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Another “Walking Dead” Casualty

We’ll miss you, Beth (and Emily Kinney)! (AMC)

I suppose that I should preface this post with a SPOILER ALERT. Those of you who have not yet seen last night’s midseason finale of AMC’s hit show The Walking Dead should probably stop reading now. The news I have to report is not good.

As has been the case with past midseason finales—most notably last season’s beheading of Hershel by the Governor—another beloved character has been killed. Last night saw the quiet, pure and unassuming Beth meet her untimely end at the hands of Dawn, a cop gunned down seconds later by Daryl.

Now Glenn is the only “family” that Maggie has left.

Like many other fans, I was shocked to see Dawn accidentally blow Beth’s head off following a scissor stab to the neck. I also expected a bloodbath to ensue with the remaining hospital survivors, but alas, two deaths seemed to be enough to pacify TWD gods. And like so many others, I was grateful for that.

So farewell, Beth. You will be missed.

Return of the Walking Dead

The Walking Dead returns! (AMC/Robert Kirkman)

The Walking Dead returns! (AMC/Robert Kirkman)

Tonight marks the return of one of the best shows on television and a personal favorite of mine, AMC’s hit The Walking Dead. And to say I was excited would be the understatement of the millennium.

Honestly, when ABC’s Lost came to an end, I doubted another show could ever fill the void. Some came close, but only TWD managed to grab hold of my imagination and to leave me wanting more with each episode. And the summers between seasons—while pleasant for the things we all love summer for—were also quite grueling as I waited for the next season premiere, which always seemed to take forever.

This summer was the worst of all. In a way, though, it’s also kind of a “tip of the hat” to Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont and the rest of TWD’s creators. Because of their season three finale and all the questions swirling around Rick, Daryl and our other beloved survivors, I cannot wait to see what tonight’s new episode will bring. To make sure I’m ready, I even spent the weekend immersed in AMC’s TWD marathon.

Here’s where we left off last season:

That one-eyed charmer and all-around psychopath—The Governor (David Morrissey)—was up to his old tricks again. After capturing Andrea (Laurie Holden) and handcuffing her to a chair in his new torture room, he stabs his one-time “right hand man” Milton (Dallas Roberts) for refusing to kill his prisoner and locks him in the room to handle it once he transforms into a walker.

Even Maggie is excited for season four! (AMC)

Even Maggie is excited for season four! (AMC)

Talk about being bad at break-ups. Damn.

Meanwhile, our protagonist Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and the other survivors are back at the prison, loading up their cars and preparing for the attack to come—The Governor and his Woodbury troops will be heading their way soon. The assault on the Governor’s forces by Merle (Michael Rooker) in the previous episode gave them a chance. And since Rick refused to turn Michonne (Danai Gurira) over to the Governor—who wants her dead after she killed his zombified daughter—she becomes a full-fledged member of the group.

The stage is set for the big prison assault as the Governor rallies his troops in Woodbury—all but new characters Tyrese (Chad Coleman) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), who stay behind to guard the kids and the old folks. A short time later the attack begins in earnest: grenade launchers blow up the guard towers; trucks plow through fences; heavy machine gun fire punches holes in concrete and rakes the area; and the Governor leads his small army through the zombie-scattered yard and into the prison.

Only where are Rick and the others? The place is abandoned. So the Governor goes deeper into the facility, down into the tombs while his Woodbury soldiers follow.

And that’s when all hell breaks loose.

Rick and his group stage an ambush—complete with smoke and alarms—that freaks everyone out and sends the Governor’s people running for their lives. During his escape, a Woodbury teenager comes across Carl (Chandler Riggs), Beth (Emily Kinney) and Hershel (Scott Wilson) in the woods and despite trying to surrender, Carl shoots him right between the eyes. He later tells Rick he did it because every time they fail to kill a potential threat, someone dies—and he is not taking any chances.

Rick and Daryl prepare for the bloodshed to come (AMC)

Rick and Daryl prepare for the bloodshed to come (AMC)

Man, Carl is cold! I guess that’s how you have to be in a zombie apocalypse, though. Survival is a bitch.

Back in Woodbury, Tyrese and Sasha continue to protect the citizens, but secretly plan to slip out once the Governor returns. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that their fearless leader is actually a textbook nut job, after all. Meanwhile, down in the torture room, Milton clings to life while Andrea struggles to reach some pliers he dropped behind her chair before the Governor poked him full of holes. They chat about good intentions, lost chances and some other philosophical things, but it’s only a matter of time before Milton turns… and the clock is ticking.

The Governor leaves the prison after watching his people flee like cowards and catches up with them on the road. And believe me when I say that he is not happy. His people refuse to fight and want to return to Woodbury and their families, but their objections are silenced when the Governor basically mows them all down—all but his two main lackeys, Martinez (Jose Pablo Cantillo) and Shumpert (Travis Love), who watch in horror as their leader then walks from one corpse to another, shooting each of them in the head to prevent them from turning into undead later.

Did the Governor just wink at me? (AMC)

Did the Governor just wink at me? (AMC)

Only one person survives the deadly mass murder—Karen (Melissa Ponzio)—by hiding under a corpse and playing dead. Luckily, the Governor runs out of ammunition before he can shoot her in the head, so he leaves for town while she lies amidst the carnage.

Following their victory at the prison, Rick and the others move into phase two: finishing the job. While Glen (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) stay behind to guard against a return attack by the Governor, Rick heads to Woodbury to end the fight, with Michonne and Daryl (Norman Reedus) by his side. On their way to town, they come across the convoy and Woodbury’s dead, some of whom have already changed into zombies. They also find Karen, who joins them as they rush to face the Governor.

Unfortunately, things have gotten even worse in Woodbury, especially for Andrea. She manages to get one of her hands free, but while she’s working on the second one, Milton reanimates and starts lurching her way. We don’t get to see what happens next—all we hear is a struggle, some screaming and the sound of a body falling to the ground—but by the time Rick and his team convince Tyrese and Sasha to let them into town and rush to rescue Andrea, it’s too late.

Milton is dead, but Andrea has been bitten and the fever is already upon her. She asks for a gun so she can end her own life—which they provide, of course—and Michonne remains with her for the moments leading up to the gunshot that ends her character arc.

Zombies, zombies and more zombies! (AMC)

Zombies, zombies and more zombies! (AMC)

The finale ends with Rick, his group and a bus full of Woodbury residents arriving back at the prison, much to the chagrin of Carl, who may actually find a girlfriend in the crowd. I wasn’t paying close enough attention, but it’s possible a few young cuties joined the fold. Rick’s hallucinations of his dead wife Lori are gone and everyone made it through—for the most part—but the Governor is still at large.

Enter season four. And it promises to be a good one.

Details about the new season of TWD have been hard to come by, but I have picked up a few nuggets along the way. Here are some things we can expect to see beginning with tonight’s premiere and throughout the fourth season:

  • The Governor will have a role going forward, which we can all assume will see him acting even crazier than ever.
  • Rick and the other survivors will hunker down in the prison they fought so hard to protect. And civilization even returns to their lives—one trailer shows children being taught lessons and crops being grown within the prison’s fences.
  • Daryl will develop a protocol for weeding out dangerous people and will start bringing other survivors into the prison group.
  • Carl will kick more ass than ever before and even Carol will cease to be a victim any longer.
  • New characters will be introduced, including TWD comic book favorite Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz).
  • There will be plenty of gore, but also more character studies, varied storytelling formats and some philosophical questions about human nature.
  • Zombies will come in droves and will remind everyone—both on-screen and off—that while the living may be dangerous, it’s the undead who pose the greatest threat. Some of us may have forgotten that during season three.

In other words, season four should be awesome! Come on, nine o’clock!

Michael Cudlitz as Sgt. Abraham Ford (TV Line)

Michael Cudlitz as Sgt. Abraham Ford (TV Line)

Incidentally, I just heard that Robert Kirkman and AMC are developing a companion or spin-off series based on The Walking Dead, one that could be on the air as early as 2015. Instead of being adapted from a comic book, this series would be completely new and fresh—and Kirkman certainly seems up to the challenge.

“The opportunity to make a show that isn’t tethered by the events of the comic book, and is truly a blank page, has set my creativity racing,” said Kirkman, who will serve as executive producer of the new series with David Alpert and Gale Anne Hurd. “I couldn’t be more thrilled about getting the chance to create a new corner of The Walking Dead universe.”

Damn it, Kirkman. Now I have yet another show to wait for with unbridled anticipation. Thank goodness tonight’s new episode will provide some temporary relief. I hope all you fans out there enjoy it and that you non-fans (provided you truly exist) will tune in to see what all the fuss is about. You won’t regret it.

Only five more hours, peeps! Enjoy the show!

Zombie Freeway

“Hey, ghoul, get off of my truck!” (courtesy of sciencefiction.com)

Traffic jams, carpool lanes, construction crews, bad drivers, hitchhikers, highway patrolmen, emergency vehicles… these are all things you might expect to see as you cruise down the highway in Anytown, USA.

Zombies, on the other hand, are far less common, at least for people not tripping on acid, mushrooms or some other hallucinogenic drug.

Enter Jerimiah Clyde Hartline, a 19-year-old transient who apparently prefers to drive while under the influence of mind-altering substances. More on that in a moment.

Last weekend in Tennessee, Hartline got kicked out of the house and decided to hitch a ride on the first train out of town. Only he didn’t take a train; he hitched a ride with Daniel Martinez, a truck driver heading to California with an ass load of strawberries.

The trip was pretty uneventful until the pair arrived at an inspection site near Temecula, a small city in Riverside County, California. Martinez stepped out to do some paperwork and left his young passenger in the truck.

Bad idea.

A few moments later, Hartline hopped into the driver’s seat, shifted the truck into gear and took off for no apparent reason. Officer Nate Baer—one of the officers on the scene later—believes it occurred because Hartline was “under the influence of a substance that caused him to hallucinate.”

Semis and shrooms don’t mix (courtesy of ABC News)

Sounds reasonable enough to me, especially when you consider what happened next.

Hartline was cruising down the road—which I find very impressive since 18-wheelers are not easy to drive—when he suddenly lost control and began smashing into everything in sight.

First it was a Tacoma, which slammed into a 4Runner that in turn collided with a Mercedes. The driver of the 4Runner should be fine, but two of the Tacoma passengers were seriously injured and rushed to a local hospital.

Hartline’s next victims drove a Taurus and an Accord, respectively. And this time it was the Taurus people who were heading to the hospital.

Fortunately for everyone further down the freeway, the truck flipped over after impacting the Accord and could wreak no more havoc. Of course, that didn’t stop Hartline the Hallucinator, who crawled out, jumped into a nearby van and demanded its driver take him to some as-yet-unknown location.

Unfortunately—at least for Hartline—the driver would have nothing of it and instead restrained him until Baer and his fellow “boys in blue” arrived. And that’s when Baer learned the truth about what caused the accident, injured so many people and damaged so much property.

“He thought zombies were chasing him and clinging to the truck.”

I tell you what. Either Hartline has watched so many episodes of AMC’s hit show The Walking Dead that zombies have now become his reality, or the other thing is true.

He was just on some really good shit. Only it won’t seem so good when he’s behind bars. But Hartline will learn—and teach us all—a very valuable lesson: under no circumstances should you ever hallucinate and drive.

Seems like a no-brainer to me. And that’s exactly how I would describe poor Jerimiah Hartline, too.

Any chance the great and powerful Oz could hook him up scarecrow-style?

Zombie Power

English: A participant of a Zombie walk, Asbur...

Undead or potential power source? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night was the mid-season premiere of the AMC hit television series “The Walking Dead” and boy, was it awesome. I will avoid the usual spoilers since some of you may not have seen the episode yet, but suffice it to say that the rest of the season should be pretty entertaining and eventful. I can hardly wait!

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it focuses primarily on a small group of survivors struggling to live in a world populated by zombies. The apocalypse stems from a virus that infects everyone and causes those who die (or get bitten) to become reanimated corpses with a taste for flesh. It’s not unlike most zombie productions with two notable exceptions: this is a weekly series—which means zombie lovers like me can get a regular fix—and it is largely character-driven—which used to be the norm until computer-generated effects came along.

If you haven’t seen “The Walking Dead,” then I strongly suggest you take a look. Just be sure to tuck the kids into their beds first because it can get a little graphic at times.

As I was watching last night, I started thinking about the challenges we would face if the zombie apocalypse actually occurred. We all know the dead won’t start rising from the grave—at least I hope they won’t—but it is possible for a virus to produce the effects normally associated with zombie behavior. Heck, I even think some scientist proved it could happen, even if the chances are remote.

And last year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its website with tips on “Zombie Preparedness”—check it out here. Granted, it was meant to be humorous and to appeal to zombie lovers everywhere, but is it possible there could be more to it?

In the past, my answer would be a resounding “no,” but these days I’m not so sure. I’ve always had this theory that the government knows more than they tell the public—which I’m sure most of us have felt at one time or another—but release only enough to prevent panic and chaos. For instance, there is no doubt in my mind that an alien spacecraft has been recovered, perhaps in Roswell, New Mexico. At the very least, I believe our government has proof that aliens exist. They just can’t release that information because doing so could make “War of the Worlds” seem like a love-in.

People will simply freak out.

My theory also involves popular culture and the media since I feel these are the vehicles our government uses to condition us to the unknown and to prepare us for what lies ahead. Where a film like ET: The Extra-Terrestrial softens us up so we will be nice to any kind aliens who land here, one like Independence Day prepares us for aliens who are intent on humankind’s destruction.

So when the CDC offers tips on preparing for the zombie apocalypse, I take notice. And I hope to be ready once the dead walk the earth.

Of course, surviving the zombie apocalypse won’t be easy. You will have to be alert, resilient and, most importantly, resourceful. Basic necessities like food and shelter won’t be easy to come by. And other luxuries—like power, for instance—may disappear altogether. We simply won’t know until it happens.

The good news is that while I was watching last night’s episode of “The Walking Dead” and thinking about my own chances of survival during a zombie apocalypse, I believe I found a solution to the question of power. And while it may seem a little far-fetched, don’t forget that we’re talking about zombies here. They’re pretty far-fetched themselves.

The idea came to me as I was brainstorming ways of producing power once the grid went down. My first thought was an obvious one: hydroelectric power. I’m sure we’ve all seen those old water wheels that were once used to generate electricity. Okay, some of us may have only seen pictures of them, but I’m sure most of you know they existed.

Keep this in mind for a second and I promise to put all the pieces together soon.

The Walking Dead

A zombie from “The Walking Dead” (Photo credit: andres musta)

I also started thinking about those fake rabbits they use in dog racing to keep the competitors moving around the track. The dogs focus on chasing the rabbit—ignoring the other canines also in hot pursuit—and eventually finish the race. This little tidbit helped bring my whole idea together.

If the zombie apocalypse does occur, then there will be one very hot commodity humans struggling for survival might overlook: the zombies themselves! Here you have an endless supply of undead energy, all of it focused on hunting down and eating humans. Why not channel this energy into something useful? And what could be more useful than power?

Check it out.

My idea is to build some kind of basic power station that includes a fenced-in area where zombies can be safely contained. Within this enclosure would be bars connected to a turbine, each of which could be pushed by “walkers” to generate kinetic energy and, therefore, electricity. Dangled in front of the walkers could be a delicious human—protected from attack by some kind of barrier—or even a bucket full of fresh meat to tantalize the them and keep them moving forward. The energy they produce could be fed into a battery array, providing almost endless power and likely enough to sustain a small community.

And if your zombies ever decompose or decay enough to prevent further use, all you have to do is round up some more. The world should be full of them by then.

So there you have it: one very specific way to keep the lights on once zombies populate the earth. It may never happen, of course, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare for the worst, right?

And I don’t know about you, but life without television—even one that only plays DVDs—would be more of an apocalypse than even zombies could cause!

See zombies invade Manhattan in Walking Dead viral video – Yahoo! TV

Sue Lee and one of her creations (Thinkmodo)

See zombies invade Manhattan in Walking Dead viral video – Yahoo! TV.

Any zombie lovers out there, and I consider myself one of you, should check out this AMC-Thinkmodo marketing experiment to promote the hit series “The Walking Dead.”

Makeup artist Sue Lee created a number of zombies and unleashed them on Manhattan’s streets while AMC filmed people’s reactions as they passed by. It’s worth a quick look.

But I’m still waiting for the real zombie apocalypse. And I will be ready.

A Zombie… with Benefits?

English: Intertitle from the AMC television pr...

English: Intertitle from the AMC television program The Walking Dead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This weekend, AMC is showing a marathon of The Walking Dead, their popular zombie television show and one of my personal favorites. As I watched Rick being dragged from his horse by a mob of undead, only to take solace within a nearby military tank, I started to wonder.

Could there possibly be an upside to being a zombie?

I mean, there are literally millions of Google entries about how to survive a zombie apocalypse. And we have all heard the big tips. You have to destroy a zombie’s brain to kill it. Zombies follow sound, so you should always try to be quiet. Move fast and watch out for zombies in packs—one of them could have been a former Olympic sprinter or something.

Or perhaps even some of the more obscure tips? Like paying attention to what you’re wearing because you need to be quick, but also wearing as many layers as you can manage. Or making friends with people you don’t really care about because they will be easier to sacrifice and forget about.

The list goes on and on. Yet there is always a flip side.

Could there possibly be some benefits to zombiism? And yes, zombiism is a real word. I looked it up myself. And “yes” would be my answer to this question, too. Consider the following examples.

Death and taxes

To me, one of the most obvious advantages of becoming a zombie would be to quit paying taxes. Good luck trying to collect, IRS auditors. Come near me and let the brain buffet commence. The same goes for you, bill collectors. Go ahead and turn off my cable. Zombies don’t need ESPN or DVRs. They get all the entertainment they need chasing fresh meat like you around!

Work is a Four-Letter Word

Not to steal a line from the obscure Smiths’ song of the 1980s, but work usually is a hassle. Sure, it can be rewarding—spiritually, creatively, financially—but it can also be tedious, annoying and generally displeasing.

All that changes when you become one of the undead!

Gone are the day-to-day routines, the office cubicles and the meaningless conversations around the water cooler. Now you have a more tangible goal than climbing the corporate ladder. Human flesh! Yummy!

Zombie Walk in Edmonton

Perish the Thought

Want to know another huge benefit to being inducted into the zombie brotherhood? No more thinking! In almost every incarnation—save some of the stranger voodoo legends where they appear perfectly normal again—zombies return to life with no real consciousness. Sure, they know they’re hungry and want some brains and limbs to munch on, but mentally, they never really get there.

Sounds like a good thing to me.

Instead of worrying about our cell phone bills, or focusing on presentations for work, or plotting to kill our spouses, or whatever it is that runs through our minds, we can boil everything back down to its essence: satisfying our hunger.

Only rather than Big Macs and filet mignon, we’ll be feasting on each other.

It could be worse.

An End to the Sexual Revolution

In a zombie-filled world, issues of sex and gender become moot points right out of the gate. Zombies don’t reproduce, so you have no need for intercourse, pornography, sex shops, sex surrogates and a host of other goods and services. And there would be no more argument about unfair wages in the workplace, because zombies only care about food. And I don’t know one of them that can hold down a side job.

Men and women would truly be equal as they competed for severed hands and other body parts. Some would flourish, while others would suffer the fate of having their brains blown out. Equality has a price, I suppose.

Travel the World

Now that you’re a zombie, you’re free to step outside and wander aimlessly through the countryside, seeing the sights and scanning the horizon for your next major food source. For you, there are no borders, no limitations and, even better, no luggage worries. All you need are at least two of your limbs—the minimum required to stay mobile—and the open road ahead. Think of it as an extended and slightly gruesome vacation.

Melbourne Zombie Shuffle

Melbourne Zombie Shuffle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Join a Community

In most cases, zombies find themselves joining up with other zombies somewhere along the way. Without judgment or prejudice they are immediately accepted into the group. Talk about belonging. And this bond they form can only be broken by death, their own or those of the undead around them. As long as food is prevalent and they don’t wander off to inspect a mysterious noise or something, these zombie families could potentially last as long as most live human families. Anyone for the Zombie Brady Bunch?

So before you start stocking up for the apocalypse to come and training yourself to destroy undead with a multitude of different weapons, think about what you could be missing. Free food, togetherness, travel and an end to stress could be yours. All you have to do is let that zombie boss of yours take a little bite and then wait. Individual results may vary, but soon you’ll be one of the walking dead, too.

And from there, the sky’s the limit. Happy zombification!

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