A Look at “The Walking Dead” #135: “Face to Face”

The Walking Dead #135- Cover

One of the biggest strengths of The Walking Dead has been how it tackles moral ambiguity. At what point is it acceptable to kill? Is it even acceptable? Rick and company have been willing to kill many times before, whether to protect themselves, instinct or force of habit. However, as both the comic and show have pointed out, there comes a point when characters have to stop and question who they are and what they have allowed themselves to become. Having too much power, control and the ability to take a life can turn you into someone you’re not. Go too far and you become a monster. We’ve seen this with characters like Negan and the Governor. People like Rick and Carl teeter dangerously to crossing that line, but they manage to bring themselves back.

And though Kirkman has slowly given us more information regarding The Whisperers, Issue #135: “Face to Face” mostly deals with the aftermath of Carl and Sophia being attacked by two neighborhood boys. More than that, it gave a great deal of focus to Carl and Maggie as they deal with the Hilltop residents.

I was a bit surprised to read that both of the boys might live, despite their injuries. Not that I expected them both to die, but given how hard Carl went to town on those two boys, I thought one of them would bite it. Again, at least they know not to screw with Carl.

The Walking Dead #135- Parents react to Carl's actions and Maggie is blamed

That said, I’m not a fan of how the parents react to what Carl did. They have every reason to be upset at what Carl did, yes, but they’re overlooking what their boys did to Carl and Sophia. For Tammy to claim that Sophia brought it on herself, saying that Maggie cares more about her own child than the rest of the Hilltop and acting like Carl is the only one at fault already makes me dislike her. Carl is also in the wrong, to an extent, but I’ll get to that in a second. These parents seem like the type that would coddle their children and are convinced that their precious angels could do no wrong. Did she not see what they did to Carl and Sophia? The parents call Carl a menace and say that Sophia is out of control, never admonishing their own kids for what they did. These are not good parents. There’s no doubt that they care for their boys, but they are not saints. They cannot be shielded from harm forever. Hell, I wonder how many times these parents may have overlooked what their kids did.

The Walking Dead #135- Maggie clashes with parents

And they are overstepping their boundaries to suddenly demand compensation from Maggie. I assume Kirkman doesn’t want us to like these people because they take no responsibility for what their kids did to Carl and Sophia. They’re way too rash and quick to react without considering the possibility that their kids instigated the violence.

The Walking Dead #135- Maggie prevents a fight from breaking out

At the very least, Maggie is willing to see both sides, even if she is being bombarded. Maggie is not Rick. We know that. But at the same time, she doesn’t have to be. She’s being as assertive as possible, but also showing some diplomacy since, as pointed out, she wasn’t elected to this position. As much as I like Maggie, this is not a role that the residents of the Hilltop chose to give her as much as she just inherited it from Gregory, who did not want to stand up to Negan.

Yet, given how peaceful life has been in the Hilltop since the time skip, Maggie looks to have done a good job. No one has rebelled and society is productive again. Sure, her laughing off Gregory last time wasn’t exactly the best way to react, but she’s limiting resources for when they’re most needed. Regardless of how good of a job she may have done, Maggie’s abilities as a leader have now been called into question. And given Gregory’s plan at the end of the issue, whether serious or not, it looks to me that some folks in the Hilltop look to rise against Maggie now that they feel she’s not fit to be in charge.

The Walking Dead #135- Maggie admonishes Carl for his actions

Maggie is trying to put out as many small fires as possible because any mishap will ruin the vision she and Rick share: a return to civilized society. They are still a far ways from that, but the two are taking a daring stance by declaring that they will no longer kill anyone. Given the horrible things these people have done to survive, it’s strange that they suddenly want to take the high road. Maybe they had a change of heart after Negan bashed Glenn to death, but it’s a big shift, to say the least.

Or maybe I’m looking too deep into this. It could be that Rick and Maggie realize that having more people alive means more people can pull their weight and contribute to a thriving world. Perhaps Rick still wants to prove to Negan that people can thrive on working together, not fear. This sort of pacifist attitude is not one that I expect Maggie to stick to. Not in The Walking Dead. Her daughter almost died, yet she still sees the two attackers as becoming productive members of society when they grow up. A bold prediction to make, Maggie. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come back to bite you in the ass.

The Walking Dead #135- Carl says 'fuck' three times in one sentence

Carl Grimes is going to a very dark place. He’s showing shades of both Rick and Negan in his personality. He acknowledges that he went overboard, but he is not about to let these adults push him around. Carl is no pushover, but he has to realize that his brash actions have consequences. That’s why he could not fathom why Maggie would lock him away when all he did was defend Sophia. In his mind, he did the right thing. He took it too far, he admits, but he doesn’t regret it. The problem is that he did not stop when he could and should have. And telling the adults to go fuck themselves just paints him as a violent brat in their eyes.

The Walking Dead #135- Carl is called a monster

Still, his actions make sense, as crazy as that sounds. He cares for Sophia and he would not let any harm come to her or Maggie, if he can prevent it. Rick would be no different. Hell, Rick may have killed, if he wanted to. In my opinion, if Carl should apologize for anything, it’s for going too far. I don’t think he should have to apologize for what he did, though. Keep in mind that he and Sophia were ambushed and Carl still only has one good eye. He’s already at a disadvantage in a fight and taking him off guard from behind does not do him any more favors. He didn’t think straight in the situation- he just acted.

The Walking Dead #135- Jesus speaks with Lydia

As for The Whisperers storyline, which I don’t have a lot to say about, newcomer Lydia keeps Jesus in the dark, for the most part, by not giving him straight answers. The Whisperers live everywhere? That’s pretty vague. But I do think Lydia looks pretty clean for a teenager who had been wearing the skin of a roamer and lurking amongst them. Again, there’s still much more to learn about this group. Judging from Lydia’s smirk when she begins her conversation with Carl, I’m wondering whether she has honest motives by striking up a conversation with him. After all, Carl had talks with Negan as well.

So a good issue. Tension is building at the Hilltop due to Carl’s actions and some folks look ready to overthrow Maggie by any and all means.

A Look at “Wild”

Wild- Movie Poster

Wild is about one person’s journey to overcome the elements, to redeem herself and find some salvation.  Cheryl Strayed packs up her monster of a pack and prepares to walk the Pacific Crest Trail.  This is a well-made character piece that’s helped by a strong performance by Reese Witherspoon in a film that challenges us to hold onto our best self despite life’s many obstacles.  Let’s jump right in.

Wild- Cheryl struggles with her boots

The film begins in the mountains. Climbing to the top is Cheryl Strayed, played by Reese Witherspoon. Cheryl has been going at this for awhile and takes a moment to compose herself. She pulls off her boots and shoes to reveal very bloody and bruised feet. If that wasn’t enough do deter you from hiking, maybe the sight of Cheryl pulling off a big, bloody toenail will. However, she loses her footing a bit and one of her boots goes sailing down into the chasm. Enraged, Cheryl throws down the other boot and lets out a blood curling yell. Perhaps Reese Witherspoon could have another pair flown to her.

Anyway, the film then flashes back to Strayed being dropped off at a hotel. She pays the fee for the night, though the clerk leaves the door open for her to invite a partner. There will be none of that, though. Cheryl is planning to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. And since she’s unable to provide a license or address, she must provide another.

That address belongs to the man she then calls on the phone: her ex-husband, Paul, played by Thomas Sadoski. Paul is busy making dinner for a friend. He apologizes to Cheryl, though he’s not sure why he’s sorry. He hesitates when he tells Cheryl that he doesn’t understand why she’s walking 1,100 miles. Cheryl has provided Paul with a list of addresses for various stops she’ll be making, so he can send her packages that way. During this, we get a brief flashback of her sitting a friend, who tells her that she can quit anytime.

When Cheryl finishes her call with Paul, she considers her options on who she can ask to help her reach the first part of trek. After all, you don’t want to just entrust your life to anyone.

All right, time to head out. Cheryl is all packed and ready to go…she’s a bit too ready to go. Her pack has backpacks on backpacks. Combined, the entire pack looks like a roller suitcase stacked on top of another roller suitcase, but with bags jutting out of every corner. She fills one bag with water to keep herself hydrated. She tries to lug it out, with no success. The scene plays on for a while and is for comedic effect, but it does serve as a precursor to just how grueling this trip will be. Plus, if anything, it’s a chance to see Reese Witherspoon try out some sort of physical comedy, but I digress.

After getting her monster pack out of the hotel, Cheryl heads to the nearby gas station. She decides to hitch a ride with a couple. The husband plays a song that strikes a familiar chord with Cheryl, as the film flashes back to a younger Cheryl dancing with a woman. Problem is that the wife doesn’t like the music, so she turns it off. Sourpuss.

Wild- Cheryl coming up on Science Trail sign

So the couple drops off Cheryl and the trek begins with the Day One entry. She pulls out the journal in the available mailbox, jots down an entry and begins walking. Cheryl very soon wonders just what the fuck she’s done. The journey goes on and on with her growing more delirious with every step, not to mention that heavy fucking pack on her pack. And remember, folks, this is only the first day.

Wild- Cheryl writes in her journal

After walking for five miles, Cheryl makes camp…she eventually makes camp. She writes a note in her journal and hopes that the receiver would not be angry if she decided to quit.

The film then flashes back to Cheryl’s school days. Surprisingly, they just had Reese Witherspoon play Cheryl as a student in addition to an adult. Here, she looks like she did on Election or Pleasantville. I digress. Anyway, young Cheryl/Witherspoon is in class during a lesson on Marie Curie. Once the lesson ends, she runs into the woman from the previous flashback: her mother, Bobbi, played by Laura Dern.

The flashback continues to that evening with Cheryl apologizing to Bobbi for apparently slighting her earlier at school. Bobbi isn’t upset. In fact, she’s still proud of her daughter nonetheless. Then enters Bobbi’s other child, Leif, played by Keene McRae. Leif and his friend have come by for some food. Cheryl chastises Leif for wanting their mother to do everything for him.

In the present, after a night’s sleep, Day Two has arrived. With her handy-dandy portable stove, Cheryl cooks herself some mush. She gets a lot of mush in her life right now. Regular mush, mush with nuts, she has mush dreams and even shits mush. I’m serious, there’s a shot of it under some rocks, but I’m pretty sure Reese Witherspoon didn’t take that shit. Point is that Cheryl loves mush.

Wild- Cheryl's journey begins

Day Five arrives, 30 miles in, and Cheryl is still talking to herself. When we get to Day Eight, Cheryl notices that she’s running low on food. She can still give up this journey, if she wants to. She gets a break when she spots a farmer tending to the field on his tractor. She asks if there’s any place he can take her food, but according to man, Frank, played by W. Earl Brown, nothing would be open at the hour. Plus, he needs to finish his work, so for now, Cheryl can just wait in his truck.

Cheryl does just that and finds herself still waiting for Frank to finish as night falls. She snoops around in the car and finds a gun. When Frank finally finishes, he gets in and tells his companion that she can come back to his place for dinner and a shower. The two bond over alcohol from his flask. Cheryl hesitates, but she does give in and takes a sip. She tells Frank that her husband is traveling ahead of her and she will catch up with him eventually. Right. Anyway, Frank does have just one more thing he needs to share with Cheryl.

Licorice! That’s right. Cheryl’s new friend has a sweet tooth, but she must keep quiet about it. Frank doesn’t want his wife finding out that he eats candy.

At Frank’s, Cheryl meets his wife, Annette, played by Jan Hoag. Just for precautions, Annette actually places newspaper on Cheryl’s seat. Any potential tension is thrown out the window as Cheryl eats the first decent meal she’s had in days. Annette and Frank find it crazy that Cheryl and her so-called husband would go on this excursion. Actually, Annette and Frank themselves are pretty snarky and have good banter. Annette even suggests that she take off with Cheryl. I instantly like these two not just because of their chemistry, but because they showed no hesitation to letting a complete stranger into their home and showing her some real hospitality.

Wild- Flashback, Cheryl and Paul get tattoos

As Cheryl showers the filth from her body, she has memories of Paul. The film then flashes back to the two of them getting tattoos. When the tattoo artist, played by Art Alexakis, asks the two why they’re getting ink, Paul explains that they’re getting a divorce. Getting the tattoos binds them together. There are better ways to do that, you know. Cheryl goes a bit further with the explanation: she cheated on Paul. A lot.

The two receive their divorce papers and say their goodbyes after seven long and crazy years.

In the present, Frank drops Cheryl off at her next checkpoint. Before Cheryl leaves, Frank correctly guesses that Cheryl’s boyfriend isn’t on the trail with her. She just said it because she was afraid of Frank at first. She makes a big leap forward in technology when she’s able to get a fire started with her portable stove. It’s the little things in life that matter, you know. In fact, Cheryl is so happy that she even calls out to the wolves that night.

Day 10 arrives. Cheryl has been able to trek five to seven miles a day. At that rate, she figures she’ll be done in about 20 years. That’s plenty of time. She does get sidetracked by a snake in her path, though.

The film then briefly flashes back to Cheryl again meeting up with her friend, Aimee, played by Gaby Hoffmann. And following a terrifying encounter with a tiny bug that causes Cheryl to blow her rape whistle, we cut to Paul and Cheryl arguing in the past.

Cheryl reaches 80 miles and comes across something she probably didn’t expect to see on the trail: a man skinny-dipping. This is Greg, played by Kevin Rankin. He recognizes Cheryl not by face, but from her name in the registrar. Greg is making good ground so far. He’s been able to do 20 miles a day. That comes with heavy preparation. Greg suggests that Cheryl head to a nearby camp where she can plan her next move.

We then cut back to Cheryl and Aimee as the two talk over margaritas. Cheryl tells Aimee that she believes she is pregnant. She has an idea of who the father may be. Whoops.

Reese Witherspoon as "Cheryl Strayed" in WILD.

So the two head to a clinic. While waiting in line to take her test, Cheryl spots a book on a nearby shelf about the Pacific Crest Trail. After Cheryl receives the results, she leaves in a huff and begins to shovel the shit out of the snow covering her car. You make that snow pay, Cheryl! She tells Aimee that she has no intentions of having the baby. She was supposed to be strong, responsible and want things in life.

Wild- Cheryl arrives at rocky mountain

In the present, Cheryl comes face to face with a giant rock while scaling a mountain. She edges herself into the space between the mountain and the rock. Following this, she winds up at a camp on Kennedy Meadows. Greg and some other men welcome her in and help her get situated for the time being.

Wild- Cheryl talks to Amazing Ed, played by Cliff De Young, who calls her pack 'Monster'

One of the men, Ed- or Amazing Ed- played by Cliff De Young, offers to help her clear out some extra stuff from her pack, which he refers to as “Monster.” What can she part with? The saw, the deodorant, some of her books and an entire roll of condoms, just to start. He also suggests that as Cheryl reaches a new point on the trail, she tears out that portion from her book on the Pacific Crest Trail. If that wasn’t enough, Cheryl learns that she can call a shoe store and have them deliver her new boots at her next destination.

We then cut back to Cheryl asking her mother what she sees in the author James A. Michener. She doesn’t get it. Cheryl sees herself as more sophisticated than her mother was at her age. After this exchange, following a brief snippet of Cheryl and Bobbi with their horse, we then head to the doctor’s office. Bad news: Bobbi has a tumor in her spine.

Wild- Cheryl speaks with Jimmy Carter, played by Mo McRae, about not being a hobo

In the present, Cheryl arrives in Reno and calls Paul to let him know that she’s still alive. However, she now decides to hitchhike again. Most drivers pass by, but one does stop: a writer named Jimmy Carter, played by Mo McRae. Jimmy Carter here writes for The Hobo Times and he’s glad to finally meet another hobo. He knows these types, too. Trauma causes people to enter the hobo life. Cheryl insists that she’s not a hobo and women can’t just walk out of their lives, which likens her to a feminist in Carter’s mind. Rude. Regardless, she receives a nice hobo care package, but she does not a ride since Jimmy doesn’t have any room in his car.

Cheryl does eventually pick up a ride. The people inside, two men and one woman, are nice enough, though one of them does leer at Cheryl longer than necessary. Cheryl’s attention is drawn to the photo of a young boy, who was eight years old. He was killed when a truck struck him five years ago.

In the past, Cheryl tells her mother not to give up because they can fight this. In the present, Cheryl comes face to face with snow on Day 30. She suits up with her snow pants and continues on while two skiers pass by and let her know she’s in California. Dicks. Well, Cheryl at least isn’t lost. She’s just screwed. Then, the spots a fox…

We flash back to Cheryl arguing with the staff at the doctor’s office. Her mother had been given a year, but it’s only been a month and condition is deteriorating.

At home, still in the past, Cheryl chastises Leif for never visiting their mother. He has his reasons. He doesn’t want to accept the idea of her dying. He may have acted like she didn’t mean anything, but in reality, she meant everything to him.

On Day fucking 36, Cheryl remembers when she and her brother finally visited their mother together. One they arrive at the hospital…

…nah. You find out. Let’s hold it there.

When you take Wild at face value, the idea of someone simply walking around the country may not sound all that exciting or inviting of a premise. However, the film was made with a lot of care and shows respect to its source material, thanks to the performance of Reese Witherspoon- who also doubled as a producer- and the film’s director.

Jean-Marc Vallée, who recently directed Dallas Buyers Club, has an eye for the personal. In a way, Cheryl Strayed is similar to Ron Woodruff: she’s found herself in what looks to be an unwinnable position, but she pushes on, despite the risks. Of course, the difference is that Woodruff did eventually pass away, though years after his supposed death sentence. Strayed, as we know, lived to tell the tale. That’s not to take away from either journey, though.

Wild- Cheryl stares off

Wild works on many levels: here is a woman that wants to get away from the world and just be with herself by mounting a seemingly impossible task. Things aren’t explained right away, but told in pieces so we can pick up more bits of information about an earlier scene as we travel with Cheryl.

Wild- Cheryl Strayed, played by Reese Witherspoon, screams

This is not a linear film, evident from the film’s very opening. As the movie progresses, we’re treated to many flashbacks and, at times, flashbacks within flashbacks, to give us glimpses of Cheryl’s past, such as her childhood, relationship with her mother and brother, and her ties to Paul and Aimee. In addition, we see the slow self-destruction, ranging from drug use to having sex with the closest man she can find, that led her to embark on this journey. Even these moments aren’t presented in chronological order. For example, early on, we get a flashback of Paul and Cheryl arguing, but we don’t hear their conversation. Only later on, when we revisit the scene, do we learn why the two had a disagreement.

I’m not entirely a fan of how the flashbacks are edited. At times, flashbacks just pop on-screen during Cheryl’s journey. Sometimes there’s a trigger for them, and sometimes there isn’t. Some are fast, maybe half a second before we cut either back to Cheryl or to another flashback. Sure, if I wanted to stretch it, I could say that this represents the gaps in Cheryl’s mind, or maybe it’s due to her past, rampant drug use, or maybe the heat is making her delirious. These are all pretty ridiculous reasons to speculate on, but my point is I wish the flashbacks weren’t as frequent as they are in the movie. This is only an issue when the flashbacks appear in quick bursts, one after the other, but luckily, that doesn’t happen very often.

Wild- Bobbi with young Cheryl and Leif

The movie has many themes and messages, most of which relate to Cheryl’s journey and her relationship with her mother: discovery, detachment, self-preservation, eternal optimism, redemption, salvation and, above all, survival. Cheryl could never be the woman her mother way: full of sunshine and happiness, even when life threw everything at her. The two attended school at the same time and Bobbi is a survivor of domestic abuse from her previous husband. These two factors seem like things that would make a person very cynical about life and how they choose to live it. Despite that, Bobbi is a constant ray of sunshine, much to Cheryl’s annoyance.

Wild- Bobbi and Cheryl with their horse

At one point, Bobbi tells Cheryl that it’s important to find and hold onto your best self, despite life’s obstacles. The problem is that Cheryl, for the longest time, couldn’t even find her best self. She found solace in having sex with random strangers, using drugs and betraying a man who had true feelings for her. And yet, she tells Aimee during one flashback that it felt good to do bad things. We aspire to achieve what we feel is best in life for us, but for Cheryl, that happiness and joy she feels comes at a price when she alienates the people close to her. As a result, she walked away from it all in order to find herself. Some have argued that Cheryl’s tale is more about redemption than salvation, but I think there are shades of both. Cheryl doesn’t deny the horrible things she’s done and she isn’t looking for pity. She wants to get lost in the wilderness until she discovers who she is, regardless of the risks.

A lot of the tense situations come through what Cheryl expects to happen when she encounters random strangers, as opposed to what actually happens. Sure, there’s a lot to be said about a person who walks 1,000 miles on their own, but the film makes a point of highlighting the dangers of being a woman that could be raped. Cheryl isn’t dumb, though, and she treats most situations with caution. To her surprise, though, most of the men she runs into turn out to be harmless and have good intentions. There are two tense encounters, but Cheryl is able to work her way out of them.

I get that Cheryl is doing everything necessary to protect herself, and maybe this is because I’m not a woman, but the film almost makes it seem as if every man Cheryl encounters might have some underlying motive. Newsflash, people, not every man who does something nice for you is doing it just to worm his way into your pants, as hard as that may be for some of you to comprehend. More often than not, many of the men Cheryl meet offer their assistance. It’s a smart way to turn tense encounters on their head, such as when Frank tells Cheryl not to tell his wife about him eating licorice, when Cheryl had just been worrying about the gun Frank had in his car.

In fact, the encounter with Frank is just one of many light hearted examples. For a movie like this, Wild has plenty of humor to it. The sight of Cheryl struggling to get her pack on her back before her journey even begins, meeting Jimmy Carter of The Hobo Times, Cheryl blowing her very loud rape whistle at the sight of a bug and her calling out the wolves are just a few examples of the film slowing down and reminding us that you can still laugh, even when there’s so much seriousness going on around Cheryl.

Wild- Cheryl's drug use

What I admire most about the main protagonist is how flawed she is because she comes off as more complex. If she had no issues with this hike or any personal problems, it would be harder to relate to her. Cheryl is far from perfect. In fact, she’s not even that much of a likable or even relatable character. She lashes out at her mother’s optimism, she cheats on her husband and showed no remorse at the time, got deep in drugs and her solution was to walk away from it all. From an objective point of view, all of these factors and more would not give audience members any reason at all to root for Cheryl.

Wild- Young Cheryl with her therapist

But when we start digging deeper and learn about her abusive home life under her tyrant of a father, combined with her burning bridges with most of her connections, we see how she arrived at this point. Sure, it’s a bit of a stretch to go from sex and drugs to walking 1,100 miles with nothing but the pack on your back and I do wish we got more setup leading to this decision besides Cheryl just finding a book on the Pacific Crest Trail. She’s literally and figuratively weighed down by some serious psychological issues, but whatever task rests ahead of her, Cheryl does manage to find a way to conquer it. Some would say that Cheryl is literally just walking away from her problems and there’s some truth to that, but given her former, destructive ways, this is what she feels is the best decision for her. That’s not to excuse her behavior at all and no, I don’t fall into the camp who believes that Cheryl’s promiscuity would be viewed differently if the main character had been a man.

Wild- Cheryl in the water

Cheryl is a fighter. What we learn from the very first scene is that she’s sitting on a lot of rage: at the world, at her mother and herself. She channels that anger and frustration into her hike and we see on her face the frustration when she meets another setback. And yet, despite every urge to turn around, she keeps moving forward. Reese Witherspoon’s performance is very visceral and she has a great, commanding presence as the main, focal point of the film. It’s one of the best lead performances I have seen in 2014 thus far. I wouldn’t say it’s as layered as Cate Blanchett was with Blue Jasmine in 2013, but that’s not really a fair comparison since they’re playing two very different types of characters. Both are wandering through life to make something of themselves, but Jasmine came from wealth and had an air of pretentiousness about her, while Cheryl detested her lot in life and squandered it when she had the chance.

Wild- Cheryl

Witherspoon isn’t doing any mugging for the camera and the film never focuses on her too long just to show off her face. Each time we see her, there’s a multitude of emotions and thoughts going through her head. Some of that is obvious by sight alone, and other times the emotions come through her narration. This is both a positive and negative for the film. While Cheryl’s thoughts are both funny and revealing, some narration is unnecessary when we’re able to see what Cheryl is going through just based on her facial expressions. The film does a good job of showing what she’s going through and I just wish it did more of that as opposed to Cheryl flat out telling us her situation.

It’s a minor complaint, but when so much of the film emphasizes what Cheryl sees, hears and breathes in all around her, the directors and writers should have allowed Witherspoon more freedom to dictate what’s going on around her instead of somewhat forced narration.

Wild- Cheryl and Paul, played by Thomas Sadoski

Much like Obvious Child, Wild has a twist with the main character’s significant other. Paul is someone who could have cast Cheryl aside after her infidelity, but he still stays in touch with her and is even proud of what she sets out to do, even if he doesn’t fully approve of it. It shows that, despite how Cheryl wronged him, he will still not turn his back on her as a person. Speaking of Obvious Child, by the way, I wish this film had more Gaby Hoffmann.

Wild- Laura Dern as Bobbi

And while Witherspoon is a force in this film, the other bright star here is Laura Dern, who is happiness incarnate, even at her weakest moments. Like Cheryl, Bobbi has been through Hell, but unlike her daughter, Bobbi refuses to let anything get her down. She’s the kind of woman that Cheryl wishes she was and there’s not a mean bone in her body. This would be annoying if Bobbi flat out denied she had been through anything and just acted like her like she hadn’t endured any hardships. The difference is that Bobbi refuses to let any setbacks ruin her sunny disposition. She and Cheryl are so similar, but at opposite ends of the spectrum at the same time. Both women strived to make something of themselves and could have given up at any time, but Bobbi focused on the good in life, while Cheryl embraced the negative.

This is a very well made film that showcases some great direction from Vallée and an equally strong performance from Witherspoon. I’m not a betting man, but I do think she may at least get nominated for Best Actress based on this film. She commands each scene she’s in and is great from start to finish. Wild is about redemption and navigating through the darkness. While some of the themes and messages were a bit obvious and heavy handed, that did not take away from an enjoyable film about Reese Witherspoon’s journey to see how much she can fit on her back.

A Look at “The Walking Dead” #134: “From Whispers to Screams”

The Walking Dead #134- Cover

An issue of The Walking Dead without Rick Grimes in it? Blasphemy.

But on a serious note, I didn’t mind the lack of Rick in this issue of the series. Issue #134: “From Whispers to Screams” gave us only two storylines: Carl, Sophia and Maggie dealing with issues at The Hilltop, while Jesus deals with the new group threat, which now has an actual name.

The Walking Dead #134- They call them The Whisperers

I remember hearing a rumor after issue #133’s release that this group would be called The Whisperers, and now that’s their actual name. We still don’t know much about them, but I appreciate how Kirkman is spacing this out and slowly unraveling this group. With each issue, we get bits of information about them, but never enough to satisfy your taste. For example, do they claim territory? That could explain what one of them meant when they told Jesus that he was where he did not belong. Again, it’s all speculation, though.

The Walking Dead #134- Jesus battles with the Whisperers

Though Jesus’ portion of the issue was mostly action, I did like the Charlie Adlard’s penciling on the panels. And it wasn’t just nonstop slicing and dicing, as we did get some bits of dialogue. That’s gotta be some intense concentration Jesus has to talk with his team while still trying to comprehend what and who The Whisperers are.

The Walking Dead #134- Maggie and Gregory discuss what to do about Dante's group

So onto The Hilltop. Maggie’s moment is brief, but it illustrates an issue that also plagues the Alexandria Safe Zone: the group’s ability to lead. When Rick and company first arrived, people were aghast at his excessive use of violence. The people at The Hilltop were completely against the idea of violence and had to be coaxed into it, even before they’d even set eyes on Negan and The Saviors.

Yes, Dante still being missing could cause people to worry, but at the same time, Maggie doesn’t want to put even more people at risk by sending them out on a rescue mission. Maggie has no idea what’s out there, so she’s trusting in Dante to handle himself. She recognizes that she needs to keep people safe, but she won’t worry over him just yet. Gregory thinks otherwise and sees the need for immediate action. If there was ever a point where the people of The Hilltop would question Maggie’s leadership, based on what we’ve been given, I feel this would be the starting point.

The Walking Dead #134- Carl and Sophia ambushed

Then we have Carl and Sophia. After having a quiet moment to themselves, they come under attack by a pair of cowards. This actually reminded me of the issue where Rick, Carl and Abraham are attacked by the marauders when Rick snapped and gutted the men. We get that similar burst of outrage from Carl here as he goes to town on the boys with a shovel.

The Walking Dead #134- Carl Grimes goes to a dark place

Carl did not come to The Hilltop for this. He came to become an apprentice and develop into his own man without Rick by his side. Think back to when Carl attempted to become executioner when he considered killing Negan. Rick told him that there was a better way. Here, Carl’s only option was to fight back. The scene itself was very visceral and reminded me of the brutal way in which Negan murdered Glenn.

The Walking Dead #134- Carl attacks

This is Carl Grimes going down a very dark path and it could easily threaten the peaceful life he’s trying to set for himself at The Hilltop. And there’s no doubt in my mind that people will pin the blame for this on both Maggie and Rick for being the root of this violence. That said, it was a kick-ass moment for Carl. We’ve seen him hold his own in battle. For the most part, though, he’s been able to keep his anger in check, much more than Rick. Here, however, he and Sophia’s lives were put in grave danger and he reacted as I feel Rick probably would have. Hell, these guys had it coming. Even if Carl and Sophia claim that Carl fought in self-defense, this fight, combined with Gregory’s questioning Maggie’s leadership, will cause some real headaches for the people of The Hilltop.

At least now the kids in the neighborhood know never to screw with Carl Grimes.

A Look at “The Walking Dead” Season 5, Episode 8: “Coda”

And so it was, “Coda” brings the first half of Season Five of The Walking Dead to a close. While this episode wasn’t as strong as it could have been and the writing could have been much better, “Coda” had a good amount of tension toward the latter half as the series bid farewell to another character. The question remains, though…did it have to go down like that? Let’s find out.

Coda- Bob runs from Rick

The episode begins with Bob making his escape. He tries to break through his restraints, but to no avail. Walkers approach the police cruiser. Rick returns to the cruiser and drives off while Bob continues to run, still cuffed. As fast as he runs, Rick catches up to him in no time at all. He calls out on the radio for Bob to stop. Bob doesn’t, so Rick hits the gas and slams right into Bob, throwing him to the ground.

Coda- Rick prepares to kill Bob

With Bob on the ground, Rick tells him that this could have ended peacefully if he just stopped. Bob asks to be taken back to the hospital, but no, he can’t go back after this. Bob hoped to smooth things out.   With his dying breath, Bob declares that everyone in Rick’s group will die. Rick pulls out his gun and fires.

Coda- Gabriel at the school where The Hunters ate Bob's leg

Gabriel is still on his own and comes upon the same school where The Hunters feasted on Bob’s leg. Walkers still remain locked behind the school door. Gabriel picks up a backpack and finds inside…a copy of the Bible. Really? What are the odds of that? Oh, and only then does he spot Bob’s decaying leg, complete with maggots and everything. He throws it aside in disgust just as the walkers break free from the school. Gabriel limps away as best as he can, but does the classic TV move of falling at least once. It wouldn’t be television if he didn’t trip one time. Luckily, he makes it back to the church, but he’s unable to find the entrance to the crawl space quick enough before he’s surrounded by walkers.

Coda- Gabriel begs to be let into the church

He moves around the barrier and begs for Carl and Michonne to let him in. Carl rushes to the door, though he’s unable to remove the wood. Michonne begins hacking away at it with an axe and Gabriel enters. Unfortunately, so do all of the walkers. Michonne cuts down as many as she can- with Judith strapped to her back, which is impressive- but there are just too many for them to kill. They enter Gabriel’s quarters and block the door. Gabriel motions for Carl, Michonne and Judith to enter the crawl space underneath the floor. The three escape first while Gabriel eventually catches up.

Now outside, they cut down what walkers they can before sealing the church shut. Well, at least Gabriel found a good use of the machete.

Coda- Rick's group downtown deals with how to handle Bob's actions and the deal with Dawn

Back downtown, things have changed due to Bob’s actions. It may be time to rethink things due to what he did, though not just yet. Shepherd says that the story should be that Bob had been attacked by walkers. She claims to know the good cops from the bad and wants to help. Rick asks Licari how much he wants to live. His response is that Dawn won’t want to look weak. That and she may think the trade is a rip off since Bob is dead, so in his mind, it’s a good thing that Bob got attacked by walkers. Well, looks like that’s the official version so far.

Coda- Dawn tries contacting the other officers via radio while also working out, Beth has a photo

At Grady, Dawn tries calling the officers, but gets no response. Good thing she can do this while working out. It’s important to multitask and look fit at the same time during the zombie apocalypse. But we learn that the officers sometimes don’t radio back. She tells Beth to put the photo next to the badges, not on her desk. The man in the photo is Captain Hansen, Dawn’s friend and mentor who she misses. People risk their lives by going out every day and that matters. Captain Hansen lost sight of that, apparently. In this world, Dawn says, you don’t need to have people like you, but they must respect you. Otherwise, one day you’ll call for backup and won’t get it. And when that happens, everyone goes down. Hansen lost sight of that. That’s what happened.

Coda- Michonne asks Gabriel where he went when he left the church

Michonne asks Gabriel were he went and he tells them that he needed to see and know what happened at the church. The church door begins to creak under pressure as the walkers are on the verge of escaping.

Coda- Mini reunion and return of Abraham's group

Luckily, Abraham and pals arrive in the fire engine. The groups reunite, with Glenn telling them that Eugene lied and Michonne informing Maggie that Beth is alive and the others are currently working to rescue her. Time to join them.  That’s right, Maggie, you do still have a sister.

Beth watches as Officer O’Donnell knocks Percy around. He calls for Beth, but Dawn has use of her.

Coda- Beth wants some alone time by the elevator, Dawn talks about Hansen

Beth tries to get some alone time at the elevator shaft, but Dawn just won’t allow that. Dawn tells Beth not to worry about Percy. He’ll be okay. Nothing is okay anymore, Beth says. All she wanted was some alone time, but neither she nor Dawn are going anywhere. Beth isn’t buying any of what Dawn is selling. Dawn keeps talking about doing what she has to do, but the world they live in is their reality until they die. Dawn counters by reminding Beth that the hospital saved her life twice. I’d argue it saved her more times, given the amount of times Dawn used Beth’s head as a target. Dawn continues. She saw the smashed jar in her office, but fixed it before anyone else saw it. She’s convinced that Beth is nothing but a cop killer. Things just happen a certain way.

Coda- O'Donnell hears everything Dawn tells Beth

The two realize they are not alone. O’Donnell is at the door and has heard the entire exchange. He’s ready to tell the other officers since they have a right to know who they really work for. Dawn doesn’t take kindly to this threat and draws her gun, but the others already think that she’s cracking under pressure. But Dawn is convinced that she’s fine. She’s also nothing like Hansen, even though she’s the one that killed him when no one else could or would go through it

Dawn doesn’t lower her weapon. All she’ll have to say is that O’Donnell came at her and had no other choice. O’Donnell speaks of their past: they were rookies together. That man, Dawn says, is long gone. The man O’Donnell is now likes to abuse patients and laughs with other officers about rape. O’Donnell defends himself, stating that they need to hold onto what they have. Besides, Dawn herself isn’t exactly innocent. O’Donnell feels that she’s changed after Hansen’s death.

All right, enough of this dialogue. A fight breaks out and O’Donnell temporarily gets the upper hand on Dawn and Beth, even managing to knock Dawn’s gun down the elevator shaft. But two is still better than one and two eventually force O’Donnell down the elevator shaft. Well, that happened.

Coda- Dawn and Beth regroup in Carol's room

So after this, Beth regroups in Carol’s room. And she just can’t get any sort of alone time because there’s Dawn again. Dawn tells Beth that it’s okay to cry, but Beth says that she doesn’t do that anymore. Oh, you are full of shit, Beth. Dawn admits that she cries, just not when other officers can see her. Beth now knows why Dawn covered for her- she only did it to save her own ass, not help Beth. Officers like Gorman and O’Donnell were problems, but Dawn just had to make them go away. That’s how she gets things done, Beth says- she uses people. Speaking of people, Dawn believes that Noah will return since the people who flee don’t get very far and always return. Beth thinks otherwise.

Dawn sees a lot of who she used to be in Beth: she didn’t take orders from anyone. Dawn is also one step ahead, as she knows that Beth has a connection Carol. It must mean something if they’re both at the hospital. Well, less so for Carol. She’s just there because she didn’t look both ways. Anyway, Dawn offers Beth the chance to be a part of something important. People like Gorman and O’Donnell hurt people. The world lost nothing from their deaths. She insists that she didn’t use Beth, too.

Coda- Tyreese tells Sasha not to beat herself up over Bob

On one of Atlanta’s many rooftops, Tyreese tries to get Sasha to stop beating herself up. He shares his own pain: the Hunter that she killed was Martin- the man who Tyreese and Carol ran into while everyone else had been imprisoned at Terminus. He told Carol that he killed him. He should and probably could have, but he didn’t. He keeps thinking about it. He remembers when the two were young and thinks that they could be the same as they were back then, but Sasha says she can’t be that way. Not anymore. As the group follows one of the cruisers through the scopes of their guns, they radio to Rick that the officers are headed to the vantage point.

Coda- Rick gives terms of trade to Officers McGinley and Franco

At said vantage point, Rick introducers himself to the two officers: Franco, played by Rico Ball, and McGinley, played by Kyle Russell Clements. Rick even goes as far as mentioning his past life as a deputy. He gives the terms of his proposal to the officers: Grady is holding two members of their group, which can be exchanged for the two officers they have captive. After that, they’ll part ways, no harm, no foul. They ask about Lamson’s whereabouts and Rick gives the same story that the officer gave him about Bob being attacked by walkers.

We then immediately head to Grady for the exchange.

Coda- Foreshadowing

Oh, and before this, it’s worth noting that we get a brief scene of Beth sticking some scissors inside of her cast. You know this scene is important. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be seeing it.

Coda- Standoff

So it’s time for the switch. Dawn tells Rick and the others to lower the weapons, while they do the same. Rick gives the same story about Lamson. Beth expresses her condolences and the exchange goes well…at first. They exchange their hostages one at a time. Once Beth and Shepherd are exchanged, Dawn tells Rick that she’s glad they could work things out.

Coda- Dawn needs Noah to seal the deal

…but she’s also gonna need Noah. After that, they can leave. Rick is pissed. Noah wasn’t part of the deal. True as that may be, Noah was Dawn’s ward. When he vanished, Beth took his place. Now that Noah is back, Dawn wants him. Plus, one of her officers is dead, so she feels that she’s owed this. Rick reminds Dawn that she doesn’t have a claim on Noah, so the deal is done. Noah, sensing a fight could break out, offers to return to Dawn of his own volition.

Before he can do so, he’s given a final hug from Beth. As Noah retreats, Beth stares down Dawn and tells her that she gets it now.

Coda- Beth and Dawn go down together

Then she stabs Dawn with the scissors. On instinct, Dawn fires her gun, the bullet ripping through Beth’s skull. In retaliation, Daryl shoots Dawn.

Coda- Shepherd tells the officers to hold their fire

But before any further fighting can break out, Shepherd orders everyone to hold their fire. The fighting is done. This was just about Dawn. The people of Grady offer Rick and his group a chance to stay with them and survive since they’re better off inside than out there. Rick shoots down the offer and instead tells anyone at Grady who wants to leave should step forward. No one does.

Coda- Maggie reacts to seeing Beth carried out

Abraham and company conveniently arrive, but of course, they’re far too late as the first half of The Walking Dead’s fifth season comes to a close.

“Coda” is a mixed bag for me. It does its job in bringing the entire group back together for the confrontation with the people at Grady and did have a sort of interesting twist that, I feel, will maintain viewer’s interest for the remaining half of the season in February.

In my opinion, if there was a constant question on the group’s mind after escaping Terminus, it was “What happens next?” That’s a constant of The Walking Dead, but these past few episodes have had our team of walker killers trying to figure out their next move. They escaped Terminus without any losses, took care of The Hunters in no time at all and found a temporary shelter in Gabriel’s church.

Once the group split up, we had a chance to have more focused episodes that dealt with one group of survivors. Much like Season Four, the final episode had to reunite everyone. This episode did that, but at a price.

There were a lot of themes and messages that the episode dealt with that helped characters overcome their personal problems: self-sacrifice, searching for clarity, preserving the past and, of course, survival of the fittest- a constant theme of this series.

Coda- O'Donnell faces off Dawn

This episode dealt with characters like O’Donnell and Tyreese acknowledging their pasts and wanting to hold onto what memories they had of their past lives. In this charged atmosphere, it’s easy to get swept up in the violent walker killings, trust betrayed and losing the people close to you. It’s not wrong to hold onto memories, but as Sasha pointed out, it’s impossible for some people to turn back. Some are just too far gone. Sure, officers like O’Donnell and Gorman were horrible people, but the atrocities they committed reminded them of who they once were. Mind you, this does not justify the rape and abuse at all. It just shows them trying to be the same people they once were before the world went to hell. They want to change the world more than they want the world to change them.

Coda- Dawn knows that Beth has a connection to Carol

That’s where people like Dawn come in. They want to save the world as much as possible and by any means, but, as Beth points in, the world they live in is their reality. In her mind, there’s no point in trying to hold onto the memories of a world that no longer exists. Instead, you make do with what you have. And because everyone doesn’t share the beliefs of someone like Dawn, the people of Grady had no big issue with her death. Like Noah and others said, she barely managed to hold onto control. The same could be said for leaders like Rick, Mary, or the Governor. You can only maintain so much control before everyone starts to crack or question the leader’s effectiveness. The leader wants to do what’s best for everyone, but it’s impossible to please everyone all of the time.

One question The Walking Dead constantly asks is “Do the ends justify the means?” There’s never a clear answer, which I like because it allows viewers to come to their own conclusions. Dawn tells Beth and O’Donnell that Hansen lost his way, which is why she had to kill him. She made a decision that no one else would make or have the fortitude to do. To Dawn, she saved lives by killing someone that was once respected. We don’t get a lot of clarity as to what led to Hansen’s supposed change in character, so for all we know, this could have been the first step in Dawn’s own downfall.

Coda- Dawn during the standoff

Actually, let’s talk about Dawn. First off, I think Christine Woods played the part well as an authoritative figure. Though not the most muscular or intimidating figure, I got the impression that she knew how to take charge. But Dawn isn’t someone who knew how to maintain control, as we learned from the others around her. She lost control of her officers, maintained the belief that the world could return to the way it once was and tried to save as many lives as possible.

Coda- Dawn aims her gun at O'Donnell

In fact, as I watched Dawn berate O’Donnell for his actions, I wondered why Dawn felt she was in a position to criticize. Sure, O’Donnell was a prick, but Dawn abused the hell out of Beth on several occasions. For the longest time, she turned a blind eye to the horrible things her officers did to patients. They ran amok while she tried to hold onto as much control as possible. And when they were killed, she acts as if the world is a better place without them, even though she’s the one who allowed them to commit atrocities in the first place.

Coda- Grady officers

Truth be told, I think the officers were just biding their time to get rid of Dawn. Few of them spoke highly of her, but all pointed out that she had problems and did not want to be perceived as weak. She told Beth that she used to stand up to authority figures and never let anyone tell her what to do. The same happens here, when she refuses to let other officers point out her flaws. I’m not saying that Dawn fancied herself as invincible, but she seemed unwilling to point out where she failed.

There are a few other moments in this episode that did not add up. So Tyreese told Sasha about leaving Martin alive while Carol went to Terminus. Sure, this shows how his guilt had been eating away at him and his attempt to get Sasha to stop beating herself up, but why not tell Carol this? She’s the one he ought to be talking to, especially since he told Carol that he had killed Martin. I just don’t think there was any payoff to it, considering it happened awhile ago. If Martin was still alive and out there, I’d understand the need to bring this up, but since The Hunters are long dead, this felt a bit unnecessary.

Coda- Gabriel sees Bob's leg

Gabriel. I’ll say it again: I’m not a fan of this version of him so far because of his extreme cowardice that nearly got Carl, Michonne and Judith killed. Why did he need to go to the school to see and know for himself about what The Hunters did? Was Bob missing a leg not enough? And how convenient that the one item he found in the backpack happened to be a copy of the Bible. That’s just as contrived as seeing the cross around that walker’s neck in the previous episode. I’m surprised at the restraint Michonne and Carl must have shown toward Gabriel, given that he never told them about his secret passageway and even brought the walkers with him to the church. And it is pretty well-timed that the walkers chose that moment to break free from the school, given how we’ve seen them there before. If Rick had been with this group, I wouldn’t be surprised if he just pistol-whipped Gabriel around for a bit.

Coda- Rick about to kill Bob

Speaking of Rick, let’s head downtown. First off, that sequence with him chasing down Bob showed that he’s still a violent man, but he gave Bob a chance quit running away. It’s interesting how much calmer Rick has been with the officers and that he was more willing to compromise. No, he didn’t like the story that Shepherd came up with for Bob’s death, but if it helped the trade-off go smoother, he was willing to accept that. Just as Tyreese and Daryl originally wanted, Rick chose to negotiate first. He still had the others on the rooftops as backup, but he chose to lower his weapon and speak to the other officers, rather than at them. It was a nice change of pace from the dictatorship that we’ve come to expect from Rick.

Coda- Rick hears new terms of the deal

At the same time, though, he wasn’t about to bend over backwards for Dawn. They made an arrangement and Rick planned to stick to that. He wasn’t about to go guns a-blazing when Dawn altered the terms, but he stood his ground without resorting to violence. After Rick’s past failed attempts at sorting out his differences with the Governor, I figured he would put aside any talk of negotiation. And yet, he put his pride aside if it meant the safe return of Beth and Carol.

All right, enough. Let’s get to the exchange. First off, I found it a bit strange that we went straight to the rooftop to Grady. Plus, Carol had awakened and reunited with Beth off-screen. That, I feel, was a real missed opportunity for a moment between the two. A small scene of the two talking or Rick’s group conversing with the officers would have been enough to have a bit of buildup to the confrontation. As is, it felt a bit rushed.

Coda- Trade off

I thought the change had a good amount of tension in it and I loved the use of Dutch angles in the hallway. At any point, Dawn or Rick’s groups could have pulled out their weapons and this exchange could have become bloody in no time. The standoff didn’t move too fast and I got the feeling that both sides just wanted to get the switch done as soon as possible with no violence. For a moment, it seemed like we would get just that.

Coda- Beth's foreshadowing

And here’s where we get an example of weak foreshadowing on The Walking Dead. Hell, I don’t even know if it should be called foreshadowing because it was so blatant. So we got a brief scene of Beth sticking a pair of scissors in her cast- the same pair of scissors we saw her grasping at the end of “Slabtown.” If you’re going to show this scene, it’s clear that it will be important later on. So when Beth stabbed Dawn, we know where she hid the scissors.

But why show us that? It saps some of the tension out of the scene because we know Beth has something planned during a relatively smooth exchange. I think that small scene should have been removed altogether. Beth pulling the scissors out of nowhere would have been a bigger surprise and made her death all the more shocking. But because the writers included this scene, there wasn’t as much shock as there could have been. Less is more in this instance. Don’t show that scene at all and let viewers be surprised when the big moment arrives.

Coda- Beth gets it

I also have to question why Beth chose this course of action. She cared for Noah and wanted what was best for him, yes. I understand that. What I don’t understand is why she stabbed Dawn. First off, Dawn is a police officer going into what could be a dangerous standoff. She’s not going to walk into this without some sort of armor or bulletproof vest, so I don’t see how effective Beth hoped to be with those scissors. Beth had nothing to gain from doing this, but she had everything to lose. “Slabtown” showed that she had the will to live, but her actions felt very irrational. Nothing good came out of this and she easily could have thrown both groups into a shootout, which is what almost happened. Dawn shooting her seemed almost on instinct and there was immediate remorse when she realized what she had done.

Coda- Daryl carries Beth's body out of the hospital

I just don’t feel that Beth’s death will have much of an impact to the characters aside from Maggie and Daryl. Speaking of, I don’t think Maggie even acknowledged Beth that much ever since everyone got separated at the prison. She spent the entire time trying to reunite with Glenn, but as far as I’m aware, she didn’t talk about Beth all that much. It seemed like only here did she even remember that she had a sister. Her reaction was brutal, though. She saw her father decapitated and now, after hearing that her sister was alive, she could only collapse in horror at seeing Daryl carrying Beth’s body. It was a strong moment for the series and bleak note to end on for the first half of the season.

“Coda” was an effective end the first half of Season Five, but some of the writing held it back from being great- Gabriel’s recklessness, Beth’s odd sacrifice, and Dawn’s motivations, just to name a few. And with the people at Grady now minus a leader, I have to wonder what will become of the hospital. While Beth was not my favorite character, I do think she slowly made a change to toughen up and become more aware of the reality around her. The group has been reunited with now two less people than when they escaped Terminus. And now that Eugene exposed as a liar, the question remains “What now?” Here’s to February.

A Look at “Foxcatcher”

Foxcatcher- Poster

There’s been a lot of talk and hype surrounding Foxcatcher well before it came out, much of it dealing with Steve Carell’s performance.  Foxcatcher is a movie about being the best we can be, despite all obstacles, but it’s deeper than that.  It shows one man’s obsession to live out fame through his team as they prepare for the Seoul Olympics.  It’s a well made drama with great performances from the three leads and a big departure from what I would normally expect from Channing Tatum and Steve Carell.  Let’s jump right in.

The film begins with two dummies.  I mean, the film begins with Channing Tatum wrestling a dummy.  Tatum’s character, Mark Schultz, is a wrestler.  After a brief sparring match, he dons his gold medal and heads to McKinley Elementary School for some good old fashioned motivational talk.  His audience of kids is less than enthused.  Mark tells the students about how he won his gold medal at the XXIII Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.  This medal represents who he is and what he stands for.  Moving stuff, really.

When Mark goes to collect his check, he’s initially mistaken for his brother, Dave, who had originally been scheduled to speak.  Easy mistake to make.  They did both win gold medals.

Later, Mark heads to the gym to train and finds his brother, Dave, played by Mark Ruffalo, talking to some representatives from U.S.A. Wrestling.  Once the reps leave, Dave and Mark get some training in.  While the sequence does play out a bit, I do like how methodical the two get when they practice.  Mark goes a bit too hard and headbutts Dave in the nose.  All the same, the practice continues.

That evening, as Dave drops Mark off, Mark asks why the representatives from U.S.A. Wrestling stopped by.  Turns out that they discussed coaching wrestling in Colorado.

Mark soon receives a phone call on behalf of a man named John du Pont.  This Mr. du Pont wants Mark to meet him at Foxcatcher farm to discuss a certain matter in person.

Film Review Foxcatcher

When Mark arrives, he’s left to wait for du Pont, who has been called away to provide tactical support for the local police department.  He makes his way around the fancy estate until it’s time to meet the man himself: John du Pont, played by Steve Carell.  The two talk and John admires Mark’s confidence.  That, he feels, is the most important element before a match because you go in knowing that you can win.  Du Pont himself is a coach and he loves the sport of wrestling.  He talks about Mark’s future and what he wants to achieve.  So what does Mark want to achieve?  He wants to be the best in the world.  To help, du Pont offers to train Mark for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

Du Pont shows Mark around the farm, including a look at Team Foxcatcher’s training room.  Du Pont wants to stun the world in the Seoul games, but du Pont is on about more than that.  He’s a patriot and patriots gave up all they had for freedom.  Men like him and Mark must always remind themselves why that matters.

Mark tells Dave about his meet with du Pont.  He’s ecstatic.  Du Pont is going to pay him $25,000 a year.  Why that amount?  Well, it was the largest price that Mark had in his head at the time.  Huh.  Mark wants Dave to join him, though Dave is curious as to what du Pont will get out of this.  The answer is simple: winning.  Even still, Dave is hesitant to jump on board.  After all, he still has to be there for his wife and kids.  Mark, however, doesn’t want to pass up this opportunity.

Foxcatcher- Mark with Henry Beck, played by Guy Boyd

So Mark moves out of his home and into Foxcatcher estate.  He meets with Henry Beck, played by Guy Boyd, and answers some questions about his background: undergraduate education, whether he owns property and how he’d been raised by his brother.  Mark and Dave’s parents split when Mark was three.  While receiving another tour, Mark spots some horses.  These belong to John’s mother, Jean, played by Vanessa Redgrave, who is off limits, as is the big house.  If Mark ever spots Jean, he needs to respect her privacy.

As the day goes on, Mark passes the time by watching a VHS tape on du Pont history.  That evening, John shows up at Mark’s door and gives him a pair of binoculars for watching birds.  More important, he tells him that there are less than two months until the World Championships.  Mark promises to give all he has.

The next day, John introduces Mark to the rest of Team Foxcatcher.  After a bit of training, Mark meets up with John in his office.  John asks about Dave, as he’s still interested in both of them joining the team.  Mark tells John that Dave isn’t willing to join, regardless of however much money John offers.

Soon enough, it’s time for the 1987 World Wrestling Championships in Clermont-Ferrand, France.  Mark wins his match handily, as does Dave.

Following this, Mark formally introduces John to Dave and his family, but the meeting is brief.  When John leaves, Mark chews out Dave’s wife, Nancy, played by Sienna Miller, for not saying hello to John, even though she did.  Mark says that Nancy doesn’t even know.  She just doesn’t know, man!  John is a patriot.  He and Dave have a sidebar in the hallway.

After Mark wins his next and final match, Team Foxcatcher celebrates in du Pont’s trophy room.  Du Pont calls for calm so he can talk for a bit.  On one shelf are some horses.  He has them removed because he finds them silly.  As much as John loves his mother, he does not share her love for horses, the same way she does not share his love for wrestling.  At least it all balances out.  He has medals put on the shelf in place of the horses.

While du Pont shoots with some officers, Team Foxcatcher continues to train.  Mark is then called into John’s office and given a check for $10,000.  Mark initially does not accept it, but John says that he earned it.  More than that, he tells Mark that he is so much more than just Dave’s little brother.  Yes, Dave was a good and inspiring mentor, but Mark will always be known as the younger brother who can’t be all he can be because Dave won’t allow it.  Now, Mark no longer has to hide in Dave’s shadow.  It’s time to distance himself.  Mark is grateful to John for his kind words.  John, though, prefers that instead of being called sir, wants Mark to refer to him as Eagle or Golden Eagle.  Well, then.

Just 387 days to go until the Seoul games!

I think one of the main themes I grasped from Foxcatcher was tragedy.  Mark Schultz is a man who achieved great fame through his win in the previous Olympics, but his life is one of solitude and loneliness, the only companionship coming from his brother, whose charm is helped by Ruffalo’s performance.  Du Pont is a man whose past his prime, but still wants to capture America’s glory through his team.  This, I feel, goes hand in hand with the film’s tone, as there are a lot of muted colors throughout.

Foxcatcher- John du Pont and Mark

To be honest, I had not heard of or followed the real life story this film is based off of, and if you don’t know how that one ended, I won’t spoil it for you, because I do think the film is worth seeing.  There are some changes to the history here.  For example, Vanessa Redgrave’s character had already died around the time most of the film’s events take place.  That particular change doesn’t vex me, but it’s worth noting that the directors did alter a few things.

Director Bennett Miller, also responsible for Capote and Moneyball, knows how to pace his film well, yet there are a few moments where the movie could have benefitted from some trimming.  When Mark first arrives at Foxcatcher farms, there are long scenes of him exploring the mansion.  I understand these moments help establish how different Foxcather is from his small world, but I think they just went on a bit too long.

FOXCATCHER

There’s a lot of focus on America as a whole: what makes the nation great and how we try to show our dominance over other nations.  If du Pont’s talks about America were any more red, white and blue, you’d start hearing the narration from the “Morning in America” political ad.  To be fair, this does help establish who du Pont is and why he wants to showcase what he has to offer at the Olympics by having his team represent the nation.  I get the feeling that du Pont himself did not get that much support, but doesn’t want that same lack of backing to befall his wrestlers.  During his efforts to recruit Mark, John talks about how the Soviets back their own, but America failed to honor what athletes like Mark did for his country.

Another big focus of the film is proving your worth.  John preys on Mark’s insecurity and how he’s lived in his brother’s shadow for so long.  Not that there’s any sibling rivalry, but Mark clearly got the shorter end of the deal: Dave has a loving wife and two kids.  Mark lives alone, eats noodles and plays with his Game Boy to pass the time.  At the same time, du Pont strives to receive acceptance from his mother- something he never gets.  She calls wrestling a low sport and doesn’t like seeing him low.  What little screen time she’s given, Vanessa Redgrave turns in a good performance.

FOXCATCHER

Really, everyone is on their A game in this film.  Dave is easy to get along with and doesn’t seem to have a mean bone in his body.  Ruffalo makes him so likable that I didn’t even want him to join Mark over at Foxcatcher.  After all, he had a pretty good life and family.  No need to give that up.  But he’s more than just a nice guy.  Dave is a leader and not the boasting kind.  He treats wrestling very seriously and will take as much time as possible to go over techniques and fundamentals with his brother or anyone else he trains.  I bought that he would be the one to bring Mark up after their parents left.  Dave is not a man who can be bought by money, which is why du Pont tries even harder to rope him into Foxcatcher.

But aside from the training, one of Ruffalo’s best moments comes from later in the film when Dave is asked by a documentary film maker to call John du Pont a mentor.  I won’t get into specifics, but John and Dave have a rocky relationship that doesn’t really smoothen out by film’s end.  To call du Pont, a man whose behavior toward Mark is questionable, his mentor is difficult to swallow for Mark and that’s very clear on Ruffalo’s face.

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher

Then we’ve got Steve Carell as John du Pont.  Carell drops any of the humor we’ve come to know him for, whether from The Daily Show or The Office, just to name two.  This is a big departure from the comedic roles we’re used to seeing him play and becomes a completely different person.  Here, he has a great, commanding presence as du Pont and though he’s soft spoken, there’s real authority in his voice.

We don’t really dig much into du Pont’s head.  We know his passion, but that’s because he tells us and the plot demands it.  Whenever du Pont is on screen, I got the vibe that something was just off about him, but couldn’t nail down what that was.  He has a massive hard-on for firearms.  There’s a scene where soldiers deliver a tank to his residence, but John won’t accept the tank because the 50 caliber machine gun isn’t mounted on the tank.  A tank alone is an intimidating sight, so he could have just taken that.

Foxcatcher- Carell's nose

I can’t say I’m sold on the makeup or prosthetics, though.  Most people have called attention to it already, but that nose Carell wears is just distracting.

Foxcatcher- Mark on plane

As good as Ruffalo and Carell are, I think Channing Tatum impressed me just a bit more.  Consider the opening scene: Mark puts his all into wrestling a dummy.  He goes home and eats in solitude.  He has very little social life and Dave seems to be his one companion.  When Mark gives his motivational speech to the school kids, it’s almost as if he doubts his own words.  He doesn’t really speak with conviction, even if he is proud of his gold medal.  He’s a very sensitive, but lost individual.

FOXCATCHER

That makes him the perfect target for someone like du Pont.  Foxcatcher mansion is unlike any place Mark has ever lived in and there’s real wonder in Tatum’s eyes as he explores every nook and cranny of Foxcatcher.

Foxcatcher- Mark looks at himself in mirror

As easygoing as Tatum is with his performances, there are moments where he shows great intensity.  At one point in the film, Mark is well over the weight limit for an upcoming match.  As such, he’s forced into a high speed regiment needed to burn off enough calories after a moment where he crashed and burned.  I won’t spill what led to some of his self-destructive moments, but there was a lot of raw anger and frustration from Mark when he reaches some low points.  All of those moments are handled well, thanks to Tatum’s performance.  One of my qualms with the movie, however, is that Mark’s downward spiral comes a bit too fast and could have had more development.

Foxcatcher is a tragedy.  It’s about a man’s desire to become the best and how another man sought to take advantage of that.  It’s about stepping out of another person’s shadows and becoming your own person.  While du Pont may seem to have honest intentions, as the film unfolds, you see there’s something a bit more sinister with his plans.  With strong performance from all three leads, Foxcatcher is an enjoyable film that I recommend people see if they have the chance.

A Look at “Gotham” Season 1, Episode 10: “Lovecraft”

Ten episodes in and Gotham is done for the first half of its first season with “Lovecraft.” Let’s dive right in.

Lovecraft- Killing the gardener

The episode begins at Wayne Manor. Three people head toward the mansion, but run into the gardener instead. He’s killed by one of the three, the female in the group, who smears his blood onto her face.

Lovecraft- Balancing on the banister

Selina helps Bruce balance on a banister. How that will be applicable in the real world, I don’t know, especially given how Selina derided Bruce for his training, but I’ll get to that later. But it turns out that Selina has a test for Bruce: go with her to the midtown bridge. That’s where kids go to make out. Selina has a real one-track mind. She asks Bruce about all the work he’s doing on his parents. He’s just trying to understand why, but Selina says there’s no answer to that. It just happened. She then asks Bruce if he wants to kiss her. Seriously, Selina? Stop asking that question. I wonder if the girl has just never been kissed before.

But Bruce has some sense in his head and refuses. He’d like to- okay, not that much sense- but he can’t help but feel that Selina has some ulterior motive. Tell me about it. She might claim that you touched her inappropriately, Bruce. Plus, he doesn’t think she’d consider him a suitable romantic partner, so there would be no reason for her to want to kiss him. What kind of kid talks like this? Selina tells Bruce that she’s just trying to be nice, but Bruce certainly doesn’t get a nice vibe from Selina. Not that she’s a bad person, but she doesn’t seem to care for other people. Well, at least the boy’s not stupid. Selina, taking offense to this, essentially tells Bruce to piss off and climb the damn bridge on his own. Hey, the bridge was your idea, Selina.

Lovecraft- Alfred greets Larissa Diaz, played by Lesley-Ann Brandt, who recognizes Selina

Ugh. Let’s get away from all this awkward dialogue. There’s someone at the door. Alfred meets with the woman from before. This is Larissa Diaz, played by Lesley-Ann Brandt. Diaz was apparently in a terrible car crash, judging from the blood on her head. As the kids approach the stairs, Diaz takes one look and immediately recognizes Selina.

The ambush begins. Alfred tells the kids to run while he deals with the three intruders, and manages to hold his own. Bruce and Selina hide in a closet while the assailants continue their pursuit.

Bruce and Selina eventually end up outside. Selina urges Bruce to continue running, though Bruce doesn’t want to abandon Alfred. He doesn’t get much of a choice when the intruders continue after them. Alfred does manage to shoot and down one of the three.

Lovecraft- Officers at Wayne Manor after assassination attempt

Not long after this, Gordon is on the scene and tells Alfred that there are 50 cops searching for the kids. Alfred pins the blame for the attack on Gordon, saying that it’s because of Selina being there that led them to Wayne Manor. Gordon doesn’t buy that. Bullock enters with a photo of Selina Kyle that had been taken off of the dead assailant. Bullock recognizes Selina as one of the kids abducted by the child snatchers. So how and why in the hell is she now being attacked by assassins at Wayne Manor?

Yeah, Gordon never did tell Bullock about his arrangement. He spills about Selina Kyle being in the alley when Thomas and Martha Wayne were murdered. More than that, Harvey Dent is looking into Dick Lovecraft to find a connection and get him to reveal himself. And Gordon figured that Selina would be safe at Wayne Manor. Well, we know how that turned out. To say Bullock isn’t pleased would be an understatement. He’s pissed. Gordon didn’t tell Bullock because he knew that Bullock would try to stop him. Regardless of who said what, the kids are still missing, so Gordon will look into Lovecraft, while Bullock and Gordon go on the hunt for Bruce and Selina.

Lovecraft- On the road with Bruce and Selina

So thus begins the not-so-fun adventures of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. I’ll put this out there now: I’m not a fan of this subplot. Bruce wants to head back since some officers could be at the manor, but Selina is focused on moving forward. Also, Bruce can’t help but wonder why someone would want to kill him? I’ll address this later. Selina relents and tells Bruce that the two will find a phone in the city.

Lovecraft- Liza enters as Falcone and Penguin talk

Then we cut to Falcone Mansion. Penguin is brought before Falcone himself. Falcone is livid that someone knew about the armory. He blames it on Maroni and Penguin’s failure to report it, but Penguin insists that Maroni had nothing to do with this. If he did, Penguin would have said something about it. And since moles aren’t Maroni’s forte, this means that there’s a mole in Falcone’s ranks, but from where? Falcone already knows that Penguin is going to say Fish Mooney, but Penguin’s personal past with Fish makes Falcone doubt anything that Penguin has to say. Penguin, though, doesn’t get why Falcone still tolerates her, given how she’s still plotting to betray him. Even if that’s true, Fish makes Falcone a lot of money. Plus, she’s not the only powerful person who would want to screw over Falcone. Penguin decides to find the mole himself since this is dirty business.

Following this, Penguin has a talk with Gabriel, who figures that Penguin should just tell Falcone the truth. It’s not that easy. The key is timing and Liza is a ticking time-bomb.

Gordon goes to Dent. Lovecraft isn’t at his home and he hasn’t been by his office, which Allen and Montoya are watching. Despite the attack, Harvey calls this a win. They made Lovecraft panic and Harvey will get him to call off the assassins. Gordon still wonders how Lovecraft would know where to find Selina, given how he never told Harvey her name. So he couldn’t have done it. Plus, Harvey never mentioned Gordon’s name because they agreed not to use names out loud.

Ahem. Out loud. There’s your loophole. Harvey did, in fact, leak Gordon’s name to select sources. All for deep background, though. Not sure why Harvey would reveal this when he had to know it would put him in hot water. Gordon is furious and pins this on Harvey. Lovecraft probably hasn’t left Gotham yet, though. He has a series of condos that he keeps under his mistress’ name.

Lovecraft- Harvey and Alfred talk with Kyle Massey

Bullock and Alfred talk to Kyle Massey, but he hasn’t seen Selina. That is, until Alfred slips him a nice $100 bill. Okay, now he might know something. Selina has a new fence some someone popped the old one. If they want more details, they should talk to Fish Mooney.

Lovecraft- Falcone murders at his mob dinner

At the Falcone Mob Squad Dinner, the host gets things off to a great start by shooting Banion. Why? Banion was supposed to guard the armory. Maybe he looked the other way. Regardless, anyone else who crossed Falcone will wish for a quick death. He’s just doing this for the family. And to make up for loss profit, he’s increasing tariffs by 25 percent. When Falcone asks Fish for her opinion, she tells the others present that they are a family. They swim together or sink together. Trust goes both ways.

Lovecraft- Bruce tries to use a phone, but has no change

Bruce and Selina find a pay phone, but Bruce Wayne doesn’t carry change. He’s too cool for that. Selina doesn’t get why Alfred matters so much to Bruce, but it’s because he’s family. Selina eventually gives him a coin and she prepares to head off. She admits that the assassins came for her, not him. She just wanted to freak him out. Cruel as this is, Selina tells Bruce that she’s right about her: she’s not a nice person. That’s why she claimed he was the target- she just wanted to hang out. That’s a dick move, Selina. Anyway, Selina’s gonna split. Bruce stops her, saying that she has to testify once Detective Gordon finds his parents’ killer. Selina is a bit more cynical than that.

So she makes her way up a fire escape. Rather than do the sensible thing and just let the crazy girl go, Bruce follows her. She jumps across one rooftop and through Bruce initially hesitates, he jumps and lands atop the building right after her. Fine. Selina tells Bruce that if he wants to hang out with her, she has to go by his rules. I feel like she’s skipped a step somewhere.

Lovecraft-Bruce and Selina enter the hideout from the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film

Bruce still can’t call Alfred because he’s disappearing. Selina says that they have to be like smoke, and smoke doesn’t make phone calls. She takes him to an underground hangout that looks more like the hangout from the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.

Butch, meanwhile, is nervous about Falcone. If he suspects Fish, why hasn’t he made a move. Hey, there are still 10 other people he could suspect. For now, Butch is going to stick to the plan and reach out to Saviano and Turski, neither of whom is pleased that their taxes have gone up.

Lovecraft- Butch not about to let Alfred and Harvey see Fish

Alfred and Bullock arrive. Bullock shows Butch the photo of Selina, but Butch stonewalls him. Hey, story time: Alfred once knew a fella named Butch. The guys called him Butch because he wasn’t. It was a wind-up name. In no time, Alfred puts Butch on the ground and holds a knife to his throat.

Fish then makes herself known and Bullock shows her the photo. She correctly guesses that Selina is the Lovecraft witness. Streets talk. Fish isn’t keen to helping out, but then Alfred points out that Bruce Wayne is also missing. Fish wants to lend a hand, but it’s none of her business. Then Alfred throws on the charm, telling Fish that petty self interest shouldn’t outweigh honor and compassion. Fish decides to make a few calls. Go Alfred!

Selina then helps Bruce into a dress. Okay, not really, but some new clothes.

Lovecraft- Ivy speaks with Selina and Bruce

And look, there’s Clare Foley again as Pamela Is-I mean, Ivy Pepper. Juvie caught her, so she’s been adopted upstate. Bruce recognizes Ivy as Mario Pepper’s daughter. Rather than stay incognito, Bruce introduces himself. Ivy isn’t thrilled to see the boy who she feels might have been responsible for her father’s death and mother’s suicide. Selina then must have realized that this scene needed a point, so she asks Ivy if she’s seen Clyde the fence. He’s working out of the factory on the narrows. With that, the two leave. Selina is scared of Ivy. I have no idea why.

Well, that scene was almost pointless.

Gordon enters one of the locations given to him by Harvey. Luckily, he finds Lovecraft at this one. He prepares to arrest Lovecraft for conspiracy to commit murder, but turns out that the same people hunting Selina Kyle are also after him. Hell, that’s the only reason he’s hiding. He knows too much. Lovecraft isn’t this big villain that Gordon thinks he is. The people who really run Gotham are laughing at Gordon because of his morals and ethics.

Lovecraft- Gordon speaks with Lovecraft about the assassins and the Wayne murders

Lovecraft motions to his briefcase. Before the Waynes’ murder, there was a run on Wayne Enterprises’ stock, like someone knew something bad was coming. Lovecraft figured that he deserved a cut, so he started digging.

Lovecraft- Copperhead fights Gordon's stunt double

The remaining two assassins enter for Lovecraft. A fight breaks out with Copperhead getting the better of Gordon (and Gordon’s stunt double) and the other killer going after Lovecraft.

Gordon wakes up to a call from Bullock. Fish has a lead on Bruce and Selina’s location. They’re located at a spot called The Factory. Cat used a fence named Clyde. Gordon searches for Lovecraft, only to find him dead in his bathtub with a bullet through his skull…and Gordon’s firearm nearby.

Lovecraft- Selina and Bruce talk to Clyde, played by Devin Harjes

Over at The Factory, Selina and Bruce speak with Clyde, played by Devin Harjes, who looks and sounds like a slightly larger version of The Count on Arrow. Selina’s got the goods for Clyde, including a fancy watch. Yeah, this is Bruce’s stuff. Selina wants $1,000 for the watch, but Clyde only offers. Quite a massive discount. Bruce feels the need to point out the actual value of his, well, valuables. Selina refuses any more offers and prepares to leave, but Clyde’s men grab the two. Selina better watch her step or Clyde’s foot soldiers will poke Bruce’s eyes out.   Probably not as effective as scratching them out. Bruce and Selina are taken upstairs and locked in a room with no one to stand guard and watch them.

The two realize they may be able to escape through the windows up top and begin stacking any and everything that will help them get higher up.

Lovecraft- Clyde and Copperhead meet

At the same time, Copperhead and the other assassin arrive and deliver Clyde his money. In exchange, he presents the key to the room where the kids are being held.

One person is sent up to retrieve Bruce and Selina. Sure, that will work just fine. He’s knocked out and the kids head downstairs.

Lovecraft- Bullock at The Factory, Gordon arrives as backup

Bullock and Alfred arrive at The Factory, but immediately take on enemy fire. Bullock falls back to wait for backup, but Alfred rushes in. Soon enough, Gordon arrives.

They follow Alfred in while Bruce shows off his new skill to Copperhead. This skill involves the fine art of throwing beams. They all miss. She nabs Bruce, but doesn’t want to hurt him. He’s not on the contract. Before taking her leave, Copperhead gives Bruce some advice: don’t mistake bravery for good sense. Alfred and Bruce reunite.

Lovecraft- Mayor James speaks with Jim and Harvey

Naturally, the mayor isn’t happy. I guess he decided to kick Captain Essen out for the moment while he reams out Gordon, because she’s nowhere to be seen. Mayor James is at a loss on what to tell the media about Lovecraft’s death. Gordon has a suggestion: tell the public that Lovecraft was a crook and killed by whoever he would have implicated if he lived to testify. No, Gordon. Just no. Mayor James doesn’t go along with this. After all, it was Gordon’s gun. On balance, he believes that Gordon didn’t kill him. His version of the story is that Lovecraft committed suicide due to Gordon’s relentless questioning. That’s what will people will hear.

When asked for his opinion, Dent goes along with Mayor James’ story. James still has to contend with Gordon. Dent knows how to walk the line. Gordon, however, doesn’t know where the edge is.

Mayor James then delivers the official version of Lovecraft’s suicide to the press.

Lovecraft- Gordon bids farewell to Bullock

Gordon has been reassigned as a security guard at Arkham Asylum. It’s either this or quit and Gordon won’t give Gotham’s power players that satisfaction. At least Bullock’s next partner may be easier than Gordon. And Nygma gives him a hug. At least it wasn’t the hand on the shoulder.

Alfred learned nothing from all of this because he still leaves the windows open. This allows Selina another chance to slip in and return Bruce’s stuff. Bruce offers for her to keep it, but she wants to keep things honest. Plus, she’s got something else.

Lovecraft- Selina kisses Bruce

God-damn it, Gotham!

Following this, Alfred enters and then he shuts the window. You idiots.

And Gordon heads into Arkham Asylum.

So that’s the end of the first half of Gotham’s first season. We’ve been introduced to a world before Batman, before Commissioner James Gordon, before much of what we associate with the Batman mythology. The unfortunate thing is that Gotham still doesn’t know how to strike a balance between the dramatic and campy affairs, resulting in episodes with muddled writing and odd character decisions.

I’ll gripe about the series more, but for now, this episode. Taking more focus away from the detectives meant that this episode had us spending more time with Bruce and Selina Kyle. Gordon mostly points fingers and plays catch-up while Bullock and Alfred are the ones who get leads on the missing kids.

This episode had a few characters forgetting things they should have been aware of due to what they previously encountered or heard about. Even though they weren’t after him, Bruce failed to see why assassins would come for him, even though the Goat just murdered the children of Gotham’s one-percent not that long ago. On that same note, neither he nor Alfred thought it necessary to keep all doors and windows closed at all times to prevent any unnecessary intrusions. Hell, this is how Selina entered Wayne Manor the first time. Why isn’t Bruce smarter at this point? He should know by now that he’s a target.

I appreciate that he doesn’t just follow Selina without question. She might be the best chance to find his parents’ killer, but he acknowledges rightly that she doesn’t care for people. The fact that Selina took offense to this just proved him right. I’m not sold on him chasing after Selina when she tried to slip. The girl is head over heels for Bruce. Chances are the two would cross paths again, anyway. Bruce’s occasional naïveté irks me more so because we’ve seen how meticulous and smart he can be when he really looks into something, such as his parents’ murder. Yes, the boy has lived a sheltered life, but he’s had his eyes opened to the harsh world around him. Start thinking smarter, Bruce.

Lovecraft- Selina saves Bruce from falling

May as well get these two done right now. I’m not a fan of the dialogue and interactions between Bruce and Selina Kyle. I wasn’t fully sold on the food fight from last week, either, but that felt more natural than Selina saying things like ‘kiddo.’ Seriously, whoever writes dialogue for Selina has someone much older in mind. If Selina was so bothered by Bruce saying she’s not a nice person, and then screw with him just so they could hang out, why even let him tag along with you? Selina should consider Bruce a non-issue since she’s got other things to worry about- like being hunted by assassins. When she talked about wanting to try and be nice, I got the feeling she only did it because she felt she had something to prove, not because she wanted to be nice. And returning Bruce’s items just felt like a way for the show to put them on good terms instead of her doing it out of the goodness of her cat heart.

Lovecraft- Selina after hearing that Bruce doesn't want to kiss her

Oh, and what’s up with her repeatedly asking if Bruce wants to kiss her? I’m surprised she hasn’t puckered up a lot more often. If people found the kiss between Bruce and Selina to be cute, fine. I just found it forced.

I’m not seeing any organic chemistry between these two. For as little time as we’ve seen them, Selina has mocked Bruce’s attempts at disciplining himself, saying that it would do him no good on the streets of Gotham. But then we see her teaching Bruce how to balance himself and that didn’t even do him any good against Copperhead. Make up your mind, Selina. If Selina is going to mock Bruce’s training, why even lend a hand when what she had to teach served him no better than him burning himself? I don’t care whether Bruce and Selina are still young- I’m not cutting the show any slack when they’re trying to force this relationship on viewers so soon. Putting the two of them together at this point in the show’s history wasn’t exactly a bright idea.

Lovecraft- Gordon learns that Harvey spilled

And that leads me into Gordon. You know, Gordon has every right to be upset at Harvey for leaking his name, but let’s go to the source. Gordon had to have known that putting Selina Kyle with a billionaire orphan could lead to danger. Hell, Alfred even told him that this could lead to danger. Gordon blames everyone but himself and while he might not have led assassins to Selina, he’s still the one who put her in Wayne Manor in the first place. In hindsight, I have to wonder whether it would have been a good idea for Gordon to keep Selina with him. He’s an officer of the law. A straight arrow, but still an officer, so chances are assassins might not have been as forthcoming, but I’m speculating. My point is that Gordon should have held himself accountable because he didn’t have to stick Selina with Alfred and Bruce. And, again, Gordon still no real reason to trust Selina yet. All he has is a composite sketch. Other than that, he’s no further along with the Wayne murder investigation than when it began.

Lovecraft- Gordon tells Mayor James to kiss his ass

And he’s not even the one who gets stuff done. He’s still one step behind while his partner and the butler get leads. In fact, Gordon’s own ego and sense of duty are what get him canned. I’m not saying that’s a good thing or that he should go along to get along, but telling the mayor to kiss your ass doesn’t do you any favors at all. I do have to wonder why Mayor James chose Arkham, of all places, to stash Gordon. It’s not even connected with the GCPD. It just seems like a way to put Gotham close to what will soon be a major rogues’ gallery.

Lovecraft- Harvey Dent spills

Speaking of rogues, Dent isn’t as straight of an arrow as he’d have us believe. His leaking of Gordon’s name kicked off this assassination attempt and he’s willing to play by the rules, even if he’s ignoring a murder that’s being played to the public as a suicide. This seems like the sort of man who would be replaced with Harvey Dent.

Lovecraft- Ivy is weird

Sticking with rogues, Ivy Pepper just appearing felt random. Until Selina asked about Clyde, the scene didn’t serve much purpose other than to remind us that Ivy’s father had been framed for the Wayne murders. The scene was oddly humorous because of how weird Ivy was, but if she hadn’t been in the episode, it wouldn’t take anything away from the episode. I’m surprised she didn’t have some potted plant with her. You know how Gotham loves its little winks and nods.

Lovecraft- Alfred once knew a fella called Butch

Bullock and Alfred have the most success getting leads on the kids and Alfred is becoming one of my favorites on the show. He’s more militant than past incarnations and I think that works in Bruce’s favor because we’ve seen Alfred be willing to help toughen him up. The fact that he could hold his own against the likes of Copperhead and Butch showed that you don’t F with the butler.

Lovecraft- Maroni speaks with Penguin

It is strange that Falcone wouldn’t be the least bit suspicious of Liza. As far as we can tell, she’s the newest person to join his ranks, so I would think he’d show more caution around her. Given everything that Penguin has told him, I have to wonder if Falcone has a long term plan to counter what Fish is planning.

So then, we’re ten episodes into Gotham and it still doesn’t know what kind of show it wants to be. The show isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great, either. And you can tell there’s potential buried underneath the sloppy writing: Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue still have great chemistry, Robin Lord Taylor’s performance as Penguin and Sean Pertwee’s job as Alfred are the standout roles. But a few good performances don’t cover up convoluted plots and a desire from the writers to remind us that this is a show about Batman. I’d rather see the detective aspect played up a bit more and it looked like the show was headed in that direction with “Spirit of the Goat.”

If you want an example of what Gotham could be like when it manages to succeed on most levels, ranging from writing to action and dialogue, watch “Penguin’s Umbrella.” And that’s still seven episodes in. While I enjoy some of the performances, a lot of the show comes up short. It’s still early on and a lot could change, but the show has stumbled a lot out of the gate. Whether as a fan of Batman or television in general, I can’t say that I enjoy the majority of Gotham.

Lovecraft- Arrow

I enjoy the majority of Arrow.

Four Walls and a Roof- Abraham gives Rick a map with the route to Washington

I enjoy the majority of The Walking Dead.

The-Flash-The-CW-October

Hell, I even enjoy what little of The Flash series.

But Gotham still has a long way to go before it knows what kind of show it wants to be. If you love this show, that’s no problem. You’ve found more enjoyment in it than I have. But hey, maybe things will pick up in the second half of the season.

A Look at “The Walking Dead” Season 5, Episode 7: “Crossed”

As we approach the midway point for Season 5, The Walking Dead has delivered several episodes that focused on one particular plot point: Beth in the hospital, Abraham’s team traveling to Washington, or Carol and Daryl in pursuit of Beth. It was inevitable that we’d return to multiple storylines in a single episode, and that’s not a bad thing at all, but the pacing differences are noticeable. Not to say that “Crossed” was bad. Not at all. It had the challenge of balancing multiple storylines while also advancing the storyline before the mid-season finale. While this episode was good, some storylines worked better than others.

Crossed- Rick says his goodbyes to Carl as he, Tyreese, Daryl, Sasha and Noah leave the church

The episode begins back with Rick and company at Gabriel’s church. They’re cutting down pews to board up the windows and doors. Sasha in particular is going to town on some pews, not like they did anything to her. The group splits in two: Rick, Daryl, Tyreese, Sasha and Noah will head for the hospital, while Carl, Michonne, Gabriel and Judith remain at the church.

Then Judith immediately starts crying. Babies, am I right? Carl and Michonne get to work boarding up the front door while Gabriel tries his damndest to scrub the blood off the floorboards.

Crossed- Tyreese tries to get Sasha to open up about Bob

En route to the hospital, courtesy of the truck Daryl swiped, Sasha remains silent. Tyreese tries to get her to open up about Bob’s death, but Sasha wants none of that.

We then briefly return to the hospital as Beth watches Carol rest.

Crossed- Team GREATM is running low on water, Abraham still shell-shocked

Abraham and company have now exhausted all of the water from the fire truck. Tara did find something to do with her spare time: come up with a group name- GREATM. Great, I guess. Rosita tries to snap Abraham out of his funk, but the sergeant is still shell-shocked over Eugene’s big reveal. Eugene himself is still on the ground behind the truck. Try as she might, Rosita cannot get Abraham to react. It’s only when she yells at him to look at her that Abraham rushes to his feet and stares down Rosita as if he’d like to strangle her.

Maggie makes the situation better by pointing her gun at Abraham, promising to put him down if he doesn’t get back down. So should he be up or down? I’m getting mixed signals here.

Crossed- Rick's plan of attack on Grady

After Noah gives what intel he has, Rick details a plan to attack the hospital with as little noise as possible since Dawn is not expecting them. Tyreese suggests that they just find some officers and take them hostage. That way, Dawn will be forced to trade them for Beth and Carol. Rick is skeptical. Tyreese’s plan might work, but Rick is convinced that his plan will work. But then Daryl also backs Tyreese’s idea.

Crossed- Carl wants Gabriel to pick a weapon

Gabriel’s still not getting the blood out. Carl has plans for him, anyway. He lays a batch of weapons before Gabriel and tells him to pick one so he can learn how to defend himself. Gabriel finds it funny that a group of murderers would even offer to teach him how to fend off other murderers. Carl justifies what the group has done by saying that they had to protect themselves. You cannot just stay in one place forever. Not in this world. Soon enough, someone finds your hiding spot and you’ll have to fight your way out. So Gabriel picks the machete, which he doesn’t know how to properly hold.

Crossed- Beth argues with the officers on what to do about Carol

Back at Grady, Dawn still wants Noah found and brought to her. One of the officers tells her that they planned on him screwing up, but that has not been the case yet. More than that, there’s the matter of the woman in exam room two: she was half dead when brought in. There’s no need to waste resources on her, so why not just pull the plug?

Beth, who picked a convenient spot to mop the floor, lashes out at the officer for the resources wasted on his DVD player. This new patient, Beth says, has only been in the hospital for one day! Why get rid of her now? Regardless, Dawn wants the machines turned off. This new woman is not worth the effort. Beth is upset, but Dawn’s hands are tied. She thought Beth was weak- maybe she thought different after hitting her in the head enough times- but now feels that she is in a position to save this woman’s life. With that, Dawn gives Beth a key to the drug locker. At the same time, someone transmits to Dawn via radio that they heard shots.

With no water left, the fire truck brigade is in need of more. Glenn, Rosita and Tara go on their own adventure while Maggie remains with Abraham and Eugene.

And we immediately go south when Tara makes a joke that doesn’t go well with Glenn and Rosita. But hey, Tara doesn’t even want to go to D.C. anymore, anyway. She turns her ire on Eugene. He wasn’t strong or fast. He was pretty useless. Tara really fails to see the irony, doesn’t she?

Crossed- Maggie pulls down the ladder

Maggie gets in her daily workout by pulling the ladder from atop the fire truck and setting it up while also shading Eugene. She goes over to Abraham and tells him to get over himself. He’s not the only one who lost something. Plus, it’s not going to get any better than this. Great job keeping hope alive, Maggie.

Crossed- Beth asks Steven how to best keep Carol alive

Beth asks Steven what he would give the woman in exam room two if he could save her life. Due to her internal injuries, he responds, it would just be one big guessing game. Steven tells her to keep her eyes open- Dawn didn’t give her that key out of the goodness of her heart. He does advise Beth to give the woman some medicine that will ease her blood pressure, but that’s all she can do for now.

Crossed- Rosita filters water and tells her story

Glenn, Rosita and Tara finally do find some water. It’s not the cleanest looking water, but luckily, Rosita knows how to filter out the filth- a nifty skill she picked up from Eugene. Well, at least there’s that useful skill. We then learn how Rosita came joined up with Abraham and Eugene: she was with a group of people when the shit hit the fan. In Dallas, Abraham rushed in with his truck to help her group. Eugene had been with him and informed her of his mission. Seeing her skills, Abraham asked Rosita for her help- the first time anyone had ever asked her that since all of this started. My best guess is that if men asked Rosita for anything up until that point, it wasn’t help.

Crossed- Officers capture Noah, walk into trap

So a pair of officers follows the shots and come across Noah. They manage to subdue him before finding themselves surrounded by Rick and the others. So long as they follow Rick’s orders, they don’t have to die. More than that, there’s food and water for them, if they need it. One of the officers, noticing how Rick carries himself, asks if he was ever a cop.

But then another car speeds up and the officer inside, Licari, played by Christopher Matthew Cook open fire. The captured officers manage to escape. The car speeds away, but Sasha does manage to get a shot in one of its tires.

Crossed- Daryl and officer fight

They continue in pursuit, but Daryl lingers behind to check a FEMA van for the other cops. He’s ambushed and fights with an officer. They fight dangerously close to some walkers. Not ready to die yet, Daryl, in another of his awesome moments, rips the head off of a walker and bashes it in the officer’s skull. A few gunshots later, Rick returns. He’s ready to kill the officer, but Daryl warns him against it, telling him that three hostages are better than two. Thank you for the math lesson, Daryl.

Crossed- Officers negotiate with the group on how to deal with Dawn

Rick and the others have their three hostages. These cops are different, Noah says. They’re good cops. In fact, they acknowledge that most people at Grady want Dawn gone. One of the officers, Shepherd, played by Teri Wyble, suggests that she and her partner- who I’ll identify in a second- be returned so they can talk with Dawn. Shepherd’s partner shoots this down. The hostage situation can work, but he feels only he can get through to Dawn, given their eight year friendship.

Crossed- Dealing with construction walkers

Back with the fishy adventures of Glenn, Rosita and Tara, the three kill the walkers they passed on the way to the creek and then take their clothes. Luckily, one of them wore mesh. And Tara swiped a knapsack.

Crossed- Michonne checks on Gabriel

Michonne checks up on Gabriel. All of this is still new to him. She tells him that the things they do are worth it to survive. They just want to help him any way that they can. When Michonne leaves, Gabriel goes back to prying open floorboards in his study.

Crossed- Beth gets drugs while patient 'coughs'

Then we get the best performance of the episode. Beth hands one of the hospital patients some strawberries. He enters a coughing fit, which attracts several officers and gives Beth enough time to grab some medicine from the drug cabinet. She heads to the exam room, administers the dosage and tells Carol that she was at least there.

Tyreese tries again to get Sasha to talk. She said her goodbyes. At the very least, she should hold onto that, even if she wasn’t able to deliver the killing blow to Bob.

Crossed- Gabriel escapes from the church, finds nail in his shoe

After prying open enough floorboards, Gabriel slips underneath, crawls through a passageway and escapes the church. Then he falls because there’s a nail in his foot. You know, I’ll get to this later. He limps away from the church.

Crossed- Sergeant Bob Lamson tells Rick about how to deal with Dawn

The other officer explains to Rick’s group that Dawn will not compromise, but secretly, she wants to. Rick asks the man if there’s anything else he needs. He’s fine, but he finally identifies himself: Sergeant Bob Lamson, played by Maximiliano Hernández. Well, isn’t that a fine coincidence. Even though Rick tells Bob that he’s still a cop, Bob is convinced that all of the real ones are gone.

Crossed- Gabriel fends off a walker

Gabriel makes his way away from the church, but he hears noises all around him. A walker ambushes him. Gabriel throws the walker to the ground, causing its guts to spill out. That’s a damn effective body slam if I ever saw one. He almost crushes it with a rock, but hesitates and stops when he sees that the walker has a cross around her neck. Well, that’s awfully convenient.

Crossed- Bob tells Sasha about Tyler

Bob tells Sasha about Dawn picked him because she wanted someone trustworthy. He became friends with another of Dawn’s selections: Tyler. It took two days to evacuate and neither of them slept or ate, but it was worth it. One day, Bob was supposed to drive the last batch of survivors to the zone, but Dawn pulled him off of it. She wanted someone she could trust and put Tyler on it instead. Things went south and Tyler ended up out there, mounted to the asphalt. In fact, he’s still there. It would have been Bob, but Tyler saved his life. Sasha offers to finish him off with a mercy shot. They won’t go outside, though.

Crossed- Maggie asks Abraham if he wanted her to shoot him

Maggie tries again to snap Abraham out of his funk. She asks if he wanted her to shoot him. At first, he thought he did, but then he didn’t. Smart thinking. Oh, and Eugene’s making noise again. He’ll be fine.

Bob shows Sasha the spot where Tyler is: 20 yards right of the Sedan. Sasha looks through the scope of her rifle. She can’t spot it. She also couldn’t spot Bob head-butting her and knocking her out while he makes his escape, which is just what he does.

“Crossed” had the task of delivering storylines on multiple fronts and give viewers something to hold onto as we approach the finale for the first half of the season. While I find The Walking Dead a lot stronger when episodes are contained, we’ve seen in the past that it can balance different storylines and still give us effective episodes. This wasn’t entirely the case this week, as some storylines were not as effective as other ones.

Crossed- Carl talks about survival

I didn’t pick up much on themes and messages in this episode, but one thing I did grasp was the importance of standing up for yourself in the face of impending danger. This isn’t new to The Walking Dead, but we saw it play out with both Beth and Gabriel. Well, sort of with Gabriel, but I’ll get to that later. Living a sheltered life and continuing to try and live like that makes you ill-equipped for the world these people live in. That’s where Gabriel is right now and where Beth is slowly distancing herself from. Never wanting to fight or kill is what made someone like Mika an easy target for death. That, and Lizzie was probably insane. Sure, there’s something to be said for pacifism in a world where the dead walk, but Carl had a real point: you can’t just expect to stand on the sidelines the entire time and think you’ll be all right. Again, going back to “The Grove,” this reminds me a lot of Carol’s conversation with Mika- if you’re not willing to toughen up in this new world, you’re pretty much just walker bait.

The problem with balancing every storyline is that some get more attention than others. This doesn’t mean the quality of longer segments is better, though. That said, I did find the segments involving Rick’s group in Atlanta a lot more interesting than Beth’s.

Crossed- Gabriel listens as Carl talks about learning how to fight

Okay, onto the characters. Gabriel is a bit too timid right now and I wish he’d break out of this habit. Granted, in the comic books, Gabriel was the same way and I don’t recall him ever taking part in the killings that the rest of the group did. The difference is that, in the comics, Gabriel was a bit more calm and collected. The television version seems to break into a sweat at almost anything. Man up, Father! The man needs to grow a spine.

And don’t get me started on all the religious symbolism. Gabriel tries to leave the church, but falls because there’s a nail in one of his feet. I hope that, by season’s end, he doesn’t somehow put his hands on a building and accidentally force nails through them as well.

Crossed- Gabriel can't bring himself to kill a walker

Gabriel doesn’t seem like a man who wants to put a reanimated person out of their misery. We saw this first at the food bank and we saw it again when he couldn’t bring himself to kill the walker. I doubt he would have hesitated if the walker didn’t have the cross around her neck. Sure, the person may have known Christ in her former life, but she wasn’t the only person. Why not end their suffering instead of having to look upon the face of a creature that’s not a human being anymore? Leaving them to suffer with their guts spilling out, I find, is a much worse fate. If Gabriel’s to make it in this world, he will need to get his hands dirty.

Crossed- Rick almost shoots one of the officers

This doesn’t mean he needs to become an outright murderer. In fact, a lot of situations on this show, we’ve found, can be resolved without violence. Take the group in Atlanta. Rick wants the situation with the people at Grady handled as quickly as possible, even if that means violence. But he’s not just planning to rush in, guns a-blazing. This, I feel, is one aspect that makes Rick qualified as a leader. Not the de-facto leader, but as someone who could lead the charge. Even if he knows that people will die during this assault, he’s taking steps to minimize as much violence as possible, but also maximizing the chance that they can rescue Beth and Carol with as few casualties on their side as possible.

I imagine much of this has to do with his past as a police officer, which gave him a connection to Lamson, Shepherd, and Licari. In fact, I think this is probably the most cordial Rick has been to a group of strangers in a long time. Rick, when he has the time, will try to cover as many bases as possible before executing a plan. He can’t account for every possible angle, but more often than not, his plans, no matter how violent, have garnered him the results he wanted, even when he had to compromise.

Tyreese and Daryl, however, don’t see it that way and know that there can be a resolution without violence. The people of The Walking Dead know that optimism and welcoming someone with open arms can lead to betrayal. Sometimes you need to introduce yourself with your gun to show that you mean business. That’s not ideal, but that’s me looking at it through the perspective of our more ‘civilized’ world. So Tyreese and Daryl believe that a hostage situation is a lot better because it lowers the possibility of anyone being hurt. At the same time, they hope, it forces Dawn in a situation where she’ll want to keep her people alive. That’s a lot to assume and there are many variables to consider- such as Bob head-butting Sasha and leaving- but I’m interested in seeing whether this trade will even still happen.

Crossed- Daryl wants the third cop alive as a hostage

Side-note on Daryl: the man had one of the best uses of a walker I have seen on this show in quite some time. Ripping that walker’s head off and using it as a weapon felt like a bit of dark humor, but it did help him get the better of that officer. Plus, no way in hell a character like Daryl would go out like that. And on his desire for a peaceful solution, I can see that building off his talk with Carol when he told her that they didn’t need to kill the walkers that posed no immediate threat to them.

Crossed- Sasha should have been able to do it

And, to be fair, we did get some advancement with how Sasha is processing Bob’s death. She shouldn’t just hold onto her anger forever. She had a chance to say good-bye. Even though she wasn’t the one to finish him off, she should remember him for who he was, not what he would have become. What are the odds that one of the officers from Grady would turn out to have the same name?

Crossed- Dawn to Beth

As long as we’re talking about the folks downtown, I want to go to the hospital. My issue was with the officers. Beth wants to help Carol. I get that. She hasn’t been at the hospital that long and probably hasn’t formed any close relationships with anyone there. Therefore, I found it strange that Dawn or anyone else there didn’t raise an eyebrow at the fact that Beth suddenly has all of the questions and wants to save the life of this one patient that, in their minds, she barely knows. Wouldn’t they find that the least bit suspicious and question her motives? At the very least, someone should have asked if Beth had ever seen the woman before. As far as everything else in the hospital went, it was alright. Beth is now in Noah’s position, so she can eavesdrop on conversations and get word on what’s happening outside. That and it doesn’t look like she’s getting suckers shoved in her mouth anymore.

Crossed- Glenn, Tara and Rosita go looking for water

Then we have Team GREATM. First off, I don’t see that name sticking, but I give Tara a point for trying. That’s about all I’ll give her, though. I’ll say this: I like seeing Glenn take over as a leader with Abraham in his funk. He’s got the right traits for it. He’s level-headed, but not afraid to use violence when necessary.

Crossed- Rosita

We did get to learn a bit more about Rosita, though. This is something I wish we’d gotten during “Self-Help,” and I’m glad we learned about her circumstances before she met Abraham and Eugene. It wasn’t much, but it was something.

Crossed- Abraham stares down Rosita

Maggie and Abraham also didn’t get a lot to do. Though Abraham didn’t say much, I loved the look on Michael Cudlitz’s face when he stared down Rosita. Here’s a man who just learned that the mission he’d fought for was one, big lie. The people who died in the process, the time and resources wasted and the hope raised- all dashed at once. That’s a lot to take in, especially given how Abraham almost chose to take his own life after finding nothing worth living for, before Eugene ran into him. Angry is not enough of a word to describe his disposition. Yes, Rosita wants to help him, but given how Abraham exploded at Eugene, I think she should have shown more caution. This is not a man to bother right now. So when he glared at her, almost like she was Eugene, I could tell exactly what he felt at that moment.

Crossed- Maggie aims her gun at Abraham

I think Maggie could have handled the situation a bit better than pointing a gun at him. Given Abraham and Rosita’s relationship, I doubt he would have hurt her. Other than that, Maggie tells him to get over himself in one scene, then tries to approach him with ease in the next scene. Yes, Abraham isn’t the only one to lose something, but he did devote a significant amount of time to a mission that was based on a lie. Let the man take time to soak that in. I honestly doubt Maggie would have pointed a gun had it been Rick who learned this news and fell into disarray.

“Crossed” wasn’t as good as the previous “Slabtown,” “Self-Help,” or “Consumed” by virtue of it having to juggle several storylines instead of focusing a lot of time to develop one. This doesn’t mean the episode was bad. Not at all. I am enjoying the build-up to Rick’s confrontation with Dawn’s team at Grady. With everyone separated, it was inevitable that we’d get an episode that tried to give us a look at every single group. While Team GREATM or even Carl and Michonne at the church didn’t really go anywhere, the strength came mostly from the folks in the heart of Atlanta preparing for a showdown as we head into the mid-season finale.

Crossed- Glenn saw a fish

Seriously, GREATM is not going to catch on.