With the Governor of Woodbury knocking on the prison gates, Rick Grimes has decided to take his son on a road trip. Michonne, Rick and Carl go looking for guns. Rick seems entirely confident that they will find guns, which is confusing until we realize that Rick is remembering the guns back in his old hometown. On the way there, the little band drives remorselessly away from a survivor who runs behind their car, screaming for help. This ain’t no trip to the beach.
Not surprisingly, there are no guns left in the police station that Rick used to police. On their way to check other places, Rick and company discover a compound festooned with junky booby traps. It becomes obvious who took the guns when the compound’s occupant opens fire with an automatic weapon. The surprise in the episode is that the gunman proves to be Morgan, the man who saved a bewildered Rick’s life during the first episode of the show.
Poor Morgan has had such a horrible zombie apocalypse that Rick seems absolutely lucky by comparison. The walker wife he couldn’t bear to kill attacked his son, and Morgan was forced to kill them both. Consumed by loneliness and guilt, he has become a kind of serial killer, except the victims he lures and traps are already dead.
Rick invites Morgan to join his people at the prison, but Morgan declines. Maybe he knows that the prison group already has their quota of nuts (Rick). Maybe he knows that he is too nuts to fit in with other people. His remaining skills seem to be killing walkers and writing crazy stuff on walls.
“Clear” is actually the best episode that The Walking Dead has offered us in a while. We get some much-needed character development for Michonne when she tags along with Carl on his secret mission to retrieve the one photo that still exists of his shattered family. Both Michonne and Carl have been little more than hard people doing hard things all season, and their budding friendship in this episode is a refreshing relief.
We get a little of Rick back, too. Morgan is his unflattering mirror. Like Rick, he’s useful in a murderous sort of way, but crazy fuckers are terrible for group dynamics and morale. And, they totally screw up situations that call for diplomacy rather than screaming crazy-talk. Rick actually has a conversation with Michonne, before they return to the prison. We haven’t seen Rick really talk to anyone who isn’t a hallucination in a long time.
The great part about “Clear” is that a little relief isn’t a cure. These people aren’t going to go back to being who they were. The old Rick would have knocked Morgan out and dragged him to the prison for his own good rather than leaving him in his lonely hell. And that clear-eyed, selfish, survivalist cruelty is the last thing we see in the episode, when the survivors come upon the smear of blood that once was the man they didn’t stop to rescue. This time, they do stop… to grab the dead man’s backpack.
Plus points for the episode’s subtle salute to Mayberry’s Deputy Barney Fife, when Rick goes around with one bullet in the pocket of his shirt.
This post is dedicated to romance novelist Julia Barrett, who is mad at The Walking Dead since Shane died, but who wants me to write about the show, anyway. And to short story writer Kelly Shew, who’ll be with me Sunday night with a blanket over her head because she doesn’t understand that you have to WATCH the violence to become desensitized to it.
The Walking Dead is baaaaaack! No more mid-season break gloom and suspense and marathons of past seasons. Daryl survived his fight to the death with his brother Merle, so no Facebook riots, either. Actually, Merle survived, too. Obviously, it was a fight to the nobody dies.
The Governor, you see, couldn’t stand that his plan was working, that Merle was being forced to kill Daryl to show his loyalty to Woodbury…okay, damnit. I didn’t understand why the Governor sent the zombies into the fight ring. The Governor is a cruel, cold bastard. It would have been far crueler and colder to let Merle kill his own brother than it was to send the zombies in. Unless… the Governor sent the zombies in because the show needed something to unite Merle and Daryl because they had to not die and to kind of get along in future episodes. There. I said it. The whole messing up of the fight to the death so the boys wouldn’t hate each other later pissed me off, although it didn’t piss me off as much as any given episode of The Walking Dead pisses off Julia Barrett since Shane died.
Rick and his fellow survivors rescue Daryl and Merle, who wander off into the woods together because nobody wants Merle around. Soon, Daryl will feel the same way but, for right now, he doesn’t. The rest of the survivors return to the prison, where Rick goes insane again, shrieking at Dead Lori, who looks much nicer in her white gown than she ever did in any other costume on the show. The new survivors, who were hoping to stay on at the prison, take Rick’s screaming fit to mean that he doesn’t want them there. Or maybe they realized that you can’t be a black actor and last long with Rick’s group. In any event, they are gone. (Oh, crap. Michonne. Michonne has lasted more than half a season. But, to be honest, she says so little that I keep forgetting that she exists.)
The next episode was actually better than the mid-season opener. Andrea is becoming the heart and soul of Woodbury because she annoys me and she won’t go away. We learn a little about Merle and Daryl. Daryl gets tired of wandering around with Merle, and back he heads to the prison, with Merle following because ain’t nobody really wants Merle. I can only assume that Merle is going to become Carol’s new love interest, considering her taste for convicts. Back at the prison, Rick is following Dead Lori around outside the fences, Glenn is trying to take charge in a very I’m-Taking-Charge-Although-Nobody-Seems-To-Be-Following-Me way, and the Governor attacks. Talk about your timing.
In spite of being seasoned fighters, Rick’s group can’t hit shit when the Governor and his forces attack. Maggie finally kills the sniper in the guard tower. Daryl and Merle (has anyone besides me noticed that their names kind of rhyme?) arrive in the nick of time to rescue Suddenly Sane Rick from the truck full of walkers that the Governor’s men crash through the prison fence. Glenn returns from his risky and lone (remember, no followers) mission to the back door of the prison in time to rescue Hershel. More timing.
In spite of the fun I’ve made of the second episode of the second half of Season 3 of The Walking Dead, it was actually a better episode that the mid-season premiere. I thought that Season 2 gained steam as it went. I’m hoping we will get some steam going, this season. Although I’m sure that Julia Barrett might not agree.
It’s nearly 2013. Fuck you, Mayans, we made it. In honor of the special occasion of us all being alive and not cosmic cinders, the Zombie Report would like to present…
The Five Greatest Zombie Moments of 2012
5. The Discovery Channel finally gave the zombie apocalypse the respect it deserves and showed us scientists on the same show with people who hoard weapons and passionately debate whether or not they can bear to shoot their families when they get bit.
4. Filmmaker Joss Whedon endorsed Mitt Romney for President because he’d be the candidate most likely to bring about the zombie apocalypse. Romney lost, in spite of Whedon’s help.
3. Marina Bridges and J. W. Manus published the ebook, ZOMBIES TAKE MANHATTAN! (you seriously didn’t think I’d leave myself out.)
2. Most of Ronald Poppo’s face was chewed off by Rudy Eugene in a bizarre Miami, Florida zombie attack. Police had to shoot Eugene multiple times before he ceased and desisted and died. There were cries that the zombie apocalypse was upon us, but Eugene took the reason behind his actions to his grave without infecting any of the rest of us.
1. AMC’s The Walking Dead killed off the character that hero Rick and the entire country loved most…T-Dog. In spite of hardly ever having lines or anything to do, T-Dog won the hearts of the country by being a black guy in a zombie entertainment who didn’t die immediately. Rick’s wife, Lori, also died, but eh, nobody much cared. Here are all of T-Dog’s lines from Season Two of the top series. All five minutes of them.
Welcome to 2013, you survivors. Be sure to stay with a buddy and aim for the head.
Last night, in the throes of a sinus medication induced wildness, I posted my predictions for The Walking Dead, episode 6, which will air next week on AMC. I wasn’t the only one with predictions. After the show and its partner, Talking Dead, were over, message boards went crazy with fans opining that both Lori and Carol are alive.
First of all, do I think that Lori is alive? Do I think that Carl didn’t shoot her and Carol saved her? Hell, yes, to all of those. And the path I took to reach to those conclusions is ridiculous.
The group of survivors we follow on The Walking Dead have survived the walker apocalypse for nearly a year. They are experienced, they are united, they have become family. They never give up on each other. They chopped Hershel’s leg off to keep the virus from taking him. They searched the woods for Sophia long after it became clear that they weren’t going to find her. Suddenly, they find Carol’s scarf on the floor and eh, she’s dead. The next week, they are digging Carol’s grave.
Maybe they think that Carol’s remains were mashed up with the remains of the eaten T-Dog. That would kind of fit, actually, since even Rick seems to suddenly be SO STUPID that he thinks a single walker ate Lori. Every bit of Lori, bones and clothes and all. Nom nom nom.
This is where Talking Dead comes into play. There were weird moments on the show, last night. Director Greg Nicotero was forced to explain to us that it wasn’t Lori’s wedding ring that Rick found on the floor beside the puddle of her blood. It was the bullet that Carl shot into her head to keep her from becoming a walker. Oooooohhhh. Thank you for explaining, Greg. That was kind of embarrassing for all of us, but especially YOU. It’s crappy television making when you are so caught up in what you know about the scene as director (Rick is picking up a bullet) that it doesn’t occur to you that the people you are trying to entertain won’t be able to see what you are showing them. To me, it’s a clue that the show has stopped giving a particular damn about being coherent entertainment.
After that, the talk on Talking Dead got kind of high pitched and unnatural, and it climaxed with host Chris Hardwick making a comment about empty graves that left everyone else strangely quiet, considering it’s a talk show.
So, what gives? If it’s simply that Lori and Carol are alive, the show has grown clumsy. I don’t think that most of us guessed that Sophia was in the barn until the last moment. I do think that most of us think that at least Carol is alive. If Lori is alive, Carol is a helluva doctor, saving a life with nothing at her disposal, not even her scarf. Did the survivors bury two bodies? Three bodies? Any bodies at all? Did Carol chop off T-Dog’s head and somehow save HIM? I’m confused as hell, and it’s not fair that we don’t know how many bodies there are. Right there, The Walking Dead is cheating the viewers by withholding information that most stories would have given us so we could be informed participants in the fun.
If they aren’t alive, if the team at The Walking Dead just wants to make viewers think that Lori and Carol are alive, The Walking Dead has stopped being a drama and started being a magic show. What was appealing about the show in the first place was that you had to suspend your disbelief long enough to believe in the zombie apocalypse, and that was it. It didn’t need to jerk us around with Talking Dead as its lovely assistant. These are adults watching this show, not a bunch of kids at a birthday party.
I hope that the show treads carefully next week. Very carefully. What happens in that episode could very well determine not only the fate of Lori and Carol, but maybe the fate of the show itself.
FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum starts like a lot of horror movies. A couple enters an abandoned old asylum to have sex and we know that VERY BAD THINGS are going to happen to them. YAY! Except, as a person who didn’t see the first season, as a person who was virtually harassed into watching the premiere of the second season, it was hardly the kind of surprise storytelling I’d been told to expect.
I felt my eyes closing, I felt myself drifting off to the Land of Couch Nap and…it got better. We go back to 1964 and meet Kit. Kit is married to a black woman, and he pretends she’s his maid to avoid persecution. Kit wants to end the lie and tell everyone. Kit loves his wife. So do we. She’s hot and adorable. It’s a good little period scene about a time that is thankfully over (unless you’re gay), but nothing shocking happens. Until a UFO comes and the aliens stick things up Kit’s ass…I’ll admit that I was suddenly fairly surprised.
The next setting: Briarcliff Manor in its heyday as an asylum for the criminally insane. Eager lesbian reporter Lana Winters is there pretending that she cares about the asylum’s thriving bakery. What she really wants is an interview with Bloody Face, the Leatherface wanna-be who is moving in that day. Lana’s little ladder climbing white lie pisses off Sister Jude, who runs the asylum like Julie Andrews on crack would have run a daycare.
Jessica Lange’s Sister Jude is easily 75% of what makes the show worth watching. Forgive me for not having spent most of my life being obsessed with you, Jessica. You are insanely good in this show.
I liked the baby-killing pinhead. I liked the other freaky inmates of the asylum. I liked the asylum itself. I LOVED the smart way the show takes advantage of the very horrifically real Ghosts of Mental Health Care Past.
What nerved me?
The “We Went To Screw In A Haunted Asylum And Bad Shit Happened To Us” story line. I suppose it HAS to be there…or does it?
The fact that there are so many crazy things happening that it becomes amusing…in addition to the UFO, there’s a monster that a mad scientist doctor seems to have brought with him when he took the job at Briarcliff. Anybody remember David Lynch and his show Twin Peaks? Even David Lynch waited a few years before he went TOTALLY over the top.
However, the show was good clean nasty fun, and I give it Four Anal Probes Up Kit’s Ass!
I’ll be watching next week, for sure.
Sorry about last week’s Zombie Report. There wasn’t one. I obtained secret information that the zombie apocalypse was upon us, and I was busy hoarding Spam and automatic weapons…okay truth. I went on vacation and I forgot to do a report.
During my vacation, I did try to get in some zombies for future reports. I made an unfortunate DVD choice based on what various film festivals liked. Descendants is a Chilean zombie film that was made with a $60,000 budget. You can see every dime of that 60 grand right there on the screen. The first scene, the one that probably cost $50,000, is very good. Then the rest of the movie, the other $10,000, flashes back to that first scene over and over and over and…you get the idea. The movie caps off with a ridiculous scene where children who are immune to the zombie plague go to the sea and become sea monkeys. I shit you not.
If this is what film festivals are looking for, I say we all max out our credit cards, move to a politically oppressed country and make us some highbrow zombie movies.
So that kind of left me with little to talk about and nothing to recommend to you until I found a zombie film on youtube worthy of critical acclaim. I present to you the human emotions, the pathos, the tragedy, the non-seamonkey opusness and claymation sawliciousness of…Chainsaw Maid.
Guns are fun. I like them myself. Many were the hours I’ve spent plinking away at tin cans. I don’t have a gun now. I know I live in America, but I don’t have anywhere to shoot a gun. So I don’t own a gun.
A gun would probably come in handy in the aftermath of most kinds of apocalypses, but guns are THE zombie apocalypse weapon because the traditional way to kill a traditional zombie for good and all is to destroy its brain. A gun affords a zombie slayer the distance necessary to avoid zombie bites while destroying zombie brains. A zombie slayer with a gun doesn’t necessarily have to be in fabulous shape to destroy zombie brains, since pointing and shooting is a lot easier than cracking skulls up close and personal. Provided the zombie slayer can shoot (and you aren’t a good shot just because you play a lot of video games, no matter what you think), the gun is the ideal zombie apocalypse weapon for the average citizen.
So you get yourself a gun and then… You might not be near your gun when the zombie apocalypse starts. Most zombie apocalypse survival kits rely heavily on the idea that the owners will be at home when the rotting, animated corpses hit the fan. I suspect that most of us will be at work or a bar. Say you are home and have the luxury of holing up with your bottled water and MREs and guns and unlimited ammo… You say you don’t have unlimited ammo? Even if you think you do, you don’t. Unless civilization recovers pretty quickly, the whole world is going to run out of ammo. The stupidest zombie apocalypse survival strategy I’ve ever seen was the target practice on AMC’s The Walking Dead. The characters wasted their finite amount of ammo teaching people how to shoot.
This brings us to a list of
BEST NON-GUN ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE SURVIVAL WEAPONS
DARYL DIXON’S CROSSBOW
The Walking Dead is getting this right. Quiet, efficient, and badass, Daryl stays in bolts by retrieving the bolts that he shoots, but it’s not a stretch to imagine him making his own bolts.
MACHETES, AXES, BIG KNIVES, SPEARS
This Zombie from the original Dawn Of The Dead has a splitting headache. A machete works pretty much until you lose it. Remember to keep it sharpened.
CORDLESS POWER TOOLS
Many power tools are cordless these days. Set up a solar recharging station, and you can be just like this Michonne action figure.
The finale’ weapon in Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. This weapon does require strong arms and a strong stomach.
Hell, watching this clip from the movie requires a strong stomach.
There are a million more weapons, including ordinary household objects, that could be used in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
In my own ebook, ZOMBIES TAKE MANHATTAN!, stagehands use pieces of a theatrical fly system to kill zombies. The sky’s the limit. Don’t count on your gun to save you. Start looking at those staplers and aerosol cans with fresh eyes!
Special question from DD1 to you, Marina. She sez: You know the saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” right? So, DD1 asks you, oh great and wise Zombie Expert: “If the zombie apocalypse starts in Vegas, does it stay in Vegas?”
The gang had so much fun doing Halloween stories they asked me to come up with a Thanksgiving fiction challenge. Okay then, sez I, write a story with a feast in it.
So Happy Turkey Day, turkeys! Enjoy the feast.
Our First National Thanksgiving
by Marina Bridges
illustration by Chris Zombieking
“Are you sure, Colonel? We might be able to get a photographer out. Might be worth it to wait a day or two. Be a shame to not have some sort of record. That company on their way to Gettysburg got a photograph of the one they shot, and I do believe this one to be bigger.”
Jenkins was an idiot. The Colonel wouldn’t allow a photographer anywhere near Camp Douglas. Every man in the hunting party knew it. Even the prisoners. The Union didn’t want any comparisons to Andersonville, the Confederate prisoner of war camp in Georgia. The best way to avoid comparisons was to not give anyone the opportunity to make comparisons. The truth was that Camp Douglas was every bit as brutal, filthy, disease-ridden, and filled with living skeletons as Andersonville had ever been.
The Colonel raised his gaze to regard Jenkins. “If you ever suggest calling a photographer here again, I will have you shot.” He looked at the carcass one more time before he retired to the chair the guards had set up for him under the trees…
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by Kelly Shew
Faint sounds of a string quartet wafted gently through the museum. People milled, talking in muted tones. Rubies and diamonds flashed and sparkled next to rhinestones and paste. Business casual mixed with tuxedos and ball gowns.
The marble floor of the entryway reflected the lights of the chandeliers. Gigantic twin staircases curved to the second floor, where an elaborate throne was placed. It was an ornate object, covered in gold and encrusted in jewels. The seat and the back were upholstered in red velvet. Many people gawked at the throne, admiring it as part of the exhibit. A few thought about sitting on it for a photo op. The dead eyes of nearby guards quickly changed their minds.
This was the first year that the Thanksgiving Day exhibit had come to Dartmouth Falls. The entire city was buzzing about the exclusive showing. A select number of people had received an invitation to what would surely be THE cultural event of the decade. They had been looking forward to this night for months, excited at the prospect of being able to lord it over friends and family…
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by Jaye W Manus
Rocky poured the contents of the bucket into the trough. He grabbed a push broom and shoved back an aggressive female so the little ones could reach the food. The female howled in frustration. Drool streamed from her gaping mouth. Rocky kept the pressure on. If he didn’t hold her back, she’d throw herself into the trough and the others would go hungry.
“You do a good job taking care of them, son.”
“Most folks have given up. The howlers are just too much trouble. Worthless eating machines is all they are.”
The man gave the boy a considering look. Rocky grew uncomfortable under the examination. Rocky had invited the traveler to stay the winter. An impulsive invitation born of loneliness and the rare pleasure of having someone to talk to. He wondered if he’d made a mistake.
“I was up north in Denver a few weeks ago. They’ve declared open season on howlers. Just shoot them and be done with them…”
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Operation Vigilant Harvest
by Barry Bridges
My Dearest Liz:
Happy Thanksgiving from Camp Gargoyle (don’t ask – I’ll explain later).
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, and being stuck here makes me miss you and the girls more than I could’ve thought possible. Give Emily and Erin a big kiss from Daddy. Tell them we’ll all be back together in Killeen as soon as Daddy and his friends take care of this business on the border. Tell them Daddy is helping keep our country safe from bad people. But please don’t tell them what I’m about to tell you, which is that bad people aren’t the half of it.
It’s been only a couple of weeks since our new president sent us down here after Borbon’s assassination and the collapse of the Parliament, but I’ve learned a lot in that short time. It started out just like the training exercises back at Hood. Then on the third day, we got called in for air support after two platoons cornered a group of Zetas at a private airfield west of Nuevo Laredo. Los Zetas is the nickname for the former soldiers who joined the cartels, the closest thing the drug lords have to professionals. The closest thing we had to a real enemy, at least back then.
As soon as we spotted one of the Zetas on the roof of the outbuilding unpacking an RPG, it got very real very fast. Between my bird and the other three Apaches, we must’ve put thirty thousand rounds into that shed. The commander on the ground, some hotshot major from Fort Benning, radioed for us to cease-fire and his men started moving in slowly. He said they were going to search the bodies for intel – like we’re up against an actual army instead of well-armed street thugs…
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