Sunday, 29 August 2021

Review: #TheWalkingDead Season 11 Episode 2: ACHERON Part II

Previously: Review 11x01 ACHERON: Part I




- S 11 x 02  ACHERON: Part II - 

Written by Angela Kang and Jim Barnes

Directed by Kevin Dowling

Wow, that was so, so good, the sort of horror that usually comes later in a season, built up to over the weeks.  Brilliant writing, acting, lighting, structure, atmosphere, and a real shocker of an ending.


I'm now even less keen on Maggie's Meridian crew, and I don't feel that well-disposed towards Maggie right now, either, after she made the call to leaving poor Gage to be eaten by Walkers - would she have done so if it had been Hershel?  Cole?  Agatha?  Only Alden fought for the poor lad's life, though Negan looked like he wasn't too pleased about 'Sasquatch' barring Alden's way; he must have known it was pointless to fight against Headgirl Maggie, though.

Let's stop and think: can you imagine Michonne leaving someone behind like that?  Or Rick, Daryl, Rosita, Sacha, Abraham, Carol - any of them?  Glenn?  Picture it, and you can hear him saying, 'Maggie, it's still who we are, it has to be'.  

Do you remember Michonne and Heath in the pet shop in 6x03 Thank You, agreeing that no one would be left behind, even though there were fewer of them, Scott, Annie and David were injured, they had very little ammo and there were far more Walkers? 


One could argue that Gage should have been smart enough to shut the door behind him, that by not doing so he put them all in danger.  Yes, he did that.  But they've all made bad decisions and mistakes, and I bet if Daryl had been there he would have rescued him, forgetful or not.  He'd have popped the nearest Walkers, and wrenched him through.

I really hoped that when Gage turned, he would sink his jaws into a stray Meridian.  Any one of them would have done, apart from Elijah.  No such luck though.  


I can't help wondering, though, if the writers are setting Maggie up to be the bad guy and Negan more humane, only to turn it on its head later on!  Meanwhile, there were some great Negan gems this week:

Alden: You tried to kill her

Negan: No, she was in trouble and I didn't help - there is a big difference.


'She was just talking about murdering me, sooner rather than later, and yet somehow I'm the big old asshole because I didn't risk my nuts for her?'


Maggie's fall into what seemed like certain death, then re-emergence - I felt echoes of Glenn emerging from under the waste bin in 6x07 Heads Up (thank you, Anniek, for reminding me!).  Sorry though, Maggie, your grisly tales of life on the road didn't excuse what you just did.  They've all seen unspeakable horror, now.  

Thank goodness for Daryl and a nice bit of grenade love from injured Roy - doing a Carol (it's a 1x06 TS19 thing)!  


Speaking of our intrepid archer, that long-defunct spooky underground camp he found was so poignant ... it brought to mind cave paintings by prehistoric civilisations, showing their stories to those who would arrive and wonder, millennia later.

For the dead both ancient and modern, perhaps it's also about leaving a mark to say 'I was here, I existed, even if a sabre-toothed tiger/bunch of Walkers gets me tomorrow', a way of expressing themselves when they have no other medium on which to do so - and for something to do on those long, dark, quiet nights.


I wonder if it signified anything we will learn about later?  Those remnants from 'before', like a TV, and money ...  it seems so sad that they were clinging onto those things (or chaining a dead person's arm to them), probably after they had already become useless.


 
Maybe we'll discover Tom and Jesse at some point, or maybe Daryl will give that bank note to Princess, to make up for the one that was taken from her :)


...which leads me nicely onto storyline #2

Yumiko is not a favourite of mine, but I did enjoy her tearing a strip off the two stuffed shirts behind the desk at the Commonwealth holding camp, and how she made them aware, in no uncertain terms, that she knew exactly what they were up to.  Nothing like showing a behavioural psychologist that you've sussed out their game - great speech!

And Princess ups her game every episode - yes, really - toilet paper!  

'No shit!'


Then we come to Eugene - why have the writers had him revert into the shaking craven of years ago?  I get that he was embroidering his story about Stephanie to make him look more ineffectual than he is, a fool for love and little else, but he was doing the quivering lip thing when he was alone with Ezekiel, Yumiko and Princess, too.  Where's all that confidence and strength he acquired, over time?  He wasn't gibbering and quaking when they were fighting Alpha's horde, or when he was double-crossing Negan, or climbing to the top of water towers.  And this certainly wasn't the Eugene who talked to Stephanie over the radio.


He went to West Point.  He wasn't a beat cop.  Honest.

You never know with Eugene, though.  Always gotta remember that secret smile when he walked away from the truck he'd just written off, in 4x11 Claimed


Our friends are reunited, and at last Stephanie appears ... except that it's not Stephanie at all, but Eugene doesn't know this.  We do, because we know she's supposed to be played by Margot Bingham, and this is most definitely not her.  

Has Mercer assigned a fake Stephanie to wheedle out some information about their camp?  I bet Eugene begins to suss out that it's not her.  We'll see!

Let us not forget, incidentally, that Ezekiel, Eugene and Yumiko left just after the destruction of Hilltop, before Beta's horde decimated Alexandria, so they don't know there is very little to go home to at the moment.

🧟🧟🧟


So to the last few scenes... and one of the best episode endings EVER.

'This place sure has gone to shit since last time I was here'

'By the time you see them, you're already dead.'  



How does TWD keep coming up with more and more scary foes, every time?
The Reapers make the Governor, Gareth and the Cannibals (sounds like an 80s band), Bad Negan and even the Whisperers seem merely a tad bothersome compared with how you'd feel if you saw this lot coming towards you - just when you've used up all your bullets in the train car, too.  And there's something so sinister about the word 'Reaper', what with its 'grim' connotations.  Roll on next episode...





- RIP Gage -

Have fun and games with Laura, Addy, Rodney and Henry up in TWD Heaven:)



- RIP Roy - 

Nice to have known you, if only for a couple of episodes!



And here's the trailer for Episode 3... Alexandria, Carol and Aaron!



 















Sunday, 22 August 2021

Review: #TheWalkingDead Season 11 Episode 1: ACHERON: Part I

 Previously: Review S10x22 HERE'S NEGAN





- S 11 x 01  ACHERON: Part I - 

Written by Angela Kang and Jim Barnes

Directed by Kevin Dowling



Acheron - the 'river of woe' in Greek mythology, one of the rivers of the underworld.  More about it HERE.

Fabulous start to the new season (I can't quite bear to say 'final'), with the daring scavenge of MREs from the long-lost military base, filled with the 'lurker' brand of Walker - those dormant until something wakes them, and this time it's a drop of Daryl's blood.  Of course, Carol takes the mission a step further than most, with a risky rescue of the last box as the Walkers are closing in, but this time she's bringing back dinner, so no one tells her off 😉.  And of course it was she who found the functioning AK47s to save their asses.  Glad to see we're starting as it should go on - go Carol!



I notice that all the main and secondary characters featured somewhere in this first episode, which was a joy to see.  And that Jerry and Alden are now listed in the 'main character' titles at the beginning.  Judith and RJ running to be with Uncle Daryl was something of a touching moment :)


Sad to see the old Alexandria sign tossed into the rubbish as the group returned ... and how Maggie's Meridian friends will shape up remains to be seen.  I already don't like Cole and Agatha (seem to think they're a bit too important), not sure about the handsome Frost (below), though Elijah and Duncan (the big chap who put Hershel Jnr on his shoulders) seem cool.  

I think Cole and Agatha are both going to be trouble.  You mark my words....😉

🧟🧟🧟

'If we don't have food it's not going to matter anyway'  - Daryl's call that seals the decision to send a party out to Meridian to reclaim supplies for the starving Alexandrians.  Only trouble is that it's taken over by the Reapers, who sound even worse than the Saviors and Whisperers: 'By the time you see them, it's too late.'  


Wisely, Rosita and Carol elect not to be part of the outing...

Along for the ride is Negan, their 'DC Tour Guide', and what better place to shelter from a storm than an ancient, spooky, flood-ready subway that happens to be filled with bodies that Maggie assumes were wrapped up in plastic sheets during the fall?  Except that Negan susses out that their demise may have been more recent....



'That is God telling us to turn around,' says Negan, as the pipes creak and groan and the stink of bodies becomes more pungent.  Gage and Roy agree. Good to see C. Thomas Howell appear once more - his only other episode was as an unnamed 'Hilltop Resident' in 9x07 Stradivarius.  As Walkers emerge from the open end of the tunnel, thought, it is discovered that Gage and Roy are missing.  Which is, of course, seen as Negan's fault, for stirring them up.   

I doubt very much that they just sneaked off, especially as they were carrying the supplies.  That just isn't what Alexandrians do, right?  I am sure we will find that they've been taken... by the Reapers?


The main feature of this episode was, of course, the conflict between Maggie and Negan.  The trouble is that, most of the time these days, Negan is reasonable, helpful, and kind of likeable, whereas Maggie seems a tad dictatorial and bolshy.  The Maggie of Seasons 2-6 is no more.  I find myself wanting Negan to be accepted, so that the chap who cared for dying Lucille (not the bat 😆) can come back.  Then again, he smashed Abraham and Glenn's heads to pulp in front of them all, and laughed about it.  It is so hard to move past that, despite our new understanding of him.

I don't imagine for one moment that Maggie actually had plotted for Negan to die an untimely death during the Meridian trip; as she said, the little bit of Greene Farm Maggie that still exists does not allow her to do such a thing (though it didn't stop her giving Gregory a public execution, it has to be said).  


However, Negan's paranoia was fuelled when he fought off the Walker from whom he'd just saved Gage, and no one helped him.  Understandable.

I believe Negan's right about her not thinking straight while he's living rent-free in her head - though he was so, so wrong to taunt her with Glenn's death.  It's always the same - just when you're starting to see his point of view, he says or does something that makes you remember that fateful night.  Then again, Maggie wasn't around to see him do stuff like saving Judith in 9x16 The Storm.  Or getting rid of Alpha in 10x12 Walk With Us


I loved the ending.  I wondered for a moment whether he might put his hand down to help Maggie, but maybe it's too early for that sort of turn-around.  And it would have been a bit on the cheesy side.  Obviously Maggie will survive her fall from the subway car, so I wonder how he's going to explain that one away?


Next week shows everyone in the subway car, and Daryl and Dog further below ground to discover... what?

🚅🚅🚅



A
nd so to the Commonwealth - if Negan and Carol were the stars of storyline #1, then Ezekiel and Princess absolutely nailed it in storyline #2.  I LOVED how Ezekiel stood up to the man in the 'pumpkin-coloured space suit' (Michael James Shaw as Mercer); maybe he feels has little to lose these days, or it could be that, post Saviors and Whisperers, he's just had enough of being pushed around.  In this, he felt like the king again - or the big-hearted, honest zoo keeper who talked to Carol in the Kingdom garden, years ago.  

Also loved how total sweetie Princess revealed previously hidden strengths - the ability to read people uncannily well. I expect we are going to see more of this!

Most interesting was the discovery, on the 'lost board', of a message from Yumiko's brother Tomi - I read on a site called Looper that his existence will 'continually impact them in ways none of them can imagine, or avoid'. 😱😱😱   I have a feeling they're going to wish they'd escaped when they could, Stephanie or no Stephanie.



I read that Tomi is to be played by Ian Anthony Dale, who I am sure you recognise!



Something I'm wondering - what happened to the Whisperers who didn't die?  Did they carry on being Whisperers, or did they take off their masks and look for another way to survive?  Don't suppose we'll ever find out!

Until next week, here's a picture of Carol and Aaron, from episode 5...



....the trailer for Episode 2...


...and a look at what Daryl and Dog find. :)