The Walking Dead, review

Them, this weeks episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead is possibly one of the worst of the entire fifth season. It seems I was alone in thinking last weeks was pretty genius, with the general consensus that the dream-like aesthetic was out of place and for a premiere of part two of the series, it lacked spark. If you weren’t a fan of What Happened and What’s Going On you won’t love Them either. Come on Kirkman and co’, don’t let us down now.

While part of the zombie genre is inherently known for gratuitous gore and non-stop action, The Walking Dead hasn’t always stuck to that formula. Some of the best episodes have been conversation driven, with past reminiscing and analyses of the rapid decline of a civilized world always present. Coupled with Walker battles, this is when WD shines. This weeks episode offered little in the way of either. And to think, they want to make another six seasons. One of the biggest problems is the familiarity of the locale – a change up is needed, and the promise of Washington DC is something to look forward to. If you read my weekly updates, you’ll be aware that I am true fan – whatever I’m reviewing, I always try and tackle from a positive perspective (no one likes a naysayer), and while there were one or two positives to last nights episode, I was definitely left somewhat disappointed.

Narrative-wise a lot of walking, a lot of unhappy faces, and some bad weather were all thrown in for good measure. Norman Reedus, in a silent yet poignant scene, encapsulated the loss that all of the group feel after the death of Beth and Tyreese, and his role as Daryl continues to be one of the best of the ensemble cast. The final moments set the tone for the next episode, introducing a new character who claims to be a ‘friend’. This is just one bad episode in a collection of ultimately great ones. Let’s have faith that The Walking Dead won’t lose its way.

The Walking Dead, mid-season finale – review

Today’s final episode of The Walking Dead (until its return in the new year) was two things. One: Understated. Two: Phenomenal. Forget zombie horror cliches and the floors in television drama; Coda, the seasons eighth episode moved beyond the genre of survival horror and the living dead, and became something which represents well the dark side of people. To say that this weeks offering was a ‘shock’ would most probably be the understatement of the century (exaggeration is in need, trust me), and if you have been waiting for an episode to quite literally blow your socks off, you now have it.

Visceral, violent, horrific and packing an emotional punch Coda sits comfortably as the best mid-season finale we have seen since this overly-long wait for new episodes began. Plot-wise, not much needs to be discussed. For, in the forty minute running time not a whole lot really happens – until those last pivotal five minutes. There is Walker action, of course. Conversations about past lives, something which is always to be expected now. And, the group are all brought back together (just not on the terms you may of initially thought that they would be). The power in episode eight of season five lay with those five minutes, and those five minutes alone. You will cry, you will hold your face and shout at the screen, and you will be baffled at how the makers of this show, without warning, throw it at you with such a force.

the cast of the walking dead

the cast of the walking dead

Lauren Cohan as Maggie, in the brief moments she has screen time in this years finale, is exceptionally good and reminds us all why her character has become such a favourite. Her relationship with Glenn (fan-girl’s favourite played by Steven Yeun) and sense of leadership she often portrays firmly places her up there with Danai Gurira’s Michonne who oozes sass and bad-assness (not a word, right?). What is also rather wonderful, yet tragic, is how unafraid Robert Kirkman and crew are of killing off two or three of the audiences most beloved characters. Whether you saw the happenings of Coda coming, or like me, were quite baffled, its irrelevant – the close filming of the loss of one cast member will leave you reeling.

With no half measures prepare the tissues, set your calender for the February 8th return and enjoy.

The Walking Dead – Crossed, review

We are seven episodes in to season five of The Walking Dead, thank goodness there are nine more because, with the quality of what we’ve seen so far, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t wish this show was on every week…all year. Featuring (surprisingly) extreme violence, and some of the most intense scenes, and twists, of the season so far, Crossed reminds me. You. Us, how enthralling, thrilling, exciting, and damn shocking at times AMC’s The Walking Dead is. Every week I rave about this show (it probably reads all a bit samey now), but genuinely, there is nothing else to say – apart from praise.

andrew lincoln in a promotional still for amc's the walking dead

andrew lincoln in a promotional still for amc’s the walking dead

Crossed see’s the first episode the season where we are allowed insight into all three stories; Beth at Grady Memorial, Maggie, Glenn, Eugene, Abraham and the others at a crossroads (waiting for an unconscious Eugene to come to) and Rick, Daryl and their crew as they leave the church for Atlanta. The combining of the whole cast was a rather well thought out structure, and meant that everyone who loves this show was able to see a few minutes of screen time from their favourite character. For me, it’s Andrew Lincoln as Rick and Norman Reedus as Daryl (pretty much everyone’s treasured personalities) who provide the best moments acting wise and support a cast of still fantastic actors, but both just have that extra something that makes them so believable in the roles they uphold. Seeing the progression of Reedus’ Daryl from a violent, drug-taking thug to a sympathetic and beloved member of the group has been one the greatest components of the entire show, and many are of the opinion that if he went, we’d go too.

The unexpected seemed to be the theme in this weeks episode, and the cast ran with it. Big on action, and full of violence that (for one of the first times since season two’s well Walker) had the power to make you cringe. Seeing the horror of what has happened to these brain-dead, lowly antagonists – the Walkers, was a clever element to add to this weeks installment (you feel sorry for these people who have become monsters) and one which reminds you of the terrible actions from the living as well as the dead. Narrative-wise I won’t give the game away, but expect to be clinging at your eyes, not wanting to watch whats happening, but wanting every episode right now. With only one more episode left this year, the makers have upped the anti, for all out war.

 

The Walking Dead; Consumed

With only two episodes left this year The Walking Dead  team are stepping up their game; filling gaps in the plot and bringing together characters from different groups. Consumed, Mondays offering, focused on Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl (played by the beloved Norman Reedus). The two have had an interesting relationship throughout the entire series, which at one point seemed as though it may evolve into romance. Consumed, shows us that these two are more of a mother and son combination, which is a rather delicate and well-played out partnership, with both Reedus and McBride giving viewers some of their best work during their scenes together.

norman reedus at daryl in the walking dead

norman reedus as daryl in the walking dead

This is the third week in a row we have been away from Rick and the others, and by now the groups presence is being missed. Consumed focuses on Daryl and Carol’s (notice their names rhyme?) foray into Atlanta to follow up a lead on Beth‘s (Emily Kinney) whereabouts, along the way expect plenty of Walker action, and of course, as has become tradition, the trading of some heartfelt back stories. The past two episodes have certainly still been some examples of WD at its best, but generally not the best when it comes to season five. While the combining of different groups, and the separation of certain characters is proving interesting, the sharpness of its predecessors and intensity of the danger the Walkers pose (which is sometimes forgotten due to their slow walking and obvious lack of brain cells) is missing.

An important aspect this week is character development, specifically for McBride’s Carol who stands precariously between the barrier of love and hate. Looking back on moments that brought her character to this position makes for a clever technique in swaying the audiences affections towards her, meaning by the time the episode comes to its final minutes you are left reeling at whats to come for her. The shows ability to swap between time (the earlier scenes in this weeks installment are set before last weeks episode) and place means its almost impossible to become bored with WD, and the strength in acting (particularly from Reedus, who never over-acts as Daryl) is really rather refreshing. In particular watching the change in Carol from season one to now, from a naive and scared woman to a hardened fighter who often lacks sympathy with her fellow survivors, has made for one of the most (surprisingly) riveting elements of The Walking Dead.

Not the best we’ve seen so far, but certainly not the worst.

The Walking Dead – Self Help review

Scrolling through Facebook today (yes, that social convention that takes up a fair amount of time) I came across a status which read “The best part of Monday is hearing ‘Previously on AMC’s The Walking Dead.'”, and I believe its fair to say that you would be hard-pressed to come across a fan who would disagree. Five seasons in, WD could potentially find itself between a rock and a hard place; its far enough in to of cemented itself as a great show, but also at the stage that the final season, and the question of when that will come is a hovering thought. Currently, The Walking Dead is still as thrilling, and exciting, as it was in season one (perhaps even more so), and although the narrative has generally been continuous throughout, the curve-balls thrown in have been enough to keep us all coming back for more. Today’s episode, Self Help, leads one to ask, where next? For the first time. The shock of Eugene (a character we know little about, played by Josh McDermitt) professing that his whole story of the chance for a return back to the life they all once knew, and a cure to the virus that has turned humans into Walkers, was all a lie, left a gap for the thought – where now? Where will the story go next, and where can this whole show now go? If you read the graphic novels, then you’ll have that answer. But for us in the dark, its certainly a thought that makes for a fair amount of day-dreaming, and mental script-writing.

michael cudlitz as abraham in the wlaking dead

michael cudlitz as abraham in the wlaking dead

A formation that WD has perfected over the past two seasons is that of swapping between characters, and their stories. This week it was all about Abraham’s (and those who left with him) journey to DC, last week we followed Beth, and before that Rick and the crew. This way of storytelling from the makers, means every week there is a fresh narrative in which audiences can sink their teeth into (excuse the pun). Gaining insight this week (however slight it was) into Cudlitz’s Abraham made for new and definitely interesting fare, and discovering that he at one point nearly took his own life added a softer element to a character with a hard exterior. More than this however, the aesthetic of what must be nearly a thousand walkers (I may be exaggerating) was one of the best images WD has given us yet, and almost places you there in the scene. Trust me, its up there with the park Walker of season one (and who can forget that?!). While Self Help didn’t present itself as the best episode season five has given us, it still remains a fantastic offering for the zombie genre. This weeks episode also reminds us that The Walking Dead is an adult show, and one that explores relationships of all types, in a refreshing and human way.

Not an episode of epic proportions, or overwhelming discoveries, but an episode of humble modesty, exemplifying The Walking Dead‘s ability to shine no matter what the subject matter.

The Walking Dead; Slabtown review

This weeks episode of The Walking Dead saw a change in setting, and an introduction for a new set of characters (not forgetting that Beth is now back in the fold). This is an interesting change-up for the series, and holds some important questions for fans of this consistently enthralling show. Beth has so far been a character who is yet to have her moment in the spotlight, her most interesting juncture so far is her burgeoning relationship with Daryl, something that became one of the most intriguing elements of the second half of season four. If we cast our minds back to season two, we can remember the way Beth once was, and how far her character has come – not only has she hardened but become much more likeable, and someone who everyone is rooting for. Emily Kinney brings a naivety and youthful realism to Beth, which is refreshing in a show which often focuses on a bunch of hard-asses (maybe it’s because I envision myself in her shoes, and that’s a powerful tool to use with those watching).

emily kinney as beth in the walking dead

emily kinney as beth in the walking dead

Slabtown, this weeks offering, welcomes back season ones setting of Atlanta, the built-up city now left to rot, is over-grown, grey and desolate – and looks just how a post-apocalyptic piece of entertainment should. The locale of the hospital is a well-judged juxtaposition, in the sense that the vicinity looks normal, and the characters are walking around in scrubs and police uniform (new personalities such as Dawn believe they are trying to re-build the broken world they  have found themselves in), but the people wearing these are miles away from law-abiding or innocent. Violence against humans is heavily featured in Slabtown and despite being a now running theme, still holds shocks (WD is wonderful for its ability to never feel repetitive). While Rick and the crew are certainly missed in episodes they don’t feature, the arrival of a new group of survivors is enough to keep us on our toes, and eager for the time the two may come to a head.

The final scenes lent to some of the most tense, and nail-biting moments we’ve seen so far in season five, and comfortably placed Beth in the hearts of those watching. The arrival of Carol at the hospital was enough to keep us wishing episode five would come sooner, and enough to have our brains a whirl at whats in store for all involved. Full of enigma, and always surprisingly real, mine, and I’m sure your, allegiance to The Walking Dead never wains. Consistently riveting, and genuinely one of the best television dramas to come out of recent years, nothing but praise can be written for this wonderfully original show.

The Walking Dead: Four Walls and a Roof

Emotions ran high in this weeks episode of The Walking Dead, Four Walls and a Roof. As we say goodbye to Bob, a character always full of hope, and always on hand to give us a much-needed laugh, we are left pondering what’s to come for the rest of the group. The episode, which once again balanced violence and death with warmth, humanity, and strong character work, saw the official end of the Terminus cannibals and a separation for members of the group (this time by choice). Maggie and Glenn have gone on the road with Abraham (played by acting gold Michael Cudlitz, and fast becoming a beloved character), Rosita and the quiet, but rather adorable, Eugene (who is the key to saving the world, or rather, saving what is left of the world). Despite Bob‘s departure being all too sudden, and something which certainly wasn’t expected so early on in this new season, this was not the moment that held the most strength emotionally. As is usually often the case in WD, it was a moment of words, short and simple, that left one feeling a tug of the heart strings. The words, left from Abraham, for Rick, read ‘Sorry I was an asshole. Come to Washington. The new world’s gonna need Rick Grimes.’, this was so poignant because it feels as though WD is at a seminal point now. Five seasons in, the end, in a positive way, is almost in sight; there’s hope of a return back to the life the group all once knew, Rick finally found Judith, the group are as strong as they’ve ever been and the glimmers of hope get stronger and more frequent. While it feels as though The Walking Dead could last for another five seasons (the graphic novels are still going and producer David Alpert has hinted at seven more), I hope, and I think this is a hope shared with many of the WD fans, that this consistently captivating show doesn’t over-stay its welcome.

the walking dead's danai gurira as michonne

the walking dead’s danai gurira as michonne

If there was any fault to pick with Four Walls and a Roof (and this is pretty much just being picky) its that we aren’t seeing enough of Michonne, a character with a compelling back story and one who holds great interest with viewers. She’s tough, but sympathetic, and Danai Gurira plays her with an almost mothering warmth. If you were in this walker-filled world, you’d want Gurira’s Michonne by your side. Despite the lack of dialogue or screen-time given to her so far this season, the moments where she is on screen, she shines. Whether its a close-up to represent a reaction to a particular moment, or a few words between her and a friend, Gurira manages to bring both vulnerability and strength to Michonne. On a final note, Gareth (Andrew J. West), the leader of Terminus, said many a thing in this weeks episode that got the rage boiling inside and the hope that he doesn’t meet a pleasant end even stronger. While these moments reminded one how involving this show can be, it also represented Rick, Glenn, Maggie and the rest of the group as completely individual to those left in the brutal world they now live. That difference is one of the most interesting elements of the show, and something that lends to fascinating back-stories and tales of woe when they meet these harsh antagonists. Keep going Walking Dead, because you’re doing just fine.

The Walking Dead season 5, episode 2

This weeks episode of The Walking Dead, Strangers, was a sort of food for thought episode. A new character was introduced (for how long, we never kn0w), and as a man of the Lord there were definite questions to be raised concerning Beth’s disappearance in the back of a Church car. For now, the group are taking sanctuary in the Reverend’s Church, but what secrets is he keeping, and are they safe? As is usually the answer in WD, probably not. In the final moments of this weeks installment Bob was seen in a precarious situation, and the biggest shock was left until then to spark your enthusiasm to watch again next week (not that there should be any doubt in your mind, anyway). Even more disturbing was the presence of the Terminus lot who we all assumed had died along with their base, and it seems they are out for blood, literally.

rick and darryl from amc's the walking dead

rick and darryl from amc’s the walking dead

The great thing about WD, and what makes it so consistently good is its ability to make you feel. We are being allowed the pleasure of following a group who have been through a hell of a lot, and we’ve been there with them experiencing it all. The violence of the  Walker scenes never take over from the importance of what is at the center of this programme; the characters (it is after all a study of people, and their reactions to a world gone wrong). A lot of people gave up with WD after season two, the series which focused mainly on Rick, Hershel and the others while they had time to come to terms with everything that had happened to them while being in the safe vicinity of the farm. Some of the best moments, like the growth of Darryl and Carol‘s relationship, and Hershel‘s previous life as an alcoholic were all on display, and really rather wonderfully. Season five seems to be finely balancing similar junctures like this, with the horror of the Walkers and the Terminus crew.

Four Walls and a Roof, next weeks offering, is eagerly anticipated. And its only Monday.

The Walking Dead season 5 – No Sanctuary

Season five of The Walking Dead is back, and with a bang. The death toll was high, there were walkers-a-plenty and the group were reunited (yay, at last!). No Sanctuary, the on point name of this weeks pilot episode was all about humanity, or more accurately, lack of.  Rick and the gang were pitted against the monstrous leaders of Terminus, the destination the group were headed in season four. All became clear pretty imminently that were was no sanctuary in this once train terminal, and that the group needed to get their thinking caps on quickly to escape the hell on earth they had arrived to. Que Rick and Darryl being as bad-ass as ever, Carol working her way back into the hearts of the audience and of course, as always in the best of The Walking Dead, a few tears.

The Terminus situation was quickly, and violently wrapped up making way for what looks to be an on-the-road story. The strength of WD lies with the characters, and the cast who play them. Rick, Darryl, Michonne, Maggie, Glenn, Carl..the list goes on, and five seasons in they are as perfect as they’ve always been. As mentioned, this episode was all about the humanity, and loss of humanity that the survivors of this apocalypse are coping with. You’ve got the group at Terminus; so wounded by their past experiences that they are even worse then the Walkers, killing the living to survive. Interestingly, this episode saw Carol regain some of her inner strength and soul, a poignant moment between her and Rick where she thanks him was enough to make you swiftly forgive her bad choices and welcome her back. Tears were shed in the final moments, when Rick and Carl discover Judith has been being looked after by Tyreese, and at that moment a glimmer of hop

the gang return for season five of the walking dead

the gang return for season five of the walking dead

e for the group was had. Oh, and the return of a character no one could forget puts this episode up there as the best pilot the show has had yet.

Stylish as ever, and pretty damn realistic considering the subject matter, No Sanctuary brought The Walking Dead back, and on staggeringly impressive form. A week feels way too long to wait for the next installment, but for now guesses can be made at whats in store over the next few episodes. The poster for this weeks episode read “Hunt or be hunted”; season five looks to be the grittiest yet. Welcome back.