Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 7: Crossed

There was quite a bit going on in this week's episode. Despite that, somehow it still felt like a placeholder whose only purpose was to set up the dreaded Fall Finale.

I've whined many times before about how I hate this new trend of splitting seasons in half, so I won't subject you to it again. Except to say that I don't like it. At all.


The Plot:
Daryl and Noah arrive back at the church and talk Rick and Co. into charging into Atlanta to rescue Beth and Carol. They set up a dubious barrier in front of the church, where Carl, Judith, Michonne and twitchy Father Gabriel stay behind.

Meanwhile, Glenn, Maggie, Rosita and Tara all wait for Eugene to wake up after being punched by Abraham a couple episodes back. Abraham, still sore after finding out there's no zombie cure in Washington D.C., pouts at the side of the road. Glenn, Rosita and Tara decide to go fishing, as the audience thrills to all the post apocalyptic action.

Father Gabriel sneaks out of the church and is almost immediately attacked by a walker, in a subplot even less interesting than the fishing one.

In Atlanta, Rick wants to kill everyone in Grady Memorial Hospital to get to Beth and Carol. Tyreese talks him into capturing a couple of cops and offering a prisoner exchange instead. They capture several of the Grady Bunch, but Sasha proves she's the biggest idiot on the entire decimated planet and lets one of them escape, which I'm sure won't come back to bite them in the ass next week.

• Finally, some relief from the "spotlight" episodes, as we cut back and forth between story lines. Yes, focusing on a smaller group for an entire episode is a nice change of pace, but it should be used in small doses. Do it too often and you end up shortchanging your other characters. 

Take Michonne for instance. I almost forgot she was on the show until this week. After all the character building they did with her last year, she's had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do so far this season. She's pretty much set dressing at this point, while they focus on far less interesting characters. That's why three straight weeks of these spotlight episodes is way too much.

• The title of this episode is kind of interesting. There's a comic series called Crossed that's a blatant ripoff of very similar to The Walking Dead. As you might expect, it's about the survivors of a world-wide plague that's plunged the world into chaos.

There are a few differences though. In Crossed, the infected don't die, they become dangerous homicidal maniacs that can't be reasoned with, who carry out their most disgusting and perverted desires. They're characterized by a red, cross-shaped rash that appears under their eyes and down the bridge of their nose (hence the title).

The Walking Dead has gone into some pretty dark territory in the past, but it looks positively Disneyesque next to Crossed, which seems to delight in seeing just how much rape, torture, dismemberment and worse it can cram into every issue. It gives the word gratuitous new meaning. I've glanced at a couple issues in the comic shop and felt like I needed to take a hot shower afterward.

I doubt that this episode's title was an homage to the Crossed comic, but I thought I'd point it out anyway.

• While the others are fortifying the church, Father Gabriel makes himself incredibly useful by noticing the Termite blood on the floor of the altar and trying to wash it off.

I couldn't help but think "Out, damned spot! Out I say" when I saw this scene. Say, that literature class finally came in handy for something!
• When Carl is talking to Father Gabriel, he says something about how they can't stay in one place for very long. There's a very oddly timed shot of Michonne (remember her?) listening to this exchange, as a funny look crosses her face.

Uh-oh. I smell another Michonne "I'm a ramblin' gal and can't stay here anymore" plot complication brewing.

• Does anyone really care what happens to Father Gabriel at this point? I know I sure don't. Other than hoping he doesn't endanger Carl, Judith and Michonne, he can limp right out of the series as far as I'm concerned.

By the way, when he escapes the church, he accidentally steps on a nail and has to pull it out of his foot. I'm not sure, but I think I might have detected the possibility of some subtle Christ imagery going on in that scene.

• So I guess Eugene is most likely a drooling vegetable now, right?

A couple episodes ago Abraham knocked him out with a single punch, which wasn't all that surprising. What was unusual is that it appears he's been unconscious for the better part of a day. Long enough for Maggie to build a makeshift tent for him so he wouldn't get sunburned.

See, traumatic brain injury (or concussion) ranges from mild to severe. The length of time you're unconscious is what's really important, as that's how the severity of the injury is measured. 

If you're out for less than thirty minutes, that's a mild concussion. You might be woozy when you wake up, but most likely you'll be fine. If you're out for more than half an hour, that's a severe concussion, and you need to get to a hospital, stat. If you're out for six hours or more like Eugene, if you ever do wake up, you're probably going to need someone to feed and clothe you.

• Rick's taken a really dark turn lately. When discussing their rescue plan, he talks about slitting the Grady Bunch's throats like he's talking about buying new shoestrings. 

It's a bleak world indeed in which Daryl is now the voice of reason.
• Rick & Co. enter Atlanta and lure a couple of Grady cops out so they can capture them. The plan goes bad of course, and they have a shootout on a street full of half melted walkers.

It took me a minute to realize why the Atlanta walkers were melted into the pavement. It's because the Army tried to napalm them back when the city fell.

Didn't that happen a long time ago though? Have they really been lying there fused to the street for several years?

• During the shootout with the Gradys, one of the cops attacks Daryl. He pins him to the ground near one of the melted walkers, which comes perilously close to biting him.

Fortunately Daryl is a resourceful chap, and sticks his fingers in the eye sockets of another fused walker and uses its skull like a bowling ball to knock out the Grady cop. Strike!

You know you're watching something special when the sight of a man tearing the head off a living corpse and beating another man with it is played for laughs.

• One of the Grady Cops captured by Rick & Co. is named Bob Lamson. He seems like a decent enough guy at first, but ends up getting into Sasha's head and tricks her into letting him escape.

Rick should have known that Lamson couldn't be trusted. He already betrayed Captain America as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent turned HYDRA traitor Jasper Sitwell.

• This whole Grady Bunch plot line is confusing me. When Beth was first abducted by them, it was implied that they were all cops who were trying their best to maintain order in the hospital, and things had gone horribly wrong as they overstepped their authority. 

Now we find out from Lamson that there are no real cops left, and he and the others are apparently civilians who are pretending to be policemen.

Why the pretense? Who's it benefitting for them to pretend to be cops? The people they round up on their patrols? Do the indentured orderlies know that the officers aren't really cops? I feel like I'm missing something important here.

• Sasha wins the "Boneheaded Move Of The Season" award hands down in this episode. While Lamson is in her custody, he starts ingratiating himself to her, and says he recognized one of the melted walkers in the parking lot as someone he used to know. He asks Sasha to end his friend's suffering. Amazingly she falls for his bushwah, and while she's looking out the window for his walker pal he knocks her out and ends up escaping.

Jesus, you could see Lamson's betrayal coming down the street like a goddamned Thanksgiving parade float. I've been generally impressed that the characters haven't acted quite as stupidly this season as they have in the past, but that all went out the window in this episode. 

If her bone-headed move should somehow get her killed, then she deserves it.

• Maggie and Abraham are chatting when Eugene finally wakes up. Maggie hears him groan and walks around the front of the firetruck to tend to him.

Note that the scene cuts there; we don't actually see her help him up or anything. I wonder... wouldn't that be something if next episode we see Zombie Eugene gnawing on Maggie's leg, right as Glenn and the others come back?

Hey, it's possible. Eugene's storyline is pretty much over at this point (although he's still around in the comic, long after his confession) so it would be a good sendoff for him, and a shocking way to end the first half of the season. I doubt if it'll happen, but if it does— you heard it here first!

• My prediction for next week's Fall Finale: There'll be a big shootout between Rick's group and the Grady Bunch, someone in the opening credits will die, and it'll all end with a big cliffhanger that won't get resolved for months.

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