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Don’t Say The Zed Word!

Pardon me as I bandage myself, I just can’t seem to stop gushing.  The undead stars have aligned their massive necromatic balls of gas and produced for us the current best episode of zombacylpse proportions!  Did you see this episode yet?  No?  Why not?  Go watch it, sign a check in my name as finder’s fee laws dictate, and then continue reading.

Here thar be spoilers!

We are treated to a bit of dialog between Amy and An…Angelina?  Andrea!  Amy and Andrea are chatting about their father who taught them how to fish, hoping he is still safe in Florida.  Luckily, I think they are correct in their hopeful optimism, as most people go to die in Florida anyway.  The dead do not come back to life unless killed by Walkers in this universe, so the old folks probably dropped via trampling rushes at the malls or heart issues due to the shock of seeing that guy that always beat them at golf walking around with half of his face falling off like damaged wall paper. 

If you ask me, the worst place to go would have been California.  Based on the movies and actors that come out of that place, it has been taken over by zombies years ago.  As Florida is about as far away from there that you can get from within the States, kudos to them.  Mind those hurricanes.

Jim, who was that Guy With The Beard from last episode is digging graves or looking for gold, and freaking everyone out.  He says he had a dream, and that people shouldn’t worry as it totally was not predicting what was going to happen later on in the episode.  Shane calmly restrains him, even after Jim tries enticing Shane into a confrontation and mentioning Ed, “He Who Hath Been Reduced To Facial Hamburger” last episode.  So they tie Jim up to a tree and beat him.

Well they don’t beat him, but he is stuck to a tree.  Like a zombie offering, of sorts.  He simmers down later, relax guiz.  SETTINGS SWAP!

Glenn gets the bag with guns with Dayrle/Darrel guarding his back and Rick/T-Dog guarding another escape exit.  Suddenly a mexican gang rolls up, beats up Dayrle and takes off without the guns but with Glenn in-tow, though Rambo did get a shot off into one of their keisters with his bow (no scope).  Oh and Merle’s fine, took out two zombies one-handed, then cauterized the stump with a make-shift rig he threw together before jumping out of a window and into the unliving world unknown.

Slightly off topic, but Merle has this Amos Moses thing going on for him now.  He has a stump (one for beating down alligators, the other for lack of a hand), both are southern, both only have one hand, and both have issues with a Sheriff…

Speaking of Rick, I noticed that he got a mighty bit testy this episode, showing a bit more bite than previous episodes while Shane was excessive with kindness (saying “Please,” reassuring Jim several times, and getting everyone back to safety and not running away as soon as excrement hit the exhaust).  It is nice to see in the long run these two guys balance out and Shane is fairly well out of the “guy we hate” and “coward” rut, and Rick too is out of his “pure hero” niche as well due to these additions.  Very nice tweaks to character, rounding them out a lot better while also making them both pretty cool doods.  Sugar cookies to the writer and director!

Also, Amy died.  So there goes the sappy actress pandering for an Emmy performance.  …  Until her sister freaks out about it.  I get that this is a bad time for all when the undead mafia rolled into camp without an appointment, but hell, they took out Ed and several other people I have not even seen on camera before.  Like that one 20ish thin chick that got mauled (not Amy, a long-haired brunette).  Where in the heck was she during all of this?  They weren’t even wearing red shirts.

Well, I mean, their clothing is probably drenched in crimson now…

Oh, and the gang that took Glenn turned out to be defenders of an old folks home that apparently housed predominately hispanic-based residents, based on who came back to check up on them.  Wait.

Dayrle shot that one dude in the buttocks (thanks, Mr. Gump).  With the same dang bolt (it’s only an arrow if shot by a bow.  Crossbows fire bolts.  I should make an Ad for that factoid…)

Bolts. They're not just for quilters anymore.

(And so I DID.)

A.D.D.  setting in.  My bad.

Daryle fired the same dang bolt that he has just shot like five zombies in the eye with.  Unwiped.  Meaning there is still undead goo either on the tip/shaft of the bolt itself, or on the business end of the firing mechanism, and that just impaled that guy’s possibly hairy hiny.  (Not that I’m judging, I would completely stop my booty waxing sessions in times of dire needs of survival as well.  Heck, a month into Zombieville and you could probably braid the stuff goin’ on back there…)

Based on that information (undead goo on bolt, not fur on butt) Darle just probably, accidentally, caused that one dude to get infected, die off, then turn undead from within the Hispanic Eternal Acres compound and wipe out all the survivors.  Good job, Darle!  You geriatricide-inducing-crossbow-wielding-hot-headed-racist-Rambo-istic-dairyqueenbbtheq-mo-fo. 

He also gets a cookie. 

But not oatmeal raisin, those are mine. 

All mine.

It’s not Hip-hop… It’s Electro!

I started typing this last night, but I’m gonna re-wing it here.  I’m kinda bummed I missed out on the zombie shamble-on-set contest as I didn’t put in the code soon enough.  (Stupid clocks always enforcing their laws of time on us!)  But, the good news that the third episode of The Walking Dead was amazing!  Let me get my Critiquein’ Hat on so I can get that out of the way and carry on with the beaming undead awesome that was last night’s show!

The show starts out with a delirious Merle still handcuffed on the roof, showing signs of sun damage and a bloodied wrist from previously attempting to free himself.  The make-up is fairly well used and reminiscent of Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  Suddenly Merle snaps from his stupor, struggles again with his shackles and zombies start trying to tear the door open before being stomped out by the mighty title screen of the series.

[Critiquein' Hat firmly in place]

The only issue here is, well, how in the blazes did those zombies get up there in the first place?  I know they are there to have the audience react to the danger of the situation, but wasn’t it a clear enough picture that Merle was going to die up there in the first place?  It has only been one day and already his outer layers are looking like the crust on a fine corn pudding.  (More Thanksgiving day references on the way, never fear.)  He is either talking gibberish or shifting in and out of reality from lack of water at this point.  As Everett might say, he’s in a tight spot. 

Beware that clicking play will result in repeated utterances of the word “damn” as well a constant flurry of imagery as devilish as a hairnet remaining on screen nearly the entire clip.  Ye have been warned!

So why with the zombies and such?  Those zombies, while placed to keep the tension going for Merle, just so happened to make an appearance on queue.  They didn’t beat on the door during his rambling, not even so much as pawing at it like a dog wanting a treat.  While the argument that the zombies only presented themselves after Merle started causing a racket is valid, how did they know he was up there in the first place?  They couldn’t see him until they got up there, they couldn’t smell him even though he was getting roasted like a turkey in our mighty star’s golden rays (that’s two Turkey dinner references) as the fresh air was likely to blow the scent away and not through a sealed doorway.  That leaves their limited sense of hearing, and Merle only really started shouting after the zombies were banging on the door.  Unless he called attention to himself in the first place, they shouldn’t be there.  Not to say he isn’t dumb enough to do that, but it was still a vague thought and it stuck out a bit.  Chalk it up to Popcorn Logic, I suppose.

[Critiquein' Hat deactivated]

I really am gushing about the rest of this episode that I had to go back and delete everything twice over.  I don’t like stating everything that occurs, yet that is what I kept doing as I don’t feel like anything should have been left out.  The characterization and interactions were great.  My only minor, minor complaint was that nothing really happened in this episode, as when I glanced up at the time I saw there was only two minutes of the show remaining.  The show flew by and I vanted moar!!

I suppose I should try to highlight only what I *really* liked about this episode if I intend on doing anything else today, so here goes:

Lori is finally a character for once!  I mean, yeah she did spend camera time on her back again, but this time it was more of a tender moment than anything.  The audience knows that she is already regretting what happened between her and Shane, but the way the series has thus far portrayed it, it was far more than a single romp in the woods.  Lori later confronts Shane and blames him for telling her that Rick was dead.  As other people have commented, this could either have been a scheme to lure Lori to himself, or been in line with his conservative “he’s dead, we need to go, NOW” sort of mentality that he showcased in the second episode that might have been the only way Lori got out alive.  Either way I’m glad that I can finally enjoy screen time devoted to her, so a big kudos to Lori.

Merle’s brother was also a jerk, surprise surprise. Rick and Shane restrain the brother, I think it was Darrel, in such a precise way that it really shows off that the two were working together on the force for years.  If only Shane was on the roof at the time Merle never would have gotten as far as he had in terms of a danger to himself and others around him.  I actually liked the brother, or at least the dialog written for him.  It was arrogant, crude, but still funny and believable.  From the time he shoots the decapitated zombie in the eye to his anger-filled realization that his brother is chained up on a roof and left to rot, this was an excellent character added to the mix.  Quite believable.  And look!  He actually helped others instead of posing as a threat!  We can still get along even if we don’t agree after all!

Shane.  Now here’s a loaded character.  The writing jumped from labeling Shane as a tool and a jerk the first two episodes to where he is currently, a character rooted in some fairly solid thinking-processes that has a few flaws.  (We will see if this remains to be true in the next episode, but I’m just glad I’m not cheering for zombies to eat his clavicle at every turn anymore.)  No longer is he the dude we are supposed to hate, but he is now a lonely man who if full of guilt for leaving his friend to die and then promptly tapping his wife’s keg, so to speak. 

He is possibly rethinking his motives and thought-process as Rick was able to do things he thought impossible, or too dangerous to even bother with.  I particularly enjoyed his royal trouncing of the chauvinistic southern wife beater.  It was exhilarating to see the guy get laid out, while also showed that Shane wasn’t just a pig as well.  He threatened the man never to harm any women in camp ever again, before breaking some more of the now swollen man’s face.  This might be a blatant symbolic act to show he is breaking down his ‘past evils’ or it could just have been due to him having balls a-blue as Lori is no longer a stress outlet (god that sounds really dirty), but at least Shane is depicted in a brighter light than in the past.

While I liked this episode a great deal more than the first two combined, I do have a worry that Rick is going to get promoted to a Mary Sue if things keep going the way they are.  He trumped the ‘everyman’ the moment he was covered in Guts and ascended to Hero status.  Going back into the undead lion’s den to save a jerk does make him look better than Shane, but it is also looking a wee bit dimwitted.  (You cannot reason to those without.  Saving him now just allows him to turn on you when the mood strikes him later on.  Not to say he should have been left to die up there, but it is never wise to give a spiteful man with a gun second chances so often…)  Again, a small point of contention, but something to avoid as the storytelling was rock solid and if it continues as it did here, we are in place for an excellent ride till the end of the season.  (Please don’t make us hate the new group of people hinted at in the next episode.  This musical chairs of bad guys is getting a bit obnoxious, too >.<)

Final Thoughts

From the very first scene the show really took off in my eyes.  Everyone present had something to add (though the sisters reunited was a little bit long and loud for my taste.  It came off more of a “I’m so happy you aren’t dead because the camera is on us!  Oh god, we might get an award for this scene!  Wail!  Cry!  …Are the cameras still rolling?  Oh, ok.  Teeeeaars!  Joy!!”) and the tale just kept going.  I never felt like the story stalled, and was quite curious what was going to happen next.  Though, I do feel the warning of graphic content was a major let down as I was jazzed to know some zombie action was on the way, only to see one lone zombie woman slain while shopping (there was a Sale!! too, by crikey!), and Merle’s right hand free of any real signs of blood.  Realistic hand, check.  Realistic amounts of blood reasonably present due to evisceration at the wrist… MIA.  Not that I wanted to see an olympic sized swimming pool of blood, but the sole warning for graphic content led a lot to be desired.

Excellent episode all around.  The flaws were impressively small, and I am excited to see what happens next.  Methinks based on the previews and dirge of action in this episode, a lot of action is on the way.  Though, this is proof that not much has to happen in a story to keep it flowing and entertaining.  Confused Matthew would be proud.

You Have to Shoot Them in the Head

The new AMC series Walking Dead, all around did a pretty good job of setting the stage of the rest of the season.  (Spoilers abound, by the way.  Don’t continue if you haven’t seen the first episode yet, and we recommend you watch it spoiler-free the first time through)  Being a zombie movie buff that we are, your very own Encrazed Crafts duo watched the episode late last-last night (that’s two nights ago, but we wanted to say “last night”) during a encore presentation.

The main faults with the pilot episode, is that by now everyone should know what a zombie movie is about, and this show is basically a very long zombie movie.  In short, they are slow, fairly dumb, and like to gnaw on people’s anti-nether regions.  The problem was that while the show is quick to throw you into the story, in this case the main character looking for gas at an ‘abandoned’ gas station…it’s a scary movie at heart.  We are expecting to be scared, and as soon as we hear shuffling we know it is a zombie.  It turns out to be a little girl, and even though we all know the girl has turned to the corpsatious side of life, he still calls out to her.  And then kills her shortly after seeing what we all knew minutes ago.

The condensed issue here is two fold.  First, as I stated above, we all know how this scenario was going to play out.  Secondly, they used a child to attempt to hammer home “this stuff just got real” (to paraphrase Martin Lawrence).  They used the same trite ‘technique’ in At World’s End, also just at the beginning of the story.

Shortly after we apparently go back in time to see the main character eventually get sent to a hospital, only to wake up from his drugged state some time later.  The issue here is, this is far from original.  Resident Evil, various gripes on those movies aside, did this years ago.  Hell, 28 Days Later did it very well, and the movie was on just before this very encore presentation.  Bad choice there.

These two glaring issues aside, they are minor and brief.  Luckily everything else moves well enough to support the show, and by the end of the episode we really liked what could have easily been a boring cookie cutter of a genre.  The characters have character, something so simple yet easily ignored in current shows and films, and especially early on there are some near-gut wrenching suspense moments.  (Matches in a dark stairway scene; looking at you.  Hinting at dead bodies within the area by making the main guy nearly gag as he entered was an evil tease of impending doom which caused the misses to cringe and block her view with a pillow until he made it into the sunlight)

I’d currently give the opening show to the series a solid A, even though the ending of the episode was kinda treading on rehashed “oh, his wife is alive!  And his bud!  Oh noes, they are kissing!”  Really?  Even if they honestly thought the main character is dead, it only took her a week to start making out with his apparent best friend?  Fairly lame, and definitely heavy-handed on the forced-drama-o-meter, but as long as they can keep away from more of that and focus on the new ideas a la guy that just cannot shoot his unlivingly converted wife after several attempts, we’ll be tuning in each week.

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