The Good, The Bad, and The Dead: Thoughts on The Walking Dead Season 5 Finale

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Let me get the bad out of the way first, because, as always, there’s very little of it:

I don’t like when the characters have to be stupid in order to create the desired scenes in the story. Obviously, Nicholas is up to no good, making sure Glenn sees him leave the community after Glenn specifically told him not to and made Nicholas feel like the childish moron that he is. So why does Glenn follow Nicholas out into the woods to his doom without taking Maggie who was right there, or anyone else with him, or at least telling someone where he was going? At least if he mentioned it, maybe someone, like his wife, would have shown the slightest bit of concern that he’s out in the woods with an enemy Alexandrian after dark even though he said he’d be at the meeting.

Rick isn’t there either. And, like, the meeting is about him. There’s no “Michonne, why don’t you go wake up Rick, and tell him we’re about to start?” They just go on with the meeting like it’s no big deal that people are missing at this hour, especially the person in question to be exiled.

Where’s Rick? Off fighting a walker. Because the gate to the gated community was left wide open. Okay, I know you Alexandrians are completely inept and unqualified to handle the apocalypse, but come on bro, close the gate. It’s important. Instead of completing his extremely important duty, the Alexandrian asks Gabriel to close the gate for him and skips off to the town meeting. Gabriel has meanwhile flipped his lid, so you might say, he meant to leave the gate open. If that were the case, wouldn’t he just have come inside without even touching the gate? Or did he want it to look like he really meant to close it? Either way it comes off as just outstanding vigilance on everyone’s part /sarcastifont/.

So Glenn and Rick are missing in the dark, and didn’t it get dark really fast? In one scene it’s high noon, and then in the next it was black of night. I think this was because the writers wanted a cool, creepy-looking meeting around a campfire for Porch Dick to crash. That’s fine. Just start the scenes a bit later in the day so it doesn’t feel like we lost a chunk of hours in between.

Speaking of missing time, how did Glenn get away from those 3 walkers while he was writhing in agony? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he did. I guess it’s just one of those things you have to suspend your disbelief for. At any rate, I’ll take Glenn alive because I thought for sure he was going, what with that “I love you,” to Maggie and all the heavy foreshadowing and close calls they’ve been giving him. But Glenn’s not out of the woods yet. (literally and figuratively) He’s injured outside the walls with the wolves nearby. (How chilling was that scene at the end where they looked through the pictures of the community?) I don’t read the comics, simply because I stumbled upon the show first, and now don’t want to spoil myself by reading ahead. From what I understand, people can die in the comics and live in the show or vice versa, or like Daryl, only exist in the show, so I’m holding out hope for Glenn to stay for the long haul. Sigh, I’m going to end up sad aren’t I?

Finally, a lot of people had a problem with the scene where Carol threatened Pete saying things like “Why would a guy who beats his wife be afraid of an old lady?” I’ll tell you why: Because Carol is a badass who stands up for herself, and Jessie is a pathetic blob of weakness. Pete is used to his tiny wife, and tinier kids taking his shit. He’s probably never come up against a strong woman in his life, and when it finally happened, he melted into a puddle of his own cowardice like all bullies do when finally confronted. I loved this scene. A victim of domestic violence herself, Carol is done taking shit from abusive husbands. I only wish Jessie could have stood up to Pete herself. Now she’s missed her chance to show strength, letting Carol, Rick, and the community solve her problem for her. All Jessie seems to do is cut hair and cry. Hopefully at least, she’ll inspire real women to take a more active role in their own abusive relationships. Hopefully she also starts showing some strength now, or she’ll surely be one of the next to die. Anyway, rock on, Carol.

Which leads me to the rest of the good:

There’s been so much good writing this season. I love how Rick told Jessie that you keep the windows in tact, you keep society in tact, and then he and Pete crashed through the window. I love how when Rick left Jessie’s house the first time, he saw kids walking dogs and holding balloons as though their society was storybook perfection. Rick is of course thinking, like the rest of us no, no it’s not. Your policy is to leave your own people behind to save yourselves. You’re weak. You allow women and children to be beaten so you can have a doctor. Your society actually kind of sucks. And after the fight with Pete, the red balloon flies into the air, the societal facade finally shattered.

But one of the best surprises from the last episode was Morgan! When I first saw him I thought “Wow, he’s become Donatello from the Ninja Turtles.” We learn that Morgan, now totally un “cray cray” values all human life. One of the most depressing recurring themes in the show is how little hope survives. As Rick says, people measure you in what they can take from you–how they can use you to live. There are very few humans left, and the ones who are left seem to only want to kill each other. Characters suffer and die, and rarely achieve any small victories that offer hope for any kind of future in this world. Morgan, like Glenn, offers hope. I loved the end scene, where he looked at Rick with fear and disgust, because something clearly has broken in Rick (and understandably so) that he no longer feels that value for everyone. Remember back in season one where he would put walkers out of their misery just to be kind?

Another good thing: Michonne really is with Rick! She had me wondering for a while. But not only did this episode solidify her loyalty to Rick, she took her katana back and the group is finally starting to seem like themselves again. They will not be lulled to sleep.

Despite some writing flaws in the finale, this episode was thoroughly entertaining. I heard some fans say it was the worst finale ever and bereft of action, and all I can ask is “What finale were you watching?” My heart was hammering the entire time, and I found it so refreshing that for once, no one (important) died.

The dead: Only Reg, Pete, and some unknowns and walkers! Yay!

I guess this was a sore spot for some people who were promised tears and blood, but I don’t want anyone to die. Enough main characters have died over the years. If the writers keep up their promise that no one is safe, soon there will be no one left, or at least no one we care about. You hear a lot of fans say if __________ dies, we riot. Or no matter who dies, we keep watching because it’s not just about one person. Both sides have merit. If everyone was safe, the show wouldn’t be suspenseful or real or hold our interest. But if too many of the main core die, I have to tell you, I’ll be part of the group who quits watching. I’m only partially invested in how the apocalypse affects human behavior. What I’m really interested in at this point is how it affects these particular characters’ behavior. Rick, Carl, Glenn, Maggie, Daryl, and Carol are who I am interested in. Maybe you can kill one or two more of them, (and fans would still be pissed) But what then? If they keep killing off one or two per finale, we don’t have too many finales left. And even if we do reach the end, without any of the characters who were on the journey, why should it matter? Right now, Rick, Carl, and Glenn are the deal breakers for me. I’d be sad to see the others go too, but I wouldn’t stop watching. For these three I think I would. Glenn is the most descent character left, as last night proved. His courageous act of forgiveness towards Nicholas solidified his unwillingness to kill unless absolutely necessary. Let me tell you something about Glenn: all he wants to do is help people and love Maggie. Please leave him alone.

As for Rick, he’s the main character. I’ve been watching HIS journey, really, since the beginning, and the journeys of those around him. I don’t want to see the others complete the journey without him. I keep saying “complete journey” but I don’t even know if that’s a possibility. As of now, it looks like the writers will keep bringing in new characters and killing off others. It could go on ad infinitum in that way. Whereas in Breaking Bad, they had a set number of seasons in mind, a clear ending in mind, and made every moment up until that ending count. I’d quite like to see something like that on The Walking Dead, but I have a bad feeling that I won’t.

Carl has to be the future of the show, and of the world. It’s so interesting to see kids grow up in this world. It will be all Judith knows. I want to see someone reach adulthood with this as their normal, and see how it continues to affect them. Plus, if Carl dies, Rick will be destroyed, and I don’t want that. Besides, terrible things can happen to characters without them dying. It doesn’t always have to be death to equal conflict and drama. Sometimes things get much more interesting when there’s more characters alive to harbor all that conflict. Now that Pete’s gone, so will that conflict be.

Feel free to disagree. In fact, I insist on hearing all opinions! What were your thoughts on the season finale? Please comment below.

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What is Alexandria? 8 Questions Raised on The Walking Dead “Forget”

1. What is Alexandria?

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Could it truly be the utopia it seems? Nothing ever is on this show, and theme of this season is “no sanctuary.” But I have to hand it to the writers because these people seem simultaneously both suspicious and not. At first I thought the season would culminate in a fight between Deanna’s group and Rick’s, but now I predict they might team up against an outside threat. Deanna had mentioned exiling people.Which leads me to question two:

2. Are there are hostiles outside the wall?

There’s a shed not too far away and Rick’s clandestine coffee-cup-gun has mysteriously vanished. What were these people exiled for? And does that mean Rick and Co better play ball so they’re not next? And three:

3. Could that have something to do with the Ws branded into the walkers’ heads?

After all, someone is branding them. Why? As a threat? A warning? A foreshadowing of what’s to come? “How dare you exile us; we’ll have our revenge,” etc. And if that’s how are these people weak enough and naive enough to believe that they don’t need that watchtower manned 24/7?

4. If a fight does erupt between the two groups living inside Alexandria, will it be Rick’s group who preemptively initiates it?

Carol may have already with her chilling threat to Jessie’s son. Are our guys transforming into the bad guys, like the governor? Have they finally suffered so much, that they have become what they hate?

5. Can we trust Jessie?

It seems convenient that this group has been “watching” (stalking) Rick’s group, knowing he has two children and has long been without someone to love, and then he immediately has a moment with this attractive blonde with three boys of her own. Is that how they all become The Brady Bunch of The Walking Dead? I’m afraid it’ll be more sinister than that. They seem to be dangling in front of Rick his greatest temptation, and even Jessie’s husband seems intent on getting the two together. What do they need Rick for, really? I don’t think it’s as simple as protection. Maybe procreation?

6. Who is Deanna?

Do we trust her? I’m still with Rick back when he didn’t want to follow Aaron to the community: Trust no one! She’s a politician, and definitely concealing something. Maybe they really are a perfect community, but maybe they’ve made a deal with the devil to keep it that way.

7. What’s with the applesauce?

At first I thought Aaron was absolutely trying to poison Judith. I mean when someone says, “Taste this if it isn’t poison,” you don’t go into a traumatic story about your childhood that made you dislike the taste of applesauce, you eat the damn applesauce so that Rick doesn’t kill you. Maybe it wasn’t poison, but something else seemed to be going on. Aaron is difficult to read. And then they used applesauce again at the dinner party. What’s in that stuff?

8. What is Enid’s deal?

What are they using her for? And why does she really leave the wall? I think there’s infinitely more depth to her character to be discovered.

For once, I’m glad I haven’t read the books before seeing the movie, or in this case show. I’m truly stumped, intrigued, and hanging on the edge of my seat with this new storyline. I don’t want to know what Alexandria is in the graphic novels, I only want to speculate on what it might be. This is what makes watching the show so fun.  Feel free to discuss these questions below, and add some of your own, but please keep it spoiler free 🙂 I also ask that you comment here, not under the Facebook post, so that everyone can participate in the conversation.

Eight Shows Every Story Lover Should Be Watching

As part of the campaign to replace reality shows with more stories that we as humans so desperately need, I’m constantly on the lookout for the most well-written and best told stories on the air. From veteran programs in their tenth season, to struggling new fledglings, these are the eight best T.V. shows that story lovers should be watching.

1. The Walking Dead

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“We are the walking dead.” This quote from main character Rick Grimes in a recent episode of the show’s fifth season pretty much says it all. When watching the early episodes, the title seems obviously attributed to the zombies that have destroyed civilized society—“walkers” or “roamers” as they’re known in the show and comics. The group of survivors the series follows, greatly diminished in numbers since they began their journey, has been through so much, and has been so beaten down, that they have all but lost hope in anything beyond their horrid mere existence. They have become the walking dead, trudging along sun-soaked highways with no food or water, depleted ammo, walkers on their trail, and the haunting memories of loved ones lost, and far worse dangers than walkers. You’d like to think that if the apocalypse really did come, the last remaining humans would band together and help one another survive. The Walking Dead gives us a more realistic and much sadder portrayal of human nature. As Rick says, “People measure you by what they can take from you, by how they can use you to live.” If you think the show is too far along for you to catch up, I’m telling you, the time to start watching is now. The group just found a supposed safe haven, but they’ve been burned before, and fans know by now to trust no one. The latest episode left me craving more, and the season finale in a few short episodes will be one not to be missed. The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9pm on AMC.

2. Gotham

What’s that you say? You’ve had your fill of Batman from the Nolan trilogy and the New 52? Don’t have room in your life for a sub-par T.V. show where Bruce Wayne is just a kid? Wrong. You are so wrong. Yes, that’s what I said at first too. But then I actually watched an episode. This is a dark, and truly disturbing take on the inhabitants of Gotham while they’re still young and haven’t yet evolved into the super villains or heroes we are familiar with. It features a young Bruce, whose parents die in episode one, Alfred, Harvey Dent, Jim Gordon and the GCPD crew, as well as a host of young villains-to-be including Selina Kyle, Oswald Cobblepot, and Edward Nygma who fans will recognize as Catwoman, The Penguin, and The Riddler. We’ve even met a young Joker, and while I’m always a little biased toward Heath Ledger, I have to say: where do they keep getting these awesomely insane, creepy actors to play the joker? But the one who really steals the show is Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney. I can’t even satisfactorily describe her character’s storyline right now; you have to see it to believe it. And if you’re worried the dark and disturbing factor won’t be on par with what we’ve seen from Christopher Nolan or the New 52, stop worrying. Gotham airs on Fox, Mondays at 8pm.

3. Better Call Saul

If you are hesitant to watch this because a spinoff of Breaking Bad could never live up to that show’s genius, then let me just remind you of one critical factor: Vince Gilligan. I’ve got enough evidence by now to know that I’ll watch anything this guy is involved with and like it. He’s just a brilliant writer and storyteller. Anything he has a hand in is going to be stellar. The way he develops his characters, examining them through a moral lens, is unique on television. I’d never before seen a character transformation like Walter White’s, and Saul’s, while different, is just as fascinating. This show follows beaten-down lawyer Jimmy McGill on his descent into dishonesty. Sure, he’s not a saint to begin with, but he does struggle to do the right thing. The audience is already seeing a common Gilliganian© theme: you can be good and suffer, or do one bad thing and live a little easier. The problem is, that easily justified one, small, bad thing inevitably snowballs down a dark path there’s no coming back from. Saul’s journey down this road is packed with humor, suspense, and drama. Don’t miss it. Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 10pm on AMC.

4. The Flash

What a glorious time we live in when there’s a comic book adaptation on various networks almost every day of the week. If the disturbing terror and corruption of Gotham isn’t your cup of tea, you might enjoy the delightfully cheesy antics of The Flash. The show, despite having its sad moments, is more upbeat, colorful, and pleasant. Besides the awesome visual effects of Flash speeding around the city in a blur, saving the day, there are really engaging stories being told that are ripped from the comics and expanded. Even more interesting are the character dynamics. The cast of characters is a numerous and complex one. Each character is well developed, has their own agenda, and has different complex relationships with some characters than others. On The Flash you’ll get a moderated dose of unrequited love, romance, action, and mystery. Check it out. The Flash airs on the CW on Tuesdays at 8pm. It’s on break now, which gives you a chance to catch up, and will return March 17th.

5. Criminal Minds

This one has been on awhile, and I’ve been a fan since almost the beginning. When new, it was described as another procedural crime drama, albeit a good procedural, but so what? Here’s what sets it apart: this show has a fandom as strong as any superhero or comic book one. The characters are all memorable and lovable individuals, and work together as a team for justice. They are heroes, sacrificing their time, personal happiness, and often safety, to bring home lost children and save innocent lives from nightmares no one should ever have to live through. In fact, they are so heroic that team leader Aaron Hotchner’s son opts out of dressing like Spiderman for Halloween and instead:

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The stories are well-crafted, disturbing tales guaranteed to make you think, and keep you on the edge of your seat rooting for the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) to catch the real monsters of the world. This show is currently in its tenth season, and by now the reluctant viewer should be saying “Okay, I’ll watch it. It’s been on for ten years. Maybe it’s good.” Criminal Minds airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on CBS.

6. 12 Monkeys

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This latest SyFy endeavor is a remake of the 1995 movie starring Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis, and is so much better than I expected it to be. Cole comes from an apocalyptic world where a man-made virus has eradicated nearly all life on Earth. He travels back in time (“splinters”) to enlist the help of Dr. Cassandra Railly to find the source of the virus and stop it before it can be unleashed on humanity. Of course, the implications of this are already huge. If Cole is successful, won’t he disappear or at least create a different version of himself? But if you were living in Cole’s time, 2043, you would take the risk to change it too. Cole and Cassie trace the virus to a creepy conspiracy known as the Army of the 12 Monkeys, but are so far (early in season one) no closer to changing the future, though the latest episode left me hanging and biting my nails on that front. What I love most about this show is it not only attempts to preserve human life, but human art and history. What is the point of survival, if that’s all we have? You can watch 12 Monkeys on SyFy, Fridays at 9pm.

7. Agent Carter

While Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. left me underwhelmed, its Agent Carter is the antithesis. Not only do I love a female hero in a lead role independent of Captain America to carry her, and with no super powers to speak of other than physical strength, brains, and wit, but the stories are action packed and suspenseful. I suggest going to ABC.com to watch 10 must see moments from the season finale, and then hope it gets renewed.

8. Constantine

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This show is currently floating in the limbo between cancellation and renewal, the decision being made in May. To lose this show would be a travesty, and I urge you to watch the first 13 episodes online, and if you like it, to show your support using #saveconstantine. The possibility of cancellation stems more from a poor timeslot on Friday nights when its main demographic is out of the house, and less from lack of interest in the show which already has a devoted cult following including over 2 million followers on Facebook. Constantine is based on a DC comic about a smoking, drinking “antihero” exorcist trying to save his own soul from a haunting mistake in his past, and it’s one of the coolest, creepiest shows I’ve seen on T.V. since The X-Files. It’s smart, sexy, story-driven, character-driven, dark, engaging and most importantly, different from anything else on T.V. right now. If these writers are given a chance to hit their stride, this show could be big. As part of the enthusiastic fan response to save the show, they’ve been writing professional messages to NBC and signing petitions. If you do watch the show, and like it, you can join the movement here: Remember, a vote for Constantine is a vote for less reality and more stories.