‘The Walking Dead’ recap: It’s not over yet

30 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

The Walking Dead Recap: Alexandria Goes From Safe Zone to Zombie Playground.

As soon as the bell tower fell at the end of the last episode of The Walking Dead we knew that this “winter finale” (god, I hate that term more than Daryl hates feelings) was going to be all about what happens when the zombies stormed the city.

Safe, secure, and seemingly impermeable safe zones are the Chekhov’s guns of zombie television: Introduce one onscreen in one season, and it will be overrun with zombies by that same time next year.But unlike both the frenetic season premiere that introduced this particular swarm and most of the episodes that followed, Sunday’s midseason finale was pretty sedate, consisting mostly of meaningful conversations punctuated by brief squabbles and other bursts of action. (A less charitable reading: it was kind of dull.) Aside from the presumed death of Deanna — though post-Glenn, that seems less certain than it would have a few weeks ago — the main cast survived, surprising for a “Walking Dead” finale, midseason or otherwise. (Update: Tovah Feldshuh did appear on “Talking Dead” for the usual post-mortem interview, for the record.) Potential perils telegraphed by last week’s episode, such as Ron stalking Carl with a handgun, turned out to be red herrings, at least for now.

Ron, the son of Pete, the abusive rage monster taken out by Rick last season, did try to take out Carl in turn, but the perpetually hatted lad was able to thwart him. “I get it: my dad killed your dad,” Carl said in the night’s funniest line-reading, though perhaps not intentionally so. “But you need to know something: your dad was” not a nice person. (This is a family publication.) The other main conflict involved Carol and Morgan, who squared off over the latter’s protecting of the murderous Wolf cub. More on her in a bit, but she made Rick make one promise before she died – that he would take care of her son Spencer and the rest of the Alexandrians as if they were his people. “They’re all your people now,” she told him, noting that she helped save him from the attacking horde not because she liked him, but because they were connected. Mostly the episode set the table for the show’s Feb. 14 return, doubling down on this season’s cliffhanger addiction by leaving a number of strands dangling. (Good luck explaining your Valentine’s Day plans to your significant other.) “The Walking Dead” also briefly introduced the Saviors, a sinister rival group led by a brutal and eagerly anticipated villain named Negan, via an interstitial scene during a commercial break for “Into the Badlands.” (If there was an Emmy for using one series to boostanother, AMC would win in a rout. At what point will they just start writing “Walking Dead” characters into that show?) Though it was unclear if what we were watching was the fall of Alexandria, the walker invasion did represent the arrival, finally, of reality to the subdivision, validating the warnings Rick has been alternately elucidating and bellowing since he arrived there last season.

The undead descended upon the colony, as symbolized in the opening scene, like so many ants atop a neglected innocence cookie (I think it was a cookie), an oblivious young Sam standing in for the Alexandrians’ callow vulnerability. The last time we saw Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and co., they were watching in horror as a falling tower came down and opened a giant gap in the only wall that stood between Alexandria’s humans and the thousands of zombies outside.

The breaching of the walls and immediate aftermath was evocatively shot and intense, with pregnant Maggie scampering precariously up a ladder and Rick and Deanna paired up in leadership one last time. (I do appreciate that Deanna didn’t magically turn into a crack shot.) But after everyone made it inside, the assault stalled out somewhat. Sure, there were occasional walker advances into Jessie’s house to keep things interesting but on balance, the show felt like it was already looking ahead to the back half of the season.

To underscore the catastrophic terror of this moment, it’s worth mentioning that this entire episode played out to a continuous soundtrack of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” by Tiny Tim, lest anyone wasn’t already scared enough. When the house is compromised, he uses the old “let’s make ourselves smell like zombies” trick and smears walker guts on some bed sheets so everyone can get out of the house. With the streets overrun by zombies, the survivors sheltered in arbitrary groups: Tara (Alanna Masterson), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), and Rosita (Christian Serratos) in a garage; Morgan (Lennie James) and Carol (Melissa McBride) in the empty home where Denise (Merritt Wever) and the lone Wolf were hidden in the basement; Maggie (Lauren Cohan) on a guard platform, alone; and Rick, Carl (Chandler Riggs), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) with Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) and her family. When Rick first revealed the guts plan she looked at him like he had just told her Adolf Hitler killed Santa Claus, but in the end she reaches into a rotting corpse and smears herself with the stinky flesh. After Ron (Austin Abrams) threw a tantrum that resulted in roughly two dozen zombies invading Jessie’s garage, Carl didn’t rat out his friend — but he did follow him upstairs, demand his gun, and give him some Rick Grimes-esque Real Talk about the bad blood between them.

That Latin phrase that Deanna wrote on her plans for the expansion of Alexandria translates as, “This pain will be useful to you” — which is what you should tell yourself when you think about the devastation wrought by this mid-season finale. Michonne was the other Padawan at the bedside of Master Deanna, who urged her to lean in and find her purpose in a broken world. “What do you want?” she implored, more than once.

The woman who built Alexandria and recruited the people in it left her legacy in Michonne’s capable hands, and then went out in style, with the greatest war cry the show had ever seen (but not heard; this emotionally intense and impactful scene took place in total silence). When she gets down there she finds Dr Denise is taking care of one of the Wolves Morgan thinks he can retrain never to kill again, despite the Wolf’s constant protestations. With walkers pouring into Jessie’s house through multiple entry points, the survivors sheltering there had to make a new plan, leading to a big moment for longtime fans of the show: The triumphant return of the zombies guts-as-camouflage strategy from way back in season 1 (which doesn’t get used nearly enough, considering how effective it is). Mom?” he said, amid a throng of walkers. (Seriously, is no one going to tell him to hush?) Even Judith, in her oddly adorable gut-gown, thinks he needs to get it together. In a tense conclusion to this intense episode, the survivors emerged onto the overrun streets, clad in viscera-covered sheets that masked their scent and allowed them to pass by the dead unnoticed.

There was just one problem: Jessie gave some good advice to her youngest son, Sam, to “pretend you’re someone who isn’t afraid” — but she apparently forgot to mention the part where you also have to be quiet. Of course, there are worse hostages than medics with first-aid supplies in tow. (He doesn’t know that she’s stumped by even basic infections.) She seemed willing to kill Morgan, which many of us have probably wanted to do this season, though I doubt most of us would actually go through with it. We’ve also seen the number she’s done on poor Sam — he opened the episode holed up in his room, drawing the walker scene Carol described last season. Between that and when Deanna found out she was bitten and said “Well, shit,” the writers certainly found some amusing ways to send us off to commercial.

When they get back to safety, Ron is pissed off that everyone is going to die and he blames Rick for it, just like he blames Rick for his father’s death. I don’t want to gratuitously bash the show over the Glenn thing but that is an example of what people (like me) meant when they complained that the subplot ultimately subverted the show’s strengths. Michonne, always Rick’s Jiminy Cricket with a samurai sword, tells Deanna she has been looking over her plans and that she gets it and she thinks it can work, even after the zombie attack.

What do you want for yourself?” I’ve said before that what all the characters really need is a guiding principle, something to work towards that isn’t just surviving. But to put an actual scene from the show, about an aspect of the story many people are really looking forward to, outside the actual show feels like dirty pool. The most touching moment was when she told Michonne that all she ever wanted was to work with her family toward a better future, and that is what she got to do right up until the very end.

When she and Rosita save stupid Eugene once again (his little whimper of “Help” was the saddest thing I have ever heard, and I used to be a Vanilla Ice fan), the three of them take shelter in the garage they use for the kids’ school. Rosita is pissed that they have lost yet another home, but Tara gives her a great pep talk, telling Rosita they have to work to earn such a great place to live, even if that means a little bit of hardship. We didn’t get much of Glenn and Maggie after last week’s green balloons, but we know Maggie fled from a pack of zombies and barely made it to the top of a platform alive. Sam is freaking out about something and I’m afraid it’s going to lead to something tragic. • Morgan is passed out on the floor after the Wolf knocked him out.

Everyone better watch out if Carol is dead because I’m going on a rampage. • Abraham, Sasha, and Daryl are still outside the city, but if you watched the teaser that aired after the credits, you’ll know they were picked up by that pack of men who Daryl previously encountered in the woods, and they’re talking about some guy named Nagin.

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