlie Armstrong cracking, Maggie Rhee might slowly be breaking bad while Negan is doing his darndest not to...Negan.
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David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:

  • Rachael was turned into a doll - in the style of our recently commissioned (by Aliza Jones) art by Kirk Manley - by Sherrandy's mom, who has super talented crocheting skills. If you'd like to commission your own doll (e.g, Eugene Porter, Alpha, June Dorie, or Michonne), either DM Sherrandy's social media accounts or head here!

  • Lois tips us during the stream, helping us reaching 81% of our goal towards funding our yearly expenses!

  • There's a new logo and art design in our merch store modeled after our TWD: Dead City podcast discussions! Check them out!

  • Have you been watching the promos for The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon? Dave couldn't because he was backlogged on podcast work since he was part of his friend's wedding party in Rhode Island. There's a lot of b-roll scenery, some voiceover about being from The Commonwealth, and navigating Marseille and different areas of France - which may or may not even appear on the series. Excellent cinematography already, but The Walking Dead Universe is no stranger to that.
  • Rachael thought the episode was good, but it was a rough watch for her because she had to watch it at work. Dave is having a hard time balancing the ledger of characters who have been good or bad - everyone is pretty shitty and, to borrow a Rachaelism, just wants the good guys to be good and bad guys to be bad. Doesn't make it any less compelling, but still. Sherrandy enjoys the gray area these characters inhabit, this episode being one of her favorites so far.

  • Everyone particularly enjoyed farmer Negan - with signature, yet peacoat-like leather jacket. The flashback scenes in particular, the color grading and saturation was pretty stunning, specifically the absence of red. You really notice it in the greenish-blue mouth of the first zombie in that scene. Why the absence of red might be is because Negan and Morgan both see red when they are angry and Ginny represents a calm and centered part of Negan's life, surrounded by green. There are red elements in the arena, The Croat's space heater, and occasional muted reds when zombies appear. Though the absence of red in all of Ginny scenes is noticeable and may even indicate something about her character, some speculate whether Ginny is trustworthy and may even be working against Negan. We wonder whether she will ever speak on the series and what her first words might be.

  • Cowboy Negan loses his cool with Ginny in the flashback, but he reigns it in. Bridget admits to having a bad temper that is amplified by certain triggers. Negan's initial outburst towards Ginny reminded her of her own father's temper and how she doesn't want to live a life filled with anger and regrets like he did. She's learned to control her temper over time, but occasionally still has similar outbursts, particularly with her husband who thinks they are unproductive. Negan's frustration is that of a parent-figure just trying to take care of a child in a dangerous world.

  • Instead of apologizing to her, Negan simply redirects and shifts his perspective to find another way forward, which shows his ability to read people. Is he a better parent than Maggie, though? It's hard to judge parenting skills given the life-and-death situations they continue to be in and Maggie is doing her best to raise a moody teenager. After all, Rachael said Hershel Rhee was being stupid and didn't listen to Maggie, leading to his capture: kids think they are invincible and parents need to scare them into listening. It's even possible that Maggie's parenting style may not be working with Hershel: he may have seen or experienced things that have caused him to lose trust in Maggie (like allowing his father's killer to roam freely about this world) or feels like he can never measure up to either of his bad-ass parents and therefore doesn't see the point in trying. When The Croat attacked, he was probably frustrated with feeling useless and wanted to do something, even with the lack of training (and using just a brick and shovel as weapons).

  • After Marshal Pearlie Armstrong's walker cage fight, The Croat mentions his distaste towards barbarism, however necessary, which is exactly what Armstrong says to Marshal-in-training, Jano, in the first episode just after executing the barkeep for aiding and abetting. New Babylon Federation and The Sanctuary are similar in that the inmates running the asylum are performing barbarous acts to maintain order. It's even emblematic in the way The Magistrate and his 4 friends felt emboldened, due to his position of power, to savage Annie Smith. The Croat puts a fine point on this when, earlier, he points at Armstrong with his fork and says, "Above all - in this vicious, monstrous world - we must stay safe."

  • Though nobody is interested in receiving The Croat's backstory, for fear they may soften on the bad guy they so desire to hate, the knowledge that his family was eaten right in front of him helped us understand his cruelty and why he regards human beings as expendable: after all, they are a literal resource (fuel). Extracting methane from the dead reminded Bridget of the following movies: Water World, Tank Girl, and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. It actually reminded Dave of The Whispers and how people simply ascended to become Guardians after they turn.

  • Important safety tips: Bridget goes on a tangent of methane being a better alternative fuel-source  to gasoline. Dave mentions the gas shortages in the late 70s and how automobile companies were scrambling to construct alternative fuel cars that ran on cheaper, alcohol-based fuels like ethanol and methanol. This brings us to the huffing of methane, commonly called jenkem, which is typically produced by fermenting human waste. Jenkem, though somewhat rare, can cause visual and auditory hallucinations, but  definitely results in slow response times, clumsiness, and blurred vision. Some claim jenkem provides a cheaper and better high than cannabis. It numbs pain and sadness for a short period of time, but excessive use can cause permanent heart and brain damage.

  • The arena scene was intense and we loved that Pearlie had to dig out the key to his handcuffs from within the walker he had just decapitated. It reminded us of a particular scene on The Walking Dead (3x15) involving Merle Dixon dragging around a Michonne bound by telephone cord, which is eventually used to decapitate a walker, as well. One bone to pick that Dave surprisingly had was why the walker wasn't attracted more by the noisy crowd howling just outside cage during a fight. It could be the Sanjay effect (Fear The Walking Dead 6x02 Welcome to the Club) and that Armstrong may have had an open wound, which walkers are attracted to most - the fresh smell of blood.

  • The Croatian song that played during the scene where The Croat prepares to dine on Pašticada with Armstrong is called Proplakat će zora (which means Dawn Will Cry). It's about a man heartbroken over the loss of his love to a man of greater means to live a life of safety/comfort over meaning. This may have greater significance to many characters than we even realize, not necessarily (or even just) The Croat.
  • When the server - whose walker head, later on, is forcibly removed from their body in the arena by Pearlie - is accused of not inspecting the meat for maggots, we suspect it never mattered whether it was or wasn't his fault as The Croat killed him senselessly to make a point to The Marshal. It highlights the differences between a kinda bad guy, like Negan (who had his reasons), and a truly bad guy, like The Croat. The differences in camera stability in this scene, when its pointing at Armstrong versus the jostling of the camera, when its pointed at The Croat, reflects the differences in their respective character's stability, too. We made a couple of remarks, both facetious and serious, as it pertains to the presence of the maggot in the meat: we all agree that it was there, but probably wasn't the server's responsibility (even though he paid the price).

  • We turn our attention to Negan and Luther's scene, near the end, and the latter's demise. Sherrandy questioned the stupidity of Luther attempting to put himself in a dangerous position by trying to take out Negan alone, especially after reading the NBF arrest warrant he stole from Negan's own bag. We understand that he was just trying to protect his family but, for someone so physically imposing, it's typical of TWDU to illustrate that survival isn't really dependent upon what would typically work on paper (strength, speed, agility, instincts, propensity towards violence, or even moral ambiguity), hence Negan taking him down with nothing but a cheese grater (lemon zester? cheese zester?). Guess he should've just let him borrow the frickin beeswax.

  • We find out Negan's son is named Joshua, which means "God Saves/God is the savior" in Hebrew, which is interesting because Negan was the savior of The Saviors. The Joshua Tree provided shade to Jonah, demonstrating God's benevolence/compassion (even though Jonah was refusing to perform God's will and wanted to die).

  • Maggie brings a token from someone she lost to the dinner table, namely a sketched portrait of Glenn Rhee, showing her desire to connect with this family and their rituals. The ritual of them humming to remember those who have fallen, contrasted with the overlapping scenes of these New Saviors celebrating the loss of one of their own as their walker counterpart is being prepped to fight one of The Croat's prisoners, shows the stark contrast between the two groups - the illusion of safety versus honoring the sacrifices of family to get to this point.

  • Speaking of giving thanks, The New Saviors utilizing a Thanksgiving Day Parade float as the new fat lady is very tongue-in-cheek. Negan even makes a joke about the parade looking a little rough this year, which contains more meaning than he realizes.

  • The Croat reads the letter from Joel Armstrong that Pearlie stored in his boot, which describes the way he and his siblings cut him off (due to drug abuse) pre-apocalypse. Dave wonders whether Armstrong is conning The Croat or is having a genuine emotional reaction, since both he and The Croat have it in them to become monsters to protect their respective causes. Regardless, Dave becomes a little emotional, putting himself in Pearlie's boots, thinking about his own brother and how it would break his heart to be cut off from him with no sensical way to risk seeing him during a zombie outbreak. When Coronavirus lockdowns were first taking hold, we released several Morning SQUAW-fi videos, one of which discussed the importance of forming stronger relationships with loved ones that are physically nearby. Watching this scene made Dave reflect on the emotional difficulty/reality of being cut off from his friends and fellow co-hosts. Simple things like having an argument with them or if things ever ended badly between them would make the distance between them that much more frustrating to deal with.
  • One thing's for sure, Dave advises people to avoid where he lives at all costs: New York City. Just read Mountain Man by Keith C. Blackmore: technology wouldn't matter in the mountains, where there are fewer people (which means less walkers) and deadly disease carrying mosquitoes, moderate temperatures, and less risk of hurricanes.

  • Hang Me Oh Hang Me by Dave Van Ronk (<-- tap here to read the deep and fascinating history of this song) plays at the end of the episode and it fits so well with where Negan is at in this series, having demonstrated to the audience that he's a man who is damned. The song is about a man who has done wrong in his life and is ready and waiting to die but, while he's alive, tries to do good for the people around him. The question is raised about why Negan leaves Annie and Joshua to begin with and it might be because he's scared of not being capable of protect them, again. It's mentioned that the wagon train Annie and Joshua are put on could be similar to the one Michonne joined in Season 10 of The Walking Dead (What We Become, 10x13) or that, simply, multiple civilizations are starting to emerge. Emotionally-speaking, maybe Negan thinks it's better to have hope and act in the world with the knowledge that they are alive and ok, even though staying behind without them doesn't logically make sense (since being there for them gives them a better chance at surviving).

  • Sherrandy also brings about the historical context of people leaving on wagon trains and their loved ones never knowing whether their family members made it. The possibility of heartbreak is there every time, waiting for someone who may never show up, whether it be because they are dead or because they no longer love you. Is it better to believe someone is still alive and okay, rather than knowing for certain-  similar to the feeling of safety over knowledge of safety (if such knowledge even exists, when you think about it)? The point is really driven home when Dave speaks about his mother's own experience, having escaped Syria. She couldn't directly communicate with her family, any communications received and sent were redacted, and there was a lot of uncertainty on both ends during years of separation.
  • We drift into conversation about San Diego Comic Con and receiving more news on the upcoming TWDU spin-off officially titled The Walking Dead: Rick and Michonne, in which we expresses frustration with the naming convention, similar to the Daryl Dixon spin-off. We speculate on the possible release date and encourage viewers to join a membership tier on either our Ko-fi or Patreon so that we can dive deeper into the subject on our Discord server.

  • The question still remains on whether Maggie really ends up burning Ginny's stuffed dino. The light flickering on her face, initially, then becoming steady suggested she had burned something. It directly parallels to Negan finding a hat for Hershel (who no longer wears hats, but is indicative of the last time he saw him) so that Maggie can give that to him when he eventually sees him again. Negan tries to give her hope while, even after the gesture is made, Maggie attempts to remove all hope of Ginny's presence in Dead City (which could also be seen as a kindness: she might be dead if that's all the scavenger found, thereby allowing Negan to live in hope, still, with the knowledge that she is OK). On a funnier note, Kien Michael Spiller posted a photo he snapped while on set during his time playing younger Hershel, containing a funny note indicating how often he loses his wardrobe items when handed to him. One of the items is a backup baseball cap: the irony of Hershel losing his hat.
  • As we turn back to the ledger of good and evil, we recognize that Maggie is not in the same boat as Negan, even though she's had to do some awful things to get what she wants. We're also concerned that she is willing to sacrifice these innocent Tribespeople, along with Negan, to get Hershel back. And now that she might even be willing to sacrifice one kid for the sake of another, would that make her even worse than Negan? If Negan could find a way past his frustration to facilitate communication with Ginny through a whistle, perhaps the group finding out about Maggie's actions could oddly turn the tables and have them trust him over Maggie.

  • The beer-bottle balloon from Fear The Walking Dead's 5th Season is evoked and regarded as being more physically feasible than crossing The Hudson River in a cooler. There are many articles describing how coolers are buoyant and can hold some weight but, even if it could hold the weight of a teenage girl (doubtful), the odds of it remaining upright are most likely impossible.

  • Lastly, we tease our upcoming plans to throw a telethon for Robin Overton, who has been diagnosed with cancer and needs assistance with his medical bills during his chemotherapy treatment. It will be similar to a Jerry Lewis Jerry's Kids Telethon, with talent performing for 10-20 minutes at a time, with donations encouraged between breaks. Different donation amounts will inspire greater reward gifts, such as tote bags, coffee mugs, and t-shirts. Artists are already being contacted to potentially give away artist commissions and we're working on gathering different snap prizes. Even Lance Herota, who played the Spike Walker Winslow, in the junkyard, has agreed to come on the show. Trivia and Jackbox Games may be included, depending on the amount of talent (or lack thereof) we can get on stream. We're also considering quick interviews with fellow #TWDFamily members and creators, like Steven Sweet & Monica Sweet, and Thomas O'Mara.

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