Well that was certainly unexpected. When the kind folks behind The Walking Dead promised 27 deaths during Sunday's finale, I (and probably, all of you) was picturing utter mayhem. Baby Asskicker dying in Carol's bloody arms. Beth singing Tom Waits as she was slowly drained of life from her bullet wounds. Maggie shooting herself because she couldn't live without Glenn, who had been decapitated by Martinez. Rick and the Governor standing in the street for a high noon showdown, which only one would survive. You know, the usual stuff. Instead, we saw the mental deterioration of one character, and the death of another character that any reader of Robert Kirkman's comics certainly never saw coming. [WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD]
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So, Andrea died. Andrea — being one of the comics' most popular and long-running characters — just never quite "made it" on this show. She had, essentially, everything it took to become a beloved member of the team. Guts. Strength. Determination. Shiny hair. But the writers just never seemed to know what to do with her. When she wasn't whining about not having enough pull in the group, she was sleeping with and/or pining over the wrong guy. It was frustrating, and instead of turning her around, they listened to the fans and killed her.
But I will not crucify TWD's writers in this recap, because her death was pretty damn spectacular. She didn't die in a bizarre blaze of glory like Merle, but her ticking time bomb death with Milton — which was, let's face it, something right out of a Saw movie — was absolutely horrifying. The Governor delivered a fatal blow to Milton in the first few minutes, then gave him (and Andrea) his final farewell: "You're gonna die, and you're gonna tear the flesh from her bones." He locked her in a room with her own death. So she could know it. For hours.
As Milton faded, he asked Andrea — who, as my colleague pointed out, should really have tried multitasking as she chatted and considered her own doom — why she didn't go back to her friends once she found out that they were alive. "Well," she explained. "The Governor has a really huge penis." That's not actually what she said, but I'm sure that she spent her final moments feeling preettttyyyy stupid over that decision she made a few weeks ago, when she thought that she could change Woodbury for the better so she stuck around, even though she was dating this world's most obvious psychopath. She saw the zombie heads in the tanks and the weird pit-fights, and still didn't run away. I have a hard time believing that any human woman (with a law degree!) could be this stupid.
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And Milton, being a kindly fellow, pointed out that there was a pair of pliers on the ground — he had dropped the Governor's unused tools on the ground before the Governor stabbed him, and hidden this fact from his captor. If Andrea could move her foot just so, she could grab them with her pedicured toes and free herself, then stab Milton in the head before he turned. She finally did it after some fumbling, but it was way too late. In my humble opinion, she could have tried a whole lot harder. Remember a few months back, when Glenn killed a Walker with his hands tied behind his back? Andrea just… stayed Andrea till the very end. She just was never quite good enough.
So, yeah. The Governor, that Martinez everyone is talking about, and basically everyone else in Woodbury besides Tyreese and Sasha (who explained that they would fight the dead, not the living) raided the prison with a s**t ton of automatics and a thirst for blood. But like — nothing really happened. The Grimes Gang had booby trapped the place with Walkers, and all the Governor managed to do was blow up their watch towers and explode some of the Walkers that were surrounding the place, which was actually sort of a favor for the Gang of Grimes. So — thanks? This was the best well-executed bloodless defense plan ever. The gory, devestating shootout we were anticipating just never happend.
Instead, our main drama at Camp Grimes was the moral degradation of Carl Grimes. Before the Governor raided, Carl took a final look at his family picture and his father's badge and said, "Screw the noble path. I'm going to embrace a life of crime!" Since putting trust in others had had tragic results in the past — they trusted that prisoner and he ended up unleashing Walkers that ultimately killed Lori, and didn't kill the Governor and he ended up killing Merle — so, Carl was just going to kill everyone from now on. I guess he was snoozing during Rick's inspiring morality speech last week.
He ended up killing a left behind member of the Governor's failed militia. The kid was handing over his gun, and Carl shot him right in the head in front of a horrified Hershel. This, of course, came right around the time when Rick proudly told Michonne (who forgave him for almost giving her up, because she's awesome now) that it was Carl who displayed his burgeoning maturity by allowing her into the group.
So I guess Carl is going to be next Governor now — and we're going to spend at least a season dealing with Rick emotionally grappling with Carl's lost innocence as he becomes this hardened, brutal solider. The thing is though, that kid did look mighty suspicious as he handed over that gun. If he had dropped it and Carl had shot him, I would be quicker to condemn him for his actions. He's seen a lot of people die due to mercy and/or indecision, so he acted on instinct. He's adapting to the world around him, which is making him a not so great person, but a good soldier. He's at war, and he's acting like it.
The Governor, bee tee dubs, responded to his failure by massacring the entire Woodbury army (minus one pretty curly haired lady who played dead) except for Martinez and one other beefy dude. They drove off into the sunset, and I'm still not sure how I feel about this. We've spent an entire season waiting for this showdown. Why didn't it happen? I get that TV is a different medium than comic books, and that we as an audience are more attached to these on-screen characters than their page counterparts, so killing too many of them at one time could alienate TWD's audience. Still, we all really wanted, and were waiting with great anticipation for, an epic battle. And now the Governor just... gave up? When will we see him again?
Now, with (Glen Mazzara and his vision for the show) exiting Season 4 with the Governor still alive, I just have absolutely no clue where we're headed. I'd love to see the Grimes Gang manage to get more than 10 miles away from where they started two years ago, which could be a potential blank slate fresh start for the new showrunner Scott Gimple. I'd also love less episodes weighed down by tiresome trips into Rick's psychosis. Like, on Breaking Bad, we don't get entire episodes where Walt sees the ghosts of the bodies he's responsible and loses his s**t ("Fly"is an excellent example of a protagonist losing his mind episode — Walter was compelling and terrifying) and on Game of Thrones when someone kills someone, we don't spend the next episode watching them deal with the emotional aftermath.
But, anyway. Moving on. Andrea's death was touching, but, really, that was only because of Michonne. Daryl, Rick, and Michonne — you know, The A-Team — went in to raid Woodbury, but there was nothing left to raid. The fighters had all been massacred, and since they had rescued the pretty curly haired lady who vouched for them, Tyreese and Sasha let them through. They found Andrea and Milton — who had been successfully put down by his victim — minutes too late. She had a nasty Walker-hickey on her neck, and was getting ready to shoot herself with a gun that no one would have let her use back in Season 1.
Now, this death wasn't particularly heartbreaking because of Andrea herself, since, as I said earlier, the show never figured out what to do with her and not many will be devestated to see her go. It worked because of Michonne's touching reaction — she cried, and sat with her friend till the very ugly end. Michonne right now is like the antithesis of Andrea — I'm extremely impressed with what they've done with Michonne, who was nothing but a scowly nonentity with a cool sword until "Clear," when she became oddly likable. Now she's like my favorite person to watch besides Daryl, who maybe I shouldn't count because I find him to be extremely sexually attractive and that clouds my judgment.
So, here we are: other than Carl's innocence, Andrea, Milton, the Governor, and the people he mercilessly slaughtered, everyone made it through. The 27 promised dead bodies were not our friends (unless you count Andrea), they were of mainly faceless strangers. The newly Lori-free (I think?) Rick Grimes welcomed the remaining Woodbury-ians into the prison, so it looks like we're in for tons of random zombie-bait B characters next season, and a location change is seeming less likely.
But I'm perplexed, kids. I could be wrong. Where do you think they're going with this? Do you want the Governor to be a major part of next season, or are you hoping for a totally new game? Are you sad to see Andrea go? Also, do you have a good therapist you could recommend for Carl? Shout it out in the comments, and I'll see you next fall! (Unless you also watch Game of Thrones, in which case, see you next Sunday.)
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC]
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Based on Noel Coward’s 1928 play and set in that period Easy Virtue is about John Whittaker a young Englishman who falls madly in love with a flamboyant American woman named Larita whom he immediately marries and brings home to meet his stuffy all-airs English family. What ensues is a battle of wits that turns to war between the visiting yank and her new mother-in-law who is determined to prove to her son that he has made an egregious mistake.
WHO’S IN IT?
Jessica Biel takes a flying thespic leap and holds her own in the middle of a sterling cast of fine British talent as Larita the feisty young wife of a naïve young man who has fallen head-over-heels in love with her and expects his stuffy upper-crust family to fall in line. Biel is a delight as this thoroughly modern miss and shows she can adapt to the witty rhythms of Noel Coward’s rapid-fire repartee with the best of ‘em. And the best of ‘em includes the wonderfully talented and woefully underrated Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient) as the doubting Mrs. Whittaker who doesn’t quite welcome the American intruder with open arms. Thomas’ performance is reminiscent of the haughty English societal roles she began her career with but she adds a dollop of vinegar to this one and appropriately glams down for full effect. Ben Barnes (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian) is at once smitten and perplexed as the impressionable new groom while the ever-reliable and appealing Colin Firth steals it all as his cynical and dour father the only other family member who sees the spark in Larita.
Shot entirely in some stunning stately mansions in the environs around Berkshire and Cambridgeshire Easy Virtue expertly captures the flavor of a sophisticated late-'20s British romp. The fresh and inspired casting of Biel in her first English foray should also find contemporary audiences responding. Although he occasionally opens things up a bit (including a very funny fox hunt) director Stephen Elliott wisely lets his cast take center stage with Coward’s constant zingers and spicy dialogue.
There’s nothing really new here that will make you go “Wow.” Though it’s all “been there seen that ” Easy Virtue is still done with verve and style. It’s a hoot for those who miss this kind of theatrical experience on the big screen.
When the others have retired to the patio Biel’s character accidentally sits on Mrs. Whittaker’s prized little pooch sadly squashing the poor little bugger to death. Her subsequent Lucy-esque attempts to cover up the crime are slapstick silly fun giving Biel the opportunity to display the kind of comic chops she didn’t get to show opposite Adam Sandler and Kevin James in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Netflix. The widescreen cinematography is nice to look at but this little trifle will play just fine at your own estate.
Having recently moved to England from America with his large family young Will Stanton (Alexander Ludwig) is finding it difficult to adapt. But it isn’t so much the culture shock or calling his mom “mum” that’s giving him trouble—it’s the fact that he is a warrior and doesn’t yet know it. He is tipped off to the weirdness after witnessing two policemen hot on his trail for purchasing what he thought was a pendant for his sister (Emma Lockhart) morph into black crows. That pendant turns out to be one of six crucial “signs” in need of finding and Will turns out to be the last of the Old Ones fit for the job—as he is informed by fellow Old Ones Merriman Lyon (Ian McShane) and Miss Greythorne (Frances Conroy). Will’s success is mankind’s only hope of warding off the evil Dark whose goal is to defeat the Light and steal their free will; it’s your classic battle of Dark vs. Light. With each passing day Will becomes more adept at sensing new signs but he only has five days to do so before the nefarious Rider’s (Christopher Eccleston) skills reach their peak which will be bad news for everyone. If there were never a Daniel Radcliffe by whom all fantasy-protagonist performances are now measured youngster Alexander Ludwig (of The Sandlot 3 fame) might not seem so stiff—fine inept. But in The Seeker Ludwig struggles with the already tenuous special-effects sequences let alone with trying to carry the movie to franchise-dom. While it’s rare to find the young actor whose charisma trumps his inexperience—a la Radcliffe or even Macaulay Culkin circa 1990—Ludwig comes off more like a kid in a candy store than on a movie set and no editing-room fixes can help. Elsewhere the actors’ stakes are lower and the results mixed. McShane utterly incapable of a bad performance is leaps and bounds above all of his numerous costars. It’s too bad the former Deadwood actor starring as the most vocal of the Old Ones didn’t rub off on any of his younger costars; it’s also too bad he accepted a role well beneath him much like August’s Hot Rod was. McShane’s fellow Old One and HBO casualty Conroy (Six Feet Under) shares a similar venerability but she ditches it the second she wields a sword in a vain attempt to go medieval on our collective heiny. We could’ve used more of Eccleston (28 Days Later) as his wry alter-ego doctor but he spends most of his scenes obscured as the villainous Rider. In most modern fantasy flicks the grand-scale action scenes are where the magic’s at with their bank-breaking special effects and/or productions; in The Seeker such scenes expose the movie as a thrift-shop version of its more deep-pocketed genre brethren (i.e. Narnia Potter Lord of the Rings). It’s not only that the look of the action is less imaginative but also its conception: Each time Will must retrieve one of the signs there is seemingly no difficulty in doing so and thus zero suspense—like a bad video game. That could be because director David L. Cunningham (TV movie The Path to 9/11) seemingly wants the movie to play out like a video game instead of like Susan Cooper’s beloved novel The Dark Is Rising whose story was somewhat tweaked by screenwriter John Hodge (Trainspotting). On the bright side the lush snow-covered English village in which the movie is set is rich and evocative. In fact everything looks great and will keep viewers’ attention throughout the early part of The Seeker. But unlike its aforementioned contemporaries the movie takes a nosedive when it’s supposed to most enthrall us.