Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Walking Dead: The Distance (5:11) (SPOILERS)

Ok, let's get this out of the way. I mean, do we blame Rick? There's a reason why we love the Ricktatorship, he's usually correct.

Come on now, let's look at a couple people who "messed" with the wrong guy:
You can totally trust me.

We can hit the town, go dancing. 
At least he didn't cut his hand off!

Yeah... trusting the Governor, is like...well. Like this:

Ok, not everyone is like the Governor. I mean, look at this fine gentlemen in the apocalypse: 

There can't be anything wrong with him? Can there...

Yeah... Ok, so like I said. Rick is usually right. So when a clean L.L. Bean catalogue model happens upon you in the zombie apocalypse, you're all like:

So how do we, the audience, know that we can trust Aaron? It's in the symbols!

Our current survivors have been through a lot lately. Besides all of the welcoming fold turning out to be sociopaths, everything has failed them. Even Eugene's promise of a cure in D.C. was a lie. Last week's "Them" watched the crew fall apart. They were tired, hungry, and weak, but they didn't turn on each other. The worked together to overcome an insurmountable task (with a little help, for more, check out last week's blog) The crew and especially their de facto leader, Rick, have fallen on dark times. (Thank you Danai Gurira for shedding some light on it during Talking Dead...and yes, every pun is fully intended.) This episode not only had Rick and the crew in a dark place metaphorically, but literally as well. 

Often, darkness and light represent two opposing forces. It could be good versus evil. Just think of the archetypal symbols involving black and white. Black: evil and death. White: innocence and purity. I don't think Rick and the groups are evil. However, I feel the light and dark represent knowledge and ignorance. In the opening sequence, even though it is daylight, almost every character is miserable, and their faces are cast in shadows:

Ok, maybe I'm taking one opening sequence a little too far, right? There's no electricity and they are in a freaking barn that somehow survived a treacherous storm. When Sasha and Maggie bring Aaron into the barn, we see a change:

It's like a little halo shining on his perfectly clean head. Does Aaron have knowledge that the group is still searching for? Is he the next Fugue??? (I hope not, I don't think I could take that disappointment again) He imparts his knowledge of a safe community. There are walls that are fifteen feet high made of solid steel. It's the zombie apocalypse ultimate safe haven. I swear, I could the Governor dancing behind his eyes. Does someone else need to get introduced to a red handled machete? Seriously, who falls in love with a weapon... (cough cough Negan cough couch). So, Rick does the most rational thing in the zombie apocalypse. And as Mr. Tucker once said: 

There's no way that anyone could be genuine. Yet, OMG... (Oh My [scott] Gimple).

He's still sitting pretty in the ray of light. Compare his face to everyone else's in the image. They all rest in a shadow. Symbols I tell ya! Dark vs. Light. Dude, he's telling the truth. Rick is so sure that he lying, but Michonne and a few others aren't so sure. They set out to seek the validity of Arron-gate. 

Oh, Rick... it's like someone's keeping him from what's so plain to see:
But this isn't Poltergeist.. Rick needs to be out in the open in the light. Nope, he keeps himself in the shadows. Symbolically, Rick won't open himself to the light, or truth. What is the one truth (oh for the love of puns) we have seen in the Walking Dead? Don't travel at night! They always set up camp before it's dark...always. So Mr. Grimes, why for the love of all that is good would you suggest to leave at night? It's simple, you see. He hasn't seen the truth yet; he's unwilling to let knowledge fall upon him. 

Glenn, Rick, Michonne, and Aaron ride in the dark. 

I'm pretty sure anyone with a head for plot can figure out what comes next...A heard of walkers. Not that they were easy to see with the lack of light because who travels at night in this damn show! Only people who want to die. It also didn't help that from the camera's pov, we couldn't really see out of the windows:

All seems lost: a heard is bearing down, the RV that had the rest of the crew has disappeared, and the car has been imbued with rotting limbs that the engine won't turn over. The palling cloud of darkness won't cease. Wait, what is that in the distance?

A flare is literally a signal for help, and in this case it turns out to symbolize the beginning of the group's willingness to listen to truth. They aren't fully aware yet, they need some more signs to help lead them on the right path. Aaron runs into the woods and the group follows them. Good ol' Faerie Queen taught me that when someone is in the woods, they have lost their way (we're talking symbolically of course). Glenn gets separated from Michonne and Rick, and they are running out of options as an approaching heard (albeit a much smaller one than we saw earlier) gets closer by the second. With ammo running low, Rick and Michonne's despair is written all over their faces. The scene cuts to Glenn looking for Aaron, but he can't find him until...

A full moon, seriously. Yes, the same full moon which stereotypically symbolizes transformation. (Ironically, in the episode where Noah makes it back to his community their is phrase spray painted on the wall "Wolves are near"... could be coincidental... maybe). Once we see the moon, Glenn realizes he's not as cold hearted as he once thought (Last episode, "Them"). He saves Aaron, and knows he has to help Rick and Michonne.

Back to Rick, he and Michonne are out of bullets, all that's left is the flare gun. What a "coincidence" that we are seeing this again. By "coincidence", I mean not a coincidence. We do get to see one of the coolest walker death's in show history:

This brings enough light for Glenn and Aaron to save them. Every time it looks like the crew is lost in this episode, some form of light comes out to help guide them. Finally as the night ends, almost everyone is ready to be "enlightened" by Aaron. (Who we see one of the most honest and emotional greetings the show has ever seen)

Lit by candles, the two are quite clear. But, the cinematography is on point:

Arron and Eric are well lit, and Rick is finally starting to emerge from the shadows. He's still skeptical of course. But, we start to see that he is ready to let the light in. The following day shows us the crew on the way to Alexandria, and compared to the opening scenes their is certainly a different mood.

Once Rick hears the children behind the walls of Alexandria, there's a certain light (this could be the most cliche filled piece I have ever written) in his eyes:

When he takes Judith out of the backseat of the car, we know that he is opening up. He will do anything to protect his family. Once he decides to expose Judith, we know he's letting the light in. In case we didn't get it, the final shot of the episode has the sun shining bright on Rick and his crew

That's it for this week's episode. Leave a comment if there's anything you want me to explore! By the way, a big Happy Birthday to Stacey!!! You're the best, love ya, babe!! 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Walking Dead: Them

Here it is. My first blog. I've been toying with the idea of setting up a blog for sometime. Call it setting up my platform, call it sharing my ideas, call it... insanity. I'm sitting at my kitchen counter banging away at my keys in a seemingly random way, my kids are running amok, there's dishes piled in the sink, and it's freezing outside. So, hey why not start a blog, right? Let's just dive right in. I'd love to say that I'm kicking back. "Be Cool..."

But really, I'm just...

So what do I plan on doing for my blog? We all love tv shows, shoot I think I have a man crush on Stephen Amell and don't get me started on the general hotness of Lauren Cohen. Shows are great way to pass the time and entertainment, but what I like to do is to peel back the layers and dig a little deeper. Every author, director, or screenwriter loves to put in those dreaded literary elements we learned in school: symbols, allusions, or even allegory. Like Shrek says, it's like an onion, you just have to peel back the layers. Seriously though, I'd rather go with Donkey and eat a parfait.

For today's entry, I'd love to discuss this week's The Walking Dead (5.10: "Them")

This week's episode had so much juicy content, some of which was discussed on The Talking Dead. Maybe one day the nerdist himself, Chris Hardwick, will invite me onto his couch to discuss my thoughts on the show. Anyway, "Them" is filled with symbols and allusions. They could be used to foreshadow upcoming episodes, or just show how smart the shows crew is: Scott M. Gimple, Greg Nicotero, and Robert Kirkman are like, "Hey kiddies...

Let's start with the group, they seem to be on some sort of exodus to D.C. Wait, did I say exodus???? You're darn right I did. This episode is fraught with allusions to the Jews exodus from Egypt. When I first watched the episodes, there were some things that stood out to me as strange. In the opening scenes, Sasha is walking in what looks like a dried up creek. Initially, I took it for what it was. The group is running out of water and they are distraught.

What about the frogs? They don't have food or water. Why doesn't Sasha collect some frogs and have Darryl fry 'em up! But, she doesn't. So they have to be there for some reason.

Insert first allusion:

8.2 “And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs”

Of course, this scene isn't exactly word for word from the Book of Exodus, but it's The Walking Dead people! Ok, ok, one scene with some dried up croakers may not be enough to sway your mind. I mean I can stick a feather up my butt, it doesn't make me a chicken. (Thank you Fight Club for that line).

Shortly after this scene, Father Gabriel talks God with Maggie, but she doesn't want to hear it. The once pious Maggie has lost faith in God. Let's get all ELA on this for a second. What is the author's purpose of this scene? Looking at the overall structure of this episode, it's purpose is to set up the religious themes and images that pervade the episode. 

Let's find some more allusions. As Darryl walks off into the woods, the camera focuses on what looks like a cicada:

Ok, so what does a Cicada have to do with the Plagues of the Exodus. Well, a cicada is often referred to or confused with a Locust: "Cicadas are often colloquially called locusts" (Wikipedia)This brings us to our a second allusion: 

10:4 "Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast"

The next plague I looked at dealt with the passage: 

"9:3 Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain."

This passage refers to diseased animals. There really could have been three scenes that could have dealt with this passage. One: As Darryl is alone in the woods, he sees a deer that has rotted through, the spine is even showing. Of course, one could look at all the walkers as the diseased creatures, but that is a little too convenient. I think the diseased creatures are the dogs that come to attack: 

Ok, ok, maybe I'm looking to deep into this. Maybe it's just a tv show that's meant to entertain us. But, if that's the case, why does the episode zoom in on this: 

Bam! The religious themes are undeniable. Maggie, Sasha, Darryl, and even Father Gabriel all

question their purpose in this episode to the point that Father Gabriel throws his collar into the fire. Albeit, they were eating dog. Maggie is grieving over Beth's death. Lauren Cohen discussed the symbols that relate to Beth on the Talking Dead (The kidnapped walker and the music box). Sasha doesn't know how much longer she can go on. When all seems lost, they skies open, and most of the crew are happy and laughing. Rosita and Tara lie on the ground giggling like a couple of kids. Father Gabriel apologizes to God for questioning him. It's like there's that small sense of hope, just not to Maggie Sasha and Darryl. 

The three of them are miserable, and it doesn't look like they are going to be able to bounce back from everything that happened to them. Maybe they all knew that it wasn't going to be just a regular rain storm, maybe, just maybe, it's another reference to the Exodus.

9:18 "Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now."  

After Rick's rousing speech, the crew finally understands that they need to work together or they won't make it. In a moving scene, the crew all hold the doors to the barn shut as a herd of walkers try to crash the party. Miraculously, they survive the relentless attack of the walkers, but how?

The scene ends and it's a new day, Maggie and Sasha walk out to see that the storm or possible tornado saved them from the heard of walkers. 

Was it divine intervention? Was it similar to the parting of the Red Sea for Moses? It could be. What does it all mean though? Well I have two thoughts on that, and they could go either way. First, it's the light at the end of the tunnel (or the light at the end of the forest). When the Red Sea parted for Moses all their enemies were killed in its wake. Same thing happened here. A force of nature saved those on the exodus in both the show and The Bible. The group has completed their exodus and things may look up. (No comic spoilers, here...However Aaron is introduced in "Life with Them" and this episode was titled "Them"). Or could this foreshadow more plagues? The last plague of Egypt was the death of the firstborn. Has Judith scene her last days? She hasn't been seen since the prison in the comics, so it's not like she's essential to the plot. However, I tend to say no. I think Judith and Carl have a much bigger role to play in the new world and the salvation of mankind. 

That's it for today's post. I'm sure next week's Walking Dead will give me some fodder to discuss.