Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Walking Dead 3.16: Kill or Die, or Die and Kill

That's pretty much what the Governor said at the beginning of The Walking Dead season 3 finale - kill or die, or die and kill - and it pretty much typifies this powerful, literary season, the best of the three of The Walking Dead in my opinion.

There was more than one superb thread in this finale -

Andrea vs. Milton is another pathologically brilliant creation of the Governor:  Leave Andrea bound in a chair in a room with the mortally wounded Milton, who will eat her flesh and kill her as soon as he turns.   But Milton manages to leave a pair of pliers on the floor near Andrea before the Governor fatally wounds him, and he takes a little longer than expected to die.  Andrea finally gets the pliers in her hands, but not before Milton has indeed turned and attacks her.   Two ways in which this devastating scenario could have been improved:  One, Andrea could have talked a little less to the dying Milton, which would have given her a little more time.  Two, Milton's life's work in Woodbury was to prove his hunch that a little humanity might survive in a turning.  It would have been nice to see Milton, even after he turned, perhaps struggling a little against his walker carnivorous self.

But, even so, the Andrea-Milton scenes, and the scenes with Andrea dying, were among the best in the season and series.

The other punishingly powerful thread is Carl's killing of a kid, a few years older than him, one of the Governor's attack party, handing over his weapon to Carl and Hershel after the Governor's force is routed at the prison.  Hershel is upset - horrified - and tells Rick just what happened after Carl tells his father that kid "drew on" him.   What's extraordinary about this segment is how we can find Carl both wrong and right.  By our standards, not living in a walker world, Carl is definitely wrong - not in his right mind after the loss of his mother (in part by his own hand) and everything else.   But by the standards of the walker world we see on the screen - including precisely the loss of his mother and the other events Carl has had to bear - what he did to the kid makes a terrible kind of sense.  As Carl later says to Rick, he (Carl) has to protect the group, after Rick did not (Rick didn't kill the Governor when they were in their peace pow-wow) and all the other examples of inaction - not killing - leading to death.   The safest way to live, or, the best that you can do to live, may indeed be to kill anyone who poses the slightest potential threat.

It's tough to argue with that in the world which Carl now inhabits.  And, just to make the future even more harrowing, the Governor and two of his henchman are still at large.  I was half expecting to see the Governor come out shooting from behind of the towers in the prison at the end.   Had that happened, more of our people would have likely died, but the Governor would have died, too.

As it is, he's alive, which lends even a bit more credence to Carl's reasoning, and bit more reason to await even more eagerly the 4th season of The Walking Dead.




Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bones 8.20: On Camera

Ever see yourself in a video?  Usually takes some getting used to - meaning, at first you think you look and sound far worse than you imagine yourself to be, and you really are.  In Bones 8.20 we get a good treatment of this reality, as Andrew comes calling at the Jeffersonian with a video camera strapped to his head.   The Jeffersonian is having him do a documentary about the great work done on its premises.

Now, the actresses and actors on the show of course have seen themselves on camera many times, and no doubt have a lot of well warranted confidence about they look on screen.  But the characters they play ... well that's of course an entirely different story.

Most of the characters are chuffed.   Hodgins in fact is thrilled and Cam is pretty happy at the prospect of being a star in the Jeffersonian movie.  Bones, of course, is not.   She uses the shield of saying she doesn't want anything interfering with her and the team's important work, but she's really insecure about how she'll come across in the movie.   In a self-fulfilling loop, Bones indeed comes across as a little haughty, and Edison is brought in to give the Jeffersonian team a more engaging face.   Edison's a natural, and just about everyone ends up happy - including Caroline, who instantly clicks with Andrew, off as well as on camera.

But not Bones.  Looking at herself on camera at the end of the episode, she laments that she looks "mean".   Earlier, the best that Cam can say when Bones asks her if she (Bones) is likable is ...  likability is  "subjective," Bones is "brilliant," she (Cam) likes Bones.   A bunch of faint praise - which at least gives Bones an opportunity to get off the best line of the night - "Pol Pot couldn't have been likable" - submitted in evidence that likability is not just subjective.

But let's cut to the nitty gritty.  Booth, at the end, reassures Bones that she is indeed likable - a "nice person" - just as he every week provides evidence that she's lovable.  And I'm with Booth on this.   So what if Bones speaks her mind and doesn't just go along with all the daily mind-numbing routines?  She's nice in the ways that count - loyalty to those she cares about, loyalty to the pursuit of truth in her profession - and that makes for an eminently likable character on television.

Alright, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up ...

See also Bones 8.1: Walk Like an Egyptian ... Bones 8.2 of Contention ... Bones 8.3: Not Rotting Behind a Desk  ... Bones 8.4: Slashing Tiger and Donald Trump ... Bones 8.5: Applesauce on Election Eve ... Bones 8.6: Election Day ... Bones 8.7: Dollops in the Sky with Diamonds ...Bones 8.8: The Talking Remains ... Bones 8.9: I Am A Camera ... Bones 8.10-11: Double Bones ...Bones 8.12: Face of Enigmatic Evil ... Bones 8.13: Two for the Price of One ... Bones 8.14: Real Life ... Bones 8.15: The Magic Bullet and the Be-Spontaneous Paradox ... Bones 8.16: Bitter-Sweet Sweets and Honest Finn ... Bones 8.17: "Not Time Share, Time Travel" ... Bones 8.18: Couples ... Bones 8.19: The Head in the Toilet

And see also Bones 7.1: Almost Home Sweet Home ... Bones 7.2: The New Kid and the Fluke ...Bones 7.3: Lance Bond and Prince Charmington ... Bones 7.4: The Tush on the Xerox ... Bones 7.5: Sexy Vehicle ... Bones 7.6: The Reassembler ... Bones 7.7: Baby! ... Bones 7.8: Parents ...Bones 7.9: Tabitha's Salon ... Bones 7.10: Mobile ... Bones 7.11: Truffles and Max ... Bones 7.12: The Corpse is Hanson ... Bones Season 7 Finale: Suspect Bones

And see also Bones 6.1: The Linchpin ... Bones 6.2: Hannah and her Prospects ... Bones 6.3 at the Jersey Shore, Yo, and Plymouth Rock ... Bones 6.4 Sans Hannah ... Bones 6.5: Shot and Pretty ... Bones 6.6: Accidental Relations ... Bones 6.7:  Newman and "Death by Chocolate" ...Bones 6.8: Melted Bones ... Bones 6.9: Adelbert Ames, Jr. ... Bones 6.10: Reflections ... Bones 6.11: The End and the Beginning of a Mystery ... Bones 6.12 Meets Big Love ... Bones 6.13: The Marrying Kind ... Bones 6.14: Bones' Acting Ability ... Bones 6.15: "Lunch for the Palin Family" ...Bones 6.16: Stuck in an Elevator, Stuck in Times ... Bones 6.17: The 8th Pair of Feet ... Bones 6.18: The Wile E. Chupacabra ... Bones 6.19 Test Runs The Finder ... Bones 6.20: This Very Statement is a Lie ... Bones 6.21: Sensitive Bones ... Bones 6.22: Phoenix Love ... Bones Season 6 Finale: Beautiful

And see also Bones: Hilarity and Crime and Bones is Back For Season 5: What Is Love? and 5.2: Anonymous Donors and Pipes and 5.3: Bones in Amish Country and 5.4: Bones Meets Peyton Place and Desperate Housewives and Ancient Bones 5.5 and Bones 5.6: A Chicken in Every Viewer's Pot and Psychological Bones 5.7 and Bones 5.8: Booth's "Pops" and Bones 5.9 Meets Avatar and Videogamers ... Bad Santa, Heart-Warming Bones 5.10 ... Bones 5.11: Of UFOs, Bloggers, and Triangles ... Bones 5.12: A Famous Skeleton and Angela's Baby ... Love with Teeth on Bones 5.13 ... Faith vs. Science vs. Psychology in Bones 5.14 ... Page 187 in Bones 5.15 ...Bones 100: Two Deep Kisses and One Wild Relationship ... Bones 5.17: The Deadly Stars ...Bones Under Water in 5.18 ... Bones 5.19: Ergo Together ...  Bones 5.20: Ergo Together ... Bones 5.21: The Rarity of Happy Endings ... Bones Season 5 Finale: Eye and Evolution

                                                                  

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Walking Dead 3.15: Merle

The penultimate episode of The Walking Dead this season  - 3.15 - packed some good punches and surprises.

First, Rick is proceeding with his plan to give Michonne up to the Governor.   I wasn't shocked that Rick was telling Hershel he would do this a few episodes ago, but it does seem a little hard to believe that Rick was still moving ahead with this.  Therefore the least surprising event tonight is when Rick changes his mind.

But tonight was not really Rick's story.  It was Merle's.   Daryl's older brother brother has been a pretty poor excuse for humanity throughout the series.  About all he is good for is killing walkers - and he's one of the best when it comes to that - and fighting alongside of Daryl.  So it's no surprise when Merle enthusiastically - enthusiastic for Merle - signs on to selling out Michonne.  Unlike Hershel who's against this but goes along reluctantly in support of Rick's leadership, and Daryl who feels and does the same, Merle says yeah let's do it, and adds only that Rick likely won't have the stomach to follow through and turn Michonne over.

And Merle's of course right about Rick.   But when he takes it on himself to deliver Michonne, without Rick's knowledge at first, we get one of the best segments in this or any season of The Walking Dead.  Michonne, loquacious and eloquent since her trip to town with Carl, says all kinds of true and significant things to Merle as his prisoner.   And it works ...

And Merle the racist unexpectedly lets Michonne go and proceeds to almost take out the Governor with a savvy plan.  He's just a bullet away from succeeding, but the Governor's luck holds out and he shoots Merle dead.   My wife mentioned that if Michonne had accompanied Merle on this mission - not as his prisoner but his partner after he let her go  - they might have succeeded.  But, as it is, Merle the lowlife dies a noble death, and, just for good measure, Daryl arrives on the scene and has to kill Merle a second time as a walker.

As I've said earlier about this season of The Walking Dead, its presentation of family conflict and angst - especially father and son, brother and brother, son and mother - make this series the 21st century equivalent of Shakespearean drama.


See also The Walking Dead 3.3 meets Meadowlands ... The Walking Dead 3.4: Going to the Limit ... The Walking Dead 3.9: Making Crazy Sense ... The Walking Dead 3.10: Reinforcements ... The Walking Dead 3.11: The Patch ... The Walking Dead 3.12: The Lesson of Morgan ... The Walking Dead 3.13: The Deal ... The Walking Dead 3.14: Inescapable Parable




Vikings 1.4: Twist and Testudo

Another strong episode of Vikings tonight - 1.4 - featuring excellent battle scenes, treachery, doubt of the gods, but most of all a good twist involving Rollo, whom we see in the coming attractions being tempted by Haraldson.

The background begins with Lagertha walking in on Knut (Haraldson's agent on this raid, who turns out not only to be the Earl's "friend" but his half-brother) raping a Saxon woman.  Lagertha tells Knut to stop - whether all Viking women were against rape of conquests or this is a special case is unclear.  Knut does stop, but turns his rage on Lagertha, who narrowly escapes being raped herself and kills Knut.

Obviously, Haraldson does not take kindly to this when Ragnar's party returns.   Now, Ragnar could have lied about Knut's death and attributed it to the savage attack of the Saxons which the Vikings repelled - with a brilliant shield-wall defense (better known as the Roman testudo formation) - but I guess Ragnar didn't want to lie like this in front of his men.  So he lies in a different way and says he came upon Knute raping his wife and killed him.   Since there was no one there other than Lagertha to contradict this account, it's a fairly good lie.

But not good enough to satisfy Haraldson, who is already out for blood when it comes to Ragnar.  In a crucial moment in Ragnar's trial, Haraldson calls upon a surprise witness to the event - Rollo - who says he saw what actually happened (surprise witness indeed, because we know that Rollo wasn't there).  Looks like bad news for Ragnar, since we saw Rollo just the night before smiling as Haraldson all but offered Rollo succession to the crown if Rollo would turn on his brother.   But - Rollo's testimony supports Ragnar 100%.   Haraldson's so surprised and unnerved by this that in a later scene he doubts the existence of the gods (though he might have always felt that way, and Rollo's unexpected support of his brother may have just brought out Haraldon's doubt).

And this is a good twist for us, because, let's face it, we don't know Rollo well enough at this point in the series to think with confidence that he would never betray his brother.  To the contrary, we know he covets Lagertha, and when he tells her at the end that he testified to save not Ragnar but Lagertha, it rings true.  Family first - but shield-maiden sister-in-law more than than brother in this story.

The history continues to be accurate and rewarding in Vikings, though the Saxons were known to use the shield-wall defense, too.  But, hey, who's to say that Ragnar's party didn't use it in this case, and prevail so impressively in their battle by the sea.

See also Vikings ... Vikings 1.2: Lindisfarne ... Vikings 1.3: The Priest ... Vikings 1.5: Freud and Family ... Vikings 1.7: Religion and Battle ... Vikings 1.8: Sacrifice ... Vikings Season 1 Finale: Below the Ash

                                                                       

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Following 1.9: All in a Name, or Metaphor in the Service of Murder

You've got to hand it to The Following.  In addition to being one of the slickest, sickest shows about serial killers ever on television - which is to say, quite good, excellent, if you like this sort of theme in your fiction - The Following also gets the highest marks for sheer creativity in the kind of killings that Joe and his following dish out every week.

In episode 1.9 on last night, it's any woman in a given area with the same name as Joe's wife - Claire Matthews - who becomes the victim.  Why?  Joe's way of punishing Ryan, who slept with Claire.   I have to admire that kind of ingenuity in coming up with insane reasons to kill.

And the show continues to plumb the dark machinery of the arch pyscho Joe and his followers.  When one of them, bent on killing a Claire Matthews, is challenged by Ryan's point that she's not the Claire Matthews who is the inspiration of this chapter in Joe's murders, the psycho follower chides and proclaims to Ryan that this Claire Matthews is "a metaphor" for Joe's wife.  So in addition to these brutally bizarre killings, The Following enlists literary theory in its arsenal.   Which is well motivated, seeing as how Joe is a professor of English and a devotee of Poe.   Or, to paraphrase the poet Robert Browning, one's murderous reach must exceed one's grasp, or what's a meta for?

Joe's machinery is, of course, the darkest and most complex of all.  At the root of it is the deep satisfaction he gets from being party, direct or indirect,  to a killing.   But closer to the surface, we see him serving as a sensitive, responsive, helpful mentor to the troubled souls who come to him for guidance.   It's this mix of insanity and compassion that make The Following so compelling.

In addition, we're treated to an every changing variety of psycho followers in every episode.  In this sense, The Following is like Criminal Minds on speed, or compressed, or - again, if you like this sort of crime and horror - a big step forward and much better.

See also The Following Begins ... The Following 1.2: Joe, Poe, and the Plan ... The Following 1.3: Bug in the Sun ... The Following 1.4: Off the Leash ... The Following 1.5:  The Lawyer and the Swap ... The Following 1.7: At Large


                                                                

Bones 8.19: The Head in the Toilet

Sorry, couldn't resist.  But the really memorable image from the first part of Bones 8.19 was the victim's head - or what was left it after its incineration - in a toilet, making for one of the best gruesome openers because it was funny as well as gruesome, which is of one the trademarks of Bones.

Meanwhile, the episode itself was delightful, far from being in the toilet, and studded with great lines including Booth "discovering the hatch" (nice reference to Lost), and Booth and Bones referred to as "Mr. and Mrs. Sweets" by the two babes who are shrinks and will be living with Sweets in his new apartment.

Which gets to my favorite part of the story - Sweets moving on to the next stage of his life.  Last time I focused on Sweets, I said I regretted saying that I was glad Sweets and Daisy had split (actually, Sweets left Daisy) because I thought that Daisy was not the best for him.  That is, I regretting saying that Sweets and Daisy were not the right couple, because I was beginning to think I was wrong about that.  And now I'm more certain than ever that they belong together.   And I'm thinking it's just a matter of time - as I said previously, Sweets and Daisy are the new Booth and Bones, needed now on Bones, because the original Booth and Bones are now happy together.   Though, it's going to be hard with Sweets so tempted by his new roommates.  (Yes, he's going to be tempted.  I don't much believe that someone can be just good friends with someone else the first someone finds attractive, and there is no way Sweets won't find his two roommates attractive.  Ok, I'm superficial.)  But the bottom line is I think that Sweets and Daisy will get together in the end.

Back to the other part of the story tonight, it had a good plot, too, with a bunch of survivalists the likely culprits.   Lead cannonballs, animal tranquilizers, and all manner of fine touches abound.   And for some reason, my favorite little touch tonight is Cam and Angela really getting a kick out of Hodgins' test of the cannonball, but not wanting to let him know it.  Ain't that just the kick in the head that's life?



See also Bones 8.1: Walk Like an Egyptian ... Bones 8.2 of Contention ... Bones 8.3: Not Rotting Behind a Desk  ... Bones 8.4: Slashing Tiger and Donald Trump ... Bones 8.5: Applesauce on Election Eve ... Bones 8.6: Election Day ... Bones 8.7: Dollops in the Sky with Diamonds ...Bones 8.8: The Talking Remains ... Bones 8.9: I Am A Camera ... Bones 8.10-11: Double Bones ...Bones 8.12: Face of Enigmatic Evil ... Bones 8.13: Two for the Price of One ... Bones 8.14: Real Life ... Bones 8.15: The Magic Bullet and the Be-Spontaneous Paradox ... Bones 8.16: Bitter-Sweet Sweets and Honest Finn ... Bones 8.17: "Not Time Share, Time Travel" ... Bones 8.18: Couples

And see also Bones 7.1: Almost Home Sweet Home ... Bones 7.2: The New Kid and the Fluke ...Bones 7.3: Lance Bond and Prince Charmington ... Bones 7.4: The Tush on the Xerox ... Bones 7.5: Sexy Vehicle ... Bones 7.6: The Reassembler ... Bones 7.7: Baby! ... Bones 7.8: Parents ...Bones 7.9: Tabitha's Salon ... Bones 7.10: Mobile ... Bones 7.11: Truffles and Max ... Bones 7.12: The Corpse is Hanson ... Bones Season 7 Finale: Suspect Bones

And see also Bones 6.1: The Linchpin ... Bones 6.2: Hannah and her Prospects ... Bones 6.3 at the Jersey Shore, Yo, and Plymouth Rock ... Bones 6.4 Sans Hannah ... Bones 6.5: Shot and Pretty ... Bones 6.6: Accidental Relations ... Bones 6.7:  Newman and "Death by Chocolate" ...Bones 6.8: Melted Bones ... Bones 6.9: Adelbert Ames, Jr. ... Bones 6.10: Reflections ... Bones 6.11: The End and the Beginning of a Mystery ... Bones 6.12 Meets Big Love ... Bones 6.13: The Marrying Kind ... Bones 6.14: Bones' Acting Ability ... Bones 6.15: "Lunch for the Palin Family" ...Bones 6.16: Stuck in an Elevator, Stuck in Times ... Bones 6.17: The 8th Pair of Feet ... Bones 6.18: The Wile E. Chupacabra ... Bones 6.19 Test Runs The Finder ... Bones 6.20: This Very Statement is a Lie ... Bones 6.21: Sensitive Bones ... Bones 6.22: Phoenix Love ... Bones Season 6 Finale: Beautiful

And see also Bones: Hilarity and Crime and Bones is Back For Season 5: What Is Love? and 5.2: Anonymous Donors and Pipes and 5.3: Bones in Amish Country and 5.4: Bones Meets Peyton Place and Desperate Housewives and Ancient Bones 5.5 and Bones 5.6: A Chicken in Every Viewer's Pot and Psychological Bones 5.7 and Bones 5.8: Booth's "Pops" and Bones 5.9 Meets Avatar and Videogamers ... Bad Santa, Heart-Warming Bones 5.10 ... Bones 5.11: Of UFOs, Bloggers, and Triangles ... Bones 5.12: A Famous Skeleton and Angela's Baby ... Love with Teeth on Bones 5.13 ... Faith vs. Science vs. Psychology in Bones 5.14 ... Page 187 in Bones 5.15 ...Bones 100: Two Deep Kisses and One Wild Relationship ... Bones 5.17: The Deadly Stars ...Bones Under Water in 5.18 ... Bones 5.19: Ergo Together ...  Bones 5.20: Ergo Together ... Bones 5.21: The Rarity of Happy Endings ... Bones Season 5 Finale: Eye and Evolution

                                                                  

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Walking Dead 3.14: Inescapable Parable

The Walking Dead 3.14 brings home a point we already pretty much knew: the Governor is not to be denied.  Before the night is over, he fights off a factory-load of walkers - mostly off camera - and still manages to capture and subdue Andrea, who makes a pretty good run for it.

The one-on-one between the Governor and Andrea raises a question that has yet to be answered: is there any one person who can best the Governor, or at least get away from him?   Andrea's failure, after getting within waving distance of Rick on the prison tower, suggests there aren't many.  Maybe Michonne or Daryl, but they're not that much better - more crafty, lethal - than Andrea, and the Governor's triumph suggests that any one of our heroes would have a tough time against him, one on one.

Which in turn suggests that the only road to success for our people over the Governor comes in the aggregate intelligence and top-notch fighting power of our people versus the Governor.   Woodbury is short of high-level people the Governor can rely upon.  Obviously no longer Andrea, and increasingly no longer Milton, who, at this point in the story, is the most interesting character in Woodbury.  He sees the Governor for what he now is, and will do what he can to obstruct him. But he won't outright oppose him because he still respects the best of what the Governor was trying to do - still believes, in fact, that there's recoverable human life in the walkers/biters.   He's bound to play some pivotal role in the concluding two episodes - though with the Governor now on to him, he could be snuffed out in an instant.

So on whom can the Governor rely on a second-in-command level?  It comes down to Caesar, but he's not crazy, and could change loyalties if something the Governor did pushed one of his buttons.   Tyreese now seems back in support of the Governor, but his decency makes him also unreliable as a steadfast ally.

So the nearly omnipotent Governor has no one fully reliable or anyone near his level of prowess below him.  Whereas Rick has a group of nearly equals in intelligence, fighting commitment, and overall loyalty.  We have a battle of dictatorship or rule by force and guile versus old-fashioned democracy coming up, which makes The Walking Dead a real parable for our history and current time.

See also The Walking Dead 3.3 meets Meadowlands ... The Walking Dead 3.4: Going to the Limit ... The Walking Dead 3.9: Making Crazy Sense ... The Walking Dead 3.10: Reinforcements ... The Walking Dead 3.11: The Patch ... The Walking Dead 3.12: The Lesson of Morgan ... The Walking Dead 3.13: The Deal




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