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Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Who's There? |1x02| The Walking Dead: Dead City

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GREAT QUESTION! Is it merely a matter of old habits dying hard or an instinct that's always there, waiting in the wings, to find an avenue? How far does one have to go to protect someone before it incurs a cost?
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David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:

  • In case you hadn't heard, Tales of The Walking Dead's 1st (and only?) season is now available on Blu-ray & DVD for those of you around the globe who weren't blessed with the ability to watch this wonderful series.

  • In case you missed it, we feigned setting-up a livestream to talk about this episode right after it aired publicly on AMC, only to fool Rachael into viewing a tribute video we made for her birthday (along with many of folks who participated in the making-of, on stream)

  • Before Bridget brings up The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs and Sherrandy mentions the telethon we are planning in order to fund Robin Overton's cancer treatment, we briefly mention the upcoming second installment of the Clementine comic book series, from Skybound, the first which she did a review on - check it out:

  • So back to The Last Drive-In, Joe Bob Briggs has a special on the Series Premiere of The Walking Dead: Dead City, available for streaming on AMC+ and Shudder.

  • First Impressions: Rachael is really enjoying this series and found herself oddly attached to Esther (whom we previously called Beetlejuice Hair, in lieu of her actual name). Sherrandy (& Dave) thought the episode felt short, which simply meant that she was hungry for more. Think what you will about Negan (Rachael can fill you in on command), he's pretty entertaining to watch. This series is not suffering from pilot-itis, whatsoever. Dave thought this episode focused more on actual movement, rather than establishing the universe and character motivations.

  • What's great about filming in Manhattan, rather than the hills/plains/open-areas of Georgia, is that there's a lot more surface area and vertical scenery. It reveals both a level of claustrophobia and acrophobia, which Lauren Cohan discovered she actually had, on set (which Thomas O'Mara filled us in on, via the livestream chat).

  • Going on the feelings Rachael had for Esther in her first impressions, we try to piece together why we had such strong feelings for her demise, this episode. For Bridget, it was because she was elderly and there was a language barrier, which made her/us vulnerable. The chai necklace that is handed to Tommaso was the last straw, emotionally speaking, because ื—ַื™ chai (in Hebrew) means life, and is commonly worn by the Jewish people to remind them that they are alive and of God's covenant that, as a people, Jews will persist. Rachael points out that in light of her vulnerabilities, The Tribespeople embraced her, which showed us how good these people were. Beside-which, she was the bridge between our protagonists and her people. She also managed to hold her own.

  • Rather than going through all the Hebrew translations, here is Nir Regev's article at The Natural Aristocrat.

  • ๐ŸŽ–️SURVIVORS Tier Member and newly-minted podcast host of Relishing The Dead, Aliza Jones brought up the small element that appeared in this episode's title sequence: the figure ziplining across the crowded intersection of the dead. Another element in the title sequence we still haven't figured out quite yet was, during the sequence containing the walkers facing the camera as it pulls out to reveal a wall with a barbed-wire fence, whether the barbed wire actually spells something out.

  • Dave found the scene where Marshal Pearlie Armstrong visits Joel Armstrong's apartment particularly moving: between the music, the family photos, the signs of of both life and death, and the somberness when Pearlie covers Joel's body with the sheet and rosary beads. We learn so much without a world spoken and, yet, not tangibly at all. Pearlie, in that moment, reminded Dave of the survivors - who either called out sick or were late for work - of The World Trade Center Bombing on September 11th, 2001 and the depths of survivors guilt they must've had.

  • On top of this feeling, it's also possible that Pearlie had cut Joel out of his life due to Joel's drug addiction, which has to be doing a number on him. It has to also be reminding him of the person he used to be before the world fell apart, compared the the moral-absolutist he is now. Thomas also informs us that Pearlie placing the rosary beads on Joel's sheet is a nice mirror for when Amaia gives Tommaso Esther's chai necklace.

  • After Emily tells us all the ways in which Armstrong has main-character syndrome (and the laughter we shared subsided), Dave likens Pearlie's moment to him finally stepping into The Walking Dead Universe: could his confrontation with his past give him the additional dimension he needed to step out of this 2-dimensional trope of a character and be who he was truly meant to be? Also, he's pretty easy on the eyes - when you get rid of the facial hair and give him a decent haircut. We also noticed how tall he seemed to look outside Manhattan but seems shorter, somehow, since making landfall on its shores.

  • Sherrandy draws a line between Negan and Armstrong: Isn't New Babylon Federation just a larger-scale version of The Sanctuary? Armstrong may have always been a religious nut-bag and the fall of humanity. along with state authority, has imbued him with power to force people to adhere to God's will. Had his brother been alive, would he have punished him in the same manner as the barkeep in the last episode or the way he intends to do with Negan?

  • Seeing how heavyset Joel was in family photos compared to the emaciated corpse before Pearlie, it had to have gotten to him. Bridget describes what it might've been like for Joel to raid neighboring apartments based the podcast serial We're Alive: since it's a big city, full of the dead, you may limit your search to just your floor or, at most, your building. After that, you are stretching whatever you've gathered for however long it will last, knowing that, after you crack it open, you have only 24 hours to eat a can of food before it spoils.

  • Rachael was confused when Negan put on the show for the Burazi (in order to give Maggie Rhee and The Tribespeople more time to get away): though she loved the guts and blood, she was puzzled by The Burazi when they stopped short of storming up the stairs and getting Negan. It's possible that The Croat knows about Negan's NBF arrest warrant (since they are the only people who've been able to leave the island) and wants his men to take him alive. Dave asks whether this was all a rouse to get Negan to come out of hiding and come see him and many agree.

  • On that note, Sherrandy has a theory that Ginny may be in league with The Croat - who knows Negan has a soft-spot for children - since it didn't make sense that she'd leave the safety of New Hilltop. Thomas' takeaway from Ginny staring at the grain silo is that The Croat didn't even take half their shit and aren't struggling like Maggie had described, which must mean that rather than being taken by The Croat, Hershel Rhee had simply run away from home and was caught by him; Ginny leaves to warn Negan that Maggie lied. Rachael and Dave bring up the demolished front door, though, which indicates that there had to have been some sort of attack.

  • Dave also takes Sherrandy's theory of Ginny working with The Croat further: since the class was learning about edible/inedible plants, with the buttercup leaves on the board (which are toxic to humans), maybe her plan was to poison the grain silo to make it easier for The Croat to takeover New Hilltop? On the note of the classroom, Bridget hated that the teacher told the class Ginny was from The Oceanside, but it makes sense considering who she's rolling with and they don't want her classmates to bully or be afraid of her - like they were with Lydia, way back when.

  • And another thing: after all these years of surviving in groups, why is Maggie retrieving Hershel without the help of any Hilltoppers? …unless she really is simply going to trade Negan's life for Hershel. Dave interjects: it's quite possible that they don't agree with Maggie's decision and refuse to risk their lives for one person, even a child. Dawn Barker, Aliza's co-host from Relishing The Dead, says that Hershel most-likely ran off, rather than be abducted at The Hilltop. Both things can be true: Hilltop was attacked, Hershel ran away and was subsequently caught (rather than abducted), and the residents don't want to risk their lives (or Maggie doesn't want them to, in case the Burazi attack, again).

  • On the note of Hershel possibly running away, rather than be abducted: after/during Hilltop's attack, it's possible he was tired of feeling like a disappointment and went after The Croat, as well, based on the superhero drawings he was making in the flashback scene with Maggie. Maggie is, of course, a bad-ass and hard to live up to, but so is the memory of Glenn Rhee, whom he's never met and, of course, has probably canonized in his mind.

  • Whether it was an animal trap or human trap Maggie narrowly avoided in the first episode, after leaving Joel's apartment, Armstrong is caught by one of them and, at the end of the episode, The Croat and his Burazi roll up with their cool walker-killing motorcycle helmets - The Croat uttering the Croation, Zamotan kao poklon, meaning, wrapped like a present. Speaking of Burazi, we focus on the one who constantly repeated the words Doma Smo before murdering Esther: Doma Smo means we are home in Croatian. Dave thinks it could either be similar to I am Negan, with the burazi underling repeating this mantra in a dire situation to give him confidence or inspire his own supremacy. It could also be the case that it would be better to die here than to have to come home and be tortured by The Croat.

  • On top of Sherrandy comparing the netting in the trap to the Ewoks trap in Star Wars and Esther to Yoda, Bridget brings up how Negan refers to Esther as The Pigeon Lady, which made her think of another pigeon lady, also in Manhattan, from the movie Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Dave remembers another nod to Judaism: Esther is wearing a crimson string bracelet. In the most rudimentary, boiled down meaning, the red-string bracelet is meant to ward off the evil eye/misfortune, which in turn protects the wearer from malice. This article does a really good job of explaining the roots and meaning of this practice (in Judaism and even other cultures/practices).

  • Speaking of red, we turn our attention back to Negan's crazy Neganing moment, embracing his old self to put on a gore show for the Burazi. Out of concern for Rachael, Dave asks whether it triggered her as much as it did Maggie. The ladies aren't buying that he does this because he had to and Rachael adds that he did it because he was always going to go back to his old ways. Sherrandy knows he's changed, he's just using his past to survive his present. Rachael acknowledges that we've always know Negan had two sides from his origin story depicted in Here's Negan, TWD 10x22, so at least he's consistent in doing this for the people in his care. Dave had a hard time with this scene because it's very hard to believe he can just switch this part of him on and off, but after initially noting traces of Maggie's own bloodlust against Esther and The Tribespeople, he relegates his showmanship to an ability he's mastered rather than who he is as a person. Bridget adds that it may be the case that, due to his 7-year incarceration, he has Stockholm Syndrome: he seems to care what his captors think of him, especially Maggie.

  • Of course our protagonists have done some mighty heinous shit over time. As it's been said many times by producers and this podcast: seen through Negan's point of view, we might be a lot more sympathetic or maybe even root for him. Negan, in this series, is basically Johnny Lawrence from Cobra Kai: we are digging into that point of view and getting more than we bargained for. That aside, Bridget reminds us that the one irredeemable thing he's done is the harem of women, including Dwight's wife, Sherry. He may not have gone as far as his comic book counterpart, but he at least used his position of power to coerce women to be with him in exchange for comfort and their husband's safety. Time's-Up Negan!

  • Dave adds: It may be the case that we've seen, through Negan, the corruption absolute power ultimately wreaks. Negan may have had good intentions, but his power moved him away from his core mission in order to maintain it. We already saw him adopt the very thing that he warned Simon not to do - kill all the men at Oceanside and all of Jadis' trash heap dwellers - when Negan decides to kill everyone at Hilltop in Season 8. It's possible that, even though The Croat tortured and killed a possible scout from The Kingdom, there's no doubt in his mind that, eventually, he adopted some of his tactics at The Sanctuary (like using a hot iron on peoples faces when they step out of line or, eventually, throwing them straight into the furnace). Bridget takes a moment to add that The Croat may have done much worse things to that young woman - things he may plan on doing to Hershel, too.

  • Emily says Negan is ultimately self-centered and lives in Neganland, which Dave thinks brings levity to Maggie's intensity. Sherrandy says it's due to the fact that he knows he's not coming back. Especially if Annie and his child are dead, he might as well have some fun. Takeerah mentions that Father Gabriel Stokes was the closest Negan got to an actual therapist, which made Dave think that maybe every decision he's made is an effort at grief avoidance (which tracks with the way he anthropomorphized a baseball bat and named it his dead wife, Lucille).

  • The ladies love the harpoon-like, hand-held grappling hook-type weapons The Tribespeople were sporting. Bridget thought they even sort of looked like a plumber's snake or what Sherrandy said reminded her of one of Scorpion's moves, from Mortal Kombat (get over here!), which prompted Dave to make a huge request from (Executive Producer/Show Rummer) Eli Jornรฉ to include an homage to Super Mario Bros in whatever manner he deems fit (as walkers, in art, whatever). And, of course, Aim For The Head Podcast had said The Croat and his Buraz looked like they were cosplaying Daft Punk.
  • On the note of watching their cool weapons in action, something you might've missed was, just prior to Negan's Neganing moment, Maggie signals to Amaia that she wants to make the killing blow on the Buraz soldier Amaia had just killed on her behalf. Yes, Maggie is learning from Negan to give a little to get a little, but she does it in the most brutal, self-servicing way possible: she stomps on his neck. This pairs very well with the blood-rain-dance Negan performs, right afterwards, which makes you wonder what the difference really is between the two.

  • Negan divulges to Maggie that The Croat went through one of the most horrific experiences imaginable and met him before he did himself in. Dave asks whether we might see a more sympathetic side to The Croat and nobody seems to want that: we just want a bad guy.

  • We briefly touch on the teasers to the upcoming, officially titled, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon. For those of us who watched them, it's absolutely stunning to watch Daryl Dixon roaming through France. We don't think any of the footage depicted in the teasers will actually appear on the show, itself. We have fun with all the ways in which he somehow pieced together his journey across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Stop laughing! We take a minute to talk about a recent review we received on Apple Podcasts, which we posted on our social media, where the author did not enjoy our school-girl giggling.
  • One more thing! During Hershel's teenage angst moment - in his flashback at New Hilltop with Maggie - he says he's going to hang out with his friend Xander, which is more of a fuck you, Mom than one might realize: Xander Berkeley was the actor who played Gregory, the original leader of The Hilltop community who also repeatedly misnamed and constantly snuck-in jabs at Maggie in passing converation.

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