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Sunday, 28 of May of 2017

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Fear the Walking Dead, “The Good Man”

“It’ll break him.”

 

Two thousand zombies march

It’s a crazy zombie party and everyone’s invited!

Upon finishing the season 1 finale of Fear the Walking Dead, I couldn’t help but to feel slightly disheartened.

Sure, there was a lot of heart-pumping action, a fright or two, more anti-authoritarian themes making our military out to be a giant collection of buffoons, and some haunting imagery. But as we flew over the ocean, I couldn’t help but to think this thing didn’t turn out nearly like I thought it would. Completely different actually. But I’m coming to terms with the fact that maybe what I thought this show was doing was in my own head, what I wished to be watching.

Instead, what I got was a thing that’s been proven to work against my preconceptions which is based on how much I like things that don’t really work. Confused by my vagary? Let me put it to you another way.

I wrote 11 things about this season finale, good and bad, to explain myself a little better.

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Fear the Walking Dead, “Cobalt”

“Have you no respect for private property?”

 

Alicia on the pink bike

Take a ride with me.

If you were wondering when this occupation metaphor was going to tackle the chaos that ensues after the military pulls out of the destroyed wreckage to leave the local population to its own limited defenses, I think you have your answer now.

But I’m bored talking about how this show likens armed fundamentalists to mindless, shambling villains whose army can grow exponentially because their foot soldiers are easily converted by the contagion within us all. Even the torture scene is kind of dull and not only because they STILL don’t know what to do with Ofelia.

Sure, blah blah blah, they moved the plot forward and yadda yadda yadda it’s a major turning point not only for this series but the entire universe. Major character developments for Daniel and his compass pointing in the other direction than Travis who’s being stalwartly naive. Snore.

I’d much rather talk about how teens break stuff.

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Fear the Walking Dead, “Not Fade Away”

“Liza. She did this.”

 

Nothing like a round of golf to make you look real personable and salt-of-the-earth.

Nothing like a round of golf to make you look real personable and salt-of-the-earth.

Ready to dig into another life-affirming, feel-good episode of Fear the Walking Dead?

I’m actually of two minds about this episode because “Not Fade Away” deals with a lot of interesting family drama within the context of this military occupation. But it’s also kind of dumb. In a lot of places.

So depending on how you went into the episode, the penultimate episode to the penultimate episode of the season either came off as intense or came off a little silly. Either way, you can’t deny that things are much different after what happened That Night. (PLL references everywhere!)

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Fear the Walking Dead – “The Dog”

“Good morning, Susan.”

 

The Clarks play Monopoly

Nothing like ruthless capitalism to take your mind off the horrors happening outside your door.


This week’s episode is called “The Dog” and, while there was definitely a dog in it, it took me long time to piece together why this dog was the centerpiece of this episode. Nick seems to be the only one that friendly with this dog and then, when the time came for them to escape, they sacrificed the poor pup to Peter Dawson, eater of humans, hater of bounce houses.

I suppose this isn’t their dog (which I gathered because no one seems to even know this dog’s name) so what do they care if it survives Peter’s determined zombie-fueled massacre of the entire Cruz family in revenge on his neighbors daring to celebrate a birthday on the edge of apocalypse.

I’m assuming the episode title has more to do with the heavy-handed Jack London discussion from episode 1 than anything else. And it makes way more sense that the episode is titled based on something Travis did because Travis is the big star in this episode. For being the burdensome weight that might end up killing them all.

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Fear the Walking Dead – “So Close, Yet So Far”

“I hate you.”

“I know.”

 

Kids wearing surgical masks with frightening grins drawn on them

This is probably the scariest thing this show has done yet.


So now that we seem to have a better idea of who’s who in the world of Fear the Walking Dead, let’s do a rundown of the characters.

Tobias, our blemished, knife-obsessed, (most-likely) redditor, is the only person in the world that seems to recognize anything that’s happening. In this world that seemingly has never produced a zombie movie, he has information that no one else seems to consider and has put together all the puzzle pieces faster than anyone in Los Angeles. He’s also the one that wants to build a bunker and be his own king of canned food. Smart kid.

Liza, Travis’s ex-wife and willing thorn in his side, is the only person within two or three degrees of this crew that has any amount of medical experience. While the show is better off without deus ex machine-gunists, we have to allow some latitude that if no one knows how to fix a wound, this family would surely perish.

And then there’s the rest of the family. Who are all dead weight.

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Fear the Walking Dead – “Pilot”

“I don’t know what a viscera is.”

 

It's different because of the spelling.

It’s different because of the spelling.

So if you were wondering why The Walking Dead has a spin-off and why it’s set in Los Angeles, I’m pretty sure you have me to blame. That place where Rick finds a tank in the original series (the Fairly-Poplar District)? Less than a block from where I lived in Atlanta. That park in Los Angeles everyone on Fear the Walking Dead seems to drive by on the way to school or anywhere (Lincoln Park)? I run through there every weekend.

The zombie apocalypse seems to want to follow me around. But this time I’m glad to see it. Fear the Walking Dead seems to be about what I always wanted The Walking Dead to be about. And that’s everything everyone else seems to hate to watch.

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Gotham – “Pilot”

“You have a little danger in your eye.”

Gotham Title Card

The city of Townsville.

While flipping through the pages of a comic book, it’s not as apparent but every idea in and around Batman is completely insane whack-a-doo koo-koo pants. We know that Bruce Wayne is one of the greatest detectives this side of a deerstalker but why is it that all of the criminal masterminds and psychopaths of a city have decided against functional disguises of stealth and, instead, lean toward the garrish, brightly-colored, and unquestionably villainous costumes? To make his job easier? How are there so many of these psychopaths in one town? How many daddy/mommy issues can one city breed? Why aren’t there enough funds in the state or even the country to help out a city whose mental health crisis has consistently threatened the balance of world economy and livelihood? Can there be better locks on Arkham Asylum’s doors? And what of the Bat-Man who looked at this rampant psychopathy and decided on the if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them philosophy. Well, as far as the garrish costumes go. He definitely beats them. All the time. With his brawny fists. He just does it while wearing a cowl. Which is not as fashionable as it once was.

So how did Gotham City get to this point where Batman constantly has to swoop in and save the city from itself? What helped to tilt the decisions for the city’s insane population to look at a latex suit and say, “Yep. Time to wear that for 60-70% of my life while doing my crime things”? These are questions Gotham has set out to answer.

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Mad Men – “To Have and To Hold”

“No, please. Let him go on.”

Megan and Don confused over dinner.

Say what now?

The gluttonous are described in especially sensory language and, if not as acutely structured as Canto V, Canto VI is piled with references and word choice that sing the damnable song of the overfed and forever slurping.

It’s important to distinguish gluttony from other sins, especially avarice. Gluttony is about selfishness more than actually acquiring possessions or things. It’s just about constantly feeding yourself even when it’s too much or too painful. When you’re withholding your spoils from others, specifically not in a miserly way so much as a constantly consuming way, that’s gluttony.

The buffet before you and you constantly take from the food line without regard to anyone else involved, that’s gluttony. Again, it’s not about actually acquiring anything so much as it is about feeding.

In the third circle, a heavy rain, snow, and hailstorm constantly pelts the earth, releasing a horrid smell from the layers of sinners and creating a mud bog. They’re pigs mired in their own shit. Something to think about as Don listens through the door to the other presentation.

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Mad Men – “The Collaborators”

“You want to feel shitty right up until I take your dress off.”

Sylvia and Megan have a talk.

Oh, wait. You were? When did you stop smoking/boozing/having a settled stomach? How else was I as a TV character supposed to know?

I didn’t think about Don’s season of contrition actually following the Inferno closely, particularly since it’s the longest canticle of the Comedy, “The Doorway” didn’t really do much in the way of ferrying Don across any hellish rivers, and Dante spends several cantos in the Malebolge (Circle 8: Simple Fraud) but the show made it easy to view “The Collaborators” in light of the whirlwind second circle.

Lust is a constant on the show as Don tries to fill that hole of validation in his life and everyone else is either trying to mimic Don’s example of success or is uncontrollable when descending from an era of unabashed patriarchal dominance, especially when sick with money and power. Mad Men is almost synonymous with adultery, more so than advertising and Don’s continuous identity crisis.

And while I think the analogy falls apart if you try to compare the first couple of episodes to the first five cantos of Inferno, the depiction of lust here is different than the pedestrian brand we’re used to seeing on the show and has a feeling of intentionally connecting to the second circle. It’s particularly evident at the end of the episode, there’s a key moment that seals the inspiration from the whirlwind punishment of Paolo and Francesca. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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Psych – “Deez Nups”

“I’m sober now.”

Yeah. They're stunned, too.

Yeah. They’re stunned, too.

Really?

There’s a certain allowance you have to give a show after it’s been on for so many seasons. By around season 5, characters, particularly comedic ones, have become such parodies of their original casting that the only thing recognizable about them is the actor’s name flashing across the screen (and sometimes even that’s not the case, Second Becky).

It’s no one’s fault. Or at least it wouldn’t be fair to blame any one person. People get into a groove, things become second nature, you push the boundaries of the character a little bit, or what they can or would do, and, suddenly, you have catch phrase like “EAGLE” or you’ve gone from simpleton accountant to functionally retarded. As shows exhaust resources and things turn over or actors get bored and start to expand thing, the show turns into something — different.

Psych has done well to keep its basic premise and feel in tact for seven seasons though with a dulled sharpness. The writers try to make things interesting by somehow finding new territory for them to traverse each week (Santa Barbara has to have had more murders the Cabot Cove by now) and the characters find new ways to express themselves. But every once in a while you’ll get an episode that’s such a mess that it reminds you how old the show is.

And they use that episode to break the biggest arc in the series.

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