Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Walking Dead Season 6, Episode 15: East

You're doing it again, The Walking Dead. For the second time this season, you start out with three or four fast-paced, compelling episodes, and then the plot engine starts sputtering and wheezing, and we get week after week of filler, as it limps toward the finale. 

Why do you keep doing this to us? And why do we keep falling for it?

Nowhere was this stalling more evident than in East. Actually one could argue that this week's episode was less filler, and more about setting up the various pieces on the board in preparation for the final move, aka the big reveal of Negan. Either way, it doesn't make for a very compelling forty five minutes of television.

Apparently there must be a gas leak in Alexandria that's affecting all the residents, causing them to all lose several dozen IQ points. Especially Carol. She doesn't want to kill anymore, so she leaves the protective walls of Alexandria and drives off into the Savior-infested wilderness, where she'll surely be forced to kill. Wha…?

Rick must have been affected by the gas leak too. He knows from bitter experience who's lurking outside the walls, yet he leaves the place he's supposed to be defending to find someone who doesn't want to be found, and… I guess drag them back, kicking and screaming. Yes, it's much better to risk six people than it is to write off one.

If that wasn't enough, his hubris in this episode is absolutely jaw dropping! He even lies in bed practically beating his waxed chest about the fact that he's not worried about the Saviors, saying "the world is our and we know how to take it." I suppose the writers are trying to set him up for a huge fall here, but there were less blatant— and less astoundingly stupid— ways to go about it.

The rest of the cast fell victim to the gas leak as well. Daryl goes off looking for vengeance against Dwight, who killed a woman he barely knew or ever even spoke with. Then Glenn, Michonne, Rosita and Morgan all take off into certain danger, leaving the home they've worked so hard to create unprotected, to again, find someone who doesn't want to be there. Brilliant!

Obviously the writers cooked up this half-baked episode because they need Negan to confront the characters away from Alexandria, and the only way they could think to do this was to make everyone act as stupidly as possible. But they went too far and made their actions too face-palmingly stupid. To the point where they're no longer characters, but mindless chess pieces. And why should I care what happens to chess pieces?

Congratulations, The Walking Dead! You've managed to make me not give a sh*t who you kill off next week! Well done!

Carol's abrupt and offscreen change from badass warrior to limp noodle has me kind of worried that the writers may be setting her up for her comic book death. 

See, in the comic, Carol was NOTHING like she is on TV. Comic Book Carol was a meek and traumatized housewife, thrust into a horrific world she couldn't handle. Rick was with Lori, who was still alive at that point, and Carol offered to be one of his "sister wives." A shocked and repulsed Rick said, "Um, no thanks," which apparently sent Carol over the edge. She then committed suicide by walker— literally walking up to a zombie and hugging it, letting it bite her in the shoulder.

I hope that's not where this sudden new Carol is heading.


The Plot:
We flash back a bit this week as we see Carol packing her bag and sneaking out of Alexandria. If you'll recall, she "just can't kill anymore," so she's heading outside the walls where she'll be forced to kill every day. If you understand any of that, then you're a better blogger than me.

The next day life goes on in Alexandria. Rosita and Sasha guard the walls. Maggie and Glenn take their last shower together. Rick lies in bed with Michonne, bragging about how they can handle anything the Saviors can throw at them, practically begging the screenwriting gods to smite him.

Daryl rides off on his bike, leaving Alexandria shorthanded. Glenn, Michonne and Rosita see him do so, and instead of reporting to Rick as they should, they drive off in pursuit, leaving Alexandria even more shorthanded. Rick finds out Carol left and he and Morgan immediately go after her, leaving Alexandria shorthanded infinity.

Carol drives down a deserted road in her Mad Max: Fury Road car, and is attacked by— you guessed it— a truck full of Saviors. They fire on her car and stop her. She gets out, raises her hands and begs them to just walk away as once again she either really hyperventilates or just pretends. The Saviors refuse to back off, so she guns them down with some sort of psychically controlled machine gun she has stuffed up her sleeve. She runs off into the woods. 

Rick and Morgan find the site of Carol's massacre. They see her tracks and follow her on foot. One of the Saviors, who's not quite dead yet, exits the truck, picks up Carol's discarded rosary and staggers after them.

Glenn, Michonne and Rosita travel to the spot where Dr. Cloyd was killed last week. They find Daryl's bike hidden in the bushes and begin searching for him. They find him, and Glenn begs him to come back. Daryl says he can't and leaves. Rosita, for reasons known only to the writers, goes with him. Glenn and Michonne head back to their car, but are captured by Dwight and a gang of Saviors (Jesus, how many men does Negan have, anyway?).

Rick & Morgan continue the Search For Carol. Morgan says Rick didn't prevent a war with the Saviors, but started one, which is absolutely true. They find a barn surrounded by walkers, and see a man run off. Rick of course tries to shoot him, but Morgan hits his arm to make him miss. Morgan tells Rick to go back to Alexandria, and promises he'll find Carol.

Rick arrives back home. He asks Abraham if Michonne or anyone else is back yet, but the answer's no. Enid shows up to remind us she's still on the show for some reason. She gives Maggie a haircut, and she loves it so much she potentially has a miscarriage.

Glenn and Michonne are tied up in the Savior's camp. Glenn sees Daryl and Rosita creeping around in the bushes, and starts shaking his head "no." Suddenly Dwight appears behind Daryl, the master tracker and woodsman, and says hi. He shoots Daryl as blood splatters the camera and the screen cuts to black.

• Wow, that may have been the shortest cold open yet.

• As the Saviors threaten her, Carol somehow mows them all down with a machine gun that's concealed in her sleeve. I'm still trying to figure out how Carol was able to slip her hand inside her coat sleeve and somehow fire her machine gun. It doesn't look like there's enough room in the sleeve for both a gun and an arm (see photo above).

Maybe when she appeared to be mending her jacket, she was actually rigging up some sort of triggering mechanism in her sleeve?

• As of this episode, Rick's people have now wiped out a whopping SIX different groups of Saviors. Daryl obliterated the motorcycle gang, Rick & Co. killed the Satellite Crew in their sleep, Carol and Maggie killed the All Girl But One Team, plus the backup they called, Daryl and Rosita killed off almost all of Dwight's Group, and now Carol just wiped out the Truck Team.

As I keep saying, this is not how it happened in the comic. There Negan attacked Rick & Co. out of the blue, which made his brutal actions all the more shocking. Here on the series though, Rick's been poking the Negan hornet nest for weeks, practically begging to be stung. It's going to be hard not to see Negan's eventual retaliation as somewhat justified.

• During the "Day In The Life" shots, we see a nude Rick and Michonne in bed, as well as a nude Glenn and Maggie showering together. In both cases, the women's naughty bits are demurely and safely obscured, either by sheets or fogged glass.

Isn't it odd that this series has no problem depicting a veritable parade of over the top gore and violence on a weekly basis, but the idea of showing a woman's breast or even a butt is strictly forbidden?

• What is it about Johnny Cash and zombies? The Dawn Of The Dead remake opened with Cash's The Man Comes Around, while in this episode Carol snuck out of Alexandria to the tune of It's All Over.

• Is there no leader in Alexandria? I assumed it was Rick, since everyone seems to defer to his judgement. But in this episode most of the main cast decides, without checking with him first, to wander out of Alexandria in the middle of a crisis, when they should be doing everything in their power to protect it. If he is the leader, he's a damned ineffective one, and has zero control over his people.

• Glenn stupidly drives away from his pregnant wife and the relative safety of Alexandria. As he does so, he watches her in the rear-view mirror as she recedes in the distance. The foreshadowing here was about as subtle as a brick. Glenn might as well be wearing a red shirt, because I'll be very surprised if he ever returns.

• The only interesting part of this episode was Rick and Morgan's discussion as they searched for Carol. Morgan says he heard that Rick banished Carol from the prison for killing Karen and David, who were infected with a virulent plague. Rick says if that happened today, he'd thank her or even do it himself.

It was a good look into just how much Rick has changed the past few seasons.

• Late last year the fans lost their collective minds over the fact that actress Lauren Cohen, aka Maggie Greene, appeared at an award show with short hair. 

Bloggers around the world instantly claimed this was proof positive that Maggie would be killed off before the end of the season. According to their reasoning, her haircut meant she was no longer contractually obligated to keep the same appearance, ergo she was off the show. Welp, this episode proves that theory was nothing but bushwah, as are 99% of the ideas presented on the internet. 

She could still die, of course, but if she does it won't have anything to do with her hair.

• I totally called it! Last week I said the death of Dr. Cloyd was the writer's way of getting Maggie to the Hilltop, where she'd eventually become their leader, as in the comic.

Lo and behold, this week Maggie begins having complications in her pregnancy, which will no doubt lead to Enid helping her get to the Hilltop and their one and only obstetrician.

• This next bit actually applies to thousands of movies and TV shows, not just The Walking Dead. We see Glenn and Michonne being held captive in the Saviors camp, their hands and feet bound, with cloth gags in their mouth. Glenn sees Daryl and tries to warn him that Dwight's right behind him, but due to his gag can only croak out a weak, muffled moan.

That's not how a gag works! It cannot muffle sounds! You can demonstrate this yourself. Take a preferably clean handkerchief, open your mouth, and stretch it tightly across your face. You can even tie it in the back if you like. Now try to speak. Yes, your speech will be somewhat distorted, and you won't be able to form certain words, but you will be able to yell something— almost as loud as if you didn't have a gag in your mouth.

• At the very end of the episode, Dwight greets Daryl and then shoots him, as CGI blood splatters the screen. Shocking! The screen then fades to black, and we hear an obviously dubbed Dwight say, "You'll be alright."

I would bet practically anything that the original version of this scene was just the smash cut to black, but
nervous and jittery AMC executives demanded they add in the "alright" line. We can't leave the massive Daryl fanbase hanging now, can we? That would mean something of consequence might have actually happened in this episode.

• So next week is the big super-sized Season 6 finale. I have this horrible feeling the episode is going to troll us all, and Negan won't show up until the final couple of minutes. 

He'll appear in the final seconds, say he has to send a message to Rick, raise his barbed wire-covered bat Lucille over his head, and bring it down as the show smash cuts to black. We'll then have to wait until October to find out who got the bat to the head. I hope that's not the case, but the show's been screwing with us like this all season. Remember Glenn's fake-out death? And how the non-ending of the mid season finale, as Sam endlessly repeated "Mom?"

I hope I'm wrong, but I can definitely see them pulling something like this.

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