A Look at “Gotham” Season 2, Episode 10: “Rise of the Villains: The Son of Gotham”

Time for The Son of Gotham, but not Gotham’s watchful silent protector.

The Son of Gotham- GCPD say farewell to Officer Parks

The episode begins with a man robbing a woman of her purse before he’s yanked by the power of off-screen hands.  Meanwhile, Jim, Barnes, and the rest of the GCPD mourns the loss of Officer Parks.  This may be one of the few times we’ve seen an officer laid to rest, and we’ve already lost the previous Commissioner.  Gotham’s finest and their priorities.

The Son of Gotham- Jim confronts Galavan

Jim then confronts Theo Galavan to let him know that he’ll be attending his hearing tomorrow.  It’s always important to watch the bad guy get put away, if Law and Order: SVU is any indication.  Anyway, Jim asks if Galavan knows the name of Catherine Parks.  He doesn’t.

The Son of Gotham- Jim talks to Leslie about Galavan

We follow Jim as he returns to Leslie’s, soaking wet, to talk more about Parks, who was just 23 years old.  Not on the force that long and she’s already in the ground because Jim didn’t do the only sensible thing.  Flamingo killed four cops and dared Gordon to pull the trigger, but he didn’t.  He had a choice, but Leslie says that he upheld the law instead of becoming a murder.  Parks and her family may not feel the same.

Jim then discusses his visit with Galavan.  He’s less than pleased that for all of Galavan’s murders, he still smiles while locked up.  But tomorrow, Aubrey James will testify that he’d been kidnapped and tortured by Theo Galavan.  As such, he’ll be put away for a long time.  Gordon isn’t convinced, as he didn’t see fear in Galavan’s eyes.  Despite this, Leslie thinks that he did well.  She beckons him to bed, but he refuses.

The Son of Gotham- Father Creole slits a man's throat

Our attempted thief awakens surrounded by Father Creel and other hooded men for the day of reckoning.  The blood of the nine will wash away the sin and Gotham shall be cleansed.  As the man is brought forward, Father Creel pulls out a knife and slits his throat.

The Son of Gotham- Selina and Bruce go over a plan to trick Silver St. Cloud

At school, Bruce and Selina have a plan for Silver St. Cloud.  Selina worries that Silver will see through Bruce since she’s a world class liar.  Even still, Bruce believes that there’s a chance to learn about his parents’ killer.  He’s managed to buy some time because he told Alfred that he has fencing practice after school.  Bruce Wayne apparently practiced fencing in his youth, according to Gotham.  Selina reminds Bruce that the best liars always tell the truth.

The Son of Gotham- Barnes tells Jim to lay off of Galavan

Over at GCPD, Jim barks orders for officers to provide evidence tying Galavan to the murders.  To Bullock’s disappointment, Barnes returns early, despite his injury, and gives Jim a case concerning a dead body down by the port.  Jim wants to stay on Galavan, but Barnes tells Jim that he’s back in the rotation.  He needs a few more days, but Barnes shoots him down.  Also, he still has time to lament Parks’ loss.  She deserved better.

Bullock then receives word from Father Mike regarding the symbol found at the penthouse in the previous episode: apparently it’s from something called the Order of St. Dumas, which used to have an abbey downtown.  The same abbey that the mayor’s office tried to purchase last week.  It’s now a Chinese slap-slap joint, in Bullock’s words.  Despite being told to lay off, Jim decides to pursue this.  He and Bullock head off to get lucky.

The Son of Gotham- Hoods at the bath house

We then cut to a bathhouse where the hooded figures appear with blades at the ready.

The Son of Gotham- Bruce and Silver talk

Bruce tells Silver about Theo’s offer to give the name of Thomas and Martha Wayne’s killer in exchange for selling Bruce’s shares in Wayne Enterprises. .  Due to Theo’s arrest, his assets have been frozen.  Bruce offers to pay for Theo’s defense in exchange for the name.  He doesn’t care what the people are saying about Theo.  His parents were killed due to Thomas investigating Wayne Enterprises.  He tried investigating last season and someone then tried to kill Alfred.

Either he find out what happened to his company or he’s dead.  Silver feels that Theo will be freed, but if the name comes from her, Bruce will know it’s real.  He whispers something to Silver that we don’t hear.  When Silver asks if he meant that, he responds with a kiss.  And since this was whispered, we know it will come up later.  Count on it.

The Son of Gotham- Van watches Bruce

Also, two men watch Bruce from afar in their van.  This would seem more cliché had they been parked in an ice cream truck.

The Son of Gotham- Jim confronts hooded figure escaping from massage parlor

Jim and Bullock arrive at the massage parlor just as women and men flee, some covered in blood.  While Bullock helps the ladies out, Jim fights with a hooded man who Jim manages to stab, but the man remains unharmed.  Jim pursues the man back outside and the attacker drops his knife.  The day of reckoning is at hand, the man says, and Gotham shall be cleansed by the blood of the nine.  Just in case you didn’t catch it the first time.  He then walks backward into traffic and is struck by a truck.

The Son of Gotham- Jim reports to Barnes about the Order of St. Dumas

Later, Jim reports to Barnes.  The women said they saw at least six monks.  He figures that such monks must be a part of this same order of St. Dumas.  These people believe in purification through pain.  They were big in the old days of Gotham, but then vanished about 100 years ago.  Barnes orders Jim to give his evidence to Alvarez, as Barnes already gave him a case.  The woman attacked was a man who was pulled off by a man dressed like a monk.

If Galavan is connected, there’s no telling what he stands to gain.  Right now, Jim needs to find a monk and get him to talk.  This is a line of dialogue on Gotham.  It’s no coincidence that this is happening just as Galavan is about to stand trial, and Barnes still wants Jim to show up to hear James’ testimony.

The Son of Gotham- Van approaches Bruce

Silver leaves a message for Bruce, stating that Theo apparently agreed to the terms and gave a name that Silver can only provide in person.  But as Bruce goes to the curb, the van approaches, revealing a bound and gagged Silver St. Cloud.  No screaming, or the girl dies.  Bruce enters.  He doesn’t seem overly concerned here.  Keep that in mind.

The Son of Gotham- Leslie examines a body while Jim and Bullock go over reports of more deaths

Leslie examines the body.  The thick scars on his palms came from repeated, self-inflicted cuts.  According to Father Mike, the leaders cut themselves and mark the followers with the blood, like a blessing.  Bullock enters with information about two more bodies from the past three days.

Seven down and two to go.  How has no one seen these monks until now?  Well, not everyone keeps an eye out for monks dragging bodies across town.  The woman attacked said that the monk vanished with her attacker, but the alley was a dead end.  This must mean the sewers.  You know what this means.  Yup, more sewer adventures.  Well, at least Jim isn’t tricked down here by Selina this time.  He and Bullock investigate underground.

The Son of Gotham- Leslie speaks with Nygma about Miss Kringle

Back at GCPD, Leslie interrupts Nygma’s phone call to request a toxicology report.  She also asks if he was just talking with Miss Kringle, but Nygma claims that it was his plumber.  It also turns out that Kringle lied about being sick, as people believed.  She left town with Daugherty, despite his abusive nature.  Love is strange, am I right?  The phone rings and Nygma feigns sorrow to get Leslie to leave.  It works.  He answers the phone and Penguin asks about the spicy mustard, which he soon finds.  Well, that was a phone call.

The Son of Gotham- Tommy Flanagan holds Bruce and Silver hostage

Now Bruce and Silver are bound, and the men aren’t taking kindly to Bruce’s threats.  Holding them hostage is a character going by The Knife, played by Tommy Flanagan from Sons of Anarchy.  I’m just gonna call him that going forward.  Bruce and Silver are well outside of the city, so no one can hear them scream.  Like in space or something.

Whenever Bruce talks, Tommy Flanagan hits him, so he should keep quiet.  Flanagan heard that Bruce is thinking of selling his company to Theo Galavan.  That’s not good, but not why Flanagan is here.  Someone has been digging into the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne, but who?

Flanagan know it was Theo’s uncle, so he’s here to learn whatever Galavan told Bruce.  Apparently nothing.  Bruce gets another strike for that.  There are billions at stake here.  Flanagan pulls out a blade and says that he’ll pull one of them into the back, where he’ll start cutting off fingers.  He’s had practice and knows that everyone eventually talks.  Unless they want to wear mittens, someone should talk.

One last time: what does Theo Galavan know?  Silver spills that she didn’t know anything.  She just needed to stall for time.  As Bruce is pulled away, the man tells him that he needs better taste in women.  Indeed.

The Son of Gotham- Jim and Bullock find a body

Just when you think Gotham’s shown her last jewel, she reveals herself like a flower.  This is Bullock’s best metaphor as he and Jim continue lower into the sewers.  Upon hearing a noise, they head further down and find a ritual setup.  Bullock recognizes the body as a muscle for hire.  The finger painting on the man’s forehead matches what the victim at the port had.

A man emerges from behind and Bullock manages to overpower him, all while praying to keep the ceiling from collapsing.  Prayer is powerful.  This man needs an ambulance, but while Bullock goes off to make a call, the man talks of the day of reckoning.

The Son of Gotham- Silver realizes she's been played

Tommy Flanagan reemerges with a newfound respect for boy billionaires.  Think of that what you will.  But Bruce didn’t know anything.  Flanagan didn’t kill him, but the rest is up to Silver.  She maintains that Theo told her nothing and apologizes for her actions, but she soon coughs up the name M. Malone, which Theo told her earlier.

Also, turns out the whole thing was a ruse by Bruce and Selina.  You see, Selina broke into Silver’s apartment and learned about her being sent to distract Bruce.  However, the name Silver said apparently wasn’t real.  Yes, Bruce is right about Theo Galavan, but when he finds out what happened to Silver, she’ll die.  Bruce is more upset that Silver pretended to be his friend.  The things Bruce said to Silver- she believed him.  That was the point.  Silver says that he can’t do this, as it isn’t him.  But that’s just what she thinks, and she’s wrong.

I’d like to believe that Bruce would flip on Selina again or Selina herself is this resourceful, but I don’t, so let’s move on.

The Son of Gotham- Jim speaks with one of the followers

Back in the sewers, Jim pours a drink to the now blindfolded follower while pretending to be a member of the Order.  The man says that he completed his task, so all that remains is the son.  When the man asks for his brother’s blessing, Jim grabs a knife, slashes his palm, and drains it atop the man’s forehead.  The man states that the son of Gotham shall die and the city will be cleansed.  A medic arrives and interrupts the immersion, but Jim heads off to see Barnes.

The Son of Gotham- Alfred confronts Tabitha

Alfred, on a search for Bruce, enters Galavan’s quarters and expects to find him with Silver, but finds Tabitha instead.  He threatens to return of something bad happens to Bruce, but this whole conversation is boring.  Let’s have them fight.  Alfred manages to put up a decent fight, but Tabitha manages to stab him.  Alfred soon heads out and escapes via the most convenient garbage truck.  Well, he falls in after Tabitha gets in one well timed stab throw, but still, convenient garbage truck is convenient.

The Son of Gotham- James testifies

At trial, James is questioned by Harvey Dent because it’s Harvey Dent.  Jim, meanwhile, reports to Bullock about his findings, when James suddenly says that Theo Galavan did not kidnap and torture him.  It was, in fact, Oswald Cobblepot, who hates Theo Galavan enough to have tried to kill him multiple times.  The defense moves that the trial be dismissed and Galavan released at once.  I do not believe the system works this way or, at least, this fast.  Though James is under oath, he reiterates that Oswald Cobblepot made him lie.

In light of this testimony and absence of other evidence, the judge orders Theo Galavan released.  Theo takes a moment to say a few words: he harbors no ill word towards Jim Gordon and the GCPD.  They did their jobs.  Theo asks Jim if they can move forward to fix this city, but Jim responds with a punch to the face.  Now that’s not going to do Jim any favors with the press.  He’s hauled out by two officers who aren’t there to arrest him, but tase him.

The Son of Gotham- Bruce tells Selina that he's unsure about his next move

Bruce and Selina arrive at Wayne Manor.  Thinking that Alfred is out looking for him, Bruce thanks Selina for her help.  So what now?  Bruce hasn’t thought that far ahead yet.  Selina asks what Bruce whispered.  He said that he never met anyone like her- he trusted her with his life.  He felt tied to her in a way that he can’t explain, but wouldn’t ever change.  The best liars always tell the truth.  This was true, but it was not about Silver.  Selina decides that she’ll take one of Bruce’s cars to take to the city.  She says that it’s good for Bruce to change, but don’t change too much.

Well, I’ll give Gotham this: they didn’t try to force Bruce and Selina to kiss.

The Son of Gotham- Gabe tells Penguin that Galavan has been let go

Nygma and Penguin talk, with Nygma telling Oswald to get rid of Kringle’s glasses.  This should be a fairly simple task, but then Gabe arrives to tell Penguin that Galavan has been let go.  Penguin demands to know where he is now.

The Son of Gotham- Theo speaks with Jim

We then cut to Theo speaking with a restrained Jim Gordon.  What a difference a day makes.  Theo has a small window of time, but he knows that Jim has questions.  The Order of St. Dumas has protected Galavan’s family for years- a light in a dark world.  Also, Theo Galavan is a mask.  His name is Dumas and the family built the city out of nothing, but they were erased.  It’s not about revenge, but atonement.

The ground Gotham is built on is poisoned by the wrong done to Theo’s forefathers and he intends to fix that.  It’s insane- guy in robes, chanting prophesies, and blood sacrifice- it sound so….not outside the realm of possibility for this show, really.  And not all the victims are random.  Like the Son of Gotham.  Theo orders Jim released so he can have his best shot.  Jim responds in kind, but Theo easily overtakes him like he’s nothing.  He leaves Jim to be killed, and to make it quick.

The Son of Gotham- Penguin and Gabe save Jim

Given that this is Gotham and Theo is another villain that won’t actually watch the good guy die, we know that Jim won’t die.  Instead of the officers just shooting Jim in the head, they decide to beat him, giving Gabe and Penguin a chance to save his ass.  Luckily, Gabe had people following Galavan. Yup, lucky indeed.  Oswald demands to know where Galavan is.

The Son of Gotham- Theo confronts Bruce Wayne

Theo, in no time at all, makes his way to Wayne Manor for Bruce Wayne’s life.  Which we already knew, but I suppose this is what some call a cliffhanger.  Not really an effective one, even.  Whatever.  Episode over.

So…what did we learn today?  That everything building up to “The Son of Gotham” was more interesting than what we got?  That’s what I glimpsed.

Okay “The Son of Gotham” wasn’t bad, but I didn’t find anything with the monks as memorable as what we got before them, unless you count Jim’s line about wanting to get a monk to talk.  I mean, that’s the equivalent of Stryker telling Wolverine that he’ll make him indestructible, but first, he’ll have to destroy him.

The Son of Gotham- Theo talks about his plans for Gotham

Let’s start with that.  Galavan’s plan has been building to this: freeing the inmates from Arkham, putting himself in a position of power, trying to get Bruce to sell his shares in the company- all to culminate with the arrival of the Order.  They managed to keep the GCPD plenty busy with plenty of action, I’ll give them that.  The Order may not be the greatest threat, but at least they’re proactive in what they do.

The Son of Gotham- Order of St. Dumas

And again, like Eduardo Flamingo, The Order of St. Dumas is such an odd pick that I could see it on Gotham, but I wish they came off as a more menacing threat, like if they’d been working behind the scenes in the series all along- not just since the introduction of Theo Galavan.  But given how we’ve known before that his plan was to kill Bruce Wayne, his big reveal to master Bruce didn’t carry any weight.  Nor did we get any explanation of how Theo got to Wayne Manor as fast as he did.  Plot teleportation it is, then.

The Son of Gotham- Theo has come for Bruce's body

Oh, and was it just a coincidence that Bruce happened to be at Wayne Manor when Theo decided to drop by unannounced?  We’re not told he’d been keeping tabs on him like Gabe somehow managed to do to him, and I doubt he had time to meet with Tabitha after beating Gordon, so what would make him think to look here when he did?  Had Bruce not returned yet, maybe Galavan would have just sat around and practiced his dramatic reveal.

I know I’m not saying much about The Order, despite the amount of bodies they dropped, but it paled in comparison to something like the Maniax wreaking havoc in the city.  It also doesn’t help that Jim and Bullock learn what we as an audience already know, so this feels like chartered territory.

The Son of Gotham- Parks is laid to rest

Side-note, why are we paying so much attention to Parks’ death?  She’d only been introduced one episode prior and didn’t have enough time to have any major significance to the plot or make an impact other than for Gordon to once again wrestle with his conscience.  Hell, Strike Force didn’t get this kind of going away ceremony and they were built up to be the next big thing for the GCPD.  One step further, we never even saw Essen’s burial, so why is Parks afforded this kind of treatment?

The Son of Gotham- Bruce and Selina get Silver

It is so strange that I find anything with Selina Kyle to be the best part of the episode, but her team-up with Bruce held my attention a bit more because it serviced Bruce’s character arc.  He’s not a master manipulator and doesn’t possess the level of deception that Alfred said he lacked.  But Selina is a schemer and was suspicious about Silver from the start, so this sort of half-assed plan that usually falls apart in movies ended up having a payoff this week.

The Son of Gotham- Silver and Selina face off

Gotham already requires suspension of disbelief, but this would require that Silver was essentially willing to die if she didn’t give up information.  Bruce and Selina would have to assume that Silver is gullible enough to fall for this ruse when there’s no way a boy as valuable as Bruce Wayne would be killed in some seedy location outside of town.  And what if Silver didn’t really know anything?  Was Bruce willing to risk her life on Selina’s hunch?

Granted, we don’t know much about Silver to figure out how clever she may be, so I’ll chalk it up to convenience.  But this kind of huge gamble and sneaky planning does fit with Bruce Wayne’s character, even if he didn’t concoct it on his own.  While I detested the Bruce and Selina scenes in the first season, this one I didn’t mind as much since Bruce is still desperate for information and Selina just had a bone to pick with Silver.  Thankfully, Gotham avoided an awkward and forced love triangle.  For now.

The Son of Gotham- Bruce tells Selina what he told Silver

My hope is that Bruce keeps up this idea of wearing a mask and being sneaky to learn information, which he may do as Malone, if Batman lore is any indication.  Also, does this mean the show is ruling out Joe Chill?

The Son of Gotham- Selina is Selina

Side-note, can we get a bead on just what Selina’s arc is supposed to be this season?  If it’s her pining for and watching Bruce from a distance, it’s a retread of what she did for a chunk of the first season.  It was established in the season premiere that she worked for Penguin, but aside from bringing Butch to the Pike family, she hasn’t done much.  I guess it’s a good thing Bruce decided to trust her, given that she previously lied about seeing the man who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne.

“The Son of Gotham” is, like most episodes, mixed to me.  The main storyline wasn’t as intersting as the stuff with Bruce, Selina, and Silver, the brief bits we got with Penguin and Nygma, and Alfred’s fight with Tabitha.  Theo Galavan, through the power of instantaneous movement, is a free man and already set to make his move on Bruce Wayne.  Will the young boy die?  Well, probably not, so let’s see how Gotham tries to play out this false tension.

A Look at “The Walking Dead” Season 6, Episode 7: “Heads Up”

So what were you all worried about?  Dumpsters are incredibly easy to dive under.  No plot contrivances whatsoever.

Heads Up- Glenn crawls under the dumpster

The episode begins with a recap of Glenn and Nicholas falling into that walker horde as we see walkers rip Nicholas apart.  Glenn, as expected, manages to escape.  How?  Crawling under that damn dumpster, but still having walkers claw at him from every side.  Night falls as the herd begins to thin, but Glenn continues to wait it out.

Heads Up- Glenn survives the walker herd

The next morning, Glenn, the luckiest man in the world, crawls from beneath the dumpster.  The flare gun is busted, but he’s still got a gun.  Up atop one of the buildings, Enid tosses down a bottle of water, but Glenn misses.  They’re not the best at aiming, you know?  Glenn climbs into the building, enters a room with tons of valuables, and calls after Enid to find out why she’s out here.  She just directs him to another bottle of water- one that she didn’t have to throw.

Enid still won’t answer Glenn, but he wants to know what happened in Alexandria, judging from the gunfire and other sounds.  What happened is what always happened, Enid says.  People die.  She eventually tells Glenn that the air horn sound came from people, not walkers.  Glenn asks if his wife is okay.  To that, he gets no response.

Heads Up- Enid flees from Glenn

So Glenn begins looking for Enid, but she’s on the move and rushes off.  Glenn, having no real regard for noise, leaves the building and rushes after her.

Heads Up- Rick tells Morgan that they need to talk, later

Back in Alexandria, Rick inspects the walls while Morgan trains nearby.  Rick tells Morgan that the two need to talk…but later.  I mean, they could talk right now.  Going back to the wall, Rick finds a trail of blood- similar to the one Deanna walked by not long ago.

Heads Up- Rick and Maggie talk atop the wall

He then joins Maggie atop the wall, as she refuses to leave.  This is the direction that Glenn would come from, so she’ll continue to wait for him.  When you go out, it’s never easy.  There’s always a fight and Glenn has come back from harder things.  Hell, so will Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham.  Maybe it’s time to figure out how to draw out the walkers.  There’s enough food and the walls will hold.  Rick is ready to do this right- clear the area so the others can walk right in when they return.  Maggie tells Rick that Judith is starting to look like Lori.  That made her happy.

Heads Up- Glenn finds the note to Betsy

Glenn, meanwhile, finds a walker- I’m guessing David- and next to it, a note to Betsy, who is also dead.  So there’s that.

Heads Up- Rick and Carl teach Ron how to shoot

Gabriel puts up signs about an upcoming prayer circle, but Rick soon takes down the signs.  I guess Rick isn’t a fan of prayer, but luckily, Gabriel has plenty of signs.  Anyway, Carl and Rick are about to teach Ron a thing or two about shooting.  If someone is in front of you with a gun, your body will tense.  You won’t have time to think- you’ll just want to pull the trigger, but you’ll miss and then you’re dead.

You have to bring the gun up to your eye, then be strong enough to wait for the moment.  Rick helps Ron with his positioning- your finger is only on the trigger when you’re ready to shoot.  Ron is to keep the gun Rick gives him to get a feel for it.  With things how they are, the walls are strong enough to hold the walkers in one spot.  Ron is super eager to try out this piece.  Hell, he even suggests targets- never mind that you can waste bullets and attract walkers with the sound.  Idiot.

Heads Up- Morgan speaks with Denise

Morgan speaks with Denise, even though he’s not here to be checked in.  He claims that he’s fine, which is pretty much code for saying that you’re not.  Anyway, this moment is here just to take up space until Rick decides that it’s time to talk.

Heads Up- Morgan talks with Rick, Carol, and Michonne

So the two talk…well, the four talk, as they’re joined by Carol and Michonne.  Rick tells Morgan that he tried to cut off the herd with the RV back in the woods, when he got intercepted by five people with the W’s on their foreheads.  Carol mentioned that Morgan wouldn’t kill any of them, and he doesn’t deny it.  He wouldn’t want to kill five people he didn’t want to kill, even if they burned people alive.  Morgan asks why Rick didn’t kill him after King County.  After all, Morgan was nuts back then.

Rick’s response is that he knew Morgan, but even then, Morgan was unhinged.  Consider the potential chain of events: if Rick had killed Morgan, then Morgan wouldn’t have been able to rescue Aaron and Daryl.  If things happened that way, maybe those Wolves wouldn’t have found the community.  Morgan doesn’t know what’s right anymore.

He wanted to kill those Wolves and knows that he can help out, but he also knows that people can change.  All life is precious.  That idea brought him back and kept him going.  Michonne doesn’t think it could be that easy, and Morgan has thought of letting that idea go, but he hasn’t.

Things aren’t as simple as four words, Michonne says.  Rick asks Morgan if he can make it going forward without getting blood on his hands.  To be frank, Morgan doesn’t know.

Heads Up- Deanna gives Rick and Michonne some Alexandria expansion plans

As the walker herd remains out the doors, Rick talks with Michonne about drawing away walkers and setting up watch points.  Their people will go, but the people of Alexandria?  Not yet.  Everyone hasn’t had a chance to catch their breath.  Michonne reminds Rick that they’re in here together and catching their breath now.  Anything else is just excuses.  Deanna comes to Rick with plans for the expansion.  Rick has other things on his mind, but one way or another, Deanna sees a future for this community.

Heads Up- Rosita teaches Eugene and others how to use a machete

Now it’s Rosita’s time to take charge as she instructs the residents on how to use a machete.  Eugene is here as well, but he’s off in his own world.  Plus, he’s a novice and there are people around him with open toed shoes.  That may be one of my favorite Eugene lines yet.  He’s afraid of dying, but Rosita says that dying is easy.

The people dying around him is hard because he keeps living, knowing that they’re gone and he’s still there.  She then says that he should be afraid of living, because he’d have to life with the fact that he let people down.  Eugene leaves.

Heads Up- Enid points a gun at Glenn

Back outside the Safe Zone, Glenn finally catches up with Enid in a restaurant.  He wants to take her home and then asks why she gave him water.  He needed it, she claims.  She refuses to join, but Glenn refuses to leave her behind.  When Glenn tries to grab her arm and force along, Enid responds to bad touch with a gun.

Glenn demands the gun, but Enid tells him to turn around and walk away.  He calls her bluff and soon takes the gun because Glenn is awesome that way.  Half the herd broke off and is headed towards Alexandria, so it’s up to Enid to lead the way back home.  The two move along and reach a marker indicated by three green balloons.

Heads Up- Enid and Glenn find the green balloons

Glenn directs her to the helium tank and asks Enid who she stayed with back home.  She lived in Olivia’s place, but she was on her own.  That’s just what happens.  She rejects Glenn’s notion that she’s scared, but he lectures anyway.  She acts brave, even when she’s scared.  Soon enough, Enid reminds Glenn that they don’t have to talk

Heads Up- Tobin tells Rick to not give up on the Alexandria residents

Back at the Safe Zone, Rick gets to work on the wall when he’s joined by Tobin, who thinks that a brace could be built on the wall.  Rick says it doesn’t mean anything unless the wall stays up.  Tobin tells Rick that he scared the hell out of everyone when he first arrived with his beard, mannerisms, and demeanor.  Things moved slow in Alexandria, but then they moved fast.  Too fast, even, but Tobin asks Rick to not give up on the community.

Heads Up- Ron steals some casings

Ron draws Olivia into the pantry with a distraction that he uses to grab some casings.  Well, we saw them, so they’ll most definitely be used.

Heads Up- Glenn and Enid arrive outside the Safe Zone

Glenn and Enid soon reach the outskirts of the Safe Zone with no clear path inside, as walkers roam every single open spot.  Enid retreats, asking Glenn what the point even is.  The world is trying to die.  People are supposed to just let it.  Glenn disagrees.  You don’t let the world die- and Glenn sure as hell won’t let her.  This isn’t for Maggie anymore.  The walls and houses are still up, and they can find out the rest later.

Heads Up- Spencer's stupid idea

Back inside the walls, Rick and Tobin spot Ron Spencer scaling a rope outside of the zone.  This is a stupid idea, as the rope begins to buckle under pressure.  It doesn’t completely fall through at first, but it soon gives and Spencer falls.  While others fire at the walkers, Rick, Tobin, and Morgan pull Spencer back up atop the wall.

Heads Up- Rick blasts Spencer for his stupid idea

Rick blasts Tara for almost dying once for these people, so don’t let it happen again.  Tara responds with the finger.  Okay, I might not be a big fan of Tara, but that was kind of funny.  Spencer says that he wanted to get to a car to drive away, even if he wasn’t fully prepared for that.  Rick tells Spencer that his ass can’t be saved all the time.  Next time, Spencer should come to Rick with that kind of idea, but Spencer, in a small moment I can’t help but admire, asks Rick if he would have even listened to him.  That is a good point.

Heads Up- Morgan speaks with Denise again

Back to the infirmary, where Morgan joins Denise.  He actually enters the infirmary this time.  Denise has created cheat sheets to help.  Morgan has faith.  He doesn’t have to, but he chooses to, and she should, too.  Morgan needs to address a wound, but he doesn’t know if it’s infected.  He didn’t come in earlier because he didn’t want to get her involved in something.  More to the point, this isn’t his wound.

Heads Up- Carol asks Jessie to watch Judith

As Morgan and Denise head out, Carol follows from a distance.  She also brings Judith because people would do that with a baby.  Anyway, she returns to ask Jessie to watch Judith.  Sam calls out to her and asks if you can’t live with it.  He asks if the people who came into the community are monsters and if his father turned into one of them.  Carol’s response?  The only thing that keeps you from becoming a monster is killing.

Heads Up- Carol speaks with Sam about killing to not become a monster

It’s brief, but there’s a bit of hesitation on Carol’s face after she says that, as if even she can’t believe she said those words to Sam.  But hey, I suppose it’s a good thing Jessie didn’t hear any of that.  Carol then confronts Morgan and demands to know who the hell he has in the cell.

Heads Up- Deanna comes to thank Rick

As Michonne goes over Deanna’s plans and Ron stalks Carl, Tara asks Rick and Tobin if he’s seen Denise.  He hasn’t, but he then apologizes for what he said.  He meant that Tara didn’t have to protect him.  After all, she could have died.  Yes, but she wasn’t thinking about that.  She did it because that they’re stuck with each other.  Deanna joins out of nowhere to thank them both for saving Spencer.  She’s here to thank him.

But Rick says that Spencer’s move was stupid.  He tried, but Rick could have done that if there was a chance.  When the walkers were going for him, it made a gap.  Rick could have run out, gotten to a car, and Spencer would be dead.  But he didn’t do that because wanted to save Spencer.  Deanna doesn’t buy that.

Heads Up- Tower falls

Then everyone spots some green balloons flying into the sky.  Maggie knows that it’s Glenn, but before everyone can celebrate or speculate, the top of the watchtower finally crumbles, taking a big chunk of the wall down with it.  Well, not like anyone had a chance to check it.

Heading into the mid-season finale, “Heads Up” was set up for things to come.  There’s nothing wrong with setup, but in this instance, it worked for and against the episode.  The good is that it allowed for some breathing room as the community continues to regroup after the Wolves’ surprise attack.

Heads Up- Rick and Tobin talk

It allowed for some slower character moments with Rick and company not just training the residents of Alexandria to defend themselves, but also warm to their methods.  They acknowledge that while these newcomers may be a bit extreme, their methods do work and there’s a reason they’ve survived as long as they did.

Though I still question why Rick is having some of these conversations now as opposed to when he first returned to Alexandria, at least the show is addressing some questions lingering over from “Now.”

Heads Up- Rick shows Ron how to aim

The downside is that much of what we explore is already chartered territory.  Whether it’s talk of killing to survive, killing or be killed, trust between the two parties, and how weak the Alexandria residents are, we’ve gone through much of this already.  In all fairness, we do at least get scenes of Rick’s group training the residents, whether it’s Rick and Carl teaching Ron how to shoot, or Rosita showing others how to use blades.

Heads Up- Rosita reams out Eugene

Why Rosita is the machete expert I don’t know since we’ve mostly seen her use guns, but I’m not complaining.  It does put her in a leadership position and gives her character something to do.  Though she came off as a tad cold to Eugene, it did feel necessary.  After everything he’s been through, before and after the Safe Zone, he should be less fearful by now.

The Alexandria Safe Zone is not a united community.  It may be a long time before everyone sees on one accord, but right now, if they’re to survive, they need to move forward as a group or they’ll continue to be killed off, one by one.  Sounds simple since that’s what some of the residents want, but Rick still sees this as his group versus the residents.

Heads Up- Rick isn't about to open up to the Alexandria residents

He and his have spent months out in the wilderness, fighting against the elements.  They know what it’s like to think and fight under pressure, even when the odds are against them.  So Rick isn’t about to start opening his circle to them because he still sees them as weak.  Thus far, they’ve proven him right, but some are willing to adapt for the sake of survival.

Heads Up- Tobin tells Rick that things used to be slow in the community

What Tobin said about Rick’s first impression makes sense from the perspective of the Alexandria residents.  He comes in with his grisly beard and menacing look- people will fear him.  But despite that, the residents are open to his ideas.  It’s not what these survivors are used to, but if it will keep them alive and give them a better chance at living, they’ll try.

Heads Up- Michonne disagrees with Rick

It seems like the people, both the original residents and Rick’s group, are here to remind Rick when he’s being out of line, pessimistic, or just acting like an asshole.

Heads Up- Tara gives Rick the bird

That includes when Michonne and Deanna believing that the community has a future, Morgan maintaining his humanity in the face of so much death, or Tara giving him the finger- which might be the most noteworthy thing she’s done so far.

Heads Up- Tara tells Rick that they're stuck with each other

Tara isn’t that interesting of a character in my mind since I don’t think the show knows what to do with her yet, but her flipping off Rick felt like a very character driven moment.  You wouldn’t get that from someone like Daryl or Carol, but Tara, spunky as she is? I could see her giving the bird.  The AMC censors allow it.

Heads Up- Spencer asks if Rick would have listened to his idea

The people understand Rick and his methods, but if Michonne’s insistence to trust Aaron last season was any indication, it’s that he’s not so big and powerful that he can’t be called out on his bullshit.  Spencer even correctly points out that even if he’d told Rick all about his reckless plan, Rick wouldn’t have accepted it.  Even if Spencer’s plan was ridiculous and ill-thought-out.

Heads Up- Rick tells Spencer to bring him his ideas

From my observation, Rick this episode looks to be focused more on putting out smaller fires to prevent larger ones, even if he’s not sure of the outcome.  He questions Morgan’s reluctance to kill, but Carol is the one to notice he’s housing a Wolf.  He teaches Ron to shoot, despite the boy’s tension with Carl.

And he tells Deanna all about his half-assed plan to escape Alexandria to reach a car, even when there’s no way he could have been sure of the outcome.  He’s planning five steps ahead for scenarios he can’t anticipate, which makes him quick on his fate, but also very foolish.

Heads Up- Rick about to rip down Gabriel's prayer circle fliers

Also, kind of an asshole, since he went and ripped down Gabriel’s prayer circle fliers, but then Gabriel does sort of have that coming, given his past remarks about the group.

Heads Up- Morgan doesn't know what's right anymore

I’m quite surprised the talk with Morgan was as civil as it ended up being, given how his actions could have gotten Rick killed.  Like Michonne or Daryl, Morgan knows enough about Rick that he’s not afraid to question or challenge him.  He won’t kill anymore, but even he’s struggling to hold onto Eastman’s philosophy in the face of so much carnage.  I don’t think Rick would exile Morgan since a. that’s not his call to make, and b. he knows what good Morgan can bring to the group, even if he’s not a killer.

It still feels like we’re missing a scene or two with Rick explaining how he escaped the RV generally unscathed or how Morgan returned to Alexandria before him and the others.  It’s not a huge issue, but if the show has been willing to put off these two talking, why not address these other points?

Heads Up- Glenn can't catch

I don’t really have much to say about Glenn since his quest to reunite with Maggie is one we’ve already seen before when the two were separated when the prison fell.  His survival is one many expected, despite the fake-out and the fact that actors generally appear on Talking Dead after their character dies, as was the case with Emily Kinney.

So yeah, Glenn lives, but I can’t even call this a clever or well done fake-out because I’m questioning how or why the walkers eventually left him alone or how it only took until daytime for that massive swarm to disperse.  They were on both sides of the fence and they saw two bodies, so is the dumpster that much of a barrier?  Also, I’ve never tried to slip under a dumpster to escape a herd of walkers.  Last time I did, all I got for it were glass shards scraping my back and fingers trying to claw at my skin.

Glenn is a lucky man, as we’ve seen time and time again, but he wasn’t exactly invisible.  And walkers aren’t one to just focus on one person when dealing with a group.  So either this is a lazy contrivance or these walkers read the script and decided that it wasn’t Glenn’s time to die.  Either way you slice it, it’s flimsy.  Again, if a main character dies, it’s usually seen by someone else, and given Maggie’s optimism, the show wouldn’t just let Glenn die and not have anyone else find out about it.

Heads Up- Glenn reminds Enid that she pointed a gun at him, so he's not an asshole

As for his adventures with Enid, it gave him a chance to show some of his optimism to another character down in the dumps.  People have speculated that Enid could have been a spy for the Wolves.  I honestly never saw the connection or cared either way since Enid isn’t that noteworthy of a character right now, but it looks like she’s just a lonely girl that feeds on pessimism.  The perfect candidate for the ever-optimistic Glenn.  And I did chuckle at him throwing the ‘asshole’ line back at Enid when she’s the one who pointed the gun at him.

That said, I did enjoy Maggie’s reaction upon seeing the balloons and believing it to be Glenn.  Sure, it was him, but there’s no reason it couldn’t have been Enid, Nicholas, or Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham, too.

But we’re coming up on the mid-season finale.  Up until now, while the Alexandria Safe Zone isn’t impenetrable, it has managed to hold and keep out swarms of roamers.  But with the tower collapsing and the walls now wide open, shit is about to get real very fast.  “Heads Up” wasn’t a bad episode, but it didn’t tell us what we already knew about some of these characters.

The reveal of Glenn being alive wasn’t as impactful as it could have been since there’d be little reason to kill him off in that way.  In addition, the situations at Alexandria, while compelling, went through motions we’ve already explored.  We did cover new ground, though: Carol is onto Morgan’s secret, Ron has his targets set on Carl, Tara makes proper use of her middle finger, and the community looked ready for a brief respite.  Not anymore.

A Look at “Fargo” Season 2, Episode 6: “Rhinoceros”

No time to relax yet.  We may have had a few firefights last week, but things continue to escalate here.  This is “Rhinoceros.”

Rhinoceros- Betsy and Noreen waiting at the sheriff's department for Lou and Ed

The episode begins at the Blomquist household.  Ed is hauled off in cuffs while Peggy maintains his innocence.  Ed says nothing on the drive to the sheriff’s department.  When he and Lou arrive, they Betsy and Noreen waiting.  She was worried about the fire, after all.  There’s no need for Noreen to be there, so Ed tells Betsy to take her home.

Meanwhile, Charlie Gerhardt is released from holding so he can have his one phone call.  He’s given five minutes.

Rhinoceros- Bear talks with Otto

At the Gerhardt farm, Bear talks with Otto about Elron, the oldest Gerhardt brother, who died in the Korean War.  There’s a picture in the hall of Otto with the kids at the lake.  What would he have done since he was the oldest?

Rhinoceros- Dodd tells Simone all about a whore's life

Soon, a truck pulls up and Dodd arrives.  Bear heads in just as Simone tells him that Charlie is on the phone.  Dodd has words for his daughter: he knows that she has no respect for anything, but does she know what a whore’s life is.  He wants to look out for her and has expert advice on a whore’s life is: five good years, five bad years, and then some half-dick sweat stain grinds you out like a goddamn spent cigarette.

Rhinoceros- Dodd tells Bear that he's getting the belt

Bear, having learned about Charlie’s incarceration, rushes out and begins to beat the hell out of Dodd.  He punches him over and over again until Hanzee holds a gun to him.  Dodd brings up how much Charlie talked about he was ready.  Dodd says that it’s time for Bear to get the belt.  Bear can have the strap or the buckle.  Bear chooses the buckle.  But Floyd rushes out.  She’s having none of this bullshit today and says that Dodd will split the family apart with his actions.  Well, that was conveniently timed.

As the Gerhardt clan prepares to head out, Floyd demands that Bear find Charlie while Dodd is instructed to find and kill this butcher, who is not make it through the night.

Rhinoceros- Simone calls Mike Milligan

Inside, Simone makes a call to Mike Milligan, who learns that most of the family left the farm maybe half an hour ago.  A whole army of them went, almost.  She’s upset that her father called her a whore which, while Mike figures is technically true, Simone figures that it’s her body and she can do with she wants with it.  Yay for women’s rights, I guess.  Simone tells Mike that the Gerhardts are headed for Luverne.  Not only that, she tells Mike that she wants him to kill her father.

Milligan asks Simone if she has any last message for her father.  She does: kiss my grits.  As the syndicate heads out, Mike recalls and recites Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky.  He continues his tale as he, Gale Kitchen, and other associates head off to take care of business.

Rhinoceros- Hank speaks with Peggy about the recent murders

Back at House Blomquist, Hank learns that Peggy likes her house and magazines in a certain way.  She has to stay up with the latest trends, which is why she keeps the beauty magazines.  There’s more to life than Minnesota, apparently.  She knows there are questions, but she has a seminar to attend in Sioux Falls.  Hank, though, has five deaths on his hands and Ed is in jail, so Peggy shouldn’t count on getting there early.

This wasn’t attempted robbery, Hank says.  These men came to kill him.  And Hank isn’t trying to be dramatic.  He brings up the 15 dead in Fargo due to this war.  Peggy calls her and Ed just bystanders trying to actualize.  These are modern times, she says.  She can be more than a mother.  Hank senses that Peggy is touched by this, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Peggy just has dreams.  Hank reiterates that someone tried to kill her husband and succeeded in burning down the shop.

Peggy’s response?  Life’s a journey.  The one thing you don’t do is stay in one place.  Maybe she and Ed will go to California.  Before Peggy makes plans, Hank tells her that a forensics team is coming to check the car for blood.  You’d be surprised at what could be found on the atomic level, even in the 1970s.  Peggy says that they need permission, but they got it since Peggy sold the car to Sonny, who is technically now the owner.

Now flustered, Peggy tries to intervene, but Hank demands to know what happened the night she hit Rye Gerhardt.

Rhinoceros- Lou gives Ed more warnings

Lou and Ed face off in interrogation.  He gave Ed and Peggy the chance to confess.  Ed says that he’s just trying to protect their family.  Yeah, but there’s still a meat cleaver in a man’s head and this war may have started when Ed or Peggy hit Rye Gerhardt.  Ed can’t stop thinking about Noreen’s book about the guy who pushes a rock up a hill.  Every night, it rolls back down, but he doesn’t stop.  Each day, he starts pushing all over again.

What Ed’s saying is that whatever’s thrown at him, he’ll take it and make sure to protect what’s his.  But Lou says that these men won’t rest until Ed and Peggy are dead.  Right now, Ed asks for his lawyer.  He’s seen shows like Ironside.  This is too important to make a mistake, so he wants a good lawyer.  If the lawyer says so, then he’ll talk.

Rhinoceros- Percy Bluth, played by Joe Cobden, informs Karl that Ed Blomquist needs his services

Karl and Sonny talk at a bar.  Well, Karl talks, anyway, about plumbers.  A cop named Percy Bluth, played by Joe Cobden, tells Karl that Ed Blomquist requested his services.  Someone needs the services of the best lawyer in town.  Also the only lawyer in town.  Karl has had a few drinks, but he’s ready to run circles around the Rock County sheriff’s department, even though Lou is only a state cop.  Shut up, Sonny.

Rhinoceros- Hank asks why Peggy didn't go to the authorities or get help after hitting Rye Gerhardt

Hank has a question for Peggy: why didn’t she drive to the hospital or wave down a passing motorist to call the cops after she hit Rye?  Peggy wonders if this is a test.  It’s like decisions you make in a dream.  If it was her, she wouldn’t look back if she had to run.  In addition, this home is Ed’s, not hers.  Peggy buy all these magazines because she’s living in a museum of the past.

Rhinoceros- Dodd confronts Hank and demands Ed Blomquist

The conversation is interrupted by approaching vehicles.  Hank heads out and finds several vehicles waiting.  He tells Peggy to hide and not come out, no matter what she hears.  Dodd Gerhardt comes out with the cattle prod and asks for Ed, who is already gone since Lou took him to the station.  That’s a well-guarded and impenetrable station, Hank says.  Dodd thinks that Ed is inside, but no, he’s not there.

The rest of Dodd’s backup leave their cars and approach.  Now Hank is woefully outgunned, but before a shootout can commence, Hanzee, who snuck in the back, comes from behind and knocks Hank out with the butt of his gun.

Rhinoceros- Dodd searches for Peggy

Dodd and some men enter the Blomquist home and find stacks and stacks of magazines in the basement.  No one appears to be here, but they search anyway.  A crash breaks the concentration, causing Dodd to shoot one of the other men- and knock over a ton of magazines in the process- and he soon finds the other one knocked out on the ground.  He worms between two tight shelves, gun at the ready, but finds no one.

Rhinoceros- Peggy turns the prod on Dodd

But then here comes Peggy, who turns the cattle prod on Dodd.

Rhinoceros- Floyd asks Simone if she's with the family

Meanwhile, back at the farm, Floyd needs to talk with Simone about something: is she with the family?  She doesn’t get to pick and choose.  Simone says that she is, but she sure doesn’t sound too confident, you know.  Floyd tells her that everyone has a role to play.  Take her example and be a leader, because this is their time.  There’s no such thing as men’s work and women’s work anymore.

Rhinoceros- Kansas City brings the fire fight to the Gerhardt family

This confidence booster is interrupted by gunfire.  The Kansas City syndicate has arrived.

Rhinoceros- Karl gives Ed some form of legal counsel

Karl finally arrives at the department for his lawyer duties.  He’s ready to fight for the rights of free men.  He continues to rant about rights as if an audience is listening, but Lou tells him that he only has 30 minutes.  He finally meets face to face with Ed and doesn’t want to hear what happened.  He will ask G or NG?  Ed, as the client, will shake his head in the affirmative for the letter that best describes his state.  But then Ed does not respond to either.  Whatever his status, Karl promises to help Ed to his last breath.

So he’s done with 26 minutes to spare.  Lou worries that Karl is driving home, but no, Sonny is taking care of that.

But as he goes out, he finds several men with guns greeting him.  The Jackboots are indeed upon them.  Lou orders Deputy Bluth to lock the back door.  Denise, played by Anna Cummer, is to tell HQ that they need every man available yesterday.  Oh, and don’t call the sheriff since he may not be able to answer.

Rhinoceros- Lou confronts Bear Gerhardt

Lou speaks with Bear, who he remembers from his brief visit to the Gerhardt home.  Lou is confident that backup will come eventually, and no matter what happens, reinforcements will keep coming.  Charlie is still being held on charges of attempted murder.  Lou knows that Bear has designs on Ed.  This thing doesn’t work in Westerns and it won’t here.  There are enough guns to hold off the Gerhardt until morning.  Bear gives Lou five minutes.

Back inside, Lou learns from Officer Garfield that the doors are locked, but they should be barricaded.  Also, destroy the lights.  Lou needs Karl’s help since he can probably talk sense into Bear.  Who better than the son’s lawyer?  Yeah, Karl now represents Charlie instead of Ed.  Not sure how that works.

Meanwhile, Hanzee heads around back and has a clear shot at Ed.  Lou tells Ed that he’s being helped outside, so he’s temporarily released.  Elsewhere in the jail, Karl comes face to face with Charlie Gerhardt.

Rhinoceros- Hank awakens and learns of the situation at the department

As Hank slowly comes to life, he hears a transmission on his radio and finally responds.  He learns that there’s a mob ready at the department.  Though reinforcements are 45 minutes away, Hank needs Lou to hold tight.  He can’t go dying without him or he’d never hear the end of it at dinner.

Rhinoceros- Karl negotiates with Bear

The Gerhardt clan decides to go in just as Karl comes out, declaring that he’s an ally.  He introduces himself as Charlie’s lawyer.  If he’s going to die, he wants one last smoke.  Karl tells the men that the highest powers are ready to meet his demands.  Charlie is being processed right now.  As the lawyer, Karl advises that Bear is making this worse.  Since Charlie is 17, he’ll get a reduced sentence.

Though a witness puts him at a crime scene with a gun, Charlie’s shot missed.  At most, he could get attempted murder.  The max sentence is 10, but he’d be out in five for good behavior.  But if he’s taken out now, he’ll be a wanted fugitive for the rest of his life.  The way out?  Fall back and Bear take his men with him, and Karl will make sure that Charlie stays clean.  That works, but Bear wants the butcher instead.  If that happens, Charlie will be linked as an accomplice.

The best option is a fast retreat.  After a tense moment, Bear falls back.

Rhinoceros- Lou and Ed meet up with Hank

As for Ed, he and Lou hopped out of a window and evaded capture.  Ed is still in Lou’s custody as the two make their way through the woods.  Ed is worried about Peggy, but there’s no time to think about that.  Lou spots a police cruiser and flags it down- Hank has arrived.  Ed runs off, but Hank advises against Lou chasing him.

Rhinoceros- Hanzee pursues Ed

As Lou and Hank head off, Hanzee soon emerges from the forest and begins walking in Ed’s direction.

Rhinoceros- Karl knows a lot of words

Oh, and stick around.  Karl knows a lot of words.

If “The Gift of the Magi” was about escalation, then “Rhinoceros” certainly wasn’t about fallout.  In fact, given how close this episode immediately followed the events of the previous one, this almost plays out like one big episode of shootouts, standoffs, and tense situations throughout as the war continues.

Rhinoceros- Peggy asks if Hank is testing her

Peggy told Hank that she and Ed are just bystanders in this crazy war.  If this is all a test, like she thought about Hank questioning her, then they’ve failed.  A bystander’s smallest action can lead to something huge or transformative.  That’s why we often give so much praise to a random bystander if they happen to, out of complete selflessness, help a person in need.  They took a risk on an unknown situation because they felt the need to help- not because they wanted credit.

Rhinoceros- Ed talks about Noreen's book

Here, though, Ed and Peggy may have started as bystanders not intending to cause any harm, but instead of doing the right thing and either confessing to their crimes early or getting help, they’ve inadvertently escalated an already tense Gerhardt family and kicked off the battle with the Kansas City syndicate.  And going by Lou’s words from Season One, we’ve yet to see the extent of battle since we haven’t approached Sioux Falls yet

So if Ed and Peggy are in a test right now, they’ve failed.  Both have dreams of the future: Ed wanted to buy the shop and settle down with a family, while Peggy aspires to make more of herself.  Again, those are dreams, but in reality, the walls are closing in for both because they’re linked to this conflict.

In a continuing struggle for control, neither has any in regards to the war.  Peggy figured she could divert suspicion by having the car refurbished, while Ed hoped that getting rid of Rye’s body and fighting off his attackers would clear him of any guilt.  But all this has done is draw more attention because they tried to cover their tracks and became even more involved.

Rhinoceros- Peggy attacks Dodd

While Ed and Peggy aren’t the smartest knives in the drawer, they don’t just roll over and accept fate.  We’ve seen Ed fight go against the Gerhardt family already both in the premiere and last week in the butcher shop, but now Peggy gets her time to shine when she gets the drop on Dodd, of all people.  Going back again to what Floyd said, it’s dangerous to underestimate a woman’s true strength just by her appearance.

Sure, Peggy may duck and dodge all of Hank’s questions without giving a direct answer, but at least she doesn’t fold and the show doesn’t paint her as a helpless housewife.

Rhinoceros- Hank faces off with Dodd while Hanzee sneaks into the Blomquist home

But sticking with the Blomquist standoff, I have to wonder whether Hank checked in on Peggy after he woke up.  It’d be easy to assume that he did, but she’s still linked to the escalation or, at the very least, hitting Rye.  There’s plenty good reason to at least keep a watchful eye on her, but as far as I can tell, she’s left on her own.  Maybe he was more focused on the immediate threat of aiding Lou once he learned of the situation at the department, but I wish we’d at least gotten a scene of him following up with or checking in on Peggy.

Minor stuff, but it’s something I couldn’t help but notice.  But anyway, most of this episode dealt with the continuing escalation that we got with the shootout last week.  The Gerhardt family, feeling that they’ve gotten the jump on Kansas City, decides to take some time for themselves and help their own by finding Charlie.

Rhinoceros- Floyd tells Dodd to knock off his bullshit

But with Dodd continuing his perceived dominance over Bear and the others, in addition to Simone’s betrayals, the family is splintering.  Joe Bulo previously asked Floyd if her sons would abide by her command.  While Dodd isn’t out of control yet, he’s still doing and saying things that muck up Floyd’s plans.  And despite Floyd’s warnings to stop the bullshit, now Dodd has gone and gotten himself beaten by Peggy.

Rhinoceros- Floyd speaks with Simone

It also seems like Floyd is doing her best to protect Simone from harm.  Though I’ve no way of proving it, I get the inkling that Floyd might be onto the fact that Simone is double-crossing the family.  Maybe it’s because of how she talks to her differently than the boys or when she asks if Simone is with the family.  Floyd is a very smart woman, so I would not be surprised if she’s even the tiniest bit suspicious.  Of course, Floyd won’t have time to consider that now that Kansas City has brought the fight to her.

Rhinoceros- Mike asks Simone where the Gerhardt family is headed now

And even with Simone confiding in Mike Milligan, she did not see this coming because she still wants to trust Milligan.  What makes the use of split-screen is that it gives some characters the impression that things are going along just well, but we as audience know that a situation is about to further escalate.  It helps maintain the tension because it lulls some characters into a false sense of security, all while reminding us that things are only going to get worse.

Rhinoceros- Lou is calm in the face of danger

Such is the situation at the police department.  Patrick Wilson continues to impress as Lou Solverson and he shows how he can go from calm and collected to stern and serious.  He’s given Ed and Peggy an opportunity to come clean, but they turned it down, so he sees no reason to play nice anymore.  While Hank may be a bit more passive in his approach, Lou is done with games not just because Ed and Peggy have been jerking him around, but because the shit is going to stop coming their way.

Rhinoceros- Lou tells Ed that the violence won't rest until Ed and Peggy are dead

Just as Molly told Lester one season ago, Lou knows that Ed and Peggy’s attackers won’t stop until they’re killed.  He’s fed up with them, but he’s not above refusing to give them advice that he knows they’ll need.  He’s still sworn to protect and serve, so even if Ed still killed a man with a meat cleaver, Lou won’t turn him over to the Gerhardt or he’d just be part of the problem.

Rhinoceros- Lou faces off with Bear Gerhardt

And he refuses to show any sign of weakness, despite being outnumbered and outgunned by men who could kill him at any time.  It’s funny: before all this, I’m guessing that Lou never dreamed he’d find himself in a Mexican standoff with a crime family, and despite that, he remains as composed as ever and can figure his way out of a tense situation, same as Peggy did.

Rhinoceros- Karl stands tall against Bear Gerhardt

The real star had to be Karl Weathers, though.  Nick Offerman has appeared here and there this season, but this was his time to shine as a strict advocate of justice.  Whether his drunken ramblings, his coded talk with Ed, or the fact that he stared down the Gerhardt family and managed to talk them down with pure reason and logic, Karl played a huge role in helping save the day.

Rhinoceros- Bear considers his options for Charlie's sake

His negotiation with Bear is, for my money, one of the highlights of the season thus far.  And it helps that Bear cares that much about his son that he’s willing to forego violence just to see him safe.

“Rhinoceros” built on and continued the tense standoffs in “The Gift of the Magi” and managed to balance them with slower, calming moments.  It advanced the war with Kansas City bringing the guns to the Gerhardt family, who were on the cusp of being in a firefight with the police.  With the Gerhardt home now riddled with bullets and Hanzee on Ed’s trail, we’re still far from out of the woods.

Oh, and that ending cover of Man of Constant Sorrow?  Fantastic.

A Look at “Gotham” Season 2, Episode 9: “Rise of the Villains: A Bitter Pill to Swallow”

And now Gotham introduces Eduardo Flamingo.  Because why not, at this rate.  While the main storyline isn’t anywhere near as mundane as last week’s situation with Barbara, it’s still not as interesting as some of the other plots.  Well, the stuff with Ed and Penguin, anyway.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Jessica orders a High Smith Royale

The episode begins with Jessica entering a bar and ordering a High Smith Royale, no ice, per her instructions.  She hands the bartender a wad of cash and he, in turn, opens a door to a hidden room that leads to a casino.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Jessica meets with Michelle Gomez and asks for help in killing Gordon

Jessica speaks with a woman, played by Michelle Gomez, about needing help to have someone killed.  Personal vendettas and cops cost extra since there are always complications, but Jessica is willing to pay.  Once the job is accepted, the job apparently gets done.  Jessica slides over a photo of Jim Gordon.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Gordon checks in on Barbara

We then cut to Jim Gordon, who listens to a doctor discuss Barbara’s condition.  No word yet on when she’ll awaken.  Jim elects to not ride with her to the medical wing at Arkham.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Nygma prepares to give Penguin a needle

Penguin awakens with Nygma in his face.  He soon sticks him with a syringe.  There’s a big night ahead.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Jim and Leslie talk about Barbara and that damn kiss

At GCPD, Leslie gives Jim his phone and asks why he left early in the morning.  It’s not because she snored.  Jim is glad that Galavan is arrested, but he thinks that he still needs to pay.  He tells Barbara that he’s meeting with Barnes at Galavan’s penthouse for evidence.  Jim then stupidly mentions that he also went to the hospital to check on Barbara.

And now to talk about that kiss.  Leslie says that it’s not jealousy.  I think it’s actually petty drama, but anyway, she calls Barbara the devil.  Jim counters that he had to play along, but Leslie says that Jim often gives into his dark side and that’s a problem.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Bruce and Alfred clash over whether Silver St. Cloud gets to stay

Over at Wayne Manor, Bruce has a chat with Silver St. Cloud, who is concerned about her uncle.  Bruce apparently doesn’t believe the things said about Theo, but he does need Silver’s help.  Before Bruce can ask about the offer, in enters Alfred.  In light of recent events and against Bruce’s desires, Alfred wants Silver gone.  Silver doesn’t want to cause trouble and decides to leave, but not before slipping Bruce a hotel key.

Bruce tells Alfred that he had no right, but Alfred disagrees.  He thinks that Bruce expected to learn more about his parents’ killer.  Alfred doesn’t think that there was anything in the envelope.  Bruce figures that Theo wouldn’t gamble so much, so there had to be something valuable.  Getting information, Alfred says, requires a level of deception that Bruce does not possess yet.  Even still, Bruce insists that it’s worth the risk.  Alfred puts his foot down: no more pursuing Theo Galavan or Silver St. Cloud.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Gordon and Piano Man ride up the elevator

As Jim heads up the elevator, he’s joined by a man who is heading to level 56 on a house call.  Tough stuff, but both he and Jim love what they do.  The man then offers Jim a caramel candy.  When Jim refuses, the man pulls out a piano wire and begins to choke Gordon.  This is why you don’t turn down caramel candy.

Upstairs, meanwhile, as officers take photos of the crime scene, Barnes wonders where the hell Gordon is.  He’s just too busy fighting on the elevator.  After a struggle, Jim manages to overtake the man.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Jim brings Piano Man up to Galavan's penthouse

He brings the man with him and tells Barnes that the man tried to kill him.  And this was no random attack.  He then pulls out the man’s cell phone and answers.  It’s Michelle Gomez, who does not respond when she hears labored breathing.  Instead, she interrupts a game of craps and offers the players a large sum if Jim Gordon does not see the sun rise again.  Considering the sun rarely rises in Gotham, I don’t think that’s hard.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Nygma offers Penguin a glass of water

Nygma delivers Penguin a glass of water, admitting that he drugged him for his own benefit.  The two recount their first encounter, with Nygma explaining that he works in forensics.  He threw away Penguin’s clothes, by the way, since they reeked.  In Penguin’s condition, Nygma says that he won’t get far, so he needs to take time and recover.  Even still, Oswald turns down the water.  He asks what Nygma wants.

Ed has been going through a change as of recent- he’s started murdering people.  A funny little thing, that is and it’s thrilling for him to say out loud.  Only three so far, one was his girlfriend.  Penguin thinks that he’s next, but Ed has no ill intent towards him.  He needs advice.  These murders changed him.  And like the butterfly, he’s realized that he cannot be a caterpillar once again.  Nygma brought Penguin here for guidance on this new path.

Now it’s Oswald’s time to laugh.  He struggles out of bed and heads to the window to lament his ruined empire.  After all, he’s a wanted man with no friends and his mother is dead because of his weakness.  This path leads to nothing but destruction and pain.  Wanted or not, Penguin is leaving.  He gets as far as a few steps before collapsing.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Barnes catches Jim holding Piano Man out of a window

Back at Galavan’s tower, Jim punches the assassin awake and demands to know who sent him.  Jim takes some extreme measures and holds the man out the window just as Barnes enters and orders Jim to stand down.  He won’t tolerate that kind of crap.  He asks if Jim losing it, reminding him if the recent incident with Barbara has messed with his head.

An officer alerts the two to a group heading their way and taking out security cameras.  The man says that if the first doesn’t succeed, keep sending more.  Only one person is making it out alive.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Preparing for the assault

Mr. Piano Man is cuffed to the stairs.  Barnes calls for backup and tells forensics man Cortez, played by Danny Berisha, to cut off the lights.  Jim gives Officer Parks, played by Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut, her orders as well, but above all, stay calm.  The officers prepare for someone to come through the doors, only for someone to come down the stairs and slit Cortez’s throats.  Well, he’ll be missed.

Then the door is blown open as assassins open fire.  Parks manages to kill one, with Barnes and Jim managing to take down the others.  Piano Wire Man takes Parks hostage, but then Jim puts one bullet between the man’s eyes.  Glasses tend to look like bullseyes, you know.

Even after all of this, Jim refuses to leave.  This place is their best bet for evidence against Galavan.  If they leave now, the evidence could be destroyed.  Barnes counters that Jim is looking for fight.  Their situation is rather bleak now, with a civilian is dead and Parks scared of her mind.  Barnes tells Jim that they need to escape.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Barnes stabbed

But then Jim notices something in the wall- a monk’s cassock.  The hell is that about?  One man springs to life and tries to stab Jim, but Barnes takes the wound instead.  The blade ends up tearing an artery- if Barnes stands, he’ll bleed out in no time.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Nygma brings Penguin one of Galavan's henchmen to kill

Penguin awakens to a new surprise- a masked man who goes by Mr. Leonard.  Apparently Oswald was talking about Galavan killing his mother.  Leonard worked for Galavan before Jim Gordon had him arrested.  It’s not as good of news as Penguin would have wanted, but Nygma presents this man as a gift to kill.  After all, it’d be some retribution for the death of Penguin’s mother.  Nygma gives Penguin a knife.

As Oswald contemplates his decision, he drops the knife and tells Nygma that he’s done.  He needs some rest and then he’s leaving Gotham forever.  With that, he crawls back into bed.  Nygma, meanwhile, wheels the man away.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Eduardo Flamingo, played by Raul Castillo, receives a call from Michelle Gomez

Meanwhile in somewhere, we’re introduced to Eduardo Flamingo, played by Raul Castillo, who is in the middle of torturing someone when he receives a phone call Michelle Gomez.  She’s in a pinch and wants to hire Flamingo, even though his membership was revoked.  She tells him that the target is Jim Gordon and promises to make it worth his while.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Barnes tells Jim about the line

Jim offers Barnes some liquid courage while the two wait for EMT.  Time for the two to talk about what’s going on with Jim.  In the church that day, Barbara accused Jim of having a monster inside of him and Leslie agrees.  There was a moment when Jim had a gun trained on Barbara.  Had Galavan’s men not entered, he’s not sure what he would have done.  He nearly crossed a line.

The line?  Barnes knows all about the line.  Way back when he was stationed in the desert on his third tour, he and his crew found three insurgents.  The team caught fire and was separated during a sandstorm, leaving Barnes alone with one of the prisoners- a kid.  He was bound, but Barnes put the gun in the kid’s mouth just to threaten the kid and show who’s in charge.  But then he just pulled the trigger and blew off the kid’s head.  That kid woke Barnes up every night until he made peace and realized that he’s just a man.  At the right moment, a man might do anything.  There is no line- just the law.  That’s what separates them from the animals.

Well, that was a speech.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Alfred has Silver St. Cloud's key

Bruce comes to Alfred to say that he’s right.  Pursuing Galavan on his own is too risky.  Best course of action is to inform Jim Gordon.  Alfred calls that common sense at last.  Bruce, meanwhile, prepares to head to bed, but Alfred also says that he sent off the taxi.  He then presents Silver St. Cloud’s hotel key.  Bruce declares to never stop.  Neither will Alfred.  Okay, this did get a chuckle out of me.  Alfred, you sneaky bastard.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Nygma tries again to build Penguin up

Penguin awakens to the sound of music- Nygma is playing on the piano before presenting a riddle: I can bring tears to your eyes and resurrect the dead. I form in an instant and last a lifetime.  What am I?  A memory.  Penguin was humming this song, so Nygma figures that the song holds a memory.  Every night when Oswald was young, his mother would sing that song.  She would also tell young Oswald that he shouldn’t listen to the other children.  He’s handsome, clever, and would grow up to be a great man.  Memories are all that Penguin have, and now they’re like daggers in his heart.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Penguin holds a knife to Nygma's throat

Not all bad.  Nygma has Miss Kringle’s glasses.  He doesn’t feel sadness, but gratitude.  But Penguin doesn’t care to know why.  Nygma continues- they are better off unencumbered.  Penguin said it himself: his mother is dead because of his weakness.  What he needs to realize is that his weakness was his mother.  Penguin takes a knife to Nygma’s neck, declaring that he has nothing left.

A man with nothing that he loves, Nygma says, is a man that cannot be bargained or betrayed.  He answers to no one but himself.  That is the man that Nygma sees before him- a free man.  Oswald lowers the knife.

GCPD arrives downstairs to help Jim and Barnes, but they come under fire.  Edward Flamingo introduces himself, as if his name means something.  He’s coming up soon, but he wants to feast on Jim’s friends first.  Jim will go down to meet him, despite the fact that Flamingo killed four cops.  Barnes refuses to let Gordon go down by himself, but Jim counters that Flamingo is after him and no one else.  Jim heads for the elevator while Parks stays with Barnes.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Jim fights Flamingo

On the way down, ignoring a call from Leslie, Jim finds the bodies of the other officers.  He’s ambushed from behind as Flamingo trips him up with a chain.  The two fight, with Jim eventually managing to get an advantage over Flamingo.  He punches him over and over again, but Flamingo just laughs.  So Jim keeps on punching him and eventually sticks his gun in Flamingo’s mouth.

His finger on the trigger, he contemplates his decision, but refuses to kill Flamingo.  Instead, he reads Flamingo his rights.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Nygma still has Galavan's henchman

Penguin, meanwhile, asks what happened to Galavan’s lackey.  Nygma reveals that he has the man stuffed in a closet.  A party isn’t a party without entertainment, Gertrude always said, so Nygma wheels out the man.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Selina comes to warn Bruce about Silver St. Cloud

To my irritation, Selina Kyle is inside Wayne Manor and here to save Bruce from Silver.  She has proof that Silver is bad and asks if he’s interested.  Since Bruce doesn’t respond, I assume that means he is.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Officer Parks dies

At GCPD, as Flamingo is brought into holding, he feigns poor health, but then takes a bite out of crime- I mean, out of Parks’ neck and doesn’t let go.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Jim and Leslie learn that Flamingo killed Officer Parks

Leslie, meanwhile, stitches up Jim, who tells her that he’s afraid about almost crossing a line.  He then asks Leslie why the hell she’s with him, but she’s got no clue.  She wants to know the truth from now on- always.  It’s a promise.  Leslie answers Jim’s phone and receives a call from Alvarez, who shares that Flamingo killed Parks before he could be put in lockup.  Should I care?

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Theo speaks with Tabitha

Jessica talks with Theo, who wanted her to do nothing about Jim Gordon until she received orders.  This is about Barbara, she says, so she’s let Barbara get into her head.  Theo counters that everything is ready.  Bruce Wayne will die and the city will be theirs.  All they’ve worked for will soon belong to them.  If Jessica endangers that again, Theo promises to cut her throat.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Dumb cop questions men in robes

On the docks, Father Creole meets with other hooded men.  A lone officer asks the men for ID, but because he’s an idiot and this is Gotham, the officer is stabbed by every single hooded figure as the group makes its way into the city.

As we continue along with this “Rise of the Villains” arc, if there’s anything I can commend Gotham with this season, it’s for continually building character arcs.  Some arcs aren’t as good or well-written as others, but I appreciate this more serialized approach allows the events of one episode to play right into the other.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Leslie says that Jim finds way to give into his dark side

That’s where we are right now with Gordon’s arc as we deal with the fallout from Barbara’s…well, fall.  Gordon is still considering what she said about his dark side and now both Leslie and Barnes confront him on that.  As is often the case in Batman lore, there’s a line that separates the good from the bad.  Once you cross that line, you’re no different from the very criminals you’re trying to apprehend.

The law may not always lead to the results that you want, but it’s better than going down a dark path of no return.  I realize that I’m giving a basic description of what separates the likes of Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon, and their future allies from the rogues.  It goes much deeper than that, but it’s something that Gotham has attempted to emphasize through Jim’s struggles to do the right thing in a corrupt city.

The Scarecrow- Penguin offers to help Jim again

The problem is that Jim has already been down this path of wavering between doing the right and wrong thing.  Hell, this season started with him going to Penguin for a favor, again, which resulted in him killing a man.  No mention of that, by the way, but I’m guessing if he admitted that, he wouldn’t be allowed to walk out of the GCPD.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Barnes tells his story about when he crossed the line

So while Gotham takes us to familiar territory with Jim wanting to step over that line and doesn’t tell us much new, this allows the show to add some development to Barnes.  Since his introduction, he’s been a stern, no-nonsense kind of boss who has been quick to weed out corrupt cops.  But until now, we haven’t dealt with why he has this edge.  His reveal that he killed a prisoner of war showed why he’s so against crossing the line.

He knows Gordon’s desire to cross a line and play bad cop, but he also knows the long term damage that can have on an individual.  Again, crossing the line may give you some temporary satisfaction, but you’ve still got blood on your hands and it makes you no different from the very criminals you want to stop.

As far as the episode itself, it was fine.  The firefight inside Galavan’s penthouse moved at a reasonable pace and the action was decent, but we lost yet another individual in the line of duty.  For as much as Barnes and Gordon pushed to organize this crop of recruits for Strike Force, they’re still unprepared.  I’d like to feel something for Parks’ death, especially when she’s identified by name, but it’s hard for me to be invested in a character when they’re introduced and then killed in the same episode.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Flamingo bites Officer Parks

Gruesome sight, I’ll admit, to Flamingo to take a literal bite out of her as she bled out, but I’m curious why none of the officers thought to shoot Flamingo instead of trying to wrest or beat him off of Parks.  But hey, Jim learns the price of trying to do the right thing can still hurt others around him.  After all, he didn’t shoot and kill Barbara, so we’re all stuck with her.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Flamingo about to bite Parks

Why Eduardo Flamingo?  I don’t know.  A man who likes to eat the faces of his victims is the sort of wackiness I’ve come to expect from Gotham, and yet no pink motorcycle.  It probably would have stood out too much, being pink and all.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Alfred tells Silver St. Cloud to go home, Bruce objects

The Bruce and Alfred stuff was fine, but not as effective as the previous episode.  Bruce seems committed to finding out more about Theo, but at the same time, he did agree to Alfred’s terms and conditions regarding their partnership, so at least Alfred didn’t waver.  But now the show has given a reason for Selina to come back into the fold.  Terrific.

A Hard Pill to Swallow- Nygma and Penguin

Nygma’s finally having his storyline intersect with another character that’s not Miss Kringle, and I’m glad it’s Penguin.  This builds off of their brief encounter from the first season, but helps to build them both.  No longer the king of Gotham, Penguin desires to leave the city, as the death of his mother has left him a broken man.  He even tries to warn Nygma that the dark path he’s walking leads to nothing but pain.

While that may be true, Nygma finds it all too intoxicating right now to care.  He’s on top right now and has a new sense of purpose that comes from murdering.  Like Penguin, Nygma can be very calculating in his approach at times, but this being Edward Nygma, he’s more quizzical as well.  I’m glad that if anyone was going to bring Penguin out of his funk, it’s Nygma, as he’s the one to remind Penguin that this loss can make him stronger.  Here’s hoping that it does.

“A Bitter Pill to Swallow” felt familiar with Gordon wanting to cross a line, but while that didn’t tell us much new about him, it at least allowed for some character development for Barnes.  Again, like “Tonight’s the Night,” the main plot wasn’t the most interesting part of the episode.  That, for me, went to the Nygma and Penguin plot.  Well, maybe these hooded figures will liven things a bit.

Oh, and no Bullock this week.  Where was he?

A Look at “The Walking Dead” Season 6, Episode 6: “Always Accountable”

Oh right, Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham are out doing things.  They’re Always out doing things that they will be held…Accountable for their actions.  Hmm?  Okay, that was terrible.  And this is “Always Accountable.”

Always Accountable- Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham continue along

The episode begins with Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham still leading the massive herd behind them.  They still need to gain some distance before the cutoff.  They soon turn onto 642, but then receive gunfire from others.  Daryl falls off of his motorcycle while others continue to pursue Sasha and Abraham.  Run as fast as they can, they still get chased from every which way.

But Sasha and Abraham soon return fire while Daryl is forced to continue running.  One car pursuing him crashes, with another taking its place.

Always Accountable- Daryl hides the motorcycle

Daryl takes cover in the woods, having evaded his pursuers for the moment.  He soon falls off of his motorcycle, but finds a charred and helmet wearing corpse on the ground beside him.  Well, that’s unexpected.  He soon continues his journey, passing other charred corpses along the way.  As Daryl is forced to push his motorcycle, it weighs him down.  He radios to Sasha and Abraham, but just gets static.

Always Accountable- Two random girls

It appears that Daryl’s fall hurt harder than expected, as he struggles to remove his jacket and glove, his left arm now bleeding.  He grabs his crossbow, camouflages his motorcycle, and continues on foot.  Daryl soon comes across two women who apparently earn what they took, and that’s when it’s lights out for Daryl.

Always Accountable- Gun in Daryl's face

He awakens bound and finds a man pointing a gun at his face.  He’s ordered to follow the three through the woods.  The three claim to be reasonable people with a code.  That code apparently includes pointing a gun at your captive.  The three stop to pick up a Patty.  The man recounts how he got to this point.  At the start, the forest was full of walkers that walked right into the flames.  They thought everyone else was fighting.

Daryl challenges their intelligence, which gets him a gun in the face again.  Are they being stupid?  Daryl tells them that he has somewhere to be.  The man claims that Daryl is one of them and then tells him to keep moving.

Always Accountable- Arriving at the food plant

The four soon arrive at the Patrick Fuel Company.  The three lament that Patty may be gone, while also talking about a fire that they apparently caused, so they need another plan.  But then one of the girls collapses.

Always Accountable- Daryl struggles to open a bag

Daryl uses the distraction to grab the bag and escape.  When he’s on his own, he again tries to radio to Sasha and Abraham, but gets static.  A walker approaches and Daryl fiddles through the bag for every waking second until he finally retrieves his crossbow.  Don’t you love false tension?  I’d like to think Daryl was faster than that.  Otherwise, he would have also noticed the insulin cooler in that bag.

Always Accountable- Abraham and Sasha plan their next move

Anyway, back to Sasha and Abraham, who spot no sign of Daryl.  It’s strange.  There weren’t enough people for these shooters to just wait for a surprise attack.  No, they wanted someone specific.  Abraham figures that Daryl went to Alexandria, but Sasha prefers to stay put and wait for Daryl to come to them.

Always Accountable- Sasha and Abraham in town

The two head into town.  Abraham wants to kill a lone walker, but Sasha advises against that, saying that the two don’t need to leave bread crumbs.  Also, the name Dixon is etched on the door of the building they enter.  Inside, as the two search the rooms, Abraham finds one room that belonged to a soldier.  He wants to kill the walker behind the glass, but the door is locked and there’s no way it can escape.

Abraham digs around while Sasha decides to take a temporary siesta.  But Abraham is itching to kill the remaining walker in his new, temporary home.  So he wants to give the walker a name.  Sasha calls this his fault.  She was going slow until he jumped in.  Abraham says that Sasha was out of control earlier, though both now claim to be in control.  But is that why Abraham wanted to kill the walker?  No, it’s because loose ends make his ass itch.  If he’s not guiding his psyche, it’s because shit hits the fan without respite.

There was respite, mind you, at the party, but then Abraham reminds Sasha of her outburst.  If you have a roof over your head, walls, and such, Sasha counters, then you have choices.  Without walkers, bullets, and shit hitting the fan, Sasha figures that Abraham is episode title-I mean Abraham is Always Accountable.  Right now, he can stand watch or sleep.  He picks the former.  They’ll reassess in the morning to figure out what the hell they’re doing here.

Always Accountable- Daryl confronts his captors

Back the forest, Daryl confronts his captors.  He takes their gun and asks what’s in the duffel bag.  After all, they put him through too much shit just to give it back.  It’s a matter of principle.  He settles for taking the guy’s wooden figurine and that will do.  Daryl returns the bag and heads off.

And then a damn truck bursts through the trees.  Men come out and demand what they’re owed.  Or rather, what was stolen, not to mention the gas needed to come out and find the three.  After all, as a man named Wade says, they know the rules, even if they are batshit.  Daryl helps the three find cover and, for some stupid reason, returns their gun to use for protection.

Daryl makes some noise to attract one of the men, who calls out to Wade after he’s bitten by a walker.  Wade joins him and hacks off the man’s arm.  The two soon head off.  Well, the three realize that Daryl wasn’t with them after all.  So, after all, why would he return to help them?  Well, Daryl figures that he may be stupid, too.

Always Accountable- Abraham finds an armed walker

We return to the office as Abraham loads his gun.  On a bridge, he finds a walker skewered by a fence.  He also finds a van and a container holding a handy-dandy RPG.  And cigars in a nearby box as well?  The man has hit the jackpot, but he’s gonna need the walker’s launcher.  Setting his rifle down, he gets dangerously close to the walker and struggles to retrieve the launcher.  He hesitates for some time and eventually falls back.  As a consolation prize, he lights up one of the cigars.

But then the fence holding the walker begins to strain and the walker soon falls to the ground.  Luckily, the launcher managed to hang onto the pole.

Always Accountable- Sasha and Abraham talk about life

He brings his gifts to Sasha and is confident about the condition of the others.  Whatever’s going on at Alexandria is being managed- he knows that much.  Here, the two have beer, air conditioning, and walls.  The table is set for the rest of their hopefully long lives.  He’s been feeling the urge to make some plays before he gives his last breath.  Things will go on before that, but that hadn’t occurred to him until now.  Abraham admits that he likes the way Sasha calls bullshit on…well, shit, and he’d like to get to know her better.

But, Sasha counters, what makes her think that she wants that?  Abraham claims that a man can tell.  Regardless, she says that Abraham has some stuff to take care of first.

Always Accountable- Finding the ruined home

In the woods, Daryl’s three companions talk of what happened to them when the outbreak happened.  People traded anything and everything for safety until you’ve got nothing left but existing.  Daryl figures that no one is safe anymore, so you shouldn’t promise that.  One of the women, Tina, rushes towards the charred remains of a home that belonged to two people they knew who are now charred corpses.

The walkers begin to reanimate, but Daryl takes care of them in no time.  Too late, though.  The girl is bitten when she slips and falls right between the walkers.  What compelled her to do something so stupid get that close to two corpses when there’s no way of knowing whether they’ll reanimate is beyond me.

As burials are built, Daryl goes through the standard questions the group has developed for newcomers: how many walkers has the man killed?  His response is a dozen.  As for how many people?  None.  Why?  Because there’d be no going back to how things were.  Daryl talks of a place he’s from where people are like the way things were, more or less.  The man considers it, but goes back to digging.

He soon retrieves his motorcycle and invites the two to follow him.  He has no idea of knowing if Sasha and Abraham are alive, but he’s optimistic.  But then he realizes that, holy shit, he can still be double-crossed, and that’s just what happens.

Always Accountable- Daryl is double crossed

The man then pulls gun and demands that Daryl surrender his crossbow.  They test the motorcycle and leave Daryl on his own.  Though they claim to be sorry, Daryl promises that they will be.

Always Accountable- Daryl finds Patty

After finding a panel in the ground that matches the fuel company, he then removes some branches and trees to reveal a truck.  The license plate reads ‘Patty002.’  Oh, so that’s why.

Always Accountable- Abraham and Sasha hear a truck approach

Abraham, meanwhile, decides to test the uniform when they hear a vehicle approach.  The two join Daryl, who attempts to radio to Rick, but receives no response….at first.  Soon enough, he hears one word: ‘Help.’

“Always Accountable” has a strong start.  It shows us that while things are still crazy in Alexandria, life on the road isn’t any easier, despite the characters maintaining a good distance from the walkers.  This episode may have even worked without running into the other people because we haven’t had much time devoted to Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham ever since the season started.

There isn’t a ton to grab from this episode because the themes and messages are ones we’ve gotten before.  While The Walking Dead is generally good with dialogue, there are points where it just spells out what the audience can infer on its own.

Always Accountable- Sasha and Abraham talk control

Such is the case with Sasha and Abraham.  Sasha seems to be trying to convince herself and Abraham that she’s not the unhinged mess that she was last season.  If anything, she’s a bit calmer and less likely to swing wildly, as Abraham reminds her, but she still doesn’t appear to be all there.

Try- Michonne sees shades of her former self in Sasha

But she’s learned from Michonne and Rosita’s help, as she isn’t the one going out and looking for trouble.  While Abraham has always been one to find a fight instead of letting it come to him, Sasha notices how he goes out of his way to antagonize and kill walkers that don’t pose any real threat to him.  Sure, they could be a problem down the line, but if they aren’t bothering anyone, there’s no need to instigate a situation.

Always Accountable- Abraham is in control

Abraham needs conflict in order to keep moving from day to day.  He’ll get antsy if he’s calm and complacent, all just waiting for the world to take him.  So he constantly puts himself in danger not just to rid the world of a few more walkers, but also just to feel something.  That kind of adrenaline rush, putting ourselves in harm’s way and having a brush with death, is an intoxicating feeling.

When, at the brink of death, you come out of a situation alive, it’s like you’ve tested the fabric of human nature and bested it.  Abraham always needs to challenge himself, but in Sasha’s mind, he’s losing a bit of himself with his reckless actions.  While Abraham brings great strength to the group, he could be of more use with some control.

Always Accountable- Abraham struggles to combat the walker

But now, more than ever, Abraham needs to keep himself active.  With the Alexandria Safe Zone, there’s a chance to slow down and plan for the future instead of living One Day at a Time.  He has to keep himself busy.  As a sergeant, he knows what it’s like to lose yourself in combat, and we nearly saw him do that when trying to retrieve the launcher from the walker.  How that walker ended up like that is another question altogether.  But Abraham would rather suffer through insomnia than get some sleep because he can’t bring himself to fully relax.  At the very least, it looks like he’s found some companionship in Sasha.

The Distance- Rosita and Abraham have a moment

I imagine Rosita probably wouldn’t be too pleased with that, but hey, maybe she’s just a fuck-buddy.

Always Accountable- Gun to the face

Then there’s Daryl, who, despite his rough, gruff exterior, searches for the good in people.  It’s what made Aaron pick him to help with recruiting because Aaron saw that Daryl has a good heart.  However, what separates Daryl from someone like Rick or Carol is he’s a bit quicker at letting down his guard around a stranger.

The Distance- Aaron is set up and questioned by Rick

While I don’t approve of Rick punching out Aaron, claiming ownership of his food, and attempting to separate him from Eric, I get why he would do that.  Dick move, but as Rick told Morgan in this season’s premiere, he doesn’t take chances anymore, even if the person he encounters does end up having honest intentions.  Plus, Rick is just a paranoid ass.

Always Accountable- Daryl tells his captors that they'll be sorry

Here, though, I would think that Daryl is a bit more careful than he is.  He was knocked out cold, threatened at gunpoint, and had his crossbow stolen.  Once he got the upper hand, he should have kept the gun until he knew the three wouldn’t pose any threat whatsoever.  Instead, he let his conscience get the best of him and tried to recruit the three for Alexandria.  And now he’s without his motorcycle and crossbow.

For this episode, it feels like Daryl has learned not to be so trusting.  Given his line to the two after being robbed, I’m certain that this won’t be the last that he encounters them or his crossbow and motorcycle.

Always Accountable- Three new faces

The three newcomers- well, two right now- really aren’t all that interesting right now, if I’m honest.  They’re not Wolves, as far as I can tell, because their first instinct isn’t to kill, just to plunder.  They know about the forest fire and are concerned about this larger group that deals in exchanging good and services for protection.  And given how one needed insulin, we at least see that they take care to protect their own, no matter how weak, instead of leaving them to die.

Always Accountable- Daryl's captors make off with his crossbow and motorcycle

We’re not told much about them or the men who come to them, and I’m fine with that because this feels like setup for something greater down the line.  Though I do hope that there’s another confrontation, if only for Daryl to get some form of justice for being so damn gullible.  And given how his crossbow was stolen, I could be wrong on this, but I’m willing to guess that the man who stole it is Dwight.  Who?  We’ll get to that later.  He’s not identified, as far as I can tell, but that’s the comic reader in me wanting to speculate.

Always Accountable- Daryl finally retrieves his crossbow

My only issue is that I feel Daryl was written without the full extent of his survival skills and abilities.  He spends so much time trying to fish out his crossbow that it was laughable.  He could easily have just run off for a bit to gain some distance, but to struggle with it until the last second was ridiculous.  And again, even if he is a caring individual, he should have held onto that gun until he knew that the two weren’t an immediate threat.

Again, I think the start of this episode was great.  The shootout with Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham being attacked and almost cornered from all sides felt very reminiscent of Rick and the others being herded in Terminus.  But Sasha had a point: there wouldn’t be many people coming that way, so these attackers had to be waiting for someone specific.  Another point I’m guessing will be addressed later.

“Always Accountable” was good, but not great.  It gave some screen time to our folks on the outside, but it gave us character beats that we’ve seen before with much better writing, which was easily the weakest part of this episode.  It did manage to set up a new potential conflict not just with these men talking about the rules, but the two who made off with Daryl’s crossbow and motorcycle.  In addition, just who is the one pleading for help on that radio?

A Look at “Suffragette”

Suffragette- Poster

I think one thing that keeps a film relevant is its message.  You can have a strong cast, director, writer, and crew, but when the lights come up and the movie has ended, you hope it leaves a strong enough impression that keeps you thinking about it.  It also helps if the film’s message coincides with something going on in society at the time, and that’s what we get here with Suffragette.

It works on many levels by giving us relatable characters who go through good character arcs and make many sacrifices in the name of earning a right they feel is theirs.  It shows the importance of being a proactive part of a growing movement and lets us see what happens when half the world’s population decide that if the powers that be won’t listen to reason, the women will make them listen by any and all means necessary.  This is Suffragette.

The film begins in London, 1912.  Women haven’t had the best of days.  As are the commonly accepted beliefs, they aren’t represented in many, if any, facets of society.  Instead, they’re represented by their husbands, because that’s fair, right?  They have an inadequate work and home balance.  But above all else, they don’t have the right to vote.  There are few outlets to vent, as of now, but we hear rumblings that a certain Emmeline Pankhurst, who is wanted by the authorities, advocates civil disobedience.

Suffragette- Maud Watts, played by Carey Mulligan, window shops

Many of the women in the area work at a local factory and are made to scrub, clean, iron- the whole nine yards, minus being in the household.  One of the employees is our protagonist, Maud Watts, played by Carey Mulligan.  We follow Maud as she heads home, but stops to admire some nice looking dolls in a store.  It’s such a calm moment.

Suffragette- Throwing rocks through a store window

So let’s ruin it.  Another woman nearby, who we’ll meet again in a second, takes some rocks out of her stroller and hurls them through the glass, creating a frenzy as other women also throw rocks.  All the while, she shouts out ‘Votes for women’ as she’s subdued.  Well, she succeeded in getting everyone’s attention.  I’ll give her that much.  When Maud returns home, she tells her husband, Sonny, played by Ben Whishaw, what happened while he patches up her hand.

Suffragette- Violet Miller, played by Anne-Marie Duff, tells Maud about an upcoming meeting

Next day at the factory, the man running the ship, Norman Taylor, played by Geoff Bell, berates one of the employees- our rock throwing hero, Violet Miller, played by Anne-Marie Duff.  Violet has been late to work one day too many times.  Well, it’s not like she’s got obligations at home, including caring for her coworker daughter Maggie, played by Grace Stottor.  Violet does share news with Maud about an upcoming hearing at Parliament regarding the vote.  Violet plans to attend.

Suffragette- Woman speaks in favor of women gaining the right to vote

Even outside, a woman talks in favor of her fellow ladies getting the right long denied to them.  It’s not hard to get that it’s tough for women right now.  Sure, they could just play the game and respect the law, but instead of women respecting the law, they argue, how about making the law respectable?  A fair argument, I will admit.

Suffragette- Maud takes her son, George, to visit the Dr. Edith Ellyn, played by Helena Bonham Carter

Back at home, Maud tells Sonny that she plans to accompany Violet to Parliament and discuss their desire for increased wages.  Sonny is less than enthused about this.  She then takes her son George, played by Adam Michael Dodd, for a checkup at the doctor’s office.  The doctor in question is Edith Ellyn, played by Helena Bonham Carter.  Looking around the office and seeing the newspaper clippings and articles related to suffrage, Maud figures Edith for a soldier.

Rather, Edith may be a suffrage supporter, but as opposed to standing on the sidelines, she’s more interested in actions, not words.

Suffragette- Arthur Steed, played by Brendan Gleeson, and other inspectors talk about the women identified as suffragists

As Maud leaves, someone snaps a photo.  We cut to an investigation office where a group of men go over the photos of suspected suffragists.  Some of these women, like Maud, don’t have to be suffragists, but for the investigators, it’s guilt by association.  Leading this investigation is Inspector Arthur Steed, played by Brendan Gleeson.  The plan is to arrest the agitators.  But Maud is a woman that none of the men have seen before.

We return to the factor, where Maud spots Mr. Taylor trying to put the moves on one of the women.  She makes a noise to distract him before getting back to work.  Soon after, Violet tells Maud that she’s been selected to speak at Parliament.  Maud decides to accompany her.

Suffragette- Violet shows up to Parliament with fresh bruises

But when the day finally comes, Violet arrives with fresh bruises on her face.  In light of this, one of the women suggests that Violet back out of her testimony.  However, none of the men could identify Violet by her face, so it’s suggested that Maud deliver the testimony.  Maud is reluctant, but she eventually relents and decides to speak on Violet’s behalf.

Suffragette- Maud testifies before Parliament

Inside, Maud initially prepares to deliver Violet’s words, but she drops the act and tells her story instead.  She’s worked at the factory for many years, just as her mother did before her.  The work is and always has been hard, and you don’t need schooling for this kind of repetitive manual labor.  And in this line of work, as a woman, you’re sure to live a very short life.  It also doesn’t help that women earn just 12 schillings to every man’s 19.

The men, appearing sympathetic to Maud’s case, ask her what the right to vote would mean to her.  Maud is caught off guard by this question, as she honestly never thought of that before.  So, the men ask, why is she here?  Her response is simple: there has to be another way of living.  Indeed, an amendment could help with that.  It all sounds promising and Maud even tells Sonny later that David Lloyd George could be supportive.

Maud later meets Edith for tea.  We learn a bit more about Edith: she’s very much into chemistry and has the educational background to account for her love of it and her job.  Her husband, though, inherited his business.

Suffragette- Women await feedback from Parliament

Following this, Maud and Violet join a joyous crowd of women awaiting to hear Parliament’s judgment.  The members soon arrive for the moment of truth…and they learn that, according to the Prime Minister’s verdict, there is not sufficient enough evidence to support a suffrage bill.  As expected, the women are livid.  They yell ‘Sham’ and ‘lie’ as the officials retreat.  The crowd grows rowdy, so the officers get to work as a riot breaks out.  Blood is shed, women are clubbed and fall to the ground, and all hell breaks loose.

So Maud is jailed along with other women.  One woman is bailed out by her husband and she begs him to bail out the others, but he refuses.

Inspector Steed speaks with Maud privately.  Maud, of course, is not a suffragette, but that doesn’t mean she can’t see where the other women are coming from.  Steed suggests that Maud serve her time and then go home.  Maud argues that Parliament promised women the right to vote, but Steed counters that, at the end of the day, Parliament promised nothing and delivered nothing.

While Sonny is left to endure taunts by coworkers at the plant and Edith’s store has been vandalized, Maud and the other women serve out their time.  It’s here that Maud learns about some of the women who take matters into their own hands.  A few refuse to eat and go on hunger strikes, for example.

Maud is eventually released and receives a consolation prize: a medal that commemorates her first incarceration.  I’m not sure if that’s meant to be endearing or if the women just decided to be dicks, but hey, a medal is a medal.  Maud is dropped off at home, where a furious Sonny can’t even bear to look at her.  He demands that she never shame him like that again.  Right, buddy, you’re the one who is suffering right now.

We head back to the factory and Violet has good news for Maud.  There will be a gathering on Friday and she will be speaking.  Maud later tells Sonny that she’ll be working late as her cover story.  At the same time, Steed and the rest of the investigators also learn that a certain someone will be making an appearance very soon.

Suffragette- Emmeline Pankhurst, played by, who else, Meryl Streep, addresses the crowd of women

Indeed, Friday night approaches.  Tons of women line the streets to hear the voice of their leader.  Tensions are high as the officers wait for any opportunity to subdue her.  With great fanfare and the support of many women behind her, the speaker and woman of the hour emerges: Emmeline Pankhurst, played by, who else, Meryl Streep.

Miss Pankhurst tells her legion that they are in the midst of a battle that has raged for 50 years.  Young girls, daughters, mothers, women alike must soldier on in this ongoing clash against the establishment.  Words alone will not do.  It takes deeds and sacrifices to prove that you’re willing to fight for an equal future for you and your children.  The women don’t want to be lawbreakers, but lawmakers.  Defy the government and incite rebellion by any and all means, even if it means violence.

Well, gird your loins, ladies and gentlemen, because it looks like the women are headed to battle.

I don’t think anyone can predict the immediate or how much impact a film will have before its release if it unintentionally ends up coming out alongside a social or political movement.  Once it’s in theaters, though, the implications are there and make a film feel even more relevant because it’s telling us a story that we’re living through right now.


For example, I think Milk is a well-made and well-acted film.  I don’t think Sean Penn should have won over Mickey Rourke for Best Actor, but that’s beside the point.

Prop 8

The point is that its release held even more importance and relevance for people in California who were tangled with Proposition 8.

Selma- Walking


Same goes with 2014’s Selma.  Another great film in its own right, but holds more significance with the ongoing ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and public discussions of racial issues.

Sally Field talks about war

Films often make us look at ourselves and life around us and wonder just how much or real life is being imitated on the silver screen.  At the same time, actors, who somehow wield a great amount of influence, use their experiences both in and out of film to speak out and be advocates on social issues.  Not too long ago, someone like Sally Field would be cut off on some networks for speaking out against war.

Patricia Arquette calls for equal pay

Meanwhile, Patricia Arquette can win an Oscar and, in addition to thanking the Academy, advocate for equal pay between men and women- a conversation that seems to be growing.

Suffragette- Inspector Steed speaks with Maud

And Suffragette, I feel, holds a bit more prominence because it presents a familiar picture of women fighting for the right to vote.  Not even equal rights across the board- just access to the ballot box.  This is a story we’re all too familiar with in all cultures: a group that feels denied its basic right to something takes to the streets and advocates for change.

Now I’m just one heartless cynic, but I’m of the belief that we’ll never get to a time where there will be 100 percent equality across all creeds, colors, or groups in general.  There will always be someone that strives to be the alpha.  I think back to a line from the film Ghosts of Mississippi, where one character remarked that America, for instance, may be legally integrated, but emotionally, the people would always be segregated.  I tend to agree.

The very ideas and concepts that make us focus on our differences instead of our similarities still run deep in many facets of life.  The struggle to overcome them is not and may never be over.  You may think I sound pessimistic, and you’re right, though I prefer realistic.  What I’m saying is that the battle for one right doesn’t equate to acceptance from your peers.  That’s just reaching one tier while preparing to top the next.

Suffragette- Give women the right to vote

Much like Selma, Suffragette has the advantage of telling a focused story.  This isn’t about the global suffrage movement and it doesn’t try to put this story in a larger context.  It’s about a group of women in London who just wanted more from life.  People can become too complacent in their lot if they feel that they’re getting along just fine.  If you have a modest living, then sure, you may not live the life of the rich and famous, but there’s no reason to be disappointed with what you have.  To some, the idea of bettering yourself may not even occur to you if there’s no need or desire.

Great Debaters- Civil disobedience

When you have social movements like this, you’re bound to have two types: the ones who want to push for change, no matter what the consequences, and those who would prefer to be cautious.  It’s similar to the final point made in the last debate of The Great Debaters: an unjust law is no law at all.  How is a person to resist?  With violence or civil disobedience?

Suffragette- Maud is asked what the vote would mean to her

For some, like Maud, the idea of gaining the right to vote never occurred to them because they saw nothing wrong with how they lived, even if they were second class citizens.  However, as more tend to speak out, you become aware of the disadvantages you face and that pushes you to action.  But the execution is the challenge.  How do you change minds and hearts?

Suffragette- Maud argues that war is a language men understand

Through simple protest and possibly becoming a martyr, or trying to work within the system?  Suffragette gives us women who, at first, don’t necessarily seek the right to vote, but would like their ideas and voices to be heard.  And as Maud mentions, war is a language people understand.

Victoria Woodhull

I think back to Victoria Woodhull, first female candidate for President, way back in 1872.  Despite the fact that women would not have the right to vote for almost another 40-50 years, in some countries, she took a risk that she knew could earn her scrutiny not just from men, but women who thought she took her actions too far.  The same could be said for some of the women in Suffragette who are just bystanders.  Sure, they might want better lives, but they aren’t willing to upset the established order.

Suffragette- Maud talks about her hard labor

Maud is one of those women, and not just because she’s a fictional character in a universe filled with some actual, real-life figures.  She represents the common woman who accepts that she makes and is treated less than a man, but endures this treatment because it’s all she knows.  As evidenced by her testimony to Parliament- probably one of my favorite scenes, the more I think about it- she never considered more because it never occurred to her.  But despite that, she acknowledges that there are better ways to live beyond her current situation.

Suffragette- Demonstration

What unites the women as a whole is their common cause to be seen as equals with their male counterparts.  Maud even points out to Inspector Steed that women make up half the world’s population, so they can’t all be silenced.  At the same time, many of the women are content aren’t willing to drop everything, give up their families, children, or jeopardize their lives for a basic right.

Suffragette- Inspector Steed tells Maud that he intends to enforce the law

Again, there are those who don’t want to become militant because they feel that they’ve too much to lose.  Work within the system, obey the law, keep your head down, always respond in the affirmative, do what your superiors demand, and always keep on a happy face.  Do all of those things and the establishment will not notice and reward your diligence.  At least, that’s what some hope.  But if you’re not a lawmaker or someone who enforces the rules, all you can do is dream.

Suffragette- Blowing up a home

So when the government or higher-ups in society don’t or won’t meet you halfway after you’ve appeased them, what option is there but violent activism?  The women humble themselves, don’t cause a fuss, and make a rational case as to why they should have the right to vote, but their efforts prove fruitless.  In that case, as Pankhurst tells her followers, words alone won’t do.  You have to shake up the way things are and force people to pay attention to you, no matter the cost.


It’s a tactic we’ve seen employed by protesters many times, even today, whether in regards to voting rights, worker’s rights- if you fight back with force against an oppressive regime, you’re sometimes seen as uncontrollable, radical, savage, and every other negative association that would make your effort all for naught.  But if you’re mostly nonviolent, then you garner sympathy from those who don’t like seeing people assaulted.

Suffragette- Rocks through windows

And while I don’t endorse tactics like shattering windows or blowing up homes as a means to get a point across, I do understand the frustration of wanting something you feel is yours by right.  Breaking the law is still a crime, but for some, including the women, that’s the best way to get your cause some attention.  Dramatic action does tend to do a better job of shaking people out of apathy.

Suffragette- Police break up protest

Suffragette may have a dreary look that mirrors the complacent mindset of some women at the time, but that makes the more violent scenes stand out when they happen.  There’s not a ton of violence in this film.  In fact, I think I can count the number of intense confrontations with law enforcement on one hand.  It’s not just violence for the sake of violence.  It’s showing that the women are ready to put everything on the line and more to make a point.

Suffragette- Officer about to strike suffragist

I can tell already that some people aren’t going to be comfortable with seeing scenes of women being beaten by police.  There’s even an instance of a character being force-fed after going on a self-imposed hunger strike.  That scene alone was uncomfortable, but I see this making people angry.  Hell, when watching this in the cinema, there was a woman in the row behind me that kept kicking the seat in front of her out of anger.  The audience experience here was very similar to that of The Hunting Ground.

Suffragette- Maud hugs Violet

Though Suffragette tells the story of one battle in a long, ongoing struggle that women face to this day, I do think the film does a good job at making these characters feel sympathetic.  These aren’t antagonistic women- they’re just fed up with the way things are and want something different, even when they know it will be an uphill battle.

Suffragette- Maud harassed at work

And it doesn’t help that the women realize that they have just as much to gain as they have to lose.  Even being seen as a supporter opens them up to criticism and harassment from male coworkers, superiors, and their husbands.  Not to mention so much time devoted to helping the movement means less time helping yourself and being there for your family, as Maud learns the hard way, but I won’t spoil that entire plot.

While all of the women of Suffragette may not be on board with the more extremist tactics, they at least appear open to the concept of more rights and how they can make a better life for themselves.  If you’re stuck in your ways and don’t have a problem, there’d be no need to consider supporting a movement other than through your words, but words aren’t enough.


This is my problem with what we call armchair activism today.  People announce their support and solidarity for some sort of tragedy, but their backing dwindles down to nothing than a hashtag or a photo filter change.  Hell, we have this going on right now with the Paris situation, but consider- marriage equality, Bring Back Our Girls, Kony, there have been many instances of people considering themselves part of a bigger movement without actually doing anything.  It’s like wanting the smug satisfaction of thinking that your few clicks make a difference when they don’t.

But that’s another story.  If the women in London just said they would back Pankhurst’s efforts, but didn’t do anything, they’d be just as ineffective as our keyboard justice warriors of today: all talk and no action.

Suffragette- Edith about to blow up a post office box

The film doesn’t take a lot of time to stop and discuss the implications of the protesters committing violent acts, which is a bit of a letdown, if only so there could be more potential conflict within the group.  Even if the women want more in life, they’re not all going to agree on the proper tactics.  I just wish the movie explored that avenue a bit more.

Also, I do wish that there was more inner conflict among the women, though.  There are glimpses of it when some remark that Pankhurst asks too much and I wish we had more of that.  At the end of the day, these women are being asked to do things that endanger their personal lives, so it would have been nice for the film to explore this avenue.

Suffragette- Edith tells Maud that she considers herself a soldier

Maud, as someone who happens to be in the right place when pivotal things happen, at least gets a decent amount of development when it comes to her feelings on suffrage.  Though she could have easily been based on a real figure, I’m not completely against having a fish out of water character because we get to learn and understand the journey along with them.

She’s open to discussing suffrage at first and hopes that Parliament will come through, but when that doesn’t happen, she realizes that the militant efforts made by other women have a point: make some noise and get people’s attention.  You have a better job that way than by gathering to hear speeches.

Suffragette- Maud about to lose her son

She sacrifices a lot in the process: her health, her relationship with her husband and son, her very name is associated with other women viewed as radicals, and she’s putting her very life on the line.  Again, going back to the Parliament, she realizes that there has to be a better way to live than how she does now.

Suffragette- Maud argues with her husband

As she’s proven many times before, and even earlier this year with Far From the Madding Crowd, Carey Mulligan is excellent at expressing a range of emotions.  I felt the loss on her face when she slowly realized she couldn’t spend as much time with her son, or her sudden anger after Parliament let her down by not approving suffrage.  Though she’s not the bomb thrower some of the more militant women are, the film takes time to show her natural progression to going from bystander to outspoken suffragist.

Suffragette- Meryl Streep is in this movie

I don’t know how Meryl Streep ended up having so much prominence in the trailers and promotions for this film, given how she’s not in it very long.  She’s fine as Pankhurst, but it does feel like a cameo.  This could have been anyone, but it seems like having Streep play the role gives it more weight.  But if you’re going to have a big name actress like Meryl Streep in a role, do more with her.  If you’re not, don’t make it seem like she has a bigger role than she really does.

If I had a minor qualm, it’s that the film goes into real life footage and on-screen descriptions of what happened later in history, as if to sum up the future for the audience that may already know this.  Pawn Sacrifice did something similar and I wasn’t a fan of that, either.  If the events of your film are done, I don’t think it’s necessary to spell out what happens later.  I also don’t think this film needed to rely on archival footage at one point when we were pretty much getting those events on-screen already.  This is really minor and not even an issue, but it’s something I can’t help but notice with some films.

Suffragette is a very strong film.  Though not all of its characters are as fleshed out as Maud, the movie makes their struggle and anger feel believable as it reminds us of how far we’ve come since then.  And, as some would say, how much further need to go for certain rights.  It doesn’t feel preachy and takes time to show the benefits and dangers of what comes when you stand up for what you feel you deserve.

It’s backed by strong performances from Anne-Marie Duff, Helena Bonham Carter, and especially Carey Mulligan as they take us to a time where women were willing to put all they had on the line to get access to the ballot box.  On its own merits and release date, the film is impressive, but it’s sure to hold more importance when we’re talking about the pay wage gap.  It shows how far we’ve come as a world, but there’s more to be done.

A Look at “Fargo” Season 2, Episode 5: “The Gift of the Magi”

I mean, that really got out of hand fast.  This is “The Gift of the Magi.”

The episode begins with a tour bus.  A political tour bus, to be specific.  We hear a man talk about his salesman father who, like many people, struggled during the Depression.  But our speaker has never been one to focus on life’s downs.  The nation has done a lot to advance the cause of freedom, but if you look around, you don’t see signs of that dignity.  You have to stand in line just to fill up your car.

The Gift of the Magi- Hanzee shows Rye's belt buckle to Floyd

Hanzee, meanwhile, returns Rye’s belt buckle to Floyd and explains what happened, as if he was there himself.  Apparently, just like the law said, a butcher did this after Rye followed the judge and shot up the place.  Dodd interrupts, saying that the killer is known as the Butcher of Luverne- a contract man out of Kansas City.  Sounds like a theory, though Floyd more wants to hear Hanzee’s point of view.  He, though, also figures that Kansas City wanted to use Rye for leverage.

The Gift of the Magi- Joe Bulo and the Kitchen Brothers go hunting with Commissioner Richard Armbruster, played by Jeff Clarke

Joe Bulo and the Kitchen Brothers go hunting with Commissioner Richard Armbruster, played by Jeff Clarke, who is slowly being courted by Bulo.  As Armbuster takes aim, he and the syndicates receive surprise enemy fire from the Gerhardt.  Armbuster is taken out, Bulo retreats, but the Kitchen Brothers ward off the attacks.

The Gift of the Magi- Hanzee takes down the Kitchen Brothers

However, Hanzee soon joins the fight- he kills Wayne Kitchen and knocks out Gale.  As Bulo makes it back to his car, he finds Hanzee waiting for him.  Christ, Hanzee is fast.

The Gift of the Magi- Ronald Reagan, played by Bruce Campbell, speaks of a rendezvous with destiny

Back to our speaker of the hour, Mr. Ronald Reagan, played by none other than Ash Williams himself, Bruce Campbell.  He will be a leader that will lead this great nation toward its rendezvous with destiny.

The Gift of the Magi- Karl wants Lou to ask Ronald Reagan if Joan Crawford really had crabs

Though moved to tears, Karl refuses to shake Reagan’s hand since he made a movie with a monkey.  It wouldn’t be dignified.  But he did still like him in Cattle Queen of Montana.  Lou Solverson will be escorting Reagan’s bus as far as the state line, even though he’d rather be investigating the murders.  Before Lou leaves, Karl wants him to ask Reagan if it’s true that Joan Crawford had crabs.  Yeah, no.

The Gift of the Magi- Dodd has good news

Back at the Gerhardt home, Floyd and Charlie sit in anticipation when Dodd enters with good news: they got ‘em.  No Milligan, though.  In light of this, there’s no question that Kansas City will strike back hard.  When Floyd figured that these people would negotiate, Dodd sees that as her feminine side talking.  It was always going to be war, Dodd says.  Floyd wants this butcher in Luverne dead.  No mercy.

The Gift of the Magi- Peggy wants to leave, but Ed wants to stay

Said butcher awakens as Ed heads to the basement and finds Peggy thinking about what they should take when they leave for California.  You know, when they run.  After all, they heard what Lou said.  If this still isn’t over and it’s just the tail of the snake, they need to go.  And all those dead people in The Waffle Hut- the fella had a car, so why was he in the road?  Peggy also reveals that Constance saw the car after it had been cleaned, but before the other crash.  Peggy was gonna walk her right out, but she heard music coming from the garage.

But it doesn’t seem like Constance will say something.  And yet, law enforcement is asking questions.  Peggy knows that they can’t stay.  Ed counters that Peggy agreed to fix this.  He’s still thinking about kids and the shop, but Peggy wants to be more realistic than that.  Ed still wants the shop and will figure out a way to make this work, even though he doesn’t have the money to acquire it and Bud still gave him a deadline.  Even still, he’ll figure it out.  That’s what people do.

The Gift of the Magi- Dodd tells Virgil, played by Greg Bryk, to look for Ed Blomquist

Charlie tells Dodd that he wants to help, and won’t look to Bear for permission.  After all, if this Blomquist guy killed Rye, then it should be a Gerhardt to kill him.  Dodd tells Virgil, played by Greg Bryk, to look for Ed Blomquist.  In addition, he tells Virgil that not only will Charlie go with him, but he’ll also pull the trigger.  If anything goes wrong, Virgil is to fix it.

The Gift of the Magi- Simone tells Mike that she didn't know about the murders

Simone also heads off, as we follow her to the Pearl Hotel.  She knocks on room 502 and is greeted by Gale Kitchen, who eventually lets her in.  Simone checks in on Mike Milligan, who talks about his ever optimistic mother, who could find the cloud in every silver lining.  Simone’s mom, she says, smiles all the time, like some ghoul, probably because dad would hit her if she looked sad.

Then Milligan tells Simone why there’s only one Kitchen brother standing with him, all because of the Indian, who killed a lot of people.  But Simone claims to know nothing about that.  Mike asks Simone what they are in her mind- Romeo and Juliet?  Simone doesn’t know.  Mike goes back to his mother and how they would eat in the dark.  For shits and giggles, he wrote on her tombstone that she was happy until the very end.  Mike Milligan, you see, is an optimist.  So when he sees the head of Joe Bulo in his box, which he shows to Simone, he doesn’t think that the sky is falling.  It’s the sound of opportunity knocking.

Simone spills that the family had a meeting without her.  If she knew, she would have said something.  Mike lets her off with a warning: if she wants be taken seriously, she has to be serious.  His point is that he wants to know what the Gerhardts will do before they do it- every single time.  Otherwise, she can die with the rest of them.  With that, Simone leaves.

The Gift of the Magi- Ben Schmidt tells Lou Solverson about the recent murders

On the road, Lou receives a transmission from Ben Schmidt, who reports one hell of a shit sandwich, 12 dead: half Kansas City, half Gerhardt, and one zoning commissioner.  Lou shares his theory about the local beautician and her husband being responsible for Rye Gerhardt’s disappearance.  Maybe they panicked and dumped the body somewhere.  Meanwhile, there are visitors from both factions looking for revenge, so this is looking like the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Schmidt offers to come on up, and Lou will join him once he’s done with the Reagan detail.

The Gift of the Magi- Noreen and Ed talk about dying and the future

At Bud’s Meats, Noreen is deep into her book- does she do any actual work?- and asks why Ed is putting in all this effort for the shop.  He’s living the American dream of getting a shop, but Noreen says that he’s gonna die anyway.  Camus says knowing we’re all gonna die makes life a joke.  Knowing that we’re all gonna day makes life easier.  She suggests killing yourself to get it over with fast.  The hell?  No matter the path, Noreen just sees death.  Even though Ed’s father lived to be 96, he still, at the end, died.  I can’t say I completely disagree with Noreen’s logic.

Outside, a nervous Charlie is hesitant about his target, but Virgil tries to calm him by saying to just point and shoot.  And if the target keeps moving, shoot it again.  Oh, and no witnesses.

The Gift of the Magi- Charlie talks with Noreen while waiting for Ed

He eventually enters the shop and makes small talk with Noreen, who rattles off the available meats. When Charlie asks for the butcher, Noreen points out that Ed isn’t, in fact, the butcher.  He’s just the assistant butcher.  Either way, Noreen buzzes for him.  Charlie waits and waits, his hand ready on the gun.  He notices Noreen’s book- he read and found it depressing.  Noreen thinks that it’s beautiful, which is why her schoolmates find her to be morose.  After all, Halloween is her favorite holiday. Okay, I like Noreen a lot more now.

Charlie’s favorite is Easter. The Resurrection, you know.  Kind of like Rocky, but then, as Charlie points out, Rocky did lose in the end.  Ed finally comes out and all Charlie has to show for it when he returns to the car is some meat.

The Gift of the Magi- Peggy picks up the newly repaired car

Peggy, meanwhile, packs as much as she can fit into her suitcases.  She then heads to the auto shop and finds the car fully repaired.  Sonny reports that everything has been fixed, from top to bottom.  Peggy gives him a check and tells him to wait until the end of the month to cash the check.  However, before leaving, Peggy stops and returns to the shop.  She asks if Sonny would like to buy the car.  After all, they need cash to buy the butcher shop.

As for Peggy’s trip, she just now decided to not go.  Sonny can only give around $700, even though the car is probably worth $1400.  And with that, Peggy heads home, feeling proud of herself.

The Gift of the Magi- Bear thanks Hanzee for his work

At the Gerhardt home, Bear speaks with Hanzee about this morning.  Though there were losses on both sides, Hanzee reports that the message has been delivered.  On behalf of himself and Floyd, Bear thanks Hanzee for his service.  Ever since Otto took him in when he was nine, he never complained.  Bear considers Hanzee a part of this family, not that Dodd would ever say that.  Even still, Hanzee’s actions have escalated this war.

Then Dodd returns, still waiting for Simone, and orders Bear to leave Hanzee alone, since he’s his man.  Dodd is disappointed that Bear likes taking orders from a woman, even if it is Mom.  Bear warns that there will be a reckoning where all souls will be held accountable for their actions.  Dodd doesn’t give much thought to that.

The Gift of the Magi- Ronald Reagan and Lou Solverson talk at the urinals

Back on the campaign trail, Lou and Reagan bond at the urinals- the one place to have small talk.  Governor Reagan asks where Lou served and Lou responds that it the Mekong Delta.  Reagan thinks back to 1942, when America just joined, but then talks about his service…of working on Operation Eagle’s Nest for Paramount.  He got dropped behind enemy lines trying to rescue Jimmy Whitmore and Laraine Day from this SS commando.  Reagan can’t remember if they made it out, but it was a hell of a picture.

Lou mentions that his wife has stage three lymphoma.  He wonders if the sickness of this world could also be inside his wife.  He asks Mr. Reagan if they’ll get out of this mess.  Reagan responds that there’s not a mess that can’t be overcome by an American.  Okay, but how?  And that’s when Reagan leaves.  Great talk.

The Gift of the Magi- Hank visits Betsy and Molly

At House Solverson, Betsy takes one of her pills from her trial drug bottle before paying extra attention to Molly’s artwork of the family and a UFO.  Okay.  Hank soon enters, as he got worried, plus Lou has maybe two hours left on this Reagan detail.  Right now, Betsy can’t decide if she’s hungry or wants to throw up, but that’s just a symptom.  Betsy heads off with some rest and asks if Hank will watch Molly.  He agrees, so they’ll just be eating sugar cereal and playing with his service weapon.  Maybe this is when Molly learned how to shoot.

The Gift of the Magi- Charlie fires at Ed

Charlie calls to speak with his father and admit that he’s ready for school.  In the meantime, he’s gotta finished what he started, so he heads back in the shop just as Ed goes in the back.  Charlie enters and locks the door behind him.  As he heads for the back, he points his gun at Ed, but then Noreen exits the bathroom.  The distraction causes Charlie to fire.  His gun jams and the fired bullet sparks a blaze.  Virgil enters and fires a shot that ends up hitting Charlie.

The Gift of the Magi- Noreen and Ed escape the burning shop

Ed and Noreen fight Virgil, but Virgin manages to overpower them both and begins choking the life out of Ed.  Quick decision made, Ed grabs a cleaver and slams it into Virgil’s head.  He and Noreen escape the burning shop and drag Charlie out with them.  Ed goes over the story with Noreen: he saved the kid, who shot first, and then the big guy came at him, so he acted in self-defense.  That’s the story he wants her to tell the cops.  He then runs off while Bud’s Meats go down in flames.

The Gift of the Magi- Dodd tells Simone that being grown has a price

Simone returns home and finds Dodd waiting for her.  Her cover story about meeting a friend doesn’t suffice.  He asks if she thinks that she’s grown, with her clothes and hair and no bra and all, like she knows about the world.  Being grown has a price, Dodd says.  A kid gets slapped when they’re bad.  When you’re grown, you get the fist or the knife.  Floyd, nearby, orders Dodd to let Simone alone.

The Gift of the Magi- Lou arrives at the burned butcher shop

That evening, Lou arrives at Bud’s Meats and finds Hank speaking with Noreen.

The Gift of the Magi- Ed and Peggy have news for each other

Later, Ed rushes home and tells Peggy that they need to pack.  However, Peggy has been thinking about what Ed said: he was right.  It was selfish of her to spend without asking.  They have to fight.  She presents a check that she got for selling the car.  It’s enough to buy the shop because this was their dream.  Then Ed finally says that not only is the shop burned down, he may have killed a guy.  Lou was right about someone coming after them.

So while Ed is grateful, the two need to pack.  However, the sound and lights of police sirens stop them in their tracks.

“The Gift of the Magi” was all about escalation.  Floyd declared that there would be hell to pay and promised war.  We got just a taste of that this week with the Gerhardt family bringing it to the Kansas City syndicate, which not just threw them off guard, but also put them on the defensive.

The Gift of the Magi- Shootout begins

A lot of things in this episode defied expectations.  Though, if anything, Fargo does that often and Floyd even pointed out last time how she shouldn’t be underestimated.  Joe Bulo, for example, wields great influence and expects to get things done diplomatically.  He promised to exterminate the Gerhardt name, but he had an opportunity to negotiate before that.  In his mind, there’s no way he’d become a target.

But that’s just what happens.  Though Mike Milligan and the Kitchen Brothers have been the ones causing havoc, Bulo has called many of the shots, so he’s fair game.  That entire shootout at the beginning was a well-directed sequence and strong way to kick off the episode.  Like the massacre at The Waffle Hut, the moment started off calm enough, but exploded in no time.

This just stirs the pot, more than anything else.  Even though the Gerhardt family struck early this time, there were losses on both sides, so there’s no clear winner here.  The fallout that started with Rye’s murder has led to an ongoing ripple effect that’s tearing the families apart as everyone strikes to stay one step ahead of their competition.

The Gift of the Magi- Simone threatened by Dodd

The same way that Simone, who has been one-upping her family, now finds herself in danger and on the defensive with Mike Milligan promising to kill her.  Like Floyd, Simone is someone who doesn’t want others to underestimate her because of appearance or gender, but she doesn’t have the wisdom or experience that the adults around her do.  But like Charlie, she’s still too young and isn’t as prepared as she thinks she is.  She tries to maintain an air of confidence and doesn’t realize the seriousness of the situation until Milligan implicates her in the massacre, even if she didn’t play a direct or even indirect role.

When shit gets real, people can get caught up in longing or talking about a simpler time.  A more carefree world, like when Simone longed for the carefree love of the 1960s instead of embracing the reality of her situation.  It’s easy for some to maintain that optimism and find a cloud in the silver lining, similar to Mike Milligan’s mother, because it gives you hope that, despite how bad things may be, they’ll eventually get better.

The Gift of the Magi- Reagan has a vision

But we’re in a pessimistic age where not everyone gets home alive and gets to have that rendezvous with destiny.  Reagan is emblematic of that optimism and hope for a better day.  This is the man who would later champion American exceptionalism with the “Morning in America” political ad.  Reagan may not have concrete answers to solving those problems that can only be handled by an American, but he can damn sure tell a story that gets you motivated into thinking that he has.  It helps to be an effective communicator, even if you don’t have substance.

The Gift of the Magi- Reagan tells Lou that there's not a problem that can't be solved by an American

And can we talk about Bruce Campbell for a second?  The man doesn’t appear in the episode for long and I don’t know how long he’ll be around, if at all, but he sells the performance and is much more convincing than so-called more grounded portrayals, like Alan Rickman in The Butler.  He’s not trying to imitate Reagan so much as embody his presence and he’s great with what little screen-time he has.

The Gift of the Magi- Lou and Reagan talk

The scene between Reagan and Lou Solverson was a particular highlight since, hey, we’re watching two guys try to have a long conversation at the urinals, but also because it showed both the optimism and pessimism in the country right now, condensed down to these two individuals.  While Reagan attempts to regale Lou with his adventures filming a movie and talking about how Americans can solve any problems thrown their way, Lou is more pessimistic than that.

The Gift of the Magi- Lou perplexed by Ronald Reagan

He feels that the sickness that’s running rampant right now has infected his wife and he’s powerless to stop it.  He can’t have pie in the sky visions about the world because everything around him is too much to bear.  Even if he may be right about Ed and Peggy’s involvement, the fact that they haven’t come clean, the body count from this episode alone, how this all feels like the Cuban Missile Crisis- it furthers his belief that the world has lost its moral center.

The Gift of the Magi- Betsy looks at Molly's drawing

And the Solversons look to be holding things together for now, even if Betsy’s condition isn’t getting any better.  At the very least, Betsy isn’t resigned to her fate, the way someone like Noreen is.  She may not be in the best of shape, but she’s still giving life all she has and I enjoyed her moment with Hank and Molly.

The Gift of the Magi- Noreen talks about dying

In fact, for all of the darker moments this episode had, there were some moments to relax and exhale, such as the talk with Lou and Reagan, or Noreen’s conversation with Charlie, which was equally tense with Charlie’s hand always floating to his gun.  A morbid conversation the two had, but it felt important because of the focus on inevitability.  Noreen accepts the fact that she and everyone else around her will die soon, so right now, she doesn’t see the point in a grandiose vision for herself, the way that Ed does.

The Gift of the Magi- Peggy tells Ed that Constance saw the damaged car

And while some can find a silver lining in everything, others just sit back and let life take over, rather than taking initiative.  That’s the pickle that Ed and Peggy find themselves in right now.  Both want to take action and do things for the sake of the other, but their actions cancel each other out.  Hell, that’s the whole lesson of The Gift of the Magi story: two people that sell their closest possessions in order to get a gift for each other.  In the end, neither gift is complete without the treasure that each sold in order to get it, but it’s symbolic of how far the two realize they’ll go to show their love.

The Gift of the Magi- Peggy heads home after selling the car

The same is true here.  Peggy sells the car in order to help Ed buy the shop, while Ed wants to buy the shop to secure a bright future for Peggy and their future family, but he can’t do that now that the shop has gone up in flames.

The Gift of the Magi- Peggy has a surprise for Ed

Both have good intentions and Peggy does show some progression when she changes her mind about running so she can stay and help Ed, though part of me wonders whether she’ll eventually follow through on wanting to better herself.  When she leaves the auto shop, she seems proud of what she’s done, but I’d like to see if she ever follows up on Constance’s advice to become a better woman.

The Gift of the Magi- Ed watches the butcher shop burn

Ed, meanwhile, has another brush with death when Lou’s predictions about someone coming after them ring true.  Like the shootout at the start, the firefight in the shop was very tense with no clear idea who would survive.  It didn’t help that Charlie fudged the shooting, but Ed showed some spine when he not only killed Virgil, but saved Charlie from the fire.  He already killed Rye and now Virgil, so why put even more blood on your hands?  But even after all of that, Ed and Peggy can’t catch a break.

Five episodes in and the second season of Fargo has delivered its finest outing yet with “The Gift of the Magi,” and we’ve still got five more episodes to go.  It raised the stakes through some violent confrontations and painted a portrait of characters trying to maintain a bit of hope and optimism in a bleak world.  Like Noreen said, we’re all going to die anyway.  Bruce Campbell’s Ronald Reagan was a welcome addition and I hope it’s not the last we see of him.  If it is, I’m not upset with what we got.

But with Ed and Peggy cornered by authorities, dead bodies piling up for the Gerhardt family and Kansas City, things aren’t going to get better anytime soon.