Sunday 30 October 2022

Review: #TheWalkingDead S11x21 OUTPOST 22 #TWD

Previously: Review: S11x20 WHAT'S BEEN LOST

 - S 11 x 21   OUTPOST 22 -

Directed by Tawnia McKiernan

Written by Jim Barnes

'Better here than being out there in the wastelands' . 

Judith's intro was all about fear, fight and hope this week ~ the story of our heroes' life since the beginning.  I noticed that she said the words 'working together' just as Maggie and Rick hugged in the clip of 708 Hearts Still Beating, which fuelled my own ridiculously optimistic hope that Rick might appear in the finale.  Well, a girl can dream...

And so the true evil of the Commonwealth was exposed, as we were presented with a sinister echo of Europe during World War II ~ the sense of being kept in the dark, not knowing where people are being taken ... the transfer of some to the ominous-sounding Designation 2, from which nobody ever returns.

Dark army trucks in the night, overgrown rail tracks, the separation of people into workers and... whatever happens where they tried and failed to take Connie.  The enforced use of numbers rather than names, nothing to eat but disgusting grey gruel.  And what about Annie?  I can't help wondering if she won't survive; karma for Negan, perhaps?  So that he finally, really understands what he did to Maggie?  I so hope this is not the case, but...


Good to see Rosita and Gabriel together.  Nothing like waking up on a bed of dry leaves after a hard night avoiding transportation to a labour camp, only to see a Commonwealth Soldier Walker poised for his breakfast.  I hope R & G will end up together, still - we never saw why or exactly when they broke up.  They're so good together.  I liked how Gabriel talked her out of blaming herself for Coco being taken - and she took it on board.


Mothers doing what has to be done to find their children was at the forefront this week, re Rosita and, of course, Maggie's flashbacks of Hershel being taken from her.  You could just see her thinking 'what if that was him?' when she was unable to kill that little boy Walker - and doing so with tenderness when she had no choice.  He'd clearly turned quite recently; it's always more shocking when they still look like who they were. Like the three who tried to escape from the labour camp, at the end.

During Maggie and Carol's highly emotive scene by the truck, Maggie said, about the fate of Hershel, that not knowing was the worst thing; I'm sure we could all feel Carol thinking about those days that turned into weeks when everyone was looking for Sophia - and that both women suffered a chilling reminder of the moment Sophia walked out of the barn.

I loved what Carol said about how living at the Commonwealth life echoed the old world, pre-Walkers.  She said that back there she hardly spoke to Daryl; everyone was just busy doing their own thing.  But the world as it is now has made their bonds so strong; people they would never otherwise have met become as much family as anyone with blood ties.  

Maybe they've come too far to go back to life as it was before, however many comforts are offered, even if such a community is benign.  The boss man at the labour camp described the Commonwealth as 'paradise' - but our crew have found a different sort, that of total freedom.  They don't need the sort of structure the Commonwealth offers; they can do just fine on their own.

Another good moment ~ Carol reminding Daryl of Kelly's words of wisdom back at the cave in 10x09 Squeeze: 'We can't find her if we're dead.'  Seems like they're all learning from their mistakes, and from each other, these days ... it was so good to see Maggie, Daryl, Carol, Rosita and Gabriel working together to do the right thing, however dangerous, as they've been doing for so many years.  

I'm not quite sure how Daryl and Carol managed to steal that truck off the train without anyone seeing, but never mind; belief suspended!  The bike steal, though, was more feasible - and wasn't the bike chase fairly awesome?!

You can't out-bike Daryl Dixon


Meanwhile, back at the labour camp, Negan sitting down with Ezekiel promised to be 'interesting' ~ they haven't interacted for a long, long time.  Unlike Maggie, Daryl and Carol, he has not had a chance to observe Negan 2.0, who, since the beginning of S11, does appear to accept what a monster he was, and is trying so hard to show that he really does have a decent side.  You can understand how Ezekiel felt.  He won't forget the massacre in 804 Some Guy in a hurry.  Or indeed when Jared killed Benjamin over a missing melon.

And so we discover the fate of Alexandria - now Alexandria Processing Centre.  What with the mention of 'colonial processing' by the woman Rosita spoke to on the radio, and the talk of extending the Commonwealth's reach, it all sounded terrifyingly Third Reich.  

Horrible seeing lovely Alexandria taken over by such darkness.  The place where Deanna once held parties, where fresh bread was baked every day and Michonne and Rick fell in love ... as did Carl and Enid, Denise and Tara, Abraham and Sasha.  It's more than just somewhere they lived.  It's a symbol of their success in finding a safe and harmonious existence, away from the intrusion of psychos and megalomaniac overlords.  It's where Glenn lived, and Siddiq, Reg, Jessie, Eric, Tobin, Francine, and all those no longer with us.

'Milton has underestimated us since day one.  We are going to get our kids, take back our home and make it right.'


Other bits and bobs:
  • When Rosita said something about the Commonwealth feeding the people's fear by separating them, breaking them down, I felt parallels with today's world, too.
  • Occurred to me that Designation 2 might be at Hilltop.  But for what?
  • Am wondering how it's going down at Oceanside, after Aaron, Jerry, Lydia and Elijah set off - and if they've come across any more Variants.

Next week...

Sunday 23 October 2022

Review: #TheWalkingDead S11x20 WHAT'S BEEN LOST #twd


Previously: Review S11x19: Variant

- S 11 x 20   WHAT'S BEEN LOST -

Directed by Aisha Tyler

Written by Erik Mountain

The basic theme of this episode was, as Judith outlined in that beautifully nostagic intro, all about what you'll do for the sake of your friends.  How far you will go, what you will risk ~ and the value of that person you can always rely on.  What better start than a brief reminder of the most enduring relationship of them all, that of Daryl and Carol?  All the way back to the farm, when their connection bloomed with the Cherokee rose.

Carol was at her unmatched best throughout, this week, escaping from the Commonwealth heavies at the beginning when she saw evidence that her friends had not, as per the deal she made, been allowed to return to Alexandria.  The deal that was never going to happen in the first place?  With or without Eugene and Max's actions, it all seemed a bit too straightforward. 

Then there was the saving of Daryl, who was in real trouble.  As Angela Kang said afterwards, he's no superman, he's a real person who can get into seriously deep water.  Wasn't it great to see Daryl and Carol working together again? 

The scene with the dead Commonwealth heavy turning Walker, then biting into the neck of Daryl's attacker, was a good moment; it's so easy, after all this time, to see the threat of the Walkers as minor in comparison with what humans can do to each other, but every so often we are reminded.

So Lance was the son of the Milton family's chauffeur.  I thought it was going to be something more complex than that, but I suppose with only four episodes left, there is hardly time to develop yet another backstory!

'He knows all the dark shit that goes on around here'


'This isn't going to be easy'

'When is it ever?'

Nerve-wracking scene when Carol and Daryl were helping Lance escape his cell and they were forced to split up ~ there was a moment or two of mournful music, and I feared that something awful was going to happen.  You could see written all over Carol's face how badly she didn't want to leave him there to 'figure it out'.

'There's always a path.  Always a way out' 

- Lance's words, but they were echoed by Eugene to Yumiko, later.  They're true for our people, anyway, and as long as Daryl and Carol are around.  I like how the clever and devious antagonists such as Negan (yes, I know he's not an antagonist now!) and Lance see that, as Mr Hornsby said, there is no one else like  Carol ~ she's always ten steps ahead.  Nobody sees the big picture as well as she does; yet again, she makes a deal with the enemy because she can see how it's the way to get the information she needs and, ultimately, to save her people.

She's the lone warrior, working out stuff for herself, doing what she knows is right and going that extra mile or twenty that others may be scared to walk.  Fearless, just like ... Daryl.  She works out a plan and goes for it, usually without telling anyone else what she's about to do.

I love how Daryl and Carol have become so in tune that, even in a life or death situation, they barely have to explain anything to each other.  Like in 10x08 The World Before, when they went off to find where Alpha kept her Guardians.  In 5x06 Consumed, when they went to Atlanta to rescue Beth.  They decide on strategy in just a few words, and get to it. 

Never was there a better illustration of this than when they stood together in the dark, after Lance had shown them where to find their friends.  They seemed almost 'as one' when they told him, quietly and calmly, that they would not kill him, but would just leave him out there to survive as best he could.  Reminded me of when Daryl sent Dwight off in 8x16 Wrath.  Both of them are fine with killing aggressors in a battle situation, but it seems like once they know someone, in whatever sense, it doesn't feel right.  They kill to stay alive and to keep those they love alive; they don't execute.

However, it was clear that Carol was ready with her bow as Lance walked off ~ yes, of course she expected him to turn around and try something!


So Pamela proved herself to be every bit as devious as Lance, but Yumiko played a blinder at the press conference, bringing everyone's attention to how much Tomi was valued and needed, by the whole community.  Inspired!  Perfect way of making sure Pamela would not be able to put him in danger if Yumiko refused to prosecute Eugene.  Clever!

I loved how she called Pamela's bluff ~ Pamela, having made such a big deal about justice in front of so many people, cannot now back down from giving Eugene a fair trial with a lawyer of his choice.  Clever again!

Bluff well and truly called

Earlier I was thinking the 'where are our people' (including Dog!!) question seemed a little vague, almost as though I'd missed something; the previous episode ended so suddenly, with Rosita being attacked just as she was going to take the children to board the Alexandria-bound wagon train that Carol found in pieces ~ we never saw them being taken away.

But the last horribly, wonderfully ominous scene made me realise why - we're as much in the dark as those on what looked like an old prison bus.  Fabulous suspense, perfect cliffhanger.  What's going to happen to them here?

To the children, Rosita, Connie, Dog and everyone else - and Ezekiel, under a sack and without his sesame seed bagels, being injected in the neck...

I daresay things will get a lot worse before they get better.  A fabulous episode, really cemented #Caryl together as they should be, and it looks like Pamela's regime is being held together by just a few threads.

Next week - a labour camp?  I've seen on Twitter that there's some worry, via spoilers, that Carol is going to become a victim of unrequited love (for Daryl).  Not sure I can see this happening ~ hope not!  There has to be a reason why he goes off on his own (for the spin-off), other than general Daryl-ness.  My guess is that all our guesses will be wrong, because TWD never fails to surprise us!

Sunday 16 October 2022

Review: #TheWalkingDead S11x19 VARIANT #TWD


Previously: S11x18 A New Deal

- S 11 x 19   VARIANT -

Directed by Karen Gaviola

Written by Vivian Tse 

'Since when did the dead use frickin' doorknobs?' asks Jerry.  Anyone else think, um, Jenny Jones in the very first episode?  😉😄  Though viruses mutate; clearly this ability disappeared pretty quickly.

The possibility of future mutations adds yet another dimension of scariness - more to come, in Isle of the Dead and the Richonne and Daryl spin-offs?

The theme-park village looked like an ideal setting for Kingdom 2.0 at first glance, and Jerry said about them making a new home there seemed feasible.  I loved Jerry in this episode - he dealt with Aaron's somewhat stubborn determination so perfectly, up to and including not giving him a 'told you so' about their wagon not making a very good off-road vehicle. 

Saint Aaron was back, though, when he gave Lydia such great advice as far as Elijah is concerned.  Echoes of last episode, in which Carol told her that you have to take happiness where you can.

I liked so much about this episode, but felt there were two scenes missing: 
  1. I needed to see how the four of them (three and a half if you take into consideration Jerry's injury) killed all those Walkers between them, especially as at least some of these were the Variants of the title, who have regained their initial skills of climbing and using rocks as tools.  There were masses of them ~ I was geared up to see a big battle, but suddenly it was morning and they were all dead.  How?

  • We never saw how Pamela Milton discovered that the workers-turned-Walkers in the grey boiler suits had been killed by Shira and Calhoun on the instructions of Lance, rather than by Eugene and Max.  Presumably one of them gave up the information, but we don't know this.  Do correct me if I'm wrong, and I missed it!

Talking of which, meanwhile back at the Commonwealth...

'The prick had it coming'

I have no doubt that Lance will survive being locked into a cell with Walker Seb and soon-to-be Walker Calhoun.  I suspect his eventual demise will be a lot more satisfying ~ public, and orchestrated by one of our gang!

Occurred to me that last week's 'A New Deal' was one of those pivotal episodes when an action (i.e, what Eugene and Max did with that tape) affects everything and everyone, and influences all future events.  The theme of 'Variant' was, I thought, the definition of what makes a 'good man', as per the illuminating conversation between Princess and Mercer...

... and Max quoting her father when refusing to sign the document that would have secured her freedom: 'Speak truth no matter what the cost.'  Nice one, Max and Mr Mercer Snr!  So Mercer is getting it from all sides - perhaps he should listen to both his sister and his girlfriend.  I imagine he will...

This, of course, ties into the theme of redemption ~ Eugene doing what was good and brave instead of cowardly.  He's become a lion at last; Abraham would have been proud.

Other good stuff:

  • When Eugene refused point blank to leave the Commonwealth without Max, Rosita did not argue or get emotional about it, but understood that his stance was immovable, so went off to deal with the situation as it was, not as she wanted it to be.  Rosita rocks.  More and more all the time.

  • Princess, full stop.  Loved how she called bullshit on Mercer - he said he was doing 'everything in his power' to protect Eugene and she replied 'but not everything..'.  Then there was the statement that the interrogation room 'smells like armpits and ass' 😂. The pink jacket is back ~ like Judith and Daryl putting The Hat and The Waistcoat back on, this felt symbolic!

Whole scene here:

When Lance cried out that the trouble started when the Hilltop and Alexandria people arrived, I heard an echo of Spencer Monroe who, more than once, was heard to say that everything went wrong when Rick and co arrived.  Depends whose side you're on, Lance.  Didn't end well for Spencer....

Next week:

and.... episode 21!