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Review: The Walking Dead: “Beside the Dying Fire” Season 2 Finale, Episode 13

The Walking Dead delivered the ultimate season finale. The first half hour was non-stop action as the survivors killed as many of the walkers as possible before leaving Hershel’s farm and later regrouping on the highway.

Who’s flying that helicopter? Hopefully we’ll get some answers or least some hints in the next season. The first scene answered the question of where did the herd of walkers come from since they couldn’t have been near the farm the whole time.  When the walkers come across a wooden fence, instead of climbing over it they just keep pushing against it until the force of numerous walkers causes it to break. Where are they migrating to? Is this some sort of herd mentality or primal instinct? When Carl’s gun shot alerts the herd, there’s a cool view of the walkers creeping up behind Rick and Carl, unbeknownst to them.

Darryl would make for a great detective to be able to deduce exactly what happened with Randall and Shane by just looking at some tracks on the ground and examining the body in the dark of night. Lori needs to brush up on her Parenting 101 skills. With Dale getting attacked by a walker the night before you’d think she keep a more watchful eye on her son. How could she let Carl sneak out of the house without her knowledge? The scene with Rick and Carl in the barn was really suspenseful and I liked how Rick used his quick thinking and worked with his son to set fire to the walkers and try to draw attention away from the house. It’s a call back to “Pretty Much Dead Already” when the walkers were released from the barn and gunned down. Except now, the walkers are trying to get into the barn. Luckily, the lighter didn’t flicker out before it hit the ground. Gotta love flaming zombies, even if the fire is CGI.

The gun training earlier in the season sure paid off. Hey, if Carl can get a perfect headshot on Shane, they why not everyone else … on a motorcycle, or hanging out the window of a speeding truck? I guess with so many walkers around they really can’t miss ; ). They could have used the truck to run over the herd before realizing how much ammo they were using up. It may not kill them, but if they don’t mind the mess, it would definitely cripple them. Thanks to Jimmy driving the RV to the barn, Carl and Rick were able to get off the roof. Kinda funny how Jimmy was so surprised to find walkers at his door. Maybe he missed the bulletin: the farm is being invaded by walkers … for the last ten minutes! Great seeing his blood spurt on the RV’s windshield, the walkers must have already gnawed their way to an artery.

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Review: The Walking Dead: “Triggerfinger” Season 2, Episode 9

Suspense, gore, characters’ on the brink of death: one would think these would be common elements in a television show set in the zombie apocalypse but for much of Season 2, The Walking Dead has focused on character development and drama with varying degrees of success. In “Triggerfinger”, the show returned to emphasizing the inherent dangers of living in a world infested with flesh eating corpses and characters defining their own moral code when they are no longer bound by law or social norms. After Rick shoots two strangers, named Dave and Tony, the sound of the gunshots draw the attention of the strangers’ companions to the bar. From the outside of the bar, the companions question Rick, Glenn and Hershel if they know the whereabouts of their friends. Rather than telling a lie that might have prevented further violence, Rick confesses Dave and Tony are dead which results in the strangers firing at them. The expression on Hershel’s face is priceless as he reacts to Rick telling the truth to the strangers. When Glenn exits from the back of the bar a bullet nearly kills him and without hesitation Hershel shoots the gunman in the chest. Walkers descend upon the downed gunman who is still alive, gruesomely bitting of his nose and devouring his flesh. The gunman yells out while Hershel looks on with gun in hand, unable to end the life and suffering of the man he just shot.

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Review: The Walking Dead: “Nebraska” Season 2, Episode 8

In a zombie apocalypse the most dangerous thing in the world are the survivors. Young Carl was accidently shot by Otis in the season premiere “What Lies Ahead”; Shane used Otis as zombie bait in “Save the Last One”, and in the first season’s finale Dr. Jenner locked the entire group in the CDC that was going to self-destruct. At the end of “Nebraska”, two strangers named Dave and Tony walk into the bar, nonchalantly show off their guns, take a piss on the floor, joke about getting laid and demand to be taken to the farm. When Dave reaches for his pistol, Rick makes the right decision to kill them without hesitation. This a pivotal scene and most likely sets up the next several episodes. Dave and Tony are part of a larger group of survivors that will come looking for their companions which will lead to a confrontation between the two groups. Also, Hershel should now realize he needs Rick to survive in this world and it would be a bit surprising if he still wants Rick and company to leave his farm (with the exception of Shane). Further, it establishes that Rick will do whatever it takes to protect his people and that’s he’s not naive or “delusional” as Shane said earlier in the episode. If Rick was the person Shane says he is, Rick would have wanted to help out the strangers and invite them back to the farm. This season is leading to a ultimate show down between Rick and Shane. Shane will eventually push Rick too far and force Rick to make a tough decision ; a decision we now know he is capable of making.

If I recall from the first season, being infected does not result in an immediate transformation into a zombie, it actually takes some time. So the time line of Sophie being infected, captured by Otis, brought to the barn, then Otis goes out hunting the deer and shoots Carl does not seem plausible. If Otis discovered a newly infected Sophia that quickly, she should have still have been able to communicate to Otis and would not appear “dead”. It’s hard to imagine he’d throw this girl into a barn filled with walkers and not mention this to anyone. To stretch out the fate of Sophia over seven episodes was a bit much, especially since I cannot recall one scene that gave the audience any reason to care about her. At least, Shane was asking Hershel a lot of the same questions the audience were asking or thinking.

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Sizzling Hot! The Vampire Diaries’ Stars on Entertainment Weekly Cover

Threesomes are fun! But not on the Vampire Diaries … is anybody in this love triangle content? Most typical love triangles work because at least one person is on the outside looking in. However, TVD takes it a step further. At this point in Season 3, Stefan cannot forgive himself with how he treated Elena and won’t allow himself to show he still cares for her. On the other hand, Elena still has lingering hopes of reuniting with Stefan and is hesitant to develop her relationship with Damon. As much as Damon cares for Elena, he doesn’t allow her to make decisions for herself as seen in “Dangerous Liaisons”. When Elena lets it slip that Damon’s love for her is a problem, Damon presses the self-destruct button and hooks up with Rebekah, the girl that tried to kill Elena the night before (Yikes!). Even as rivals for the affections of Elena, brothers Damon and Stefan’s bond of family and blood over the last century is certainly the most  enduring if not most endearing.  The EW covers – that’s Entertainment Weekly not ewww, reminds me too much of romance book covers, but if it gets the attention of readers I’m all for it! ;)  Read my mid-season review of The Vampires Diaries Season 3: All Killer or Just  Filler?

All Killer or Just Filler? The Vampire Diaries Season 3

Exploring The Central Themes of The Vampire Diaries

If you have never seen The Vampire Diaries television series, it would be easy to dismiss it as another supernatural teen melodrama. Elena Gilbert is not your typical high school student. Her parents tragically passed away in car crash accident. Although there is always a bit of sadness in her heart she is not without hope. Her world changes when she falls in love with a new student, Stefan Salvatore, who happens to be a vampire that does not feed on humans. Complicating matters is Stefan’s older brother Damon Salvatore. Damon is also a vampire but lacks a moral conscience and will kill when he’s angry, hungry or just for fun. Both vampires are initially drawn to Elena because she looks identical to their past love Katherine, who is later revealed to be an ancestor of Elena. Developed by producers Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson (Dawson’s Creek, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer) The Vampire Diaries (TVD) is an exciting blend of mystery, horror and high-stakes drama. However is TVD just a rollercoaster ride of “vicious bloody vamp action” or are there more complex stories, character development and themes being explored?

Stefan, Elena, Damon

 More Human Than Human

Supernatural creatures in film, television and literature are often used to explore the human condition in conflict. In the campy horror movie Ginger Snaps, lycanthropy is an overt metaphor for a teenage girl’s transformation during puberty where the “curse” was not so much the full moon, but the 28 day cycle. When synthetic blood is created on HBO’s True Blood, vampires decide they no longer need to live in secret and “come out of the coffin”, living openly amongst humans and seeking equal rights. The myth of vampires can also be an allegory for the inevitability of isolation, power of seduction and fear of mortality.

On TVD, these issues are explored but the show’s real strength is in using the supernatural to showcase the importance of the struggle for existence through despair, suffering and loss. When a vampire is sired on TVD, their personal characteristics are greatly intensified, forcing them to either confront or give in to their deepest flaws and desires such as Stefan’s battle with his addiction to human blood. Further, vampires on TVD have the ability to turn on and off their humanity or moral conscience. On a show where a characters’s action and free will determine their development and meaning to exist, there is a deeply layered significance in Stefan’s choice to embrace humanity, life and love. However, in Season 3, episode 5’s “The Reckoning”, Stefan is forced by original vampire hybrid Klaus to turn off his humanity, resulting in his inability to feel remorse, empathy or guilt and thus removing any restraint to his dark impulsive nature. When Klaus allows Stefan to regain his free will in Season 3, episode 9’s Homecoming, there is not an immediate reversion to his former compassionate self, but rather the beginning to what will be a complicated journey of finding his purpose in life and on how to live it.

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