Saturday, 9 November 2019

Review: #TheWalkingDead S10x06 BONDS #TWD #TWDFamily

Review: S10x06 WHAT IT ALWAYS IS

Written by: Kevin Deiboldt
Directed by: Dan Lui

What a belter of an episode this was!  The best this season, I thought; Negan's dialogue was superb—I have never laughed at TWD so loudly as I did when he asked Beta if he and Alpha were in a '..Beta with benefits situation?  Do you slide her a little omega on the side?' πŸ˜‚ 

Just as good but in a different way was the dialogue between Daryl and Carol, and Eugene's heartrendingly touching conversation with the woman on the radio: Stephanie from the comics?

...and I'll start with Eugene.  When he was talking to Rosita I was again thinking no, please, writers, don't make Rosita end up with him, it just wouldn't be convincing... but later, during the conversation with the mystery woman, I saw something I've not seen in him before; his face changed.  We were shown his non-geek side, the one that allows himself just to feel emotions without rationalising them.  The normal guy, who still thinks of his life 'before', who lost his best friend and many others, and loves a woman who doesn't love him back.  As they ended the exchange, the camera drew back to show the window; like, Eugene is in his little room, but there's a whole world out there for him to discover.  Is this the beginning of contact with the Commonwealth, where Maggie might be?  I'm guessing that's a long way ahead yet, though.

Of course the radio was touched upon right at the end of S9x16, implying its future importance; this is one of the many aspects of TWD that keeps it streets ahead of so many other shows—how you see the significance of seemingly small details so much later; they're just slipped in, sometimes with little or no attention, like when Michonne walked past the wall that said 'Wolves Not Far' in S5, a whole seven episodes before we (or they) discovered who they were.

Talking of Rosita—good to see her get at least a little more screen time, albeit a softer, less snarky and kick-ass version.  What handsome couple she and baby-daddy Siddiq make...though I was a little concerned that Coco was in the room with all the sick people.  Siddiq is clearly still haunted; I wonder if there is anything darker going on, or if it's just theory?

What Siddiq and Dante need for their sick patients is Hershel's elderberry tea; how sad that there was no one around who would remember that.  As for Dante—yes, he's kind of cheesy, but I'm starting to like him.

Now: Daryl and Carol.  When she was walking off on her own between the fences just outside Alexandria's gates, before Daryl caught up with her, I thought it looked like the prison...sigh.  I lap up every one of the scenes between the two of them.  Love how Daryl talks more when he's with her.  Was he telling the truth when she asked him about Connie?

Carol: I see things.
Daryl: It's not like that.  Not at all
Carol: Why not?  You don't have to be alone.  Years pass; you can't hide out with Dog forever.

Was the key in the way he looked at her, after she said that?  I thought so.  I felt as though he wanted to say that he wasn't alone, because of her, or that it's she that he wants to be 'not alone' with.  There's definitely a spark between him and Connie, but what he and Carol shares is deep; all that history, right back to Atlanta and the Cherokee Rose. The memories, the bonds with others, and the parts they played in his life, about which Connie knows nothing.  How could you explain the fire of Rick, the sweetness of Beth, the angel heart of Glenn and the totally all-round fab-ness of Hershel to someone who has never met them?  Even the complicated relationship he had with Merle?

I suspect he will never start a romantic relationship with either of them, but he and Carol share so much that words aren't always necessary—I loved how she knew he'd be looking through her bag, and he wasn't remotely embarrassed to be caught doing so.  I wonder if she's the only person he could be with, because she knows him—really knows him.  Then again, we sometimes choose a person who doesn't know our past, because we can be who we are now; a clean slate.  We'll see - but I bet not for a long time.

Big question: will Carol's taking of a hostage cause problems with Alexandra/Hilltop—Whisperer relations?  

And so we come to Negan's one day fast-track-to-being-a-Whisperer training course, with their 'cool-ass outfits, the whole back-to-nature, paleo vibe'. πŸ˜‚

SO funny, especially the little montage to music, his piss-taking of the ΓΌber-serious Beta ('Cool your tits there, jolly green giant' πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚), and the way he laughed to himself as he watched Beta kneeling to Alpha.  Only trouble is that now, of course, that the jolly green giant doesn't seem so scary anymore—because Negan made him look a bit... well, silly.

Is Beta worried that Alpha might see Negan as a stronger, more suitable Beta?  I think so—especially as he proved himself a Guardian slayer par excellence, and knelt before her.  Remember that, before the world changed, Beta was something of a loner, possibly a bit of a weirdo/loser, as we saw in S10x02 We Are The End Of The World, whereas Negan was hot and cool, and has already commanded an army as big as Alpha's.

When she bent closer to him and appeared to be sniffing him, like animals do, I couldn't help thinking that, despite him saying that the bald head thing made his breeches tighten, she must have stunk to high heaven; she's been wearing the same clothes since she first appeared.

I am still certain his motives are in the best interests of the Alexandrians, but his new life as a Whisperer should be a joy to see! 

Yes, an excellent episode, easily up to the standard of some of the best of S3-S6.  Entertaining, emotive and fascinating in so many ways, raising questions about what is to come, deepening old bonds and creating new ones...and I think another reason I liked it so much was because it (mostly) featured older characters we know so well.

Here's the trailer for episode 7 - I've read about the possibility of a 'certain character' dying, but I've read that before.... cross fingers it's just talk.

If you want to know more about the Commonwealth in the comics, there's a Paul Tassi/Forbes article about it HERE, and it sounds like it will make for some brilliant storylines :)

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Review: #TheWalkingDead S10:05 WHAT IT ALWAYS IS #TWD #TWDFamily


Written by: Eli Jorne
Directed by: Laura Belsey

'The enemy of my enemy is my friend'

A slower episode with some outstanding moments, the best of which centred around Negan.  'Can't say that I ever remember rating Walkers on hotness—besides, she's clearly a 3.' πŸ˜†πŸ˜†  Made me laugh out loud!

Yes, it's a long time since the Sanctuary... and Negan is one of the few (like Carol, and Judith, of course!) whose appearance shows that seven harsh years have passed since the war ended.

When he was reminiscing about pre-Walker days with the boy on the bus, I noticed how the lad scarcely spoke, which made me think about the generation who've known no other life, and haven't managed to find an Alexandria or a Hilltop.  Nowhere to learn the communication skills that most kids pick up automatically: no TV, no school, no peer group with whom to exchange information and views ... if you've ever wondered how Alpha gathered her tribe, I'm guessing they must have been people like this boy and his mother—wearing the masks of the dead being preferable to becoming one of them.

I was glad this was a 'light' episode, not one of those taking place mostly at night that have me peering up close and rewinding to be sure of what's going on (and that's on a 55" screen).  During, it was the first time I really got the feeling of this being a way different show from the first five seasons, with it featuring no Michonne, no Carol, no Rosita, no Gabriel, scarcely any Eugene or Aaron and not a great deal of Daryl.

Negan was totally the star—and Blaine Kern III played an absolute blinder as Brandon, the Negan-in-Waiting.  I was amused by how the stories of Negan's glory years have become embroidered over time, with Brandon thinking that he actually had cut off Carl's hand, then shot him.  Of course, though, Negan would never kill a kid, ohhh no.... yes, I know this was on last week's review, too, but we need to remember!  It's true that his mellowing seemed more convincing this week, but...

I know Negan had to get rid of his 'pasty, creepy-ass face' (πŸ˜†πŸ˜‚!!) for the sake of the plot, but what a shame.  Should've kept him and got rid of boring Yumiko instead ... feels like she's just another tick in the Strong Female Lead box, but with a likeability factor bypass 😴; she's no Michonne, Carol or Rosita.  And I don't get why the guys at the Hilltop appeared to be deferring to her; she's only been there five minutes.  I get that she's one of the main fighters and the place is in disarray because poor Ezekiel has other stuff on his plate (like heartbreak and thyroid cancer) and so probably isn't running it as efficiently as Maggie or Tara did, but...?

TWD: please stop killing off the good characters, and please allow what's left of the group from the first five seasons to stay alive!

Talking of Ezekiel's illness, this is possibly the first time we've been shown this so starkly—that in the new world life expectancy is much shorter, even without the Walkers.


Talking of newer characters, it was good to see a bit more Kelly this episode; I like her and Connie, and Daryl's Merle fishing story was a nice little extra for those who hope him and Connie will get together.  You can definitely see something there... not the deep, deep connection that he has with Carol, but something new and good for him.  I'm still 80% #Caryl—though I strongly suspect that it will be a long time before Daryl has a real love interest, if ever.

Now, Aaron and Gamma... with the latter being instructed to respond to the Man With The Metal Arm in a way that will convince him that's she's maybe not so Whispery after all.  Doesn't bode well.  Then again, she is still haunted by the killing of her sister, and who can resist the lovely Aaron?  Maybe this part of Alpha's long game of little 'nicks' won't go as smoothly as she hopes.

I liked seeing more of the world outside the walls of Hilltop and Alexandria in the light; the way everything is damp, overgrown, and as nature intended. The aerial shot of that bus and the vehicles beside it showed how rusty and useless the old vehicles are now, relics of a lost world, with vegetation growing around and through them.  

Other great moments:
  • How poor Ezekiel couldn't speak to Carol, in the end.  His pain was etched all over his face.
  • Daryl to Magna when he discovered that she'd been thieving from Hilltop's stores: 'All you're good for is talking shit'.
  • Negan walking off in his new leather jacket, with Lucille Mark II over his shoulder....
  • Oh yeah: Alpha's face when she showed the dissenting Whisperer exactly what a little 'nick' can do - perfect! 
  • 'The smart ones will know where to come to stay safe' —seems like a bit more of an indication of Alpha's plan.  One nick at a time.
Most of all, of course, the final scene—Negan and Beta meet at last!  'Alright, you big-ass freak, let's do this'.  Excellent!  But will they be friend or foe?  I'm not even going to guess (ps, okay, I think he'll pretend to be on board with them, but really take them down!)

 Trailer for next week:

Somehow, though, I feel like I'm still waiting for this season to get started; will it all kick off now?  I loved the first two episodes, but (Negan aside) the last two, and parts of this one, have not quite enthralled me as did every episode of Season 9.  I've liked them a lot more than those early episodes of S8 (which I consider to be the show's lowest point), but for me the weak points have been too weak. But what the hell; after nearly a decade you can't expect to adore all of every episode—and, on rewatching, I whizz through the Lori hallucinations in S3 and Beth's suicide attempt in S2, for goodness sake!

My favourite seasons are 4, 6 and 9, by the way, and most of 3; I'd be interested to hear which are yours.

However, I'm confident that there will be more great stuff to come; all the signs indicate brilliant storylines.  I just hope that the Whisperers thing is not stretched out for a half season too long, like the Saviours War was, and enough screen time is given to the characters we know and love.  And Earl, for instance, could become a Hershel Mark II, Alden hasn't had enough development yet, it's time Rosita got to strut her stuff again, and what about this Dante guy?

Okay, I'm just missing Rick 😒.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Lately I've Been Watching

More mini reviews and recommendations of TV series, films, etc.  Mostly watched on Amazon Prime and Netflix.

For all posts in this series, please click HERE

Series: The Loudest Voice 

5 stars plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Russell Crowe is utterly brilliant as Roger Ailes, the long-time Chairman of Fox News, in this seven-part series.  His make-up, as an older, obese man is completely convincing.  Sienna Miller does a great job of playing his supportive and naΓ―ve wife.  Aside from the story itself, it will be a real eye-opener for anyone who thinks that news stations do not have a political agenda, and do not have every intention of influencing and moulding how the public thinks (and votes).

There is no doubt that Ailes was a revolting, sexist, racist, manipulative, self-absorbed, elitist douchebag of the highest order, who engaged in sexual harrassment of his staff; he was eventually fired by Rupert Murdoch following sexual abuse claims by many former and current employees, thought it seemed to me that one or two of the women intentionally slept their way up the career ladder, rather than being sexually abused.  But I daresay it was all a lot more complicated than we saw in these seven episodes.  

Anyway, it's terrific, and I was engrossed all the way through.  Highly recommended.

Film: El Camino 

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The spin-off film from Breaking Bad, showing what happened to Jesse Pinkman after he drove away in the finale.  You do need to have seen all of Breaking Bad to enjoy this, btw - it's like the last bit of the story.  Aaron Paul is terrific as Jesse, and there is a great scene with him and Walter - a flashback, because of course Walter died at the end of the series.  If you loved Breaking Bad as much as I did, it's unmissable.

Dark Humour/Drama Series: Mr Inbetween 

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Love this!  Scott Ryan is the creator and star - it's an Australian series set in Sydney, about Ray Shoesmith, who is a 'fixer' for the owner of a lap-dancing club that is heavily involved in the underworld.  He is also a hired killer, but the other side of his life is touching and 'normal' - he has a great relationship with his eight-year old daughter and his brother, who as motor neurone disease; Ray takes great care of him.  In the first episode he meets Ally, a paramedic, and they fall in love, but she has trouble dealing with the violent side of his nature.  I've watched both seasons, and hope it carries on, because it's really great.  Highly recommended.

Series: A Confession

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

True story, starring Martin Freeman, about Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher who investigates the case of the missing Sian O'Callaghan.  When the killer is found, he confesses to another murder - but Fulcher has a great deal of trouble proving it.  The TV series is about the families, and what happens to Fulcher as a result of it, and the methods he used in extracting the confession.  Freeman is as excellent as ever, and if you enjoy TV police procedurals, you'll love it.

Comedy Series: Living With Yourself  

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Follows the story of a man who, after undergoing a mysterious treatment that promises him the allure of a better life, discovers that he has been replaced by a cloned version of himself.  Amusing and entertaining.  I found his wife massively irritating, though.

Netflix Film: In the Shadow of the Moon 

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Serial killer, time travel - stars a fairly down at heel cop with a heavily pregnant wife, starting in 1988.  It's good, entertaining, and the unravelling of what the plot is all about is not apparent at all.  Held my interest throughout; not particularly memorable but worth watching.

Series: On Becoming a God in Central Florida 

3.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐

I hovered between 3.5 and 4* for this - loved it at first but after episode 3 it hasn't held my attention so much.  Kirsten Dunst is terrific as a bereaved wife who gets involved in a pyramid selling scheme.  Set in the late 80s or early 90s, I think, though there has been no definite date.  Worth giving a go :)

Monday, 28 October 2019

Review: #TheWalkingDead S10:4 SILENCE THE WHISPERERS #TWD

Review: S10:3 GHOSTS
The Story of Daryl and Carol 

Written by: Geraldine Inoa
Directed by: Michael Cudlitz

'Never take your enemy at their word.  Measure them by their actions.'

Oh what a lovely start: Daryl smiling, sitting down to dinner with Rick's kids!  Normal life: Gabriel walks along with Rosita and the baby, Magna and Yumiko have a romantic moment—but then not so normal, as the increasingly disturbed Siddiq has a wobble or several, and a tree falls through the wall of the hilltop and lets the Walkers in.  

...a reflection of S6:08 Start To Finish, except that this time there's no Rick to motivate the band of Walker slayers, and no Daryl, Sasha and Abraham turning up with a petrol tanker.

Well done, Geraldine Inoa and Michael Cudlitz, and let us not forget the producers and editors; these more human episodes are fascinating, and underline how any society will have its problems, even when they should be banding together against common foe.  That our very nature makes us form alliances with those who have similar grievances, beliefs and prejudices—and how those allied will egg each other on to persecute a scapegoat, too, as Lydia is set upon by Gage, Margo and the other Highwaymen guy, in retribution for the death of their friends—even though she played no part in it.  Many real life parallels to be made here, of course. 😢

As Daryl so rightly says, it's a mess—you can understand Gage etc's feelings, the eagerness of Earl and Alden to blame the Whisperers for the Walker onslaught and the tree, and the way in which our lovely Saint Aaron allowed his halo to slip as he taught people to fight, stirring up the desire for retribution: 'These people took our land, our friends—they must be stopped.'

There is no right or wrong; nothing is black and white.  That Negan killed Margo by accident when protecting Lydia is one thing, but when he called her a 'goddamn asshole, beating on a kid', one could not help but remember him beating the not-much-older Glenn to death in front of his pregnant wife, and that he would have killed Carl in S7:16 The First Day of the Rest of Your Life if Shiva hadn't arrived at the right moment.  

Daryl was so right about Lydia hanging out with Negan doing her no good—like the misfits who band together in the school playground, such an alliance only exacerbates their image as social pariahs.  Not least of all because Lydia doesn't know what Negan did, six or seven years before.

Like Daryl trying to get the prison group to accept Merle, and Negan being allowed to be a part of the Alexandria community as per Carl and Rick's ideals, perhaps Lydia living there will never work.  

Who do you think let him out, then?  Next week is looking great (see trailer, below) - action packed, lots of stuff going on, and LIGHT!  This was another episode with too much dark, I thought.  And I found it hard to hear what Lydia was saying.  Twice, I played back the bit when she was talking about someone smelling of garlic and onions, and I still couldn't catch it.

I do think Michonne has hit the nail on the head - that Alpha will not kill them while she thinks Daryl is protecting Lydia.  She knows, mother to mother ... and the scenes with her and Ezekiel were so emotive.  Poor Ezekiel is wallowing in his own losses, not fully aware that for Carol it's all about the lost children, and maybe always was; he wasn't around in the Cherokee Rose days.  But I think it's easy for us to forget all that Ezekiel has suffered, too ~ and his 'and yet I smile' line at the end of that lovely scene on the broken bridge (that is where they were, right?) showed the more positive side of him that made him King Ezekiel in the first place.

Like Michonne said, it's worse the second time round, though with Carol's attachment to Lizzie, Mika and Sam, as well as Sophia and Henry, it's more like the fourth time.  Sob sob: when Michonne was talking about the pain of being without Rick, echoing the feelings of any bereaved wife, in any time.

Incidentally, whoever first leaked that picture of Ezekiel kissing Michonne needs a slapped wrist for making us all think the two of them were about to get together!

Other thoughts:

  • I'm assuming that Luke's touching goodbyes with the rest of his original group mean that he's going to die next week. Especially as he's got some potential love stuff going on. Call me cynical.  
  • Good to see Judith acting every inch Carl's sister—and I don't care if she is biologically the daughter of Lori and Shane; she's every inch the daughter of Richonne, too. Though it has to be said that neither Lori or Shane were ever slow in coming forward.
  • Does Daryl putting the one-winged waistcoat back on mean that he's gearing up for a fight?  I see it as his warpaint!
  • Just love those wagons made out of cars.  I want to live in a post apocalyptic world just so I can travel in one.
  • I am most pleased to see that the lovely Scott is still alive 😍
  • Like the little hint of backstory about how Magna and Yumiko got together; we know that Magna was in prison, and now that Yumiko was her lawyer.

A most compelling episode that gave much food for thought, and laid more bricks on the road to what might be in store.... but kept us all guessing, in the best and time-honoured TWD fashion.

Next week.... looks brilliant!