Thursday, April 4

The Walking Dead Friday - 'Welcome To The Tombs.'

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Season 3 - Episode 16: 'Welcome To The Tombs.'

The Season Finale of The Walking Dead Friday is upon us. We have much to discuss.

I know everyone's going to have their own personal opinion about this episode, and as a viewer, I always attempt to differentiate between what I want as a fan, and what I feel would be good for the show as a whole. With that being said, I wasn't all that satisfied as a fan, and I'm having a hard time understanding how Sunday's finale was good for the series as a whole, either.

In my head, it sort of seemed like a cut-and-dry finale that would have satisfied everyone: Rick and the Governor go to war, there are a couple of high-profile deaths, the Governor meets his fate and Rick's crew are forced to hobble out of the prison and into their next adventure. That's what we expected, and I also believe it's what we wanted. The last thing Walking Dead fans want a flashback to is the eternity spent hanging around Hershel's farm in Season 2.

But yet, here we are. Andrea and Milton are dead, but that's not going to keep anyone up at night. Rick and company are still at the prison, now with a few dozen more mouths to feed in the form of women and children that will serve them no protection in the event of another invasion. Oh, and the Governor's still out there, but it's anyone's guess if we'll ever see him again. It was vague, anticlimactic and didn't excite me one bit for Season 4. In fact, I feel that almost nothing was accomplished here in the grand scheme of things.

Character-wise, Rick's in a better place (he's not seeing Lori anymore), and he's attempting to bring some sort of human domesticity to Carl before he goes completely psychotic, but that doesn't always make for riveting television. Maggie and Glen are going to get married, Carol and Daryl might get closer as they bond after losing Merle, and Michonne and Tyreese will probably get to know each other better as well (if the comic has any say in it).

But is this what we're interested in, first and foremost? Not me. I wanted to see justice for a Governor that slowly descended into madness, slaughtered dozens of innocent people and put Rick and company through hell. I wanted to see someone, anyone that had a reason (and there were plenty), inflict some backwoods justice on one of TV's great bad guys. I wanted to see a change of location. You'd think that at least one of these things would happen, but nothing did.

Not even Andrea's death was all that surprising. I said last week that her character had fallen so far outside the realm of being accepted back into the good graces of the fans, that nothing short of killing the Governor would save her from dying this week. And I was right, but being right didn't make the episode any more or less interesting. Sunday's episode ran five minutes over, and my friends didn't know that, so they were nervous as 10pm was approaching, afraid that we were going to get some sort of 'To Be Continued' ending. I told them not to fear, and that we'd surely get the closure we thought we deserved during the five minute overrun. Nope.

So, what do we do now? Where does Season 4 take us? I'm not sure, but I have a pretty good idea of where it's going to start: Back at the same prison we hung around in all last season, with no firm resolution in Woodbury and more hypothetical scenarios than actual action. The tension and action that picked up once Rick and company left Hershel's farm was what made The Walking Dead the most popular show on television (literally). To hit the brakes with such a lackluster final ten minutes seemed like quite a misstep, if only in the short-term.

But shit, what do I know? Maybe the Season 4 premiere will be Rick, Daryl and Michonne sitting around a wooden spool, bringing the fans up to speed on the last few months of storyline:

"Boy, we sure killed the Governor good, didn't we?"

"Yup, and remember when all those Woodbury refugees just up and disappeared in the middle of the night? That sure helped in regards to our supplies."

"Absolutely. And remember when we ditched the prison for Woodbury, because they had water and beds and shit?"

I don't know.

Let’s take this episode behind the shed and put it out of its misery, because it’s time for The Thick And Meaty!

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Despite all the work he put into his snazzy torture chamber, the Governor leaves the murder of Andrea up to Milton for some reason. When Milton refuses, the Governor mortally wounds him, leaving Milton to turn and (presumably) attack Andrea while she’s all tied up and whatnot. Upon leaving, the Governor says, “In this life now, you kill or you die…or you die and you kill,” which is one of the better catchphrases I’ve heard this season.

Meanwhile, Rick and company are preparing for war. In Woodbury, they do the same. Tyreese and Sasha tell the Governor that they’re going to hang back at base camp to protect the women and children (that’s the job I would have volunteered for, too). The Governor, who seems to be slowly losing his patience with anything and everything on Earth, reluctantly agrees.

The Governor and his people storm the prison, using all manner of weapons to decimate the exterior (a rocket launcher?!). Once they get inside, it appears to be abandoned, until they are ambushed by Rick’s crew and hastily flee. And hey, say what you want about the Governor, but he’s not hanging back like a coward; dude is in the front lines, looking to kill people. I admire that in a leader.

A Woodbury teenager encounters Carl and Hershel in the woods while fleeing. Carl asks him to drop his weapon, but then decides to kill him anyway before really seeing what he was going to do. Carl later justifies his actions to Rick by saying that the teen didn’t drop his weapon, a claim that Hershel disputes…but not me. I feel that this was war and the teenager didn’t act quickly enough. Carl had every right to be afraid and defensive. But I understand that they’re trying to drive the plot point that Carl is becoming cold and detached, and Rick needs to create some sort of domesticity so he doesn’t snap completely, so I’ll go with it.

In the chamber, Milton lets Andrea know that he left a pair of pliers behind her chair. Then he totally dies.

Outside of the prison, the Governor orders his convoy to stop. When they almost unanimously express desire to return to Woodbury and leave Rick’s group alone, the Governor goes on a shooting rampage and kills most of them (except for a couple of his right-hand men). Karen plays dead and is spared when the Governor runs out of bullets, and he leaves her behind. This, right here, is the Governor in his purest form. He went from a justifiably bad guy to a complete lunatic in the span of this season, and I think it was a commendable performance by David Morrissey, even if I don’t really want to see him return in Season 4.

Rick asks Carl about the teenager he killed. Carl mentions that Dale, Lori and Merle all died because they didn’t seize the opportunity to kill potential threats when they arose. Point taken, Carl.

Rick, Michonne and Daryl head off to Woodbury to finish the job, when they encounter the massacre the Governor left behind, as well as the surviving Karen. Meanwhile, Milton reanimates and advances on Andrea, who gets bitten just before killing him for realsies. Rick’s group shows up just in time to realize that Andrea isn’t going to make it. Andrea apologizes for her actions, then promptly shoots herself in the head (off-camera).

The episode ends with Rick’s group returning to the prison with a school bus full of the women and children that were huddling at Woodbury (including Tyreese, Sasha and Karen). Carl’s pissed. Oh, and because of all this closure (to Rick at least), he’s no longer seeing visions of Lori.

Smash cut, season over! Now let’s Break It Down!

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1. Regardless of if I thought this was a good episode or not, the ratings were predictably massive, drawing an all-time high of 12.4 million viewers. This makes it not only the most-watched episode of the series to date, but the most-watched drama in the history of cable TV. Every single week, this show is making history in one way or another.

2. This episode was written by the (now departed) showrunner/executive producer Glen Mazzara. Good luck in Season 4, Scott Gimple; expectations for success are more than a little high.

3. AMC sent a press release shortly after the finale to let people know that David Morrissey would be returning as the Governor in Season 4, so don’t expect him to stay M.I.A. for very long.

4. This episode marks the final appearances of both Andrea and Milton, and although Michael Rooker was credited, he was the only main cast member to not appear (cuz’ he’s dead, you know).

5. With Andrea’s death, Carol (of all people) becomes the last surviving female from the original Atlanta group. Furthermore, Andrea’s death also leaves only five members of the original Atlanta group remaining (Rick, Carl, Carol, Daryl and Glenn).

And with that, we’re done with The Walking Dead for Season 3. Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your weekend. The CDP will return shortly with regularly-scheduled essays and pop culture goodness all the way through Spring, so stick around.

Wednesday, April 3

The Wild Stallion 5.0.

My first car was a 1986 Buick Somerset (shown above). In 1998 (at age 16) I paid $200 for it with my own money as a bartender (I've told this story before). It was massive, it was embarrassing, and as most cars go, it housed some of my most cherished memories. Even when I eventually sold it (for $50), it still worked as perfectly as you could hope for.

The Somerset was unique for its age in that it had a fully digital dashboard. The mileage, speedometer and fuel gauge were all LED displayed, and there was even a button that allowed you to toggle over to metric. I liked switching it when I drove my younger sister around; I'd drive 70 MPH, and it would display 113, which always seemed to terrify her.

Eventually I hit a deer with it (with the Somerset's hulking front end, it didn't stand a chance), but as parts for this car were impossible to come by, I had to compromise by zip-tying the headlights into an ill-fitting replacement grill. From that day forward, I couldn't see anything when I drove after sunset; the tops of the telephone lines and the ditch were plenty illuminated, but that was about it.

That was The Wild Stallion, and like most First Car Relationships, I cherished it.

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Like I said, I eventually had to sell the Somerset and 'upgrade' to a 1993 Ford Tempo in 2001. All I really remember about this car is:

1. It had well over 250,000 miles on it before I even turned the key on.
2. Every single thing inside of this car was broken.

Everything. Every light, every knob and every button was faulty. Nothing worked, nothing. I would blow a fuse every time I tried to jury-rig my CD player in there, which led me to keeping a spare hundred or so fuses in the glove compartment.

It never broke down, though. As legend has it, some still see this car rolling around the streets of Winneconne with a Mediocre At Best sticker on the trunk, odometer creeping closer and closer to 1,000,000 miles.

Upon moving to Madison, I purchased 'The Wild Stallion 3.0' in 2004, which was a 1997 Escort Wagon. I really quite enjoyed driving a wagon: I'm never one to be too self-conscious about the cars I drive, and it held all my groceries and corpses and whatnot. The only reason I sold it was that my in-laws wanted to sell me their old vehicle at a price I couldn't refuse (more on that in a second).

The Escort allowed us to move to two different apartments without the assistance (and fees) of professional movers. I strapped the mattress to the roof; the whole nine yards. However, there were some costly repairs that begin to become commonplace, so I had to see it for cheap and start over again. 

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In 2007, I bought a 2002 Mercury Sable that I drove until about two weeks ago. It was roomy, it had Climate Control (and a cassette player!) and a kickass engine.  It belonged to my father-in-law, a auto enthusiast that good very good care of it, and was always kind enough to share knowledge on repairs and certain behaviors. Unfortunately, time was not on the 'Wild Stallion 4.0's side, and the amount of repairs and fixes once again became insurmountable.

The Missus determined that we needed a new car. I was leery, not only because cars are sort of expensive, but also because I've never purchased a 'new' car in my life. I didn't understand the process and I didn't know if we could afford one. When the Missus gets an idea in her head, though, it expands with life until it completely transcends argument and logic. By the time she was done with me, it wasn't so much "How can we afford a new car?" as "How could we afford not to?"

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The Wild Stallion 5.0 is a 2013 Ford C-Max hybrid. It's astoundingly energy efficient, runs on a combination of gas and electric, and can get nearly 45MPG under normal circumstances. I think it's purty, but it blends in nicely with society and doesn't drive or feel like some of the earlier, flimsier hybrids. This car is roomy, heavy and fast.

There are a ton of settings that allow you to monitor how efficiently you're driving, which is pretty cool, although I have no idea how to change my driving in order to be 'better' at it. The Sync system allows for hands-free everything, and to my surprise, it's actually quite receptive. And even though satellite radio is completely unnecessary, I know I'm going to keep subscribing to it for the all 90's channel.

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I've never driven anything even close to a vehicle like this, and I almost had to re-learn the art of Driving in order to properly manhandle it. There seems to be a whole lot going on at once behind the wheel of this thing, but after an hour or so of tooling around the neighborhood and forgetting to look out the windshield for minutes at a time, I think I've got it mostly figured out.

So after 15 years of used relics, I can finally say I have a new car. The wrinkled hand of Fate will probably put me in an accident by the end of the week that throws me back to square one, but that's a risk I'm going to have to take. The Wild Stallion 5.0 is go.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day. The Walking Dead Friday arrives in less than 48 hours.

Monday, April 1

The Walking Dead Monday - Caption Edition.

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("Excuse me, miss? Would you happen to know where...nevermind. Goodbye.")

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("You know what? This is fun. I never get to take you out to the park anymore.")

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(Dale launches into Hour 3 of his story about meeting Adam West.)

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("Allow me to illustrate our intimate future by tightly clasping my hands together. Got it?")

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("ADMIT IT! While the Blue Album was more commercially successful and musically accessible on a Pop level, the themes, songwriting and musicianship of Pinkerton make it the better album in the long run, when you take critical acclaim, personal resonance and genre influence into account. ADMIT IT!!!")

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(“If we don’t live together, we’re going to die alone. Come on, didn’t any of you losers watch Lost?”)

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(Lori returns from the grave just to tell Rick she’s still having sex with Shane in Hell.)

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("I should buy a boat.")

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(Michonne watches in horror as Rick begins to slow dance with a walker.)

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("You know what I really like about this place, Carol? The fact that my skull has exactly the right number of holes in it.")

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(The front row of every Mumford and Sons concert.)

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("Hello? Could you please…AAUGH! It's Rick Grimes! Get me the hell outta here!")

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I'm still sort of busy, but things are smoothing out as we speak. I should have something for you on Wednesday, followed by the Season Finale of The Walking Dead Friday to round out the week, kicking off a whole bunch of new essays as we barrel into Spring. Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.