It’s all in the details. Of all the ShoptheWalkingDead.com products we’ve seen Chris Hardwick hawking on Talking Dead, he’s never highlighted this exquisitely charming (haha) beaut. The perennially trendy juxtaposition of black-and-gold offsets each dangling relic from a plotline on the show: the handcuffs Rick used on poor Merle, black and gold skulls, the wings on Daryl’s iconic vest, and Daryl’s crossbow… Basically, the Dixon brothers make for great accessory fodder.
For the ultimate bad-ass chick who also happens to love elegant, and deadly, home décor, place this high-carbon steel replica of Michonne’s katana (with an aluminum handle wrapped in leather and real ray skin) on its own wall mount in your living room. Or bedroom, if you’re into that kinda thing.
2ndBest Episode of All-Time: “Better Angels,” Season 2 Episode 12
WHAT WE LOVED ABOUT IT:
What a perfect illustration of how some are born to lead and others born to crack. The escalating tension between Rick and Shane, instead of coming to an impasse due to Dale’s devastating death, had finally shattered the last remaining fragments of their BFF status. Rick (still operating at this point under a democracy than a Ricktatorship) is more assured than ever in the humane choice to set Randall the prisoner free, as Dale would have had it, than to execute him, as Shane would. So, it begins…Shane’s plot to murder Rick in cold blood is revealed to the audience as it is to Rick, making the buildup and the faux goose chase Shane set up all the more tense and rife for Emmy-winning acting moments. (Seriously, did Shane think anyone would buy his story if he walked back onto that farm without Rick?)
It seemed that, as the episode progressed, so did the ferocious pace of Rick Grimes’ ascension to full Alpha status. While Shane was quickly slipping off the cliff of sanity, Rick was firmly holding onto all the hope he saw in front of him: a wife, son, unborn child, and friends both new and old. Andrew Lincoln’s glow-in-the-dark blue eyes, ever-fixated on Shane as the latter kept leading him further out into the woods, carried all of the burden in these dimly lit scenes, reflecting all the flashes of confusion, betrayal, and anger that Rick felt as he followed his former best friend knowingly toward his own execution, thinking, “Is this crazy mothaf***er REALLY going to try and kill me right here and now?”
LINE OF THE EPISODE:
“People are gonna die. I wish I had something more profound to say…but I’m tired, son. Please, take it.”
-Rick as he hands Carl a gun, the same one Carl later uses to dispatch Walker Shane
WHY THIS EPISODE WORKED:
Shane needed to goooooooo! If you can’t take direct orders from the group’s designated leader, then leave the goddamn group. A group of survivors in a Zombie Apocalypse is simply a microcosmic society and in any society, there must be some order. It was completely satisfying watching him fail to get the upper-hand on Rick, thereby proving Rick’s leadership-worthiness, and even more when Rick’s own son shot him after reanimation. I have watched Carl shoot Walker Shane, like, 100 times on repeat.
P.S. I did cry when Rick frustratingly blubbered over Shane’s dead body:
P.P.S. Rick, Carl, Daryl and Glenn witness firsthand the heavy realization that everyone will eventually become a walker.
P.P.P.S. I know she’s dead now, but can someone slap Lori for me? At an emotionally fragile time for all, post-Dale’s funeral, she went over to Shane to have an intimate chat about how her unborn child, whom she had previously declared was husband Rick’s “no matter what,” could just as easily be Shane’s. Given Lori’s knowledge that Shane is already predisposed to rage and possessiveness over her and Carl, that was just complete idiocy on her part. I would blame it on the baby hormones but I don’t want to be labeled a sexist by SJWs.
BEST EPISODE OF ALL-TIME:“This Sorrowful Life,” Season 3 Episode 15
WHAT WE LOVED ABOUT IT:
Merle, Merle, Merle. Never has a character, up to this point in the series, been so sophisticatedly dissected from start to finish in an episode. Even the always scene-stealing Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes paled in comparison to Michael Rooker’s Merle Dixon this time. Rooker enunciated each layer of Merle’s personality clearly and intensely.
We saw Merle the greedy user (“We got any whiskey?” “Just lookin’ for some crystal meth is all”), Merle the voice of reason (“You’re gonna let [the Governor torture Michonne] all just for a shot? You’re as cold as ice, Officer Friendly”), Merle the dutiful henchman (takes it upon himself to kidnap Michonne and deliver her on Rick’s behalf), and, most tragically, Merle the regretful (dare we say, sorrowful?) loner…The real reason we wound up so saddened by Merle’s departure from this world was that he had resigned to the fact that he didn’t belong anywhere… The Governor no longer wanted him, Rick and his group certainly never liked him, and his own brother, Daryl, now looked at him like a sick old dog whom he just couldn’t bring himself to put down. He had no one left in this world, if he ever had anyone truly… and it took somewhere along his drive with Michonne for him to realize this.
Merle made an ultimately self-sacrificial decision to free Michonne and try to eliminate as much of the threat to Rick’s group as possible. Was it a suicidal decision? Therein lies that beautiful complexity… After having all these layers of Merle Dixon peeled back, we still will never know what truly drove him to do what he did at any given time. Clearly, part of his motivation was the desire to protect Daryl but he chose deliberately to go alone on this killing spree when he could have easily enlisted help.
“I can’t go back. Don’t you get that? I just can’t go back.” That, and not his heroic self-sacrifice, was the real tear-jerking moment. Whether he survived his kamikaze-style attack on the Governor’s soldiers, Merle was always going out alone in this world. He knew it. We knew it. For a character who’s been only on a dozen episodes, Merle Dixon’s loss is still felt today as our group faces an entirely new (and bigger) threat in Negan and his Saviors.
LINE OF THE EPISODE:
“I don’t know why I do the things I do. Never did. I’m a damn mystery to me.”
-Merle to Rick
Oh, and don’t get us started on Daryl’s cry-face. When Norman Reedus cries, we cry, y’all:
Honorable Mentions for LINE OF THE EPISODE:
In addition to the emotional weight of the episode, Merle helped serve up a delicious platter of one-liners to offset the mood:
“Do you even possess a pair of balls, little brother? If so…they belong to you?”
“The inner circle… I’m honored.”
MICHONNE: “So is this your thing then? Taking out the trash?”
MERLE: “Aww, don’t be so hard on yourself, darling.”
“You’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt… and I’ve only got one.”
…and on and on it goes as New York Comic Con is amidst us.
WE NEVER KNEW watching TV could be as hectic as attending Fashion Week–come Fall, you’re scrambling from one big event to the next, typing out your notes on each on the in-between cab or train ride. Now that we can stop binge-watching old shows on Netflix (and binge new ones), let’s take a deep breath and unravel a bit of all that’s happened in Geekdom so far:
1. Luke Cage (Netflix) Easter Eggs: A Scavenger Hunter’s Basics
Just like in Daredevil, “the incident” was name-dropped early on and often in this series. It is the important moniker given to the alien attack on New York City led by Loki’s Chitauri army in The Avengers (2012). The ramifications of that event are still clearly reverberating four years later in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
“Sweet Christmas!/Sweet Sister!”
Count how many times in this series Luke Cage (Mike Colter) utters these phrases. It is Luke’s catchphrase; it’s his “HULK SMASH.” Created along with some other Blaxploitation superheroes (Shaft, most famously) in the ’70s, this line was meant to be Marvel’s kid-friendly substitute for Luke cursing. Along with his nicknames, Power Man and Mr. Bulletproof, the line brings a smile to our faces whenever old-soul Luke drops it on us.
“I’m not for hire.”
You will repeatedly hear Cage insist that he’s “not for hire” this season. Indubitably, this is the show’s allusion to the small company founded by Cage and Danny Rand (a.k.a. Iron Fist), Heroes for Hire, Inc. in the comics. Cage and Rand lend protection and investigative services for a fee on a very kosher basis–they never accepted extralegal jobs and the company was licensed by the state of New York.
Nods to his Classic Costume
This is Luke Cage’s original costume. No way it was making it into a 2016 adaptation but look out for the way in which they cleverly managed to still wring out a scene with Luke rocking it. His self-commentary on the outfit is nothing short of hilarity.
Remember that really funny and smug jackass in Iron Man 2? He was played by Sam Rockwell and went by the name of Justin Hammer. Oh, and he and his company were Tony Stark’s chief rivals in the weapons industry. With Tony Stark out of the arms manufacturing biz altogether, it looks like Hammer Industries has finally taken the throne. Take a shot every time their name gets dropped or is seen throughout this series.
Don’t recognize this sea-engulfed prison? Oh, it’s filled with Iron Man’s MCU foes: Justin Hammer himself is supposedly still incarcerated here and so was actor Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) after the events of Iron Man 3.
Gun-runner Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali) yells this in a fit of rage at his cousin, councilwoman Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodward). She warns him to not call her that: here’s why.
2. The Flash (CW): Highlights of the “Flashpoint” episode
Let’s get one thing out of the way: It was way too short. We wanted to spend more time in the Flashpoint universe: We wanted to see more of smug and rich Cisco and way, way more of Wally West a.k.a. Kid Flash getting schooled by Barry Allen a.k.a. The Flash.
In any case, Season 3’s premiere might have been titled “Flashpoint,” but the following episode is titled “Paradox,” meaning… it ain’t over! We are guessing that the ramifications of Flashpoint leave Barry with more trouble than just Iris and Joe not talking.
Now, what we loved about “Flashpoint”:
On the other hand…
Barry and Iris’ Meet-Cute (Foster siblings/lovebirds/lifelong best friends meeting for the first time in an alternate reality will always melt the coldest of a cynic’s heart)… Well, we’re not sure how chivalrous it is stealing a girl’s purse just to pretend to give it back:
“I’ve got to meet a friend for dinner” a.k.a. Barry feeding his archenemy, Reverse Flash, fast food like a hamster in a cage:
Aww, what a “It’s a Wonderful Life” moment, indeed. Henry and Nora Allen alive and well in 2016 and ha-ha, his parents want Barry to move out after he went through hell to save both their lives:
Ew… Barry had to wash Joe West by himself. Hope he used a loofah!
Barry’s memory flashes… A visually resonant side effect of his F-U to Father Time. He’s starting to forget his original life and the memories it contained of Iris and other loved ones:
“I got you… Whoops, thought I had you.” Perfect comedic set-up to Barry discovering Kid Flash is none other than his Wally West:
“What did you expect, a fortress?” – Wally to Barry after the latter questioned the laxness of his base of operations. A Fortress of Solitude reference?
It was soooo nice hearing Wally tell the story of how he became powered. Almost exactly akin to Barry’s, with the addition of an illegal racing car.
Star Labs is Ramon Industries in the Flashpoint universe and Cisco Ramon is the richest man in America… with his player hand strong, flying up to work in a helicopter with a honey on his arm:
LOL – Cisco goes for an easy lay-up in his own office basketball hoop… and misses:
Vibrating hand reference by Cisco:
Barry losing some memories of Cisco… Very poignant:
“Whoa, it’s like I’m really there.” – Cisco
Cisco is a health nut in the Flashpoint timeline 🙂
Barry reveals his powers to Iris and Wally West to team up against the Rival:
… and explains the Flashpoint timeline to this new team:
Caitlin! There she is!
Aww, Barry is trying to glue his old friend-family back together.
“We’re something else to each other where you come from, aren’t we?” Give it up to Candice Patton– Her tearful acting was 100% believable:
Kid Flash and the Flash, standing side by side:
“It’s like he’s a Weather Wizard or something.” – Cisco
Barry forgets… and then remembers that he’s… DRUMROLL… The Flash:
“I need you to kill my mother.” Ouch. Barry has to beg Reverse Flash to go back in time and re-kill his mom so they can restore the natural timeline:
West-Allen will always exist… in any universe or timeline:
Talk about dark humor. How many times has Michelle Harrison have had to act our her/Nora Allen’s death?
3. 2-for-1 Countdown to Season 7 The Walking Dead (AMC) Premiere… 3 WEEKS TO GO:
4th Best Episode Of All-Time: Too Far Gone, Season 4 Episode 8
FOUR Reasons We Love It:
1. This episode worked because of the ever-reliable formula of Big Speech followed by Big Booms. Usually in these cases, it’s the hero delivering said speech, but the flip that it was the villain made it all the more refreshing.
2. Rick’s Change of Heart. The first half of Season 4 saw Rick struggle to come back from his costly dictator-like mistakes in Season 3. Rick and right-hand Daryl touchingly restrain Rick’s son, Carl (who had become just as ruthless), from taking a clean shot at the Governor… just so they can parlay in good faith… “I know we all can change. We can still come back. We’re not too far gone,” Rick pleads. Which brings us to…
3. Hershel’s Death – Tragic and tied for the most tear-jerking along with Dale’s, it was a death but so necessary to further the plot at this point. Several of the main characters had contracted a fast-killing flu in earlier episodes and all of them were miraculously not among the dozens who died. It was time for a dose of gravitas to be sourly delivered to our heroes. It was Hershel’s time. His well of wisdom had been imparted in full; Rick understood his message and, in turn, passed it onto the Governor.
4. Hello, Sweet Vengeance. Comics readers or not, we all knew Michonne wasn’t dying this episode. She had still not amply punished the Governor enough for his crimes against her, Andrea, Glenn, Maggie, and etcetera and etcetera. We are so happy that Michonne is the one who shish-kebabs the Governor and leaves him to turn. Also, satisfying as HECK to see each of the Gov’s all-too-eager henchmen (and women) get mauled down trying to attack our heroes’ home, especially Tara’s (let’s be honest) super-bitchy girlfriend when she was nailed dead-center in the forehead by 10-year old Lizzy while trying to kill Tyreese. MUAHAHA.
Bonus MVP points go to Daryl for using a zombie as a shield like a G!
LINE OF THE EPISODE:
“You walk through those gates, you’re one of us.”
-Rick to the Governor’s army as they ready to attack the prison
3rd Best Episode Of All-Time: A, Season 4 Episode 16
THREE Reasons We Love It:
1. The intertwining imagery of Rick’s return to righteous savagery (he was seconds from watching his son get raped) and his past Zen-ful lessons on the prison farm courtesy of Hershel.
2. The return of Hershel!
3. THROAT RIP! (NSFW GIF HERE) Rick is so hungry in the Zombie Apocalypse apparently that he’ll treat himself to some human esophagus, if he damn well pleases. I can’t decide which was more enjoyable – the dark humor and satisfaction I derived from the scene or the sheer shock value of it. Of course, on The Walking Dead, there is always more to gore than just gore for gore’s sake. Every decapitated head, every eyehole stab, throat slit… Each moment of violence on this show pounces on the emotional arcs presented that episode. For an episode hinging on Rick Grimes re-earning his Ricktatorship throne, I would say this moment sealed the deal.
LINE OF THE EPISODE:
“They’re f***ing with the wrong people.”
-Rick’s best motivational speech yet to his group
4. Doctor Strange (Marvel Studios/Disney)’s New TV Spot Hides Secret Messages
Messages contained in reverse in this new TV spot, along with flashes of images, reveal the exciting probable revelation of another Infinity Stone in the upcoming MCU film. Listen in forward and reverse mode from Doctor Strange himself:
“This is just the beginning”
“Time” repeated by Strange himself in different tonalities…
The Time Stone… A new Infinity Stone enters the MCU arena.
NOVEMBER 4th, Oh, won’t you come
5. Iron Fist (Netflix)… Say hello to our newest crush.
Sorry, Mike Colter, but geek love is a fickle mistress! We still love ya but we just finished Luke Cage and on we are to the next Marvel/Netflix lovechild, Iron Fist! Mike is one of the most handsome men in the world, but we can’t deny how boyishly charming Finn Jones (who plays Danny Rand a.k.a. Iron Fist)’s smile and curly goldilocks is. Oh, and Madame Gao is back.
We even auditioned to be Colleen Wing… but our tape went missing 😦
Daryl, Abraham and Sasha encounter a band of Negan’s Saviors for the first time:
This Instantly Iconic Line:
“Your property now belongs to Negan.”
Abraham’s Hilariously Defiant Questioning:
Daryl Found a Bazooka:
This episode aired on Valentine’s Day… and Rick Grimes didn’t have a good one:
Rick watched his new girlfriend, Jessie, and her son get devoured by walkers in front of him and then had to chop off said girlfriend’s arm in order to free his son.
How it happened in the comics:
Oh yeah and then…
Carl Lost an Eye:
Exactly like in the comics:
The “Glenn Lives!” Moment:
Glenn, for the near-20th time, gallantly almost dies on this show, this time trying to distract the herd of walkers away from his trapped wife, Maggie.
…Not so fast. Glenn will not die… here. He is saved by the well-timed arrival and marksmanship of Sasha and Abraham:
The “Slice and Slash” Last Stand Montage:
Perfectly edited and scored to wring all the proper emotions out of the audience, the momentous last stand that the Alexandrians make against the herd, not knowing if they will win, made us swell with pride. Pride at how boldly the Alexandrians have risen since their pasta-making, cocktail party-hosting days and pride at how far Rick’s group has come in embracing and guiding the Alexandrians toward adulthood in the Walker Apocalypse.
Daryl’s Lake of Fire:
Daryl, having just been robbed of his crossbow, apparently takes a shining to the bazooka he’s found (who wouldn’t?), making use of it again when, after dumping propane into the lake, he shoots a RPG into the water, creating a walker-friendly bonfire, saving the day once and for all:
LINE OF THE EPISODE:
“If you have to eat sh*t, best not to nibble. Bite, chew, swallow, repeat.”
SEASON 7 of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” premieres 7 weeks from today, thus beginning our celebratory countdown with the 7 best episodes of the show thus far, in our humblest of opinions, of course.
DISCLAIMER: It is a tall order to ask any “Walking Dead” fan to just list SEVEN of his/her favorite episodes, but LIL GRIPES rose to the occasion. Mind you, if we’ve omitted a favorite of yours, PLEASE comment below and let us know! Let us know what you loved about it! xx
No. 7: Season 5 Episode 1, “No Sanctuary”
The best “Walking Dead” episodes tend to relish in a slow burn rather than high-octane action. “No Sanctuary” is one of the spare, spectacular exceptions.
Maybe it is the elevation of the stakes we knew our heroes were facing right from the start…This season premiere picking up chronologically rightafter our protagonists were all herded into a dank and dim (read: creepy) train car at Terminus. It opens with them then being herded off into ::you guessed it:: a human slaughterhouse. When Glenn Rhee, Daryl Dixon and Rick Grimes are just four people away from having their throats slit in a human-trough lineup, you goddamn better be sitting on the edge of your seat biting what’s left of your nails.
*More on Glenn’s hilarious James Bond-esque evasion of certain death not once, but three times, later.
Maybe it is the satisfaction derived from watching the sweet, slow blow of revenge… Thanks to Carol 2.0’s boldest act of badassery yet (leading a herd of walkers whilst covered in their guts toward her friends’ place of capture and blowing up a propane tank to lure said walkers toward our heroes’ captors, the Termites), we got to see glorious gore exacted upon the villains for once. Never has having human faces being devoured on this show been as satisfying as when these walkers made a fine Sunday feast out of the Termite cannibals.
(I literally applauded and hooted in cheering during the scene in which the above GIF appeared)
Maybe it’s that our heroes have reunited again as a family working together toward a common goal after spending a whole half-season sprawled apart. With Rick gone farmer all of season four, it was especially welcome to see “Kong Fu Rick” back, blasting machine guns while dripping forehead-to-beard with both the blood of enemy humans and walkers. Given the first chance via Carol’s explosive diversion, Rick stabbed and gunned his way to freedom, leading his group out of the hazy maze of foggy smoke, fiery walkers, and frightened cannibals with appropriate bravado. Rick made it clear: The show had returned from summer hiatus and so had he–he’s playing for keeps Season 5:
*Now back to Glenn… One of the mostly darkly funny moments this entire series has been how Glenn managed to evade near-death this many times in a roll in the slaughterhouse… Especially given that it was a bat-to-the-head situation, as if morbidly teasing what’s to come for him in the comics (Negan, you SOB). The guy lined up before him had just been knocked unconscious over the trough and his throat just slit open, bleeding him dry. The expression on Glenn’s face (brilliantly brought to life by Steven Yeun) said it all: “Here it comes. This show is about to kill off a major beloved character…again.”
Terminus butcher raises his bat to knock out Glenn. The Termites’ leader interrupts him, “Hey, how many shell counts did you have?” He answers.
Butcher raises bat over Glenn again… Termite leader says to the other butcher, “I need your shell count!” He replies, “Oh man, I’m sorry; I didn’t count mine… It’s my first round-up.”
Leader excuses him for this time’s slip-up and decides to use the moment to chit-chat with Rick. After a good five minutes pass, the first butcher resumes raising his bat over the back of Glenn’s head for the third time. MID-swing, *KA-BOOM* An explosion knocks them all off their feet and onto their sides.
And Glenn the Survivor survives…again…
~ CUE 007 THEME ~
LINE OF THE EPISODE:
“[My bag] has a machete with a red handle… That’s what I’m gonna use to kill you.”
– Rick to Gareth, the Terminus leader
P.S. How hot does Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) look in this promo photo for this incredibly grisly episode? They don’t call it sexy dirt for nothin’:
Episode ranked #6 next week… Suggestions of your own?
AN ENTIRE SUMMER OF US GOING, “PLEASE NOT DARYL. PLEASE NOT DARYL. PLEAAAAAASE. NOT. DARYL.”
This past Sunday, the art of suspense during the Zombie Apocalypse was raised to a hellish new high. Everyone was anticipating Negan, the Biggest Bad to appear yet in AMC’s The Walking Dead TV universe. More specifically, everyone was anticipating his famous death-by-Lucille (a barbed-wire baseball bat) scene from the graphic novels upon which the show is based, during which he beats one of the core protagonists to death brutally and unapologetically.
Well, after delivering one of the most charismatic villain-entrance soliloquys of all television and movie history, Negan (the perfectly cast Jeffrey Dean Morgan) did beat one of the group to death. Just.. we don’t know who. Plenty of fans had something to say about that fact.
*To clarify at this point, the show almost always remixes deaths from the comics so it stays its own entity and keeps faithful readers off the scent.
GUESS WHAT… IT DOESN’T MATTER WHO.
The camera switched to a first-person POV as we simply saw Negan swinging (both-handed like he’s trying to win the biggest prize at the county fair), a sudden projectile of blood and heard the cries, screams and bone-crunching as the screen faded to black. It was a monumentally traumatizing moment, yes, but the specifics of that scene were not supposed to be the defining moment of the season six finale. After the episode, bellyachers abound whined that one could “have slept through that entire episode and woken up at the last few minutes because nothing happened wah-wah.”
The episode’s climax was never supposed to hinge on the death itself. The climax’s impact only worked because of the story that directly preceded it–the story of how Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), the leader of a band of survivors who have successfully outlived extreme terror and danger for some time now, was stripped, layer by layer, of all confidence, hope, and strategy.
THE CLIMAX’S IMPACT ONLY WORKED BECAUSE OF THE STORY THAT DIRECTLY PRECEDED IT.
He began the episode with an alarming amount of swagger, threatening the Saviors, Negan’s muscly (and many) band of followers, to their faces and ended it on his knees with zero moves left on the chessboard. Rick couldn’t even muster the rage when Negan menaced his son. His eyes were void of all emotion except for pure and simple fear, just like a wild and wounded animal completely backed into a corner.
Rick’s (and by default, his group’s) journey from bravado to barely-begging was a triumphant exercise in tension; all that mattered was someone, no matter the person, paid a fatal price for the group’s ignorant hubris. Now whether it is Glenn (as in the comics) or fan-favorite Daryl or someone else entirely is next season’s arc to unfold. It was not a cliffhanger but a glimpse into a brand-new story.
IT’S FUN TO GUESS, THOUGH. JUST FOR KICKS, A POLL BY THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER ON WHO FANS THINK BIT IT BY BAT: