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Tidbits of the Dead: Still

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The title of this week’s episode of The Walking Dead is “Still.” Still alive. Still surviving in a world that is still dangerous. A still moment trapped inside the trunk of a car. A moonshine still as a source of cathartic release for a character that has people wondering, “why is she still on the show?” An episode that highlights that even though this diverse cast of characters is living in a dark new day, they are still trapped with the preconceptions of their previous lives. All their wants, needs, wishes, and desires bleed through into their zombie apocalyptic lives.

An equally apt title for the episode would be “Haves & Have-Nots.” The driving motivations of Beth and Darryl are towards things that they have been deprived of, not just in the Land of the Dead, but in their lives before that. Beth’s desires a drink. She’s never had one before, and even though she knows how it tainted her father’s life, she wants something to take her mind away from the pain of losing Hershel and (presumably) Maggie. Darryl’s desires are multiple but mostly left unstated. He picks up a purse and fills it with money and jewelry. These things have no meaning in their current predicament, but the desire for wealth is a holdover from his previous life. We learn that before the dead walked he was just a drifter, mostly following the whims of his older brother Merle. While a viewer may have previously felt that Darryl finally metaphorically stepped out of his brother’s shadow in the last season, when he put down Zombie Merle, this is clearly not the case. Truthfully, Darryl has been accepted as an integral member of the group, as Rick, Carol, Beth and all the others accept him. Still, he feels that he didn’t do enough to prevent the Governor from attacking the prison again.

The haves and have-nots are illustrated by the two locations used in this episode. The majority of the zombie action takes place at a golf course country club, where Darryl takes out his repressed anger on a roomful of walkers. The distinction between low class and high class is not subtle. Darryl in his tattered leather vest is almost in worse shape than these zombies in their brightly colored polo and collared shirts. Beth changes into a white cardigan that quickly gets covered with gore. Darryl might insist that she’s just an insulated college-girl — the carefree singer of the group — but Beth’s survival instinct has been newly asserted. Nice clothes don’t matter when you’re dead. Survival is the only thing that matters.

Of course, it’s always nice to have a drink too. Beth and Darryl escape the country club and arrive somewhere that symbolizes where Darryl came from in the world before. It’s a run-down shack out in the woods. Something like his old man used to have. Something familiar. But this familiarity breeds a discontent in Darryl. Beth goads him into drinking with her, and that opens up his perception of the have/have-not gap. He is tired of dealing with every dangerous situation and having everyone depend on him. There is a tense moment when Darryl makes Beth look down the sights of his crossbow at a pinned walker, but Beth proves that even without bow skills, she can handle herself by braining the zed.

They get the bright idea to burn down the shack. It is not a logical one considering the danger of not having shelter, but it is fitting of the characters and their personal progression through the series. Plus, Beth is in good hands being under the protection of who she says will be “the last man standing.” (On that she is probably not wrong. Not because he is so equipped to survive, but because of his popularity, particularly among the female fans of the show.)

Geek of the Week

rich bitch

This one is not a walker, but a corpse. The torso stuck onto mannequin legs was pretty damn cool. Plus, it really drives home the distinction between the haves and the have-nots. I doubt that she was killed because she was well off, but someone, obviously in disdain, took the energy to construct this effigy against rich bitches.

Some Thoughts

  • It looks like next week will continue with Beth and Darryl and expand the show’s POV to Maggie, Bob, and Shasha whom we haven’t seen since the return episode. Also, Beth is in danger, and with all of her good feely moralizing in this episode it wouldn’t surprise me to see her get bitten.
  • I liked the bit of hiding in the car. That and the random shack in the woods reminded me of a great, recent zombie flick called The Battery. It is a low budget but compelling character piece with only two main characters. And they spend a lot of time at a woods in a shack and stuck in a car.
  • How long do you think a zombie would hang before the rope finally cuts clear through the neck? A dead body would probably hang for a pretty long time. But I imagine that the friction caused by all of their undead movement would slowly cause the rope to saw through dead flesh. We’ve already seen hanging walkers before in season two. Let’s see some headless bodies and scattered heads underneath empty nooses!
  • Norman Reedus and Emily Kinney put on some of the finest acting since Andrew Lincoln’s Rick lost his wife last season. It is not surprising to see how Reedus has given his character such longevity, but who would have thought that the whiny suicidal girl from the farmhouse would have stuck around for so long?
  • Peach schnapps really would be a shit first drink.

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading!


Tidbits of the Dead: “Inmates” & “Claimed”

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Well, I missed posting up a timely review of last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Inmates,” so I will briefly touch on that before I delve into last night’s episode “Claimed.”

“Inmates,” in two words:

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OK, I’ll explain my disdain in more than two words.

Glenn’s use of a molotov cocktail on a previously destroyed automobile to lure away walkers in a direct line of sight from him, is an incredible leap of logic. It’s the part I took away “Inmates,” more than the awesome introduction of Abraham, Rosita, & Eugene, more than my annoyance of the bus full of red-shirts being conveniently slaughtered, more than Carol’s uneasy return to the show. Again, Glenn used a molotov cocktail to cause a distraction that lured a zombie to turn away from him and go towards a burning car. This is the sort of thing I expect in an Asylum zombie film, but not in America’s most beloved zombie television series!

Other than his usage of burning brandy, I wasn’t bothered by Glenn uniting with Tara to escape the ruin of the prison. Glenn raiding the prison cells for supplies and donning the riot gear was the smartest thing (outside of wearing zombie guts) he could have done to aid his escape. Of course, it is a bit of a stretch of belief to think that he didn’t just die (you know, from the flu superbug that got everyone else on the bus) while lying just out of reach of the walkers, but I digress.

“Inmates” started with Beth and Darryl escaping through the woods while Beth has a voice-over of words written in her diary. I’m actually less annoyed by Beth than other commentators. I’m glad that she has stuck around, even if her character shift (being the one to push Darryl to keep going) seems a bit forced since she was just suicidal 2 seasons ago. Still, I think she is a more interesting character than her sister Maggie, although I will admit that she’s probably more expendable. Hopefully this added screen importance will lead to her having an awesome death. Darryl in this episode doesn’t do much, besides tracking and kicking dirt on a fire.

As an aside, okay, I get that it is a necessity to build a fire. But, lets say you are in a zombie apocalypse situation. Nightfall comes. You’re in the woods. How do you best ensure your survival for the night? Sulking about next to the campfire, or perched up high in a tree and out of the reach of hungry hands? Hmm . . .

Elsewhere in the woods Tyreese has become primary caretaker of the children, Mika, Lizzie, and Baby Judith! Hooray, Shane’s baby is still alive. (Although we still have to sit through the Grimes’ grieving process.) Now, I’m not surprised that the baby wasn’t killed. Maybe if this show was on HBO, but I don’t think that AMC has the cajones to kill a baby, either on-screen or off. Although, it obviously doesn’t mind killing off the red-shirted children. Do you remember Young Mop Head and Hairband Girl?

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Neither Tyreese, nor Mika, nor the psychopathic Lizzie seem to be grieving for them. Perhaps Lizzie smothered them on their way out of the prison. Lizzie could very well be my new favorite character. She is certainly the most interesting, and you can’t fault her methods (quiet the baby!) for being ineffective. If you’ve read the comics then — SPOILER — I’d put her in the role of the murderous Ben/Billy twin. Only, instead of Carl putting her down, my money would be on Carol. Oh the conflict, oh the drama! — END COMICS SPOILER.

Fortunately for the unawares Grimes family, (and the at home viewers), Carol’s hand-of-God return into the story prevents the death of Baby Judith at the hands of Lizzie, as well as Lizzie & Mika’s death at the hands of walkers. There was tense moment as Carol assesses Tyreese who doesn’t actually know of the hideous act of mercy that she had committed. Not that it should really matter at this point. Did Tyreese’s girlfriend even have a name? If not, she wouldn’t have made it this far anyway.

The other group of stragglers is Maggie, Bob, and Sasha, in this episode representing EMOTION, ACCEPTANCE, & RATIONALITY. Maggie is driven to find Glenn, Bob the Alcoholic Combat Medic shot through the shoulder is cool with dying on a nice rock near the water, and Sasha is the only person who seems to still have her head on her shoulders and tries to regroup and rest up. Emotion wins out and they hunt down the bus, where Maggie kills a bunch of walkers that aren’t her husband. There was a bit of iffy acting as she killed the last zombie on the bus (whose face we don’t see). She seems to convey a range of emotions from happy to despondent, but none of them give a firm indication that she didn’t just off Glenn. Until after the commercial break . . .

At the end of the episode Glenn passes out and Tara is saved by a very badass-looking Sergeant Abraham Ford, his hotpants wearing Latina girlfriend (okay, well, just really like fuckbuddy in the comics) Rosita Espinosa, and the mulleted ‘Dr.’ Eugene Porter. It’s nice to have some fresh faces in the show who have names and who will actually do something!

That’s probably enough about “Inmates,” but before I go on, I want to bitch about red-shirts some more.

Darryl finds some footprints, to which Beth says, “Could be Luke’s, or Molly’s. Whoever they are it means they’re alive.” Darryl responds by saying it means they were alive four or five hours previously (classic Darryl). Now, as an astute viewer, I searched back in my memory to a Luke or a Molly. Couldn’t picture anyone. It took me a bit of Wikipedia sleuthing to deduce that Luke and Molly are Young Mop Head and Hairband Girl. Now, I’m a fan of this show. But I sure as hell don’t think that I should have to look up a character name in order to figure out who is being talked about. Beth could easily have dropped the names Lizzie or Mika, but by mentioning the other two she pulled me out of the narrative. Especially when neither Luke nor Molly actually show up! Maybe they are dead, but then again, we didn’t see them die onscreen, and following Walking Dead logic that means they could still be alive. Tyreese or the other two girls never indicate that they were separated from the others. They never mention that Luke & Molly got eaten either. They are just gone.

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Goodbye Luke and/or Molly.

Here is the other thing that I want to mention. There is a walker that attacks and is killed by Beth. He is obviously fresh, although neither Beth, nor Darryl seem to know this recently deceased individual. This show isn’t smart enough to do a metacommentary about its shitty use of red-shirts, although I admit that I had to stop and consider for a moment. Who is he?

the unknown walker

Later on, in a moment that happened before he turned, Tyreese, Carol & the kids stumble upon this hapless bitten individual. Turns out he was from a separate group, trying to go up the railroad tracks to the safety of ‘The Sanctuary.” Well, he doesn’t call it that, but for the sake of a better term, I will. This guy is someone completely new. Yet, because of how all of the other new characters have been mishandled, I have no idea who the fuck he is! In fact, because of the poorly fleshed out background characters, and the fact that Beth & Darryl are following them, I thought they were just unnamed prison people. But no . . .

All these nameless folks though, they were good people.

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Which brings us to this week’s episode, “Claimed,” which focuses on the groups of Rick, Carl, & Michonne, and Glenn, Tara, Abraham, Rosita, & Eugene. But, actually, fuck it . . . I’ll just write up my thoughts on that episode tomorrow since it’s late and my other recap ran long. Stay frosty folks!


Tidbits of the Dead: After

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Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in!

 

SYNOPSIS

I’m a bit rusty, but fortunately this episode was light on the complicated plot points. This episode follows Rick and Carl as they flee from the zombie madness that the prison became. We also follow America’s favorite scowling samurai Michonne as she gets some new zombie pets and also flees. Joy!

 

Rick

He is the least consequential character in this episode, as he fights a bit with Carl, fails to fully hatchet a zed in the head, and eventually passes out for a day-and-a-half. There was a brief is-he-or-isn’t-he-a-walker scare, but readers of the comic knew that he would pull through. The mid-season finale had a few iconic shots that were lifted from the comic books, but this entire episode was a bit of a self-contained arc in the comic as well. The dynamic between Rick and Carl works here too, but I felt that it was actually a bit better in the comics as Carl was then still his young child-like self.

 

Carl

The zombie apocalypse only exacerbates teenage angst. Rather than just idiotically running around the woods and taunting zombies, Carl is now cockily and idiotically running around the woods and killing zombies. It is interesting how he has turned survival into a sort of game, proclaiming, “I win,” when he scavenges more food than his father, as well as when he narrowly manages to kill 3 zeds that fall on top of him. If this show wouldn’t completely fall apart without the kid I’d have a bit more suspended disbelief, but I just can’t believe that AMC would kill off Carl and leave Rick a widower and childless. I wonder if Carl will bring up Shane again, or if he has got all of this rebelliousness out of his system.

 

Michonne

Rounding out this episode is a bit of character development (about a season & a half too late) for the sword-wielding badass of the group. The best, and most confusing, shot of this episode was the dreamlike (well, actual dream!) scene involving Michonne remembering her brother and lover, before her child Peanut runs up and jumps into her arms. Sadly, Michonne seemed just as awkward in this scene as the other times she tries to not be a badass. Establishing her missing family members at this point seems a bit too late to be genuine. But, I suppose it explains why exactly she has been so reluctant to form any sort of bond with the last few people living in Georgia. Also, she killed Walker Hershel.

 

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Geek of the Week

Which brings us to this episode’s most memorable zombie. It has to be Hershel for me. He looks a bit despondent lying there on the ground, but Michonne mercifully puts him out of his misery. Unfortunately, she isn’t kind enough to do that for any of the other dozens of walkers she beheads in this episode.

 

Lemme Bitch

Michonne leading around two walkers on a leash was a very cool introduction to the character in the comic book. Here it just seems a bit silly, especially when it is established that her previous two pets were known to her in her real, before the end of the world life. Theoretically it would make up for them being just two random walkers and I would also assume that it took a while for them to calm down to the always present meal before them. But here she was able to de-jaw and de-arm two zombies and tame them in the space of a commercial break. I guess my main question is this: why the hell aren’t they still trying to gnaw on her with their top incisors?

 

Looking Forward

In the next episode I predict more of the same. It will be a lot like this one, only focusing on different characters. Will Glen and Maggie reunite? Will the psychotic children get to Tyreese? Will the Governor’s lover and her sister reappear? Will Beth sing a sad song? Will Darryl eat a squirrel? But, the most important question is this: will a busfull of redshirts all namelessly die? Find out next week’s episode, “Inmates.”


Drunken Tidbits of the Dead: Too Far Gone

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Warning: this blog post has been started on my third bourbon, and it might become four or five by the time I finish.

Holy fucking shit. Well, maybe I shouldn’t start with my reaction to the fall of the prison. Maybe I should start with an apology. I’ve neglected this blog, and only in its second month of existence. The truth is that I’ve been keeping up with my shows — American Horror Story and the Walking Dead — but I’ve been too damn busy to write up an in-depth post. Lately, I’ve been stuck in a pink, candy-coated land of sugary K-pop. My job has been really busy as the school semester is winding down, and one of my good friends just exited my life (potentially forever). I realize that not all of my random readers will understand, but certainly some of my hits from here in Korea (Jen), and those who have lived the life before (Arron, and albeit shortly, Mitch) will understand.

But enough about me. Hot damn The Walking Dead! I had initially though that the show was rushing too quickly to this plot point — probably the most anticipated (in comic and television) of the entire show — the fall of the prison. Some thought that it should have happened last season. I don’t agree, but I also don’t think that Woodbury should have fallen last season. This prison storyline should have been strung out a little longer, without the (hinted at, but ultimately swerved) redemption of the Governor.

Okay, this had flaws, and plenty of them. How the hell does anybody manage to run away from the machine gun fire of several well-armed people in the span of a few seconds? (I realize that Breaking Bad also suffered from this, but I criticized that show to my friends as well.) Both Rick and the Governor should have been dead within seconds of the gunfight starting — seeing as Carl et. al. had ‘Brian Heriot’ in their sights, and at least some of the guns were pointed at Rick. But they both managed to avoid HEADSHOT INSTAKILLS. And then later Rick is able to somehow jump the Gov. without anyone else coming to help him or pull the two men apart. How does that happen in the throes of combat? You’d think that someone would have been watching one of the two and tried to help the one that they didn’t like.

It’s with a sad and heavy heart that we say goodbye to Hershel. I’m actually a little surprised that more of the main characters didn’t die. I was almost certain that either Maggie or Beth would be shot through while clutching Baby Grimes. Instead we were served with the unsatisfying conclusion of a bloody car-seat. (And the shittiest thing is that it didn’t even have any bloody chunks, leading me to believe that one of the other children may have grabbed the baby. I realize this is cable TV and it is not kosher to kill children outside of  HBO or other premium channels, but it was a tad bit disappointing not to get a conclusive ending for little Judith Grimes.) Back to Hershel dying — I’m happy that the show kept the bit with the Governor being unable to lop off his victims head with a single strike like Michonne. Originally, SPOILER FOR THE COMICS STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT THAT SPOILED the Governor took several swings to remove the head of Tyreese, but I seeing as he was no-where near as endeared to the at-home viewers, I had thought that Glenn (or extra-special-devilishly Darryl) would fill this role. Although, I must admit that Hershel isn’t a bad choice, but I wonder if that puts the kibosh on a potential wounded-member-of-the-group-wanders-off-to-die-and-gets-eaten-by-cannibals storyline with what I had pegged for Hershel. OK, NOW THE COMICS SPOILER IS FINISHED.

hershel with his throat cut

Just a moment, I’m pouring myself a fourth bourbon.  It’s the Costco Kirkland brand. So cheap, but also not terrible on the tongue. This episode was great for showing the emotional range of David Morrissey. Actually, now that I think about it, I would like to see his story in TV form prior to becoming the Governor. DAMMIT, HERE WE GO WITH ANOTHER COMICS SPOILER: It was great that Lily killed him. Just like in the comic, but here it meant something more. I was also satisfied with the story that rounded out young Megan’s short life (although she was absent from the comic). It featured an homage to Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, and really, any other zombie property that includes the living dead arising from the earth, but it also sealed the deal as to the Governor’s demise. None of the children that grow up in this world will be normal. Lizzie and the prison group confirm that. Megan was sheltered from her life away from the dead, and too young not to be warped or lost to the horrors of the new world. The Governor obviously didn’t want that for her. She was his new daughter (versus Hershel’s who he didn’t give a shit about), and he was fighting for the prison for her sake more than Lily or Tera’s. OKAY, I’LL END THE COMIC SPOILER HERE. But speaking of Lily or Tera, I wonder if we’ll see them again in the second half of this season. I really hope so! It would add an interesting dynamic to see some people who had originally been opposed to the prison group joining up with them later.

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And speaking of joining up with them later: I’m almost dead certain that Carol will come back this season. It is just too convenient that she is on her own now, but that now most of her former survivor friends are too — OK, NOW I’M FEELING THE WHISKEY — I think that Carol will be the conduit between Rick’s group and the new people with Abraham et. al. (fuck, that’s a comics spoiler, and a spoiler in general if you haven’t been following the online news about this show, but actually, not really, since I’m just name dropping a person whom you’ve never met before). Anyway, now I think that Darryl and Rick are the only people who know that Carol was the killer (since Hershel is dead) and the group has more to worry about these days than Tyreese’s potential lover being prematurely killed along with all the other dead redshirts, apart from Previously Seen Before Black Lady on the Bus. They’d best hide it if they do meet up with Carol later — and I think that maybe Tyreese’s concern about Whatever-Her-Name-Was will take a back burner to his concern over the well-being of his sister. But ultimately, it was pretty shitty that we didn’t have a more drawn-out moment between Tyreese-Darryl-Rick. (In which Andrew Lincoln tilts his head to the side and half-scowls, Chad Coleman looks angry and a bit bug-eyed, and Norman Reedus remains my sexy-as-hell-guy-I’d-go-gay-for.) Also, I bet that the whole feeding the rats to the zombies at the gates thing dies too, because that was a stupid side story and it was probably only crazy Lizzie (who I want to stick around!).

Yeah, alright. I’m pouring myself another bourbon, and I’m gonna stop hitting the backspace when I fuck up the spelling of words.

Welcome to the extra-special, extra-drunken edition of TIDBITS OF THE DEAD WITH AXE-WIELDING ALEX. Here are some random thoughts from the rest of the show, as I’ve not taken to plying my inebriated brain to fixing the coherent arguments of whatever the hell I’m thinking about.

    • David Morrisey as the Governor has been a great actor, but I agree with the online sentiment that he has not been redeemed as a despicable character on this show. Also, I’m not absolutely certain that the TV show did a good job of setting him up as beyond redemption. I felt that Rick almost reached him. He said liar, and then cut off Hershel’s head. But he previously admitted to Michonne that he knew his daughter Penny was not alive. (I wonder what would have happened had Lily and dead Megan arrived sooner.) Maybe he would have gone along with Rick’s idea of letting them all live.
    • How the hell is Tera the only one who questions the Governor? What’s-his-nuts-tank-driver’s brother was killed by Brian Heriot, and still her follows him blindly into battle. I’m happy that at least someone questioned the madman, and I hope that this episode isn’t the last that we’ve seen of Tera and Lily. (Yeah, it’s shitty that Tera’s lover got capped in the head by Lizzie, but I’ll hold out on her finding love again — maybe Sasha is a lesbian?)
    • This line: “Don’t look back Carl, just keep walking”  That comes straight from the comics. It was awesome then, and it was awesome tonight. The entire shot — with the prison in flames, and the walkers all in the background was exactly the same just as awesome!
    • How the fuck are there so many walkers, which Rick and Carl gun down, the night before the attack, but only like two (that the Governor easily dispatches) during the late afternoon showdown of Georgia’s last remaining humanity? I think that Martinez’s group should have been shown as having dealt with more.
    • And since we are on the topic of Martinez, how the fuck does he get killed in the last episode when there are actually so many fucking redshirts in the Governor’s group? There’s no way that goes unnoticed. Just as there is no way that such large groups as the previous episode (around 10 [or less] killed by whomever {hopefully cannibals} and Martinez & the Governor’s [what 20 or so?] go unnoticed by Rick and the prison’s group [who, remember, spent months wandering around {an entire winter at least}] before stumbling upon the prison and other people like Woodbury.)
    • Shit, I’ve actually been lying and going back and fixing my mistakes, but this last point was hard to write — what with parentheses, brackets, and whatever the hell the pointy brackets are called.
  • This bourbon is pretty damn good. If you’ve never had it, then I highly recommend that you do. Yes, I feel a bit woozy, but my mental clarity is pretty damn awesome. I’ve not got the inclination to go back and look up whatever delicious amber liquid the Governor and Rick shared last season was, but I’m sure that was just as good as this shit.

    this shit brought me back to chopping up Pieces of Darkness.

    This shit brought me back to chopping up Pieces of Darkness.

    • Will Beth and Carl hook up now that there is one less father (and one less older boyfriend) in the way?
    • Does having a 2 episode buffer help to detract from the fact that this episode featured the miraculous recovery (after a single night) of sick Glenn and all the others?
    • Which is more annoying: Michonne’s ability to roll away from danger in front of all of the Governor’s people, or her completely random disappearance from the show after killing Brian Heriot with her samurai sword, but without her helping of Rick and Carl to safety?
    • Darryl killing badass rough voiced tank driver with a cross-bow bolt to the heart was pretty awesome. I have a feeling that we would have liked (whomever his character’s name was) had we gotten the chance to meet him, but since we didn’t, our more favorite redneck character wins out.
    • Bob the Drunken Combat Medic (like me, only with more combat experience) put away his alcohol and got shot for his trying to help out the group. He is redeemed in my eyes, as I no longer think there was a Governor spy in the midst of the prison. [Though, I’d still be interested in how Shumpert and Martinez managed to make it alone before meeting up with the larger group of expendable redshirts].

Okay. That’s it for my drunken recap of this midseason finale of the Walking Dead. Hopefully more good characters come in YET ANOTHER COMICS SPOILER — I think Abraham & Eugene will be  in the next episode and Jesus (next season) will come in soon, but save that fucking weird tiger dude for a while (maybe season 6?). END COMICS SPOILER.

I’m gonna pour myself one more drink and then pass the fuck out. Happy late Thankskilling to your and yours!


Tidbits of the Dead — Live Bait

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The Walking Dead’s sixth episode of season four proved to be exactly what I wanted it to be — an all Governor episode. “Live Bait” opens on the killing fields of Woodbury from last season. The Governor (David Morrisey) has just finished machine gunning all of his followers, except for his inner circle thugs Martinez and Shumpert the Bowman. In the next scene these three compatriots are camping out — each with a separate tent — while the Governor looks pensively into the campfire. His face is a mix of anger and regret. Wherever he is, he is not in the current moment, as he pays no attention to a female walker that advances towards him. It goes so far as to fall through the campfire without moving. Finally the Governor is pulled away from his thoughts but the gunshot of Martinez putting the walker down. Whoever this man is, he is no longer the maniacal psychopath that unsuccessfully tried to raid the prison at the end of season three. If possible, the Governor is even darker in these moments, as his anger is being bottled up. What is he thinking? Does he still want against Michonne and Rick? Or has he realized that this may be a futile effort?

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“Live Bait” shows us how a broken man, regardless of his state prior to breaking, must pick up the remaining pieces of his life. One could argue that this is what all the people in the world of The Walking Dead face. Everyone has to deal with death now cast in a much more dangerous light. But few people have managed to build something in spite of the hordes of zombies ready to break down the barriers holding the last few pockets of humanity. Rick has achieved something spectacular in clearing out and maintaining the prison. Similarly, the Governor, formerly Philip, and soon to be Brian Heriot, managed to build something in spite of the world of destruction he was living in. As warped as Woodbury under the surface, it was a functioning remnant of society — a piece of light in the darkness of a dead world. Eventually it rotted through as its core foundation — the Governor’s strong leadership — crumbled away. Had Michonne not killed the Governor’s zombified daughter — a mercy killing in the eyes of some, a murder in the eyes of a father — perhaps Woodbury would have stood while the prison fell.

It’s interesting to note that both leaders from last season suffered from mental instabilities. Rick saw the ghost of his dead wife, and that distracted him from being an effective leader. The Governor becomes obsessed with seeking revenge on Michonne and maintaining control over Andrea. In Rick’s case, there were others in his group that were able to pick up the slack that he dropped. Woodbury, however, was like a snake with its head cut off without the Governor in control. Neither of his seconds — Martinez or Shumpert, (or even Merle had he not switched sides) — could pick up the slack and divert the town from imploding. So, the prison group, whose own strained source of power stemmed from the in-fighting between Shane and Rick in season two, survived while the Governor and Woodbury went down in flames.

Where do we go from here? Let’s take a look at the cast from this episode.

Martinez (Jose Pablo Cantillo) & Shumpert (Travis Love) — These two guys did exactly what they needed to do to survive — cut loose and run. Although it wouldn’t have been unjustified for one of them to gun down the Governor before driving away from the Woodbury population killing fields, they took the less messy route of leaving in the night. Perhaps the Governor’s hold on them was still too strong for them to turn their guns on him. As it was, they recognized that he was a failed leader, and they had better chances on their own. We see Martinez again at the end of the episode, but not Shumpert. I hope that Georgia’s second best arrow shooter is still alive!

Megan (Meyrick Murphy) — the Governor’s new daughter figure. Given the monumental task of making the Governor more sympathetic, this is the best way to go about it. If Philip became psychopathic from the deaths of his wife and daughter, then perhaps a new will set him straight again. Maybe this is what he wanted all along, just to reclaim his lost familial unit. If so, then this is exactly what drives Rick — see last week with his first questions asking about the safety of Carl and Judith. Rick and the Governor are just two sides of the same coin.

There were times when the Governor could have cut the dead weight of this family and went out on his own again — after the father died, and when the zombies were after them — but since he didn’t, I’ll take that as a sign that he really does care for this new family in his life. Now, as far as Megan herself goes, I think she has been pretty sheltered from the horrors of life in Zombieland. Her grandfather may have been the only one she saw reanimated, and then she had to witness the ordeal of seeing his head caved in by an oxygen tank. Good thing she’s got a brand new dad in her life, or otherwise she might end up like creepy Lizzie in the prison!

Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Lily (Audrey Marie Anderson) — The cop and the nurse. Who have been hiding away since the entire zombie apocalypse began. If that’s not dereliction of duty, then I don’t know what is. Okay, so Tara was just a cadet in the academy. But Lily should have had a bit more exposure to the dead if she was a nurse. At a hospital. Where sick, injured, dead people end up. However, they seemingly closed themselves off indoors at the first sign of trouble, and have stayed that way for over a year. Heh.

I like the budding relationship that is developing between Lily and ‘Brian Heriot.’ It would have been pretty awkward doing it in the back of a flatbed truck with your daughter and sister sleeping right next to you though. I’ve read criticism that this episode was slow and had too much drama. That’s okay in my opinion though. Had we seen the deaths of the Governor’s new family in the same episode they were introduced, I would not have been pleased. Please AMC, let them stick around for a week or two before pulling the trigger. That will give it a much stronger impact!

David (Danny Vinson) — Lily and Tara’s father and Megan’s grandfather. All in all, I’d say lung cancer ain’t a bad way to go during the end of the world. Still, I wonder why the Governor didn’t tell them that he would turn after his death. Perhaps he had his mind made up to leave, and didn’t have the heart to do so. Or perhaps he already thought they knew.

The Governor aka Philip aka ‘Brian Heriot’ (David Morrisey) — I really liked his transition from consummate bad guy to possibly redeemed by the end of the episode. I think that it won’t work out for him, yet again, and he’ll snap completely when his new family dies. Had it been just the Governor in the pit, do you think Martinez would have shot him? I think had the tables been turned, and the Governor’s family not been right there with him, then Martinez, or anybody else, would have had a new hole in his head. The Governor may be on a path to becoming a changed man, but I think that he will do anything it takes to protect the new family that has adopted him. Only, how will his new family react when they learn of the atrocities he has committed, and the lies he has told them?

Zombie of the Week

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The legless faceless ghoul stuck in the bathtub was incredible. Second place was the zed whose head the Governor ripped off at the jaw. That one looked normal, but that was an awesome effect!

Some Thoughts

    • The the big beard and dirty clothes, the Governor looks like a really frazzled, homeless Snake Plissken.
    • I love how he told the truth about the former leader of his group losing it. Has he really developed a new persona for himself outside of Woodbury, or is he really just manipulating them with his lies?
    • The situation in the apartment with the women and their invalid father is straight from the first Governor novel. Although, since they are on the road now, I doubt anything else similar from the novel will happen with them.
    • The Governor and Megan had some honestly cute interactions, and I think that had we not known the hell Brian went though (caused) to get to that point, he would be a ‘good guy.’
    • With that infection going around the prison, fist bumps might be a great deal safer than handshakes!
    • The burning of the picture could be one of two things. 1. It is a symbolic severing of the man that he used to be — consumed by anger and hatred — and a change into something else. 2. It is a means of the Governor protecting himself from being asked more questions by Lily and Megan about his previous life and family.
    • Is Tara the first lesbian in The Walking Dead?
    • It’s probably not the smartest plan to drop everything and just run willy nilly into the wilderness away from the zombie horde. Especially since the Governor is so adept at killing them with his bare hands!

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Next week, the Governor’s story — who cares about the prisoners? — continues in “Dead Weight.”


American Horror Story: Coven — The Axeman Cometh

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It’s 1919 and the city of New Orleans is gripped in fear from a spate of axe murderers. No, it’s not your humble reviewer, Axe-Wielding Alex, running amuck with a time machine. This killer is a jazz musician with a penchant for chopping up lovely ladies. He holds the city ransom, saying that he will kill again if any house he passes in the night doesn’t have a jazz band playing inside.

Understandably, the women of New Orleans are terrified, but those of Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies are particularly incensed. They are powerful witches after all, though their speech and ladylike manner of ninety-six years past belies their murderous potential. As Axeman (Danny Huston) passes their mansion on his night walk, he hears not jazz but opera music playing on a phonograph. He stalks up the stairs, axe in hand, and finds a solitary woman dealing out tarot cards. When she reaches the Death Card he goes to strike! Only his senses are betrayed! This is a trap that he didn’t foresee, and like Julius Ceasar centuries before, he is knifed to death by a mob of black-hooded figures.

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Thus begins of “The Axeman Cometh” with the mortal end of the Axeman. After the opening credits American Horror Story: Coven flashes forward to the present day with our second-most virginal witch Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) investigating the missing Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts). Zoe rifles through a box of Madison’s stuff, where she finds a flask and a derringer, before being led by a rolling mini-bottle of alcohol into a secret closet compartment. She finds photographs populated by past coven women, but more importantly she finds a ouija board, or as Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) calls it, a spirit board.

Zoe presents her hypothesis of dwindling witch generations and proposes that the three remaining neophytes do something to combat the problem by starting with discovering what happened to Madison. While Nan (Jamie Brewer) is consumed by her crush on neighbor boy Luke (Alexander Dreymon [absent from this episode]), and Queenie, in the pocket of Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange), wants to play things safe by first consulting the Supreme, Zoe’s initiative wins out. The three witches drink absinthe — drink of the divine, which [they] are — are then hold a seance with the spirit board. Queenie cautions the others — be polite! — but instead of summoning Madison, they make contact with another of the house’s deceased spirits — AXEMAN — who accuses the witches of murdering him. Queenie stops before they can find out anything more, again cautioning the others by saying, “If survival is so important to you, you better find out who you’re talking to!”

The girls research the Axeman by checking an online fan site. They quickly learn that the jazz man killed eight people, and connect the dots that the nickname for a saxophone, which he played, was an ‘axe.’ Nan points out a picture of the class of 1919 witches, and Queenie reads out a diary entry that foretells his killing: “This jazz killer has killed long enough. This city is done trembling. Tonight it ends.”

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Zoe presses the Axeman’s ghost for more information about Madison, but Queenie and Nan, afraid of releasing the murderous spirit, wisely opt out of a second seance. The youngest witch goes it alone, and the spirit board gives her the clue ATTIC. Up in the attic Zoe finds walls of creepy babydolls, and then Madison’s overly ripe, one-armed corpse. Spalding (Denis O’Hare) grabs Zoe from behind, but she easily gets out of his grasp and knocks him out with one of his precious porcelain dolls.

The girls tie the “twisted tea-serving necrophiliac” up to a chair and torture a confession out of him. Spalding hides Fiona’s deeds and takes full responsibility for Madison’s death, saying that he killed her just to have sex with her dead body. He also mocks them, saying that if they go to the police it would bring disaster down on the coven. In retaliation Queenie uses her power to burn half of his cheek off with a red-hot spatula. Zoe doubts the veracity of his confession, but as of yet she doesn’t peg Fiona.

Instead, she travels to Misty Day (Lily Rabe)’s swampy sanctuary for help. Misty has been busy with the recently resurrected Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy), buried under a mound of mud, and the returning FrankenKyle (Evan Peters) Monster. Misty tries giving Kyle a bath, but doing this causes him to have visions of his incestuous mother. He has a fit of rage, smashing a chair and Misty’s 8-track player (along with her Stevie Nicks tape) in the process. Fortunately, Zoe arrives just in time to soothe the savage beast, and takes them both back to the mansion.

Kyle gets chained up while Zoe and Misty perform a ritual to bring Madison back to life. They reattached her arm, and then literally push the death out of her corpse. Out pops a mouthful of blood and a single cockroach, but Madison sits up, coughing, and says, “I need a cigarette.” Afterwards, Zoe decides to keep Madison a secret from Fiona. Misty raids the kitchen, but declines staying with the coven, saying that “she’s got bad vibes, real bad” about something foul in the house.

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Meanwhile, Fiona receives chemotherapy, but she is plagued not just by cancer, but also by the thoughts of the other patients in the hospital room. Suddenly she has acquired the power of mind reading! This new power freaks her out, and she tries to leave, ripping the IV from her arm to squelch the others’ thoughts. She says that her daughter Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) needs her more than ever before, and that she’s only doing the cancer treatment for her. Of course, Fiona shows a bit more selfishness when she says that she just wants one more great love affair in her life. In order to comfort herself, she placates the others in the treatment room, easing the worries on their minds.

Blind Cordelia, using a white cane, arrives home with her husband Hank (Josh Hamilton) to find that Fiona has specially prepared her room for her. Cordelia finally has a bit of an edge to her character. She chides her mother for furnishing her room with the wrong type of flowers — “roses pull in love and romance, but that’s not what [she’s] looking for . . . [she] needs chrysanthemums for strength and protection.” She has another vision of her cheating scumbag of a husband, and says that he “will be accountable for every single betrayal.” After Hank leaves, Cordelia has a vision of Fiona burning Myrtle Snow at the stake. Fiona maintains that Snow committed the acid attack on her, but Cordelia knows that isn’t true.

Hank ends up going straight to Cornrows City, where he has a powwow with Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). In an interesting turn of a events, it seems that Hank is a ‘professional witchhunter’ hired by Laveau to take out not just the coven, but all of the descendants of the original Salem witches. Which is what he has been doing — in a flashback Hank is seen spying on Cordelia while interviewing Kaylee (Alexandra Breckenridge), the redhead whom he shot in the head two episodes ago. Hank cites her death, as well as eight others, as proof that he hasn’t gone soft. Bassett delivers an excellently acted monologue and with simmering anger rants about the coven witches disrespecting her, Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) being dug-up, and Fiona’s beheading of her beloved Minotaur. Laveau gives Hank an ultimatum, she’ll have either the heads of all the witches in the coven, or his.

However, it is not Hank who poses a threat to his wife, but the spirit of the Axeman. He had been promised release from Zoe, but she reneged on that, so now the vengeful spirit threatens Cordelia to call the others to release him.

At the same time in another room, Madison is being questioned by Zoe, Nan, and Queenie. The previously deceased witch doesn’t remember the circumstances surrounding her death, just the color red, and then black forever. Cordelia’s screams draw the living witches away. On the other side of a locked door, Cordelia blindly flees from her stalker, who relishes in chopping up the furniture. The lights cut out and jazz music fills the house. The three girls run down to the library, where Zoe is drawn to a book that will release the Axeman from his after-life imprisonment in the house. After the spell is said, all of the candles in the house flare up and they are able to get to Cordelia.

The next shot shows the Axeman, leaving the house, going out the front gate, and then arriving at a jazz bar to buy a gal a drink. And who is that gal? Why, it’s the Witch Supreme Fiona Goode.

Some Thoughts

The next episode is the halfway point of the season. I’m still not exactly sure how things are going to shape up for the second half of Coven’s run. There will be two factions against Fiona. Laveau’s voodoo sect along with Hank and Misty & Myrtle. I honestly don’t see someone like Laveau teaming up with the other two witches, but she may end up trying to use them in her schemes against the coven. There are two wildcards — Cordelia and Zoe. Cordelia did not approve of her mom killing Myrtle, but I honestly can’t see her turning against Fiona. While she is angry at her mom, she has a stronger connection to the coven than to possibly betraying it to Hank and Laveau. Zoe, I think, suspects Fiona. While Queenie is clearly in Fiona’s pocket now, Zoe has had more meaningful interactions with outsider Misty Day. Also, she has one of the witches most traumatized by Myrtle’s execution. However, she does proclaim to have the coven’s best interests in mind and wants the race of witches to be preserved for future generations.

The confrontation between Laveau and Fiona should be epic when it finally arrives, but I think that Fiona will have some other pesky things to deal with before then. She will probably feel the betrayal of a lover in the form of the Axeman. Would this bring her closer to her love-spurned daughter? I think that the Supreme will also have to reckon with Luke’s over-bearing Christian mom again in the future.

I have no doubt that Hank will have his head end up on someone’s platter, but whether that is Fiona’s, Cordelia’s or Laveau’s I’m not sure. Perhaps he may even try to get with Zoe and be fucked to death!

One of the things that I didn’t really like too much about AHS‘s first season was how much power it gave the spirits. They were dead, but essentially could act in any way a living person could. In my opinion their spiritness needed to be tempered with a limitation to their physical interactions with living characters. Coven obviously has taken a different route in dealing with the dead characters until now, but I hope that the Axeman gets some sort of demonic explanation rather than just being a disembodied ghost. On that note, I thought that Danny Huston was excellent in his role as a murderous madman. His facial expressions and mannerisms reminded me a bit of Laura Palmer’s killer in Twin Peaks.

I laughed out loud when Fiona called Hank jughead.

Additionally, this line from Bassett got a laugh too: “You think I did that? I look like the Taliban to you?”

Kathy Bates was conspicuous by her absence. I’m sure she will pop up next week, and it will be interesting where he allegiances lie concerning Fiona and the rest of the coven.

I was never a big Stevie Nicks fan before, but I’ve been digging her tunes in this season.

Next week, Fiona has one more great love affair with the Axeman in “The Dead.”


Tidbits of the Dead — Internment

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If last week’s The Walking Dead was an episode to spotlight the Melissa McBride’s Carol character, then this week’s “Internment” served to illuminate Scott Wilson’s Hershel. This one had a lot of ups and down in my opinion. It was good to see a lot of Hershel, and I was actually on the edge of my seat at a few times during this episode. Unfortunately, I was also yelling at these idiotic characters a few times during my viewing as well. All in all, it was better than the average middle of the season episode and featured a good amount of zombie action, some characterization for some surviving (and dying) players, and the long-awaited return of an ominous character missing since last season.

Let’s take a closer look at who had the biggest impact this week:

  • Hershel (Scott Wilson) — spent the episode playing Florence Nightingale to the patients of the prison. He is first seen intubating another random redshirt — who you guessed it, wouldn’t survive the episode — with a very sick looking Glenn and Sasha. However, given that we know their names, odds are they are safe! Hershel decides that they will try to keep as many people alive for as long as possible until Daryl and the others get back with the magical medicine that’ll put any fear of sickness far in the past. Hershel and Glenn have been braining the dead ones away from the others, in order to keep up their dying spirits — mostly on the advice of some other unnamed redshirt who quoted this Steinbeck line to Hershel: a sad soul can kill quicker than a germ. No need to have this guy actually say the line as a living person, you know, to give the homeviewer a bit more of a feeling for his death. Nope, just stick that cold, sharp metal into skull and try to convey your own sense of loss for the senselessness of violence in this fictional world telegraphed into senseless violence on our TV screens.

I’m diverging a bit here. OK, I love violent films and shows just as much as the next guy. I really like this show too. The thing is, it already has plenty of senseless nameless killing with all of the zombies put down week in and week out. I just want to care for these humans before they are killed too. But I can’t. This show won’t let me. How are we supposed to give a shit about any of them if the producers don’t let us know anything about them? This season has introduced an irritatingly countless number of extras, and yet it is killing them off just as quickly as another unknown is able to mosey out of a prison cell. It’s so goddamned annoying. And I’m not hating on this just because I think The Walking Dead is a stupid show. I think this is a good show, and it has a lot of potential, but it is also really screwing the pooch in a lot of respects — especially in the of handling any newbies or non-comic series established characters. OK, end rant.

  • Hershel does some heroics, later on, wrestling an intubation bag out of the mouth of a walker while on top of a second floor jump guard. He also plays pied piper and finishes off the walker parade with some glorious shotgun blasts.

  • Glenn (Steven Yeun) — He plays Hershel’s second for most of the episode, but the virus is slowly sapping his strength. Glenn does CPR on and stabs a redshirt in the head. Near the end he collapses and begins choking on his own blood. Fortunately, Glenn is one lucky bastard, for three reasons. 1. Lizzie lures away a zombie that rightfully should have gotten its paws onto Glenn. 2. Maggie and Hershel get to him in time to intubate him with a questionably contaminated intubation tube. (I sure as hell wouldn’t want something in my mouth that had just been in a zed’s mouth, no matter how fresh that corpse was.) 3. He only gets really sick right before Daryl and the others show up with their magical medicine that will instantly cure all the sick people.

  • Maggie (Lauren Cohan) — She had a few moments of badassery this episode. I’m happy that we got the shot of her manning the prison fences solo until Rick came back. There was an ungodly amount of zombies piled against the fence, and notice how she was being proactive about it rather than running off like Rick did. Later she has a heart to heart with Hershel who was hiding how sick Glenn really was. Then at the moment when Hershel is struggling with the intubated walker on the jump guard Maggie has to make a tough decision to shoot and risk losing both of her loved ones (Glenn if she shot the bag, and Hershel if she missed the walker.) She ended up saving them both, so Maggie did good this episode.

  • Rick (Andrew Lincoln) — Maggie reinforces that he did the right thing about Carol. I’m still on the fence about that one though, because really had Carol simply communicated what should have been done to the others, it may have saved more lives in the end. But that’s in the past. Now we have a Rick who seems committed to living in this hellish future. He has a philosophical conversation with Hershel that seems like something we’ve heard countless times before. We’re changed, it won’t be the same, blah blah blah. This isn’t the beginning of the end of the world. There are dead people out there who want to eat you! You can’t be a farmer Rick, or as Carol said last week, “You can’t be just a farmer!” Rick seems to be on the decisive path of making up his mind and sticking to it, although he does flipflop once more before the episode would end: when he first returns he sees Carl, but wants him to stay put with the other children.

Carl: Dad, you can’t keep me from it.

Rick: From what?

Carl: From what always happens

Rick: Yeah, maybe, but I think it’s my job to try.

Later on realizes the stupidity of keeping his son locked away and has him help shore up the prison defences.

  • Carl (Chandler Riggs) — Turns out he is a crack shot with a machine gun. Of course, I was always under the impression that automatic weapons were foolish to use against zombies (see World War Z — the book, not the shitty movie). However, they work here just fine, despite the safer and smarter plan of picking off the invading zombie horde from one of the guard towers. If they had the ammunition, then why didn’t they just use it on the horde in the first place?

  • Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) — She assisted Hershel with the sickies. Good for her for helping. It’s not like any of the other no names were going to lift a finger. The writers wouldn’t let them.

  • Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) — I’m glad at least one new character got some good screen time. Psychologically damaged little Lizzie lured a zombie away from Glenn, saving his life. Although, it is not made entirely clear what she had planned to do to get rid of the zombie after that. She trips and falls, but fortunately Hershel is able to bound up the stairs (on one leg) and save her. As with Daryl, I think she will be most affected by Carol’s absence, although seeing how Hershel and Rick tend to baby the minors, they’ll probably hide the truth from the children about why their edged-weapons instructor is no longer a part of the group.

  • Daryl (Norman Reedus), Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Bob (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.) — They return safely! Hooray! Daryl says and does little, but you know there will be hell to pay when Rick tells him what went down with Carol. (Hopefully this dramatic moment happens on screen, though I can see AMC just having a pissed off Daryl heading out after her to start the next episode.) Tyreese comforts his sister. Given how he doesn’t seem close to any of the Woodbury people, and the poor history with the original prison group, Tyreese is much less connected to everyone than in the comics. If (when) he bites the bullet, I think that this will dampen the impact of his death. Michonne is on walker duty, cleaning up the corpses. You gotta do something to stay fit. Bob the Drunken Combat Medic administers an IV. Hope he didn’t accidentally put vodka in that syringe, yukyukyuk!

  • The Governor (David Morrissey) — Hells yes! He’s back! Next week should be interesting. What I hope they do is have an all Governor episode to fill in the blanks of what’s been going on with him since last season. Why not? They have plenty of time to fill. Might as well show us how he’s been managing on the road and whatever happened to his missing lackeys Martinez and Shupert.

  • The Newbies (An Unnamed Legion) — Well, I already ranted a bit about them above, but why not some more? Here is photographic evidence of 15 other people in the prison beyond the mainlisted cast.

HenryThis is our first redshirt. Here he is being intubated because he can no longer breathe on his own. His name is Henry. But he didn’t get this name until he died and tried to attack Glen. Then he chased after Lizzie. Hershel threw him over the second floor railing and onto the jump guard. Maggie shot him in the head. Long live Henry.

 mrjacobsonThis is Mr. Jacobson. He is the only other redshirt to get a name in this episode. He dies and then Hershel and Glenn take him into another room away from the others. They put a sheet over his face. He wakes up as a zombie, and then Glenn stabs him in the head.

DrSThis is Dr. S or Caleb. Besides Bob and Lizzie, he has been the best established newbie character this season. He was the only one with the foresight to close his cell door before he died. He was also smart enough to bring a shotgun into the internment with him. See how he’s bleeding from the eye? Later Hershel would stab him through that eye. That’s foreshadowing folks.

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This guy likes Steinbeck but nothing else is known about his literary tastes. He collapses and dies in front of everybody, but Hershel takes him in another room before stabbing him in the head.

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These redshirts stand up on the second floor and look down on Hershel while he tends to the Steinbeck fan.

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This guy does likewise. At first I thought he was the same as the guy on the left in the picture above, but they do appear to be wearing different clothes. Nothing is none about how he survived Woodbury, or even if he was from Woodbury.

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This kid appears to be about Carl’s age. He is probably only a fraction as badass though. Don’t expect him to wear any sort of awesome sheriff’s hat anytime soon.

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This sickly guy is one person we get the best shot of. Which leads me to think that he’ll probably die violently in the next episode. He seems a little bit like Axel to me. Remember how the prison used to have prisoners inside?

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This gal can be seen behind Hershel as he is loading the Steinbeck guy onto a stretcher. I think that she might be the one who dies and initiates the zombie attack on the first floor, but I could be wrong.

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Here is another random woman. I don’t think she is the one who dies since she looks pretty spry here in this tiny-ass picture. Maybe she is the back-breaker woman, but her hair doesn’t look blonde enough.

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Here is the bloody mouthed zombie that falls on top of Hershel. She gets her back broken with a well placed stomp from the blonde woman, which saves Hershel. Perhaps she is the grieving mother of the child that died a few episodes ago. Perhaps she harbored feelings for Daryl that she kept suppressed for respect of Carol. The world may never know . . . All we know for sure is that she ate a facefull of shotgun buck.

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This guy actually had some lines! No name, but some lines! I had high hopes for him since he was smart enough to close the door to the cell holding him and his son. Only, actually he was pretty dumb. His son was dead, and although he had a gun, one can’t be certain that he was going to use it on his son. Instead he tries to shoot the zombie on Hershel, only to get bit by his zombie son and ends up accidentally shooting the blonde. Despite his obvious ineptitude he made it a year and a half into the zombie apocalypse, so that’s a win!

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This young redshirt dies, reanimates, eats his dad and then gets shotgunned by Hershel.

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The blonde girl actually does something consequential, but ends up getting shot for her troubles. Is she alive or dead? No zombie is shown eating her, but no one is shown tending to her gunshot wound either. The group could use more go-getters like her, so maybe Rick or Daryl should strike up a conversation with her, learn her name, more about her, etc. (Or more likely, just never see her again.)

Zombie of the Week

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There was a bunch in the horde, and the bloody mouth girl and intubated Henry looked good, but I really liked this jawless guy whose forehead Rick shoves a steel rod into.

Come back next week as the Governor kills off all your favorite redshirts, this time played by entirely new actors! Until then, have a cry about killing your nameless comrades, and have a listen to this tune featured in the show:


American Horror Story: Coven — “Burn, Witch. Burn!”

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American Horror Story: Coven continues to wow me! This week’s episode, “Burn, Witch. Burn!,” has upped the ante on typical television (The Walking Dead) zombie gore, with an outrageous sequence of Zoe (Taissa Farminga) wielding a chainsaw. Along with the extended zombie attack, there was an initial seed of character progression with Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson) who was attacked with acid in the last episode. And of course, as the title alludes to, there was a witch burning at the stake.

Synopsis

First, the episode opens on All Hallows Eve in 1833 with a reinforcement of Madam Delphine (Kathy Bates) LaLaurie’s despicability, as she shows off her chamber of horrors to the suitor of one of her daughters. He is grossed out by a dish full of eyeballs and a string of eviscerated intestines. Following this incident, LaLaurie catches her daughters plotting against her, and she has them abducted from their beds and imprisoned for a full year. These daughters are now zombies on the steps of Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies where LaLaurie, Zoe, Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), Nan (Jamie Brewer), and neighbor boy Luke (Alexander Dreymon) are trapped.

Nan says that the people besieging the house are dead, as she cannot hear them. Luke thinks that it is all a prank, so he goes outside to tell them off. For a moment they are in a catatonic, unmoving state, and neither Luke nor some teenagers (complimenting their awesome prosthetics) can rouse them. Then Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett), floating in her voodoo chamber, tells the zombies to “BEGIN.” They kill the random teens, and would have gotten Luke as well, if Nan hadn’t ran outside to save him. Zoe instructs Spalding (Denis O’Hare) to hustle the others upstairs, (but not, he silently indicates to his room), then she goes outside to find Nan and Luke trapped inside a car.

Zoe calls the zombies to pull them away from the car, but it seems to be a poorly thought-out plan, as they quickly chase her into a shed. Back inside the house, LaLaurie sees her daughter and opens the door to let her in. While LaLaurie seems to be rediscovering her humanity (unconvincingly, I might add), the living dead daughter has lost whatever remained of hers, and she attacks her mother. The shot cuts away with LaLaurie being held up off her feet, and the ghoul with a stranglehold around her neck. Unexplainably, later this same zombie is upstairs, and stalks Queenie after bludgeoning Spalding with a candle stick. Queenie uses a shard of glass and slices her own throat, transferring the effect with her human voodoo doll powers, and dusty gore sprays from the zombie’s throat. It doesn’t die though, until LaLaurie (frazzled, but seemingly unharmed) shoves a firepoker through its back and out its front.

Queenie says, “Holy shit, you killed it!” And this point proves that we aren’t in Romero zombie territory, but instead the witches are battling something more akin to the tele-fantastic zombies from The Video Dead — they have to be damaged enough to be killed again. Instead of discussing how to kill the rest of the ghouls, LaLaurie wallows, saying “She had a monster for a mother. This last act was the only kindness I ever did for her.”

Back outside, Nan and Luke make a run for the house, but Luke collapses and is too weak to move from blood loss. All seems lost as the zombies bear down on them, until Zoe appears with a MOTHERFLIPPING CHAINSAW! She does her best Bruce Campbell impression and slices and dices the dead until the chainsaw predictably sputters and dies. Instead of dismembering the last zombie, Zoe outstretches her arm and says some magic (Being of nature?) words. It collapses, as does Laveau in her voodoo chamber, who remarks, “I don’t know what that was, but they got some real power in that witchouse now.”

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Elsewhere in New Orleans, Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) accompanies Cordelia to the hospital after catching a glimpse of a black-cloaked figure leaving the bar. Fiona has a breakdown after learning that her daughter is now blind. What follows are several dreamy sequences of Fiona walking down hospital corridors (complete with flickering lights and abandoned wheelchairs), pilfering pills from a storeroom, receiving a weird message from a creepy-looking (diaper-wearing) patient, and resurrecting a stillborn baby for a grieving mother. These shots are blurry, and coupled with the camera-work bouncing back and forth, give the viewer some insight into Fiona’s mental state.

Later Cordelia’s murderous, secret-life living husband Hank (Josh Hamilton) shows up to the hospital. Fiona has an angry spat with him, including the great jab “You’re one step up from the men who stand in front of Home Depot.” Ultimately Fiona leaves him alone with Cordelia, and as he holds onto her hand, Cordelia has a sudden vision of all of Hank’s secrets.

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The next day sees the witches burning a big pile of zombie corpses, which apparently nobody else in the neighborhood much minds the smell of. Fiona tells Nan that Luke can stay until he is fully healed, and she also praises Zoe for protecting the coven. Then LaLaurie tries to bond with her over their shared terrible mothering skills. While LaLaurie hopes that their tragedies will bring them closer together, Fiona puts her in her place, telling her that “I doubt it, you are after all, the maid.”

The council returns and informs Fiona that she must abdicate her Supremecy of the coven. Instead Fiona pulls a political power play that fingers (acid-burned) Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) as the one who has committed all of the recent (and past) transgressions against the coven. Fiona produces photographic proof that Snow had been spying and plotting against her, and then has Queenie put acid burns on Snow’s hand to implicate her as Cordelia’s attacker. With all of this evidence, the Council has no choice but to condemn Myrtle Snow to death by burning at the stake.

Snow takes these accusations in stride. She decides it would be better to die than to stay connected to a coven that has become so polluted and mislead by Fiona’s personal ambition and lust for power. She says, “I go proudly to the flame. Go ahead. Burn me.”

Which they do. The witches’ albino mafia-looking goons tie up Snow, douse her with gasoline, and then Fiona ignites her with a lit cigarette, all while Dr. John’s Right Place Wrong Time plays over the scene. Snow burns for several agonizing seconds until her spirit seems to fly outward. The others are all mesmerized by the flames, but Fiona calmly walks away.

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The episode is essentially over here, except for a quick scenes that indicate where the story will be going in the next week:

  • Queenie expresses guilt about her part in implicating Snow, but Fiona placates her with the idea that she’ll help her to become the next Supreme of the coven.

  • Spalding sprays a lot of aerosol to cover up the stench of Madison’s visibly rotting corpse, stuck inside a trunk. He is dressed (bonnet and nightgown) for a teaparty, but when he tries to pull Madison out, her arm snaps off.

  • The episode ends with Misty Day (Lily Rabe) finding Myrtle Snow’s burned corpse. She uses her power of resurrection to bring Snow back to life.

Some Thoughts

I reference The Video Dead earlier in this blog, but the zombies also seem a bit like those from Burial Ground in their tool use, wielding hoes and axes. Also, the sequence held a bit of Night of the Creeps for me.

This episode really had a B-movie quality that I loved. Lange wandering around a creepy looking hospital was straight out of something like Session 9, Silent Hill, or akin to Laurie Strode in the deserted hospital in Halloween 2. Also, the fact that the zombie that attacks Kathy Bates illogically ends up in another part of the house, without killing Bates adds to the B-movie lack of logic. I think it is deliberate. While a show like The Walking Dead does (and should) take itself seriously, AHS has much more leeway to have fun.

I don’t like how Kathy Bates’s character is so hard and evil in the 1830s but rather grandmotherly in the present day. I’m not saying that this shift in character can’t (or shouldn’t) happen, but I don’t believe that it could have happened so quickly. It’s not like she changed during her time underground. She goes in a racist old coot, comes out a racist old coot, and then in the span of a few days becomes a softer, more grandmotherly person. Again, I like that her character is changing, but I don’t think it has been earned yet, especially when it opens by reinforcing how much of a wretched person she used to be.

Lily Rabe is back but only in a short bit. I have a feeling that she’ll play a bigger part in the next episode by teaming up with Frances Conroy’s character. Perhaps they’ll join with the voodoo sect against the coven, or maybe it will be Misty Day that has to chose between joining the coven and betraying Myrtle Snow, or sticking with the other witchy outcast.

I’m curious now to learn more about Hank and Cordelia’s relationship. I mean, obviously he knows she is a witch, but it seems that she has no idea about his secret life until this episode. Does he possibly have some superpowers in him too? Or is he just a murderous scumbag?

Come back later in the week for more witchy woman B-movie on TV goodness when American Horror Story: Coven returns with “The Axeman Cometh.”


Tidbits of the Dead — “Indifference”

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The Walking Dead continued its streak of ‘I’ titles with this week’s “Indifference,” which obviously alludes to Carol’s indifference and lack of remorse about killing Karen and David. This episode was heavy on human drama and light on zombie action. It was also a roadtrip episode, which tend to be a bit better than most of the sit-and-twiddle-our-thumbs-in-the-prison episodes. Fortunately, we get the chance to have some much needed characterization for several of the newer main characters. Unfortunately, we have lost my favorite character of the season thus far, although, as you’ll see, she hasn’t left this show in typical Walking Dead fashion.

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  • Carol (Melissa McBride) — She changed more than anyone else in the original cast. From battered wife, to grieving mother, to hardened survivalist teacher, Carol has undergone a transformation unlike anyone else on this show. Perhaps she hardened too much. Rick seems to think so. It was callous to take the lives of two others without consulting the rest of the group. While, she believes what she did was the correct course of action, I doubt that she would have killed one of the children. Some say that her killing of Karen and David was too out of character for Carol. To a certain extent I agree, but it was a necessary plot device for the TV show. For one it made a bit of buzz around the show (who was the mysterious killer?), which only lasted for a single week. Secondly, it allowed for Tyreese to harness his anger, which barring the death of his sister, couldn’t have happened any other way. It is a shame that the prison group has lost one of its most valuable members. It’s more of a shame that The Walking Dead has lost one of its most valuable actresses. Fortunately with her driving out into the sunset, Melissa McBride’s character could return in the future. Although I don’t see that happening until after the prison falls, Carol could once again prove her mettle by being the link for Rick’s group into a newer, larger community.
  • Rick (Andrew Lincoln) — He did the right thing. Despite (my) loving Carol so much this season, I can see that Rick did a logically consistent thing by cutting her loose. He stayed true to himself. I think that he may be a bit disappointed to have to lose her. The others will probably second guess him, especially if he doesn’t tell them the truth, but that’s the way of Rick’s leadership. He rides the middle ground. I doubt any other killer in any other situation would get exiled, but Rick showed a bit of compassion in that.
  • Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) — Finally, the drunken combat medic’s alcoholic history comes into play! I really liked his interplay with Daryl in this episode. He proved his worth to the group by helping them find the proper medications, but he also showed how he could be detrimental to the others with the stranglehold that alcohol still has on him. They let him keep the bottle he took, so I’m hoping to see him get into more trouble because of it. It’s something to add more interest to the show, which will be necessary after losing Carol.

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    Daryl and Bob smoke in a few scenes of this episode. I doubt Farmer Rick has given any crop space to tobacco, so those cigarettes have to be nasty and stale as hell. Still, it’s a stress reliever that offers less detrimental side-effects than alcohol. Besides, all of their lives at a greater risk from the zombies, other humans, and an eye-bleeding infection, so cancer is hardly something to worry about.

  • Daryl (Norman Reedus) — He showed his caring side as well as a bit of badassery when confronting Bob about the bottle in this bag. Daryl fearlessly (recklessly?) pulled Bob’s gun out of the holster, and then kept calm even to resist the urge to push Bob off of the structure into the waiting undead hands below.
  • Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) — Anger gets you killed. He’ll get over Karen’s death, but it will be interesting to see how he reacts to the information that Carol was the killer. Will he personally want to get revenge and be driven to follow after her like Michonne is driven to find the governor? Will he think that Rick didn’t do enough to protect the group by letting Carol live? How would his mental state worsen if his sister dies too? In my opinion, Tyreese, angry and uncontrollable is worse to the group than a could and calculating Carol.
  • Michonne (Danai Gurira) — Maybe it is the actress, or maybe it is the character, but there is something insincere about Michonne dealing with her emotions. She always has to be hard and bitter like it would after her stature as a badass if she does anything otherwise. Daryl can be cute and goofy and a badass, but Michonne doesn’t get that pass. I’m not sure exactly why it isn’t working for me.
  • Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) — While all of the others at the prison were offscreen this week, Lizzie got a bit of screentime with Carol. I liked the interplay between the two, especially with her calling Carol mom. It’s a shame that we won’t have a psychologically-damaged child looking up to Carol in that way. I think I would have enjoyed that. Hopefully she won’t get lost in the shuffle, but I also don’t want to see her go off on her own (or with her sister) after Carol. Then the others would go traipsing off after them, and that would be too much like season 2’s search for Sophia. Only, I can see the creative types thinking that it would be a good reason for some more episodes away from the prison without having to actually go somewhere else. I hope I’m wrong, but I fear this may just happen.
  • The Newbies (Robin Lord Taylor & Brina Palencia) — Didn’t last long. Here it is a year and a half (or more) after the zombie apocalypse, and there are still lots of folks that should be hardened survivors dying like pansies. It’s interesting to note that they would have lived had they followed Rick’s orders to stay put, but instead they decided to help out like Carol wanted them to do. Seems a bit heavy-handed to me. And seriously, even if that girl had a fucked up leg, how does she get taken down by two walkers? Ugh.

Walker of the Week

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Honestly, none of them were terribly memorable this week. I’ll give the nod to this guy stuck under some wreckage though, just because he got the most screen time.

Next week’s episode continues the streak of ‘I’ titles with “Internment.” I’m guessing it’ll be another one chock-full of human drama — why do we have to stay locked up in quarantine guys? — and low on zombie violence. What do you think?


American Horror Story: Coven — “Fearful Pranks Ensue”

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“Fearful Pranks Ensue” opens up in 1961 depicting the type of racial incident that is not a prank, but does have dreadfully fearful consequences. A black youth is riding on his bicycle down a tree-lined lane when behind him a dark truck pulls up. It speeds up, getting closer and closer, so the boy pedals harder and harder. The truck’s bumper is inches away from the back tire of the bike, and finally the boy turns into a driveway, jumps off of his bike, and runs down an alley. Unfortunately, it is a dead end, and as the boy turns around he comes face-to-face with three angry looking white men. The scene cuts away to Marie Laveau’s hairshop, still in 1961, where one of the beauticians is saying that her son is starting his first day at the newly desegregated high school. Angela Bassett’s character seems to think this is a bad idea, and the viewer knows what is in store for the previously chased boy. There is a quick montage of a faraway shot of a single, desolate figure hanging from a large tree, a noose being cut down, and the mother over the lynched boy’s body, pushing the white police officer away. Laveau is in the background here looking fierce and plotting a voodoo revenge that she quickly executes with a ceremony involving slicing open snakes and drinking their flaming blood from a large chalice. Then, all of a sudden, American Horror Story turns into The Walking Dead as corpses start rising up from their graves. These living dead ain’t just hungry — they’re armed. There are some Native Americans with tomahawks, a civil war veteran carrying his bayonet mounted gun, and a big dead guy with an axe. The zombies stalk after and find the three men of the lynch mob, whose insides soon come out in a scene of bloody evisceration and dismemberment in what must be AHS’s most graphic scene to date.
Coming back from the show titles is the butler Spalding (Denis O’Hare) having a tea party with a roomful of creepy dolls. This is a very Spalding heavy episode which would circle back to this tea-party motif near the end of the episode. But first there is a quick recap of Spalding witnessing the neck-slashing scene that played out last week between Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) and Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts). He pours Fiona a drink, and rolls Madison’s body up in the bloodstained rug, while Fiona engages in what she does best — witty quips — saying, “I’ve always enjoyed our little talks together, particularly since you lost your tongue.”
Fiona goes to investigate a crash in the solarium, where she finds Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) having been gored by the minotaur. The beast rises up behind Fiona, but it is never shown how he is dealt with. Instead the next shot is a frazzled Fiona waking Cordelia (Sarah Paulson). While tending to Queenie, the mother and daughter have a spat about both of their meetings with Laveau. Queenie stops breathing, but Fiona saves her, by literally breathing life back into her. Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) is roused out of hiding, and is much more appreciative of Queenie since the black girl saved her life. However, later Queenie says that she’ll have to think about the best way for LaLaurie to really thank her.
The next day, at Cornrows City, a package arrives for Laveau. In it is the severed head of the minotaur, which blinks, so is seemingly still alive. This will prompt Laveau to prepare for an all-out war. Laveau’s second (Dana Gourrier) is against rekindling the animosity against the coven, given the truce that Laveau had signed with former Supreme Leighton (Christine Ebersole), whom Fiona murdered in 1971. Whatever tenuous peace there was between the witches and the voodoo practitioners is now over. The voodoo resurrection ritual from the opening is repeated, and once again the living dead rise from their graves, including the corpses of the lynch mob and (at least one of) Madam LaLaurie’s daughters.
The main conflict that this season is building to — the voodoo sect vs. the coven — has started in earnest in this episode, but there were some other interesting developments that happened concerning Kyle (Evan Peters), Cordelia’s husband Hank (Josh Hamilton), and the backstory between Fiona, Spalding, and witch council member Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy).
Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) finds the FrankenKyle monster beating his head against a bathtub. She gets emotional about the state that this creature is in, and realizes that it was wrong to bring him back to life. He speaks, claiming not to be Kyle and this is all too much for Zoe. She decides to fix him a lunch of tuna salad laced with rat poison and put him out of his misery. There is another complication though, which is that the monster has suddenly disappeared, and when Zoe looks outside to find him, all she can see are the ghouls and goblins of children dressed for Halloween.
Cordelia, perched on the edge of the bed like a smitten schoolgirl, talks on the phone with her husband Hank. He is off on a construction consultation job and says that the foreman is at his hotel room door. Only Hank isn’t meeting with a foreman. A woman (Alexandra Breckenridge) drops into his hotel room, and they engage in some intense lovemaking that culminates with Hank screaming like a madman. This girl is in love with Hank — he has her completely wrapped around his finger. She does have a good line though, and one that strikes a beat in Hank: “I think Halloween gives people permission to be who they really want to be.” Lest we think that Hank is only a cheating scumbag, things get much more interesting when he pulls out a silenced pistol and shoots the girl in the head in a big WTF moment. So who the hell is Hank exactly? He was obviously lying to this lover when he claimed to be a USDA inspector. He is also obviously lying to his wife Cordelia as well. While ready to write off Hank since his introduction into the show, this character kink makes him an interesting addition to the web of witches.
Nan (Jamie Brewer), no longer being able to read Madison’s mind, summons the Council, three witches including Myrtle Snow, Quentin (Leslie Jordan), a small, but flamboyant fedora-clad man, and Pimbrooke (Robin Bartlett), a frumpy grey-hair whom Fiona scoffs at. They set up an official inquiry into Madison’s disappearance and interview all of the women of Miss Robichaux’s Academy to find the whereabouts of Madison. Interviewees are informed that the punishment for inflicting grievous bodily harm against a Salem descendent is death by fire.
Each woman states what they know about Madison.
Cordelia volunteers way too much information about other matters (Queenie’s attack and her consultation contact with the voodoo sect), but little of consequence about Madison. She does blurt out that is her rug (the one in which Madison was wrapped up) is missing, but fails to realize the importance of this information.
The younger women have a bit more to say. Zoe says that Madison has a movie starlet charisma. Nan informs the Council of her burgeoning pyrokinetic ability. Queenie drops the best line with: “Madison Montgomery is a stone cold bitch who loves hard drinking, big dicks, and trouble. If she’s dead it’s probably because she got wasted and offered the grim reaper a handjob or something.”
Once the Council gets Fiona in the interrogation seat AHS viewers learn much more about the past relationship between her and the red-headed Snow. It seems that when Fiona took over as the Supreme (in 1971) she blamed Marie Laveau for the death of former Supreme Leighton. However, a younger (and ambitious) Myrtle Snow suspected that Fiona had killed Leighton. To find out the truth Snow put an enchantment spell on Spalding’s tongue (whom Snow suspected was hiding Fiona’s secret). Unfortunately, before Spalding could be coerced into telling what Fiona had done, he is found on the floor with his tongue removed. In the present day Snow asks Spalding to write on a piece of paper the name of witch who was responsible for severing his tongue. On the paper he writes ‘Myrtle Snow’ as Spalding was (and presumably still is) in love with Fiona. He did not want to implicate Fiona as a murderess, and since he couldn’t deny the truth, he instead cut out his own tongue with a straight razor.
Snow then has a screaming fit and is unable to contain her rage against Fiona. She claims that Fiona has twice gotten away with murder after killing the old and future Supreme. Only Cordelia confesses that Madison had a heart murmur and couldn’t have been the future Supreme with her poor health. The scene cuts away after this, but one suspects if there is to be a death by fire next week, it will most likely be Myrtle Snow tied to the burning post.
“Fearful Pranks Ensues” wraps up with a few short scenes likely to be continued next week:
  • Spalding, wearing a nightgown and bonnet, has another dolly tea party, only this time one of the attendees is Madison’s corpse, for whom he selects a frilly dress from the closet.
  • Cordelia and Fiona share some mother-daughter bonding time at a bar with Fiona lying about not killing Madison. Later, after retching in the bar toilet, Cordelia gets acid thrown into her eyes by a figure shrouded in black.
  • Neighbor boy Luke (Alexander Dreymon) brings over some cookies for Nan, but before any of the witches can enjoy them, the house is besieged by the undead.

Some random thoughts.

Lily Rabe’s Misty Day was missing from this week’s episode which is a shame.
Spalding hugged the scarecrow! (It’s little things like this that make AHS so great.)
Kathy Bates had a cute moment with the trick ‘r treaters at the door. However, I fear that her character may be progressing into a modern racial sensibility too quickly. Not that I’m advocating she be more racist, I just remain unconvinced that she would change so much in such a short time.
Apparently Nan (or any of the other witches) can’t read Spalding’s mind.
The show has reached that oh-shit-everything-is-crazy-now-point that it seems to attain every season. Already there has been the minotaur (and possible minotaur bestiality-ish sexual activity) and the FrankenKyle Monster sewed together from various body parts, but now there are zombies, a weird tongueless manchild having tea parties with his dollies, and a seemingly boring husband moonlighting as a murderous madman.
I am looking forward to next week’s episode which will have more zombie action (always a plus), although these voodoo corpses don’t seem to follow the same rules as the Romero-influenced Walking Dead geeks, so it will be interesting to see how the witches fare against them.

Tidbits of the Dead: Isolation

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The Walking Dead’s third episode, “Isolation” features a lot of screentime for two diametrically opposed characters. While it was a bit low on zombie action, I think that the huge horde that Daryl and the others encountered more than makes up for the lack of gore this week. Also, this episode did something that hasn’t been featured in quite a while, by pulling two scenes directly from the pages of the comics. Let’s run down the trials and tribulations of these characters, starting once again with my season four favorite.

  • Carol (Melissa McBride) — If the other episodes this season haven’t proved that McBride is a certifiable star of this show, then I think that “Isolation” has boldfacedly made it clear that she is. Even more than Michonne in this season, Carol has shown that she is a zombie ass-kicker. Additionally, unlike Michonne, she is balanced enough to show genuine emotion, as evident from her tenderness with the Sophia surrogate Lizzy, and her frustration over the water situation. The revelation that she is the person who killed Karen and David adds even more nuance to her character. I mentioned last week that she is reminding me a bit more of Shane, and that fact was nailed home by her admission to taking the lives of two other characters, even if they were sentenced to die from the deadly virus spreading through the prison. Unlike Shane, Carol is a bit more rational, and doesn’t suffer from anger issues. Given that she is an admitted murderess, she probably doesn’t have much time left with the group, especially if Tyreese finds out. Also, given how much contact she has had with the sick — hugging Lizzy and killing Karen and David — I wouldn’t be surprised if she also comes down with the sickness herself.

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  • Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) — He was the other character prominently featured in this episode, and he is finally starting to seem like a main character on the show. The fistfight with Rick comes straight from the comic book, and I thought that it was well executed here. Tyreese and Rick aren’t as buddy-buddy on the show as in the comic, so I’m interested to see how their relationship progresses from here, given Rick’s stronger allegiance to Carol. While I don’t expect Rick to give up that Carol is Karen’s killer, I do think that Tyreese will find out eventually, maybe around the midseason finale. “Isolation” also featured an absolutely epic zombie hammer mauling scene which echoes the comics. COMICS SPOILER: Tyreese is accidentally locked into the prison gymnasium and when the others come back to find him he has managed to kill all the walkers locked in there with a fury of hammer blows. This was thematically recreated whilst trying to escape from the car surrounded by an absolutely massive number of the undead. I have read the plans of a few armchair zombie apocalypse devotees who would intend to suit up with chainmail or some other bite-proof armor and wade into the thick of the dead wielding a chainsaw or blunt object of death. That’s a great visual, but the sad reality is that you’d more likely fall and then be trampled to death by the inhuman creatures. Either that or pass out from exhaustion before even making a dent in the mass of inhumanity. One glimpse of how Tyreese looks when he makes it back to the others, should make one see the folly attacking the dead head-on.

  • Rick (Andrew Lincoln) — What will Rick do about Carol? In season two when he had dangerous disputes with Shane, Rick tried to keep him close. Judging from the promo for next week’s episode, Rick will be taking Carol outside the prison with him in search for some medicine. Perhaps he should deal with the issue quietly and let Carol get eaten by zeds. From a character standpoint, Rick doesn’t have it in him to do that to another person, much less a valuable member of the group like Carol. Also, it is a bit hypocritical of Rick to harp on Tyreese for losing it over Karen when he broke down for weeks, if not months, after his wife died. He may still not be fully psychologically recovered from that episode — and I think that there could be another Lori cameo in the future. While it was good to see Rick do some police work, it was unconvincing how easily he came to the conclusion that Carol committed the murders. Then again, I had Sasha pegged as the culprit.

  • Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) — She will pull through the sickness, if for no other reason than Tyreese will need people on his side when it comes down to a showdown about Carol’s actions. I really did suspect that she was the killer though. When she came out of the prison she paused for a moment in front of Hershel and Glenn before having a fake-seeming coughing fit and going off to see the doctor. At first I thought it was a masterful plan for her to get quarantined and then take out the others. Instead, it was just a bit of weak acting from the actress.

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  • Hershel (Scott Wilson) — He plays doctor this episode since Caleb/Dr. S is himself sick. Perhaps there will be a changing of the guard in respect to who becomes the main caretaker of the group. Hopefully this Dr. S will get some more screentime — thus far of the new bunch, he is second to Bob the Drunken Combat Medic — and Hershel will transition into zombiehood. Maybe not though, as there have been rumors since the second season that Hershel will be killed off. The Walking Dead likes their deaths to be shocking, and I don’t think that a flu bug is that, especially since we see it coming after getting a faceful of Dr. S’s bloody spittle. Ideally, I’d like to see Hershel go out like Dale did in the comics, but that would mean him staying around until after the group moves away from the prison.

  • Glenn (Steven Yeun) — I can’t see him dying. Then again, it would be a bit more shocking since we expect him to pull through the sickness. But he’s young and there is still more to play out between him and Maggie, so I’d say that he is safe.

  • Maggie (Lauren Cohan) & Beth (Emily Kinney) & Judith (Adelaide and Eliza Cornwell) — I think that Maggie will have to deal with a death this season. Her current grief comes from both her boyfriend and dad being among the quarantined. The way that these two sisters talk, they don’t expect their father to survive. As I said before, it would be shocking if Glenn died, but I don’t think that is in the cards. Also, it would be more shocking for Hershel to stay alive at this point. That leaves Beth. It is strange to see Beth acting as the emotional rock for Maggie. That poor girl has been through a lot, but she just keeps swallowing up the pain without letting herself mourn the deaths of those close to her, saying “We don’t get to get upset.” Could doing this culminate in a disastrous break-down? She suffered through depression and attempted suicide in the second season, so there is no reason that she might not try it again, especially considering that she is psychologically worse off now (having seen more first-hand death) than on the farm. Could she harm the baby? I don’t think so — Judith’s death — if AMC has the balls to kill a baby — would happen on a midseason or season finale. If Beth doesn’t go crazy then I’m thinking that she could end up wandering outside the gates, sort of like Carol in this week’s episode. The show can only have so many times with somebody narrowly escaping death outside of the prison. Someone will finally have to eat it. That could/should be Beth.

  • Carl (Chandler Riggs) — He had a nice father-son bonding moment with Hershel, but unfortunately, he hasn’t seemed to have learned his lesson of not putting walkers down. He did that in season two and Dale ended up dying. Carl is a character walking the fine-line between being too hard and too soft, but Hershel isn’t doing him any favors. Remember, Hershel is a man who kept walkers in a barn near his house. He was clinging to the erroneous belief that they were still people and afflicted with something that could be cured. Carl is growing up and becoming a man in a different world than Hershel has known practically all of his life. The undead aren’t like wild animals, which would leave people alone if left unmolested. Zombies left alone will just have to be dealt with later on, because they are, and always will be, a relentless scourge to humanity.

  • Michonne (Danai Gurira) & Daryl (Norman Reedus) — Interchangeable badasses, black and white. Michonne keeps getting dogged about her obsessive mission to find the Governor. Everybody seems surprised that she keeps coming back instead of going off on her own. She could probably go it alone if need be, but even as emotionally closed off as she is, she must realize that it is better in a group as there is strength in numbers. Daryl is firmly entrenched as a pillar of normalcy and rationality in the prison. Just look at how he was the coolheaded one in the middle of Rick and Tyreese’s throwdown. Compare this to how hotheaded and quarrelsome he was in the first season. Nobody has had a such noble and gentlemanly character progression during the end of the world than this hillbilly bushwhacker.

  • Bob (Larry Gilliard Jr.) — Combat medics have combat experience right? He seems so uneasy in dangerous situations. That could be because he is a spy for the Governor. Or maybe he just needs a drink. I’m sure there is a lot more that Gilliard could do with the character, but thus far the creative people in charge haven’t given him much. Just let him fall off the wagon and then see what sort of mayhem ensues.

  • The Rest — Dammit The Walking Dead! You suck at showing us unnecessary extra characters. Tyreese stared down three sick people, but then later there were other different people suffering in the cells, and one had even already turned! Lizzy, one of the children, was sick and hugged Carol, but the rest of the youngins were absent. Some guy with an amputated arm was dying next to Dr. S. And there was some black woman who claimed to just have allergies. I don’t know who these people are, and the show hasn’t made me care. Hershel mentions that twelve people died in the zombie attack, as well as Karen and David who were murdered. That’s fourteen people (certainly not all from Woodbury?) who were simply meat for the grinder that is The Walking Dead. Personally, I wouldn’t be disappointed to see the rest of them go if they aren’t going to have any interesting interactions with the remainder of the group.

  • The Governor (David Morrissey) — Dammit you loveable psychopath! Where the hell are you? Could you run into the scavenging group soon?

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  • Zombie of the Week — The horde was definitely imposing and threatening as hell, but the most visually interesting zombie was the one Carl and Hershel encountered rotting away next to a tree.

Next week it appears that Rick and Carol will also be leaving the prison. I believe that means only Maggie will be left to man the prison gates. This could be the perfect time for the Governor to come sniffing back around. Daryl, Michonne, Tyreese, and Bob are all out on the road, and on the run from a huge horde of walkers. They will have to evade before going back to the prison. Perhaps Abraham(Michael Cudlitz)’s group could make the save. Anyway, the road trip episodes of this show are always a treat, and I hope that next week is no different!


American Horror Story: Coven — The Replacements

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American Horror Story has added more horror and depravity to the show’s history with an episode featuring unsavory forms of sex, coupled with its normal dose of weekly violence. “The Replacements” starts with a flashback to 1971 depicting how Fiona Goode became the ‘Supreme’ of the Coven. Some forty years ago Fiona (played by young Jessica Lange doppelganger Riley Voelkel) assumed the mantle as the most powerful witch by slitting the throat of the then ‘Supreme’ Anna-Leigh Leighton (Christine Ebersole). Director James Wong would thematically circle back to this first scene at the episode’s end when Fiona faces down would-be future ‘Supreme’ Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts). But inside this ouroboros of echoing moments across the decades, there is plenty of mischief and anguish in store of the other women of Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies.

Sarah Paulson’s Cordelia Foxx also shared some circular beats with her mother in this episode, as both were shown consulting doctors due to their bodies’ physical failings. Fiona is still vainly searchingfor youth, but the plastic surgeon says he cannot operate on her because her bloodwork indicates that she has cancer. Cordelia wants to have a baby, because it appears that the ritual she and Hank (Josh Hamilton) performed last episode did not induce pregnancy. In addition to her doctor, Cordelia also visits Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) at her hairshop (Cornrows City) fronted voodoo emporium. The priestess humors Cordelia for a while describing her fertility spell (a dizzying dance involving 2 ounces of ‘baby gravy’ thrown into a fire, the ingestion of a special hotter-than-Hades pepper, and a sacrificial goat’s blood being poured over the desired mother-to-be). Cordelia is prepared to rob a bank for the proffered sum of $50,000, but Laveau laughs her off, saying that she wouldn’t perform the spell for even double that price. Cordelia was born into the wrong tribe, Laveau says, and Fiona is her sworn-enemy.

Fiona though, for all her grudge-holding and murderous deeds, is a liberal woman of the 21st century who rallies against the antiquated racism of Madam Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) and the priggishness of new neighbor Joan Ramsey (Patti LaPone). Bates gave her character a moment of levity as she melodramatically bemoaned Barack Obama’s presidency. Fiona gave her a quick education on how far blacks have come since LaLaurie’s time in the early 19th century, and Fiona heaps more insults on the high society woman by forcing LaLaurie to wear a maid’s uniform as her disguise while staying at the school. When LaLaurie gets uppity about serving African American Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), Fiona again puts the madam in her place and condemns her to be Queenie’s personal slave.

Bible-thumping Joan Ramsey enters the story when she is visited by Nan (Jamie Brewer) and Madison who had been gawking at Ramsey’s shirtless son Luke as they were moving into the estate next door. Nan brings over a homemade yellow cake with butter frosting, knowing (clairvoyantly) that Luke would be unable to resist. The scantily-clad Madison is peeved when Luke rebuffs her overly forward flirtations, and then insults the Ramseys’ beliefs. The cake knife goes flying across the room, Joan demands that the witches leave; they do, but not before Madison lights the drapes afire. Later Joan confronts Fiona about what happened, and while the ‘Supreme’ verbally spars with the Christian woman, she is more concerned about Madison’s newly discovered firestarting abilities.

Fiona seemingly takes Madison under her wing, having her demonstrate her mastery over the flame, as well as teaching her some of the classic Jedi mind trick magic by coercing an unsuspecting pedestrian into traffic. They even go bar-hopping together where, if they were capitalistic witches, they’d use their powers as pool sharks. That’s not shown, but what is hinted at is Fiona’s growing resentment towards Madison as she is the one getting all the ogling stares of drunken barflies. When they return home for the night, Fiona waxes poetically about the history of various Supremes telling Madison that she will one day have her portrait up on the walls as well. Fiona confides that she is getting weaker and slowly dying, as she explains that it is the typical process of the new Supreme absorbing the powers of the old. She gives Madison the very same knife used to murder previous Supreme Leighton, but Madison is reluctant to deliver the killing blow to Fiona. A struggle over the knife ensues, and it is Madison her ends up on the ground in a pool of blood. Fiona triumphantly says, “this coven doesn’t need a new Supreme, it needs a new rug,” and tells the tongueless butler, Spalding (Denis O’Hare), who no-doubt lost that organ after witnessing Fiona’s previous murder, to clean up the mess, and “bury her deep.”

While all of this murder and mayhem is part of the main storyline of this week’s episode, all of the sexual depravity is relegated to the secondary story concerning Zoe and the FrankenKyle Monster, as well as an incident with Queenie and the angry minotaur.

The latter incident first: while Queenie and LaLaurie are alone at night, they hear some strange banging on the door and a shadowy figure outside. LaLaurie is rightfully fearful when she realizes that it is her enchanted houseboy-turned-Minotaur, back for revenge. Queenie says that she will handle things, and goes out after the beast with a rag soaked with LaLaurie’s blood. This entices the bull-headed man to follow her into Cordelia’s greenhouse. Queenie tries to connect with the minotaur claiming that they are both misunderstood and only want love. She lowers her hands down to her sides in what initially comes off as a bit of hocus pocus, but then she hikes up her dress and starts fingering herself. “Don’t you want to love me?” she asks. The beast stalks behind her, and then seems to mount her with one hooved-hand on her shoulder, before another normal hand clasps over her mouth. The shot cuts away before there is any definite depiction of bestiality — if indeed bestiality is what happens when one gets fucked by minotaur. Perhaps Queenie was killed, but she was more-likely kidnapped by the minotaur and other members of the voodoo sect.

American Horror Story may be too timid to show a depiction of potential bestiality on our TV screens, but it does not shy away from a portrayed depiction of incest. Zoe is still distraught about the state that Kyle is in. Although loner witch Misty Day (Lily Rabe) has managed to work her magic and heal most of his wounds, Kyle is still mentally more monster than man. Zoe thinks that it will help if she takes him back to his mother Alicia Spencer (Mare Winningham). Mrs. Spencer had been distraught over the loss of her son, smoking his marijuana stash and contemplating suicide. Of course, this is because Mrs. Spencer has not just lost a son, but a lover. Zoe drops Kyle off on his mother’s doorstep, and later, after barging in on him in the shower, she realizes that he is not the same person that was her son. Mrs. Spencer confirms this when she joins Kyle in bed in a tender motherly moment turned cringe-worthy under the sheets sexual escapade. As a woman who had known every contour of her son’s body, she knows that this creature, though possessing Kyle’s head, is not the same boy she had carnally known before. Her chastising about keeping Zoe a secret, as well as her continued advances reaches a breaking point and the KyleStein Creature beats in his mother’s skull.

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Well, there has been plenty of murderous mayhem and salacious sex in this third episode of American Horror Story: Coven. Next week seems to be the start of a showdown between the coven and the voodoo sect. I can’t wait, but before then, here are some random thoughts:

  • This is a school that has lost 50% of its enrollment, but I’m not sure that is too big of a concern considering everything else that has been going on. Plus, what the hell are the pupils learning anyway? Cordelia and Fiona are more concerned about their own problems, while Nan only reads all day, Queenie is stuck in the kitchen, and Madison and Zoe have man problems.

  • In this episode we learned why Spalding lost his tongue, but that bit wasn’t depicted on-screen as AHS had filled up its graphic violence quota with this shot of the dead Mrs. Spencer.

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  • We learned that it is relatively easy to kill a witch. All you have to do is slit their throat. Maybe you have to be a witch yourself to do that though, or maybe it is only so easy for a ‘Supreme’ like Fiona. Still, in measuring up the coven (youth-obsessed Fiona, baby-obsessed Cordelia, and Kyle-obsessed Zoe) against immortal Laveau’s voodoo sect, I’d give the definite advantage to the Cornrow City folk.

  • I laughed when Cordelia told her doctor that Hank was off on a consultation about a construction job. Having such an insignificant husband just makes Cordelia all the more insignificant herself.

  • When Misty Day was mounted on Kyle in the bed, with Zoe right there next to them, I played at a scene in my head where they had a weird three-way relationship, akin to Evan Peters’s two wives in last season’s Asylum. If any two witches were suited for polygamy, it would be Zoe, who’d kill the man, and Misty, who’d bring him right back. It turns out that more revolting sexual activity was in store instead.

  • Perhaps having sex with a minotaur wouldn’t be bestiality, but the whole situation brings to mind a Christopher Walken Saturday Night Live sketch mentioning centaur pornography But you’ve got to remember that, at some point, there’s gonna be a horse penis in there.

  • A friend of mine told me that he thought the dialogue in episode one “Bitchcraft” was laughable, especially concerning Kathy Bates’s speech said ancient Greek minotaur. While I’ll admit that this show does turn toward campiness, I thought that the writing in this episode was great. Bates, Bassett, and especially Lange are superb actresses, but their work is all the better when given lines like Fiona’s “I’ve lived a disreputable life, but I’ve done it in style, and I’ll die likewise.”


Tidbits of the Dead: Infected

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The Walking Dead returned this week with what I thought was a solid episode titled “Infected” and which really should have been titled “Attack D Block.” Although solid, it was not quite as good as the one from last week. It is understandable that the show would lead off with a higher caliber and then let the reigns out a bit before tightening things back up for the midseason finale. That being said, I was not disappointed by the zombies or (the majority) of the characters in this episode. I’ll run down those momentarily, but first a gripe: why in the bloody blue hell are there so many random red-shirts running around this prison? Last week, I mentioned that this bothered me. And it bothered me even more tonight. I can’t very well feel vested in the entire group when I don’t know who is in the entire group. They are just cannon-fodder. Although the gore and zombie munching was good, it remained essentially tensionless for me, as I never once felt that a main cast character would bite the bullet. However, in getting some extraneous characters out of the way, it will allow some of the other newly introduced characters to develop.

Let’s run them down.

  • Carol — She was my first mentioned last week, and I think she was the MVP of the show once again. While Rick keeps wallowing by trying to hold onto the past and be a ‘decent’ father, Carol has assumed the important role of protector and educator of the children. I really liked her interactions with Sophia replacements Lizzy & Micha. Carol is now a much more hardened and the way she acts with these girls is different now than she ever acted with her own daughter. She doesn’t coddle them, yet she also doesn’t come off as too cold to them. She playing the character with just the right amount of tenderness and firmness in my opinion. However, I didn’t like how she wanted Carl to kowtow to Rick about the weapons and children issue. Carol is embracing her inner Shane, and needing validation from the group’s ‘unofficial’ leader seems to echo back to her overbearing relationship with her deceased husband Ed. Something I’d look forward to seeing later in this season is an interaction between her and the woman who lost her child in this episode. Or, knowing AMC, they may just cut the latter out completely like the Governor’s 1st girlfriend last season.

  • Michonne — While Carol is hardening, we finally got a chance to see a softer side of Michonne! She almost ate it (or rather got eaten) after trying to return to the prison, when two walkers pounced on her, and sprained her ankle. It’s good to see that even the most badass characters are not invincible, but what really let Michonne shine was the interaction with sick baby Judith. There is so much that the viewers don’t know about this katana-wielding woman, which means more room for character development. Beyond her hatred for the Governor and her penchant for keeping armless zombies as companions, Michonne is an enigma. Perhaps a relationship later in the season . . .?

  • Darryl — He continues to be Action Jackson. Rick’s right-hand man was there to help clear the infestation in D block, then to bury the bodies, and then to drive Rick into the field when the zombies were pushing over the outer fences. While last week Darryl showed some sentimentality with Zack’s death, this week he was all work and incredibly focused on what needed to get done. His entire ethos can be summed up in this short interaction between him and Carol:

Carol: You okay?

Darryl: Uh-huh. Gotta be.

  • Rick — Man, this guy was on the verge of becoming the new Lori or Andrea. I was seething at him for part of this episode. YOU’RE LIVING IN THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE AND YOU’RE A FORMER COP! WHY GIVE UP YOUR WEAPONS? Fortunately Rick has learned the error of his ways. Even inside a fortified prison, there is the need to carry constant protection against the creeping spectre of death. Rick thought fast to pull the walkers away from the fence, but I wonder if they would have followed after him and Darryl without the enticement of pork snacks. Still, if the pigs were infected, then I guess they gotta go one way or another.

  • The Grimes Children — Speaking of infected, It seems like Judith has caught the bug. I laughed when Carl ran up and hugged his dad, only for Rick to send him back towards the others. Don’t they know how disease vectors work?

  • Dr. S — Well new doctor dude, what about disease disease vectors? Probably they are all already infected, since Carl and the other kids were close with Patrick the previous day. And anyway, Rick and Carl were both around the pigs and the baby, so they’d probably been exposed to whatever virus is wreaking havoc on the prison population. We didn’t get much of this new Dr. S in the episode, but along with Bob the Alcoholic Combat Medic, the group should be well off for medical emergencies.

  • The Greene Family — Watch out Hershel! Adults age 65 years and older are more susceptible to the flu than those younger. Beth is probably safe, even though she’s been in such close contact with the baby. Maggie is safe since she sleeps in the guard tower with Glenn. I have my doubts on Hershel making it through this season, but dying from the flu would be a cruel fate after being spared from a zombie bite.

  • Tyreese & Sasha — poor Tyreese was just about to close the deal when his new lady-friend went and died. Not only that, but she was murdered! Who immolated her and the other sick guy? Sasha? Mayhaps . . . she helped clear out the cellblock, but otherwise was conspicuously absent later in the episode. I gotta say though that Tyreese probably won’t last very long if he just goes plunging into darkened hallways with only a bouquet of flowers to defend himself. Geez, I mean I understand that these folks are living in a state of normalized violence, but who just follows after a blood trail without exercising a bit of caution?

  • The Newbies — Bob was in a background shot, but really didn’t have much to do in this episode. You’d think that he would have been tending to the wounded rather than Carol, seeing as how he’s a combat medic. Goodbye bearded bald guy bit on the neck. We hardly knew you, but your death will give a bit more prominence to your daughters Lizzy and Micha. I’m interested to see where the story takes these girls. Two possibilities are based on comicbook characters absent from the TV series: 1. they represent Hershel’s twin daughters Rachel and Susie and will have an ending similar to theirs or 2. they represent the twin boys Ben and Billy and will have an ending similar to theirs. Either way would make for compelling television violence. Odds are though that they go some entirely different way. Perhaps there has been enough child killing for one season — goodbye dead nameless girl wrapped in a sheet! Hello newly grieving mother — stay a while and develop please! Goodbye sick shower boy Patrick and the guy whose neck and guts he ate! Goodbye Tyreese’s cute almost girlfriend and that other crispy, smoldering guy. Goodbye sleepwalking-locked-in-your-cell-for-your-own-good-Charlie, whoever the hell you were . . .

  • Governor — we know you’re out there somewhere. Maybe one of your people is on the inside feeding rats to the walkers. If so, you’re really in it for the long haul against Rick and company. If that is the case, then I bet Bob is the inside guy. On the other hand The Walking Dead could go all Friday the 13th on us viewers and just introduce some new crazy guy we haven’t met yet as the rat wrangler.

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Zombie of the Week — I really liked that zombie getting his face squeezed through the chainlink fence, but my favorite walker was the one spilling his guts all over the floor in a clear homage to Day of the Dead. Great work Greg Nicotero!

That’s it for this week folks. Until next week, here are some questions to ponder: who is feeding the dead at the gate? Who killed and burned the bodies of the quarantined? And, most pressingly, when will the latest model Hyundai SUV make an appearance on the show?


American Horror Story: Coven — Boy Parts

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American Horror Story: Coven‘s second entry, “Boy Parts,” has assuaged any fears of losing actors Lily Rabe or Evan Peters, while raising deeper concerns about the magical laws of this narrative universe. The opening sequence of the episode brings back Rabe, as Misty Day, previously burned at the stake, but now alive and well, and wandering around the Louisiana bayou. She encounters two alligator poachers, who react threateningly to her intrusion on their camp. But these rough and ready pistol-toting swamp men are no match for Misty. She uses her power of necromancy to revive several strung up gator corpses that haven’t taken too kindly to being baited and brained by the hunters. In the end, the hunters don’t take too kindly to being munched on by alligators either.


Later in the episode, Evan Peters’s frat boy character Kyle is also returned to life as a Frankenstein Monster-esque shade of his former self. Zoe and Madison break into the morgue, and with parchment scroll in hand, perform a resurrection ceremony over the cobbled together Kyle stitched from the corpses of his fraternity brothers. While he remains docile towards Zoe, the Kyle Monster displays anger and malice when beating down the morgue security guard.


These two scenes are weird and disturbingly interesting, but they illustrate a problem that AHS has about free-wheeling the line between life and death. Murder House had deceased characters who returned as ghosts without any limitation to what they could do in the physical world. Then in Asylum, characters presumed dead (by other characters as well as the viewers) would return in later episodes, without much of a reason beyond aliens did it (or maybe demons, I’m still uncertain).


This trend of the fuzzy finality of death borders on camp, but there are other things (good acting and great editing) that keep American Horror Story on the right side of the dividing line between A-list TV and B-list genre films. However, it still seems a bit bothersome that resurrection is portrayed as such an easy accomplishment. Zoe and Madison sew together some rotting limbs, inhale a special smoke, recite some Latin, and then a few minutes later Kyle sits up from the mortuary table. Misty Day is even more powerful in that she can revive dead things with a mere nod of the head. One imagines that Jessica Lange, as the ‘Supreme,’ Fiona Goode, can manage to bring the dead back to life, since she has been established as the coven’s most powerful witch. And that’s without even mentioning the coven-opposing voodoo sect that theoretically (as voodoo practitioners) has control over the dead, and demonstrably holds the power of immortality.


While Kathy Bates’s Madam LaLaurie character is vexed by wanting to die, but being unable to, I fear that the cheapness of life and death will stretch the believability later on in the season. The emotional impact of the death of a main character, like Lange’s or Angela Bassett’s, would be lost since the viewer knows that these characters can easily be brought back to life. If being shot in the head (the alligators), burned at the stake (Misty Day), and drawn & quartered (Kyle), is reversible, then what method of death is absolutely and irrevocably final?


Yes, I realize how silly it seems to put so much thought into the fictional powers of a television show that features a minotaur. But AHS: Coven is making these characters out to be more like demigods than witches.


There were some other interesting and confusing aspects of the episode, and that includes Queenie’s origin story. She was recruited by Cordelia after an altercation at her fried chicken restaurant. After a spat with a disgruntled customer, Queenie plunged her arm into the fryer and used her human voodoo doll power to transfer the pain and damage to the other’s arm. There are two things that I wonder about Queenie.


One: will she feel a greater affinity towards the voodoo practitioners rather than the members of Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies? My reasoning for this isn’t simply because she is black, but stems from the fact that Queenie has an antagonistic relationship with Madison. Additionally, she can’t feel too comfortable about staying under them same roof as the unapologetically racist Madam LaLaurie, especially after being struck by her with a candlestick.


Two: despite the fact that the show has demonstrated that Queenie doesn’t feel pain when she uses her power, it is less consistent with showing the damage that is or isn’t done to her. While in this episode the boiling hot oil did nothing to her arm, in the previous episode she was shown to have a fork wound after stabbing herself in the arm. This ambiguity and ill-defined nature of the witch’s powers is a bit confusing, and leaves me questioning, why did a blow from a candlestick knock her out? Why didn’t LaLaurie feel that pain in the back of her skull instead? Does Queenie’s ability only work if the damage is self-inflicted?


Strangely enough, an instance of witch magic that I didn’t have a question about was Fiona’s forced amnesia of the two police detectives. Zoe cracks under pressure while being questioned by the officers about her and Madison’s involvement in the bus crash and hospital incidents of the previous episode. While she confesses and then gushes hysterically about them all being witches, Fiona calmly pours out two glasses of water, spits in them, and makes the officers drink the memory-erasing concoction. That the Supreme should have this sort of power over mere mortals is tempered by one officer resisting, but ultimately giving in to Fiona’s commands. Her use of Jedi mind-tricks is contrasted with her daughter’s reluctance to use magic any time it suits her needs.


Cordelia, the bland ‘good’ witch of the coven wants to have a baby. Unlike her mother, she first tries the natural alternative of visiting a doctor with her (husband? boyfriend?) Hank. His introduction into the show seems a bit odd, as he seems to be just a normal dude – a regular Darrin Stephens – somehow married (or attached) to the headmistress of a school for witches. There should be an interesting, but-as-of-yet unexplained and unexplored reason why Cordelia and Hank are together. While I had initially hoped that Sarah Paulson’s character would primarily face off with Jessica Lange’s, it seems that the show will focus on Cordelia’s desire to become a mother (versus her derision about that same issue last season). Anyway, Cordelia relents to Hank’s wish to magically conceive a baby and there is a steamy love scene inside a circle of fire and exploding snake eggs. It was moody and strange, but again, with the way this was edited together, it was on the correct side of camp.


I’m guessing that the baby will come sooner than nine months from now, but how will the baby be? Would it necessarily be magical? AHS has stated that witchcraft is (usually) genetic, but I assume that a baby conceived by magical means would have an even greater propensity towards magic. Just like last season, I bet we are going to be treated to a child that quickly gestates, pops out, and starts maturing. And also acts weirdly. Unlike Judith in The Walking Dead (whom the producers should wisely keep as a mostly off-screen infant for as long as possible) AHS’s witch baby will probably play a bigger role in the overall narrative.


So, where does the show go from here? I think that the biggest enigma this season will be Kathy Bates’s Madam LaLaurie. When Nan freed LaLaurie, I thought she’d go about witch-hunting, but it appears that she is reluctantly on the side of Fiona and the coven stemming from the grudge between her and voodoo priestess Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). Laveau has cursed the madam to suffer a fate worse than death. First she killed LaLaurie’s husband (whom she wasn’t upset about, as she confesses she was plotting to murder him) and daughters (but these girls, even the ugly one, strike a little closer to LaLaurie’s heart). Then, instead of killing LaLaurie, Laveau has her imprisoned and buried alive, saying that she wants LaLaurie stuck underground for the rest of eternity while the world passes by without her. This is diabolic torture that rivals the worst body modification experiments of the madam. One can only imagine the hatred she holds in her heart, to be stuck in a casket for 180 years, with only the thought of your hanged daughters to keep you company. Then again, one can only imagine one’s husband being turned into a minotaur, as Laveau has had happen to her. Although it seems that LaLaurie has no power of her own (besides immortality), she has kept mentally well enough for a woman who has endured the longest solitary confinement ever. It’s a credit to the LaLaurie’s tenacity that she still has her sanity, if indeed she ever actually was sane. In “Boy Parts” Bates plays the character despondent about waking up into a world has changed and no longer holds a station for a woman such as her. However, I look forward to this despondency changing into anger and violence as LaLaurie seeks her revenge against Laveau. She may even have a change of heart about the sweet release of death that Fiona has promised in exchange for the secret of immortality. And even if she does go forward into the darkness of death, who’s to say that Laveau couldn’t simply bring her back and continue the physical and psychological torture? These bitch witches be holding grudges that not even centuries can dissolve!



Tidbits of the Dead — 30 Days Without an Accident

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I’ve decided to take on a shorter, character based form with my The Walking Dead reviews, seeing as that I am blogging in-depth about American Horror Story this season.  Now, it must be said that I am a huge fan of the show, and zombies are my favorite creatures of the horror genre. But, honestly, I almost feel a bit of fatigue from these hungry former humans. It seems that just about every low budget B-movie that comes out chooses flesheaters as their go to villain. They are easy, aim to be queasy, but sometimes come off as cheesy. Thus far The Walking Dead has refrained from that last aspect, but I am afraid of getting tired of these tireless ghouls since they have become the de facto mainstream monster.

Well, on with the specifics. AND SPOILERS!

  • Carol — The opening title hasn’t much changed, but I did notice the addition of Melissa McBride to the maincast. As Carol, she has flown under the radar through the entire series, despite being a character with the most growth during the zombie apocalypse. She has transformed from a meek, abused wife, to a grieving mother, to hardened survivor, and now she has taken on the teacher role for the youngins of the prison flock. And a kick-ass knife-wielding teacher at that! I just hope that McBride’s being part of the maincast doesn’t spell the character’s doom.

  • Rick — Despite being safe behind prison fences, I doubt I’d ever be comfortable enough to do farm work while wearing headphones. Sure, it drowns out that annoying and incessant moaning, but it also deprives you of one of your main senses in the face of surrounding danger. It was more stupid when that skater boy did it in Land of the Dead, but it doesn’t seem like Rick to let his guard down here. Later the show proves that this isn’t the Ricktator of old. He has changed (yet again) into some sort of pacifistic type. What imbecile would willingly go outside the fences without packing heat? And is the opening scene implying that Rick was the one who buried the pistol? Is his halfhearted change of heart against firearms for the sake of Carl and Judith? Rick might not want to be the leader anymore, but he can’t be a pansy either.

  • Carl — Finally a season has come that doesn’t see a noticeable change in the appearance of Chandler Riggs.  This episode shows the viewers a Carl who is less jaded by the evils that he has endured (and committed). Rick wants him to still be a kid, and it seems that Carl is steered back onto the path towards innocence. He still wants to do more, but his dad would rather have him safely inside the prison fences rather than wandering around the wilderness with him. Carl even seems to have found some children near his own age, and although one can tell that these tweens & teens have been through some hell themselves, none of them seem to be on the path of budding (Shane-like) psychopath that Carl was on at the end of last season.

  • Darryl — The MVP of the end of the world led the troops into a big box warehouse store and that unfortunately brought about the demise of a newbie redshirt Zack. Darryl had some flirtatious moments with Carol, but the show has yet to depict anything concrete about their relationship (or lack thereof). Darryl remains one of the most likeable characters because he can remain caring while shooting arrows through skulls. Like Carol, Darryl’s character has progressed a great deal since this start of The Walking Dead, but instead of becoming harder (a rather easy to do given all that he’s been through — particularly Merle’s abandonment & later his death, Sophia’s death & his wasted energy in searching for her, and being shot by Andrea) Darryl has softened up. He is still the take no shit badass of the group, but he also seems to be one of the most trusting and most well-adjusted psychologically.

  • Glen & Maggie — I have mixed feelings about having a baby in the situation that these people are in. Lori paid the ultimate price of trying to repopulate the Earth. Rick is proving that being a father and being a valuable and productive fighter for the group may be a mutually exclusive ideal. Hell, if Glen weren’t wearing the prison riot gear out on his run, he wouldn’t have even learned whether or not Maggie was pregnant. If I were in this situation, I’d want to sit tight. Get a year or two in the prison, and a few harvests in, before trying for a family.

  • Beth — cold as ice. Unlike Darryl, I think that Beth is a character whose pysche has been profoundly warped by living in a zombie world. She no longer seems capable of grieving like a normal person. I was originally a little jealous for Carl to see Beth smooching Zack, but if anything now I am weary for Carl should they hook up. Beth doesn’t have a strong attachment to the group, or to anything really. All she does is count the days since tragedies (I wonder what happened 30 days prior).

  • Hershel — There wasn’t much from the old farmer and the show’s moral compass in this episode. He is walking around pretty well on a new prosthetic leg, but I’m glad the director also decided to show the viewers his stump. Hershel still remains one of the most valuable members of the group (with his knowledge of animal husbandry and crops), but the addition of Bob the combat medic means that Hershel no longer the go-to doctor of the prison. Given the limp, I’d say he is on the chopping block for this season.

  • Tyreese & Sasha — These two pull their weight and have integrated into the inner counsel of the prison group. Tyreese still hasn’t found a good fit for what to do in the prison though, as he doesn’t enjoy going on runs, and he also has a disdain for killing walkers at the gates. However, he does seem to have found love in a new blood-spattered cutie. Sasha on the other hand still seems underdeveloped. I hope she gets some characterization beyond being a better shot than and the teasing boss of Tyreese.

  • Michonne — She is a woman on a warpath. The best fighter of the group, although visibly distracted by her consuming desire to find the Governor. Michonne is still an enigma and as tight-lipped as ever, but the writers managed a bit of levity with her braining the Frankenstein Monster cutout in the store. I’m sure there will be a Michonne heavy episode this season, possibly finding the Governor, but we will have to wait for that.

  • The Rest — Here is my problem with the show: the background extras always rotate too much. There were some characters that popped up in the Atlanta camp and in Woodbury that were never seen again. I have the feeling that some of these people are in a similarly precarious situation, much to this viewer’s chagrin. If they are casting extras, I say keep and reuse the same ones. Where were the old people seen in season 3’s finale? Where were the other young children?

    Bob the alcoholic combat medic is the only newbie that I see lasting long term. One reason is that he is being portrayed by awesome The Wire veteran Larry Gilliard Jr. The second reason is that the show will balance out the quick turn around of purging black characters from the cast. Finally, he is an alcoholic combat medic. Imagine the hilarity that would ensure if a drunk guy tries treating zombie bites!

    In addition to Bob, there are Tyreese’s hottie girlfriend, Zack who already got eaten, a bald bearded guy, and some unnamed youngins, including a Harry Potter clone whose next episode will (probably) be his last. Obviously these are cannon fodder for the show, but I did like that both Zack and Carl’s new best friend got a good amount of screen time.

    Also, there was the crazy Irish woman wandering around the woods. She was Rick’s sidestory for the episode, and I was underwhelmed. I thought it a bit unbelievable that someone like that would survive for that long. If her husband is zombified, and she is already suicidal, then there should be no reason for her to go on a stroll through the Georgia countryside. She was in the story for Rick to be reminded of his responsibilities to the group, not to show an accurate portrayal of a foreign tourist gone made in the United States of Zombieland.

  • The Governor — Conspicuous by his absence. Perhaps he is in Macon, or perhaps he is bidding his time to strike the prison again . . .

  • The Zombies — It’s raining dead, hallelujah it’s raining dead! The bit with the helicopter and the walkers falling through the ceiling was awesome. That dude dangling from his intestines was a sight to see, but I think that my zombie of the week is bloody eyes at the prison gates.

    walkingdeadredeyezombie

Well, that actually turned out to be not quite so short afterall. I just couldn’t help myself. That familiar scent of rot and decay along with a seasonal chill in the October air, proves that it’s a good time to be a horror fan.


American Horror Story: Coven — Bitchcraft

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The Beat-by-Beat

American Horror Story is back with an all new season — Coven. And if you couldn’t guess from the subtitle, this story is all about witches. ‘Bitchcraft’ (the episode name tells me these ladies be sassy!) opens in New Orleans in 1834. Kathy Bates is Madam Delphine LaLaurie, the sadistic mistress of a large mansion who hosts opulent parties in the front rooms, while up in the attic hides away tortured slaves shackled to the walls or stuck in cages too small for human bodies. And those are the lucky ones who haven’t been flayed alive. LaLaurie has three daughters, one of which is openly defiant and brazen in her sexuality. The madam takes her kin in stride though, as she is all too concerned with keeping her girlish looks by painting on a red concoction of blood and pancreatic secretions (all in the name of beauty). When LaLaurie’s youngest is caught cavorting with a black freedman, she has the man taken up to the attic of horrors and mounted with the head head of a bull!

Cut to present day. Young Zoe Benson, played by Taissa Farmiga (missing from last season’s Asylum series, but present in AHS’s first, Murder House), is having her very first sexual tryst with a boyfriend. This first lesson of carnal knowledge also comes with the revelation that she is not a regular teenage girl. Things do not end well for her partner, as Zoe discovers that she has the power to suck the life out of men.

Zoe, obviously distraught over this turn of events, is informed by her mother that she is indeed a witch, despite the genetic trait having skipped a generation or two. Consequently, she is sent away to a boarding school (a regular Hogwarts) in New Orleans. Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies is run by Cordelia Foxx (AHS alum Sarah Paulson) and hosts a coven of three other witches in training: Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), a Lindsey Lohan-esque party-girl actress with the power of telekinesis; Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) a human voodoo doll who can inflict pain on others by physically harming herself; and Nan (Jamie Brewer, another AHS season 1 returnee), a clairvoyant.

The coven is rounded out by Fiona Goode (played by the fabulous Jessica Lange). Fiona is the “Supreme” of this witch generation, meaning that she is the most powerful (and likely also most ambitious) witch walking the Earth. Her powers are tantamount to those of all the other witches combined. She can levitate, do Jedi-mind tricks, toss people aside with a mere flick of the wrist, and steal the life-force away from a man with a single kiss. This last power seems to be waning however, and Fiona is depicted as being on a quest for youth. Following a failed injection of vitality serum, she soulsucks the scientist who developed it, and then decides to drop back in on her estranged daughter Cordelia and the school’s bevy of neophytes.

The night before Fiona’s return is a deadly and eventful one, when Zoe accompanies Madison to a frat house party. There, Zoe meets Kyle (AHS stalwart Evan Peters), the mature fratboy of the group (who doesn’t mind being reduced to a stereotype). While the characters of Peters and Farmiga were fated to love each other for eternity in AHS: Murder House, this pair hardly has a chance to get their relationship started, as a drugged Madison is being raped upstairs by Kyle’s frat brothers. Kyle puts the kibosh on that and tries to talk some reason into his fraternal brethren, but only gets knocked out for his trouble. Zoe and the now conscious Madison follow the fratboys out to their bus, where Madison uses her power to get revenge by toppling over the bus and setting it ablaze.

The next day, in a powerplay that is sure to continue throughout the season, Fiona defies Cordelia’s wishes and takes the students on a tour of historic haunted New Orleans. First stop: the LaLaurie Mansion! It is here that Fiona realizes that her aims coincide Madam LaLaurie’s, who had been poisoned and presumed dead, but whose body was never found. Fortunately Nan is able to locate the body buried near a fountain, and wouldn’t you know it, after Fiona has a few men dig up the chained coffin, out pops a rather befuddled, but altogether alive Madam LaLaurie.

Following the encouragement to embrace their powers by Fiona (rather than Cordelia’s method of self-preservation through hiding) Zoe goes back to the hospital where two of the fratboys had survived the bus crash. She is dismayed to see that Kyle was not one of the survivors, but she is able to extract a bit of vengeance by killing the one who initiated Madison’s gangrape. Sexual promiscuity equalling death is one of the oldest tropes in the horror genre, but never has it been so hamfistingly clear as when it is portrayed by a witch deathfucking a comatose victim.

My Thoughts

This season of American Horror Story has started out in a much more linear fashion than the last season. It is much less schizophrenic, which is a good thing, considering the change of setting. Last season got away with showing a lot of crazy stuff because the main theme was sanity. This season seems like it will stick to a traditionally told (main storyline told chronologically, with some flashbacks to the 1800s).

The initial voiceover with Zoe seemed a bit amateurish at first, but it was much less annoying during the ending of the show. These younger actresses (Taissa Farmiga & Emma Roberts) have quite a bit of work to do to get to the level of a Jessica Lange or Kathy Bates. But being on set and able to perform with such veterans should give them quite the leg up. One of the best aspects of this show (apart from being the best written horror series currently on TV — sorry Walking Dead) is the fantastic acting. Lange can really chew up the set pieces if given the right material, and I thought that Sarah Paulson really shined last season too. The interplay between these two (as well as Bates) should be captivating to see.

I didn’t mention in my beat-by-beat about the short appearances by other American Horror Story alumnae Frances Conroy and Lily Rabe, but they were both good too. Conroy was the one who personally shuttled Zoe to New Orleans, so I assume that she serves as some sort of talent scout for the coven. I’m sure we’ll see her character again in the series, probably in a more limited role like last season. Rabe, unfortunately, played covenless witch Misty Day who was discovered and burned at the stake. Although it looks like she is dead, given that this story is about witchcraft and one of their powers being resurrection, she may return.

Also, Angela Bassett was the witch (voodoo priestess?) who poisoned Bates. Certainly we haven’t seen the last of her!

The fratboys in the deadly bus crash reminded me of the similar scene in Night of the Creeps. I doubt American Horror Story will feature any brain-dwelling alien slugs though (at least not this season anyway). Also the subject of rape and fraternities is all too topical these days given this rapebait email scandal.

Finally, it seems to me that witches are presently having their day in the sun (er, full blood moon night). One of the summer’s biggest horror films was The Conjuring, and this show as well as the surprisingly not terrible Sleepy Hollow TV show prominently feature witches. I’m all for it, and say, let the zombies shamble on into the sunset; this is a witch’s time to shine.