THE WALKING DEAD: THE WORLD BEYOND
SPOILERS AHEAD … AND AN ART GALLERY IN A TRUCK AND LYING FOR GOOD REASONS …
Who doesn’t love a light and unburdened soul?
Let’s face it, most of us will choose spilling the truth, if only to make ourselves feel better and perhaps fix something that looks irreparably broken but what if being that honest will actually do more harm than good?
That sound you hear is a thousand, nay a million psychologists, crying out in pain and disbelief, every fibre in their being screaming out that that approach is a Very Bad Idea.
Sigmund Huck (Annet Mahendru) however, also now known as Jennifer Mallick, ex-Marine and conscientious objector with extreme prejudice, would be get to differ.
As the one in the BackStory Hotseat this episode, she knows all too well that while it sounds like a delightfully, soul-purging idea to open the doors to the soul and let all those heavy truths out for a cleansing run, the end result may not be quite as wonderful as you think.
And it turns out she’s got quite a big truth weighing her down whose release would no doubt take a great big weight off her soul but cause all kind of chaos in its wake and so she stays quiet, bearing the crushing heaviness all on her own.
It is, as it turns out, the kind of weight that if used in a gym would have everyone toned up in the gym and ready for Mr or Ms Universe in no time flat.
For Huck killed people, lots and lots of people, and while they were fellow Marines, including the love of her life, and she was saving a metric ton of innocent civilians who she and her team has been ordered to kill just in case they were sick in the early confusing, chaotic days of the apocalypse, it doesn’t make her feel any better about it.
Would telling someone, anyone help things? Maybe but as she tells Hope (Alexa Mansour), who is struggling with whether she should tell Elton (Nicolas Cantu) that she killed his mum on the night the sky fell, while it sounds like a totally altruistic idea to fling the doors opens and let the truth do its Disney, fixing everything up thing, the reality those kinds of admissions often do more harm than good.
For a start, Elton may not like Hope quite as much as he does now – it’s so cute how much he is crushing on her right now – but far more importantly, it will take away from him this hope-sustaining notion that even if life is pretty sucky at times, OK most times in the zombie apocalypse, that his mum might still be alive out there somewhere and that all he has to do is find her.
The way he lights up when he talks about her, and the smile on his face when Hope tells him how wonderful her manuscript is, and how it reveals her as a kind, funny, caring woman, is precious and Hope realises, after a session or two with Dr Huck, who knows what she actually did, that being honest might make her feel better but would destroy Elton.
So, against the advice of psychologists everywhere, most of whom are now the rambling undead so what do they know really, she stays mum, shtum and so quiet and pretends, personal pain eating her alive aside, that everything is fine and dandy and she is a giddy bundle of fairy floss and kittens inside.
Someone who’s clearly not feeling too good about things is Silas (Hal Cumpston), dear sweet faithful Silas who stands watching uncomfortably as Percy (Ted Sutherland) romances the hell out of Iris (Aliyah Royale), even going so far as to kit out the truck with lights and paintings rip out of an art book – now he’ll never get his library card renewed! – and who clearly, desperately likes Iris far more than as a deeply supportive friend.
He even knocks back some alcohol one night as the kids get plastered on grog while Felix (Nico Tortorella) and Tony (Scott Adsit) get on the booze too – is this wise in the zombie apocalypse? Logic would suggest no since being drunk may, and I’m just spitballing here, hamper your Empties fighting capabilities – and play Truth or Dare from which we all know, no harm ever comes.
HAHAHAHA … right.
As it turns out, it’s not the game that’s the problem, though that doesn’t exactly leave everyone feeling soft and mellow after Percy pushes Hope on the worst thing she’s done – don’t worry she stays quiet as per Doc Huck’s sage advice – and she rushes out harshing everyone’s buzz quite considerably.
A buzz, by the way, much enhanced by Iris, clever clogs that she is, figuring out that the CRM facility is in Ithaca, New York, a product of her own brilliant deductive reasoning, the map given to her by Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Kublek (Julia Ormond), who as previously noted in an earlier review, is playing these kids like a puppet master, and some overhead projector sheets held by Tony which showed where all kinds of CRM goodies are stashed.
But while everyone was left feeling a little less than optimal, chief among them Hope, Silas and Hope who have all had better days, things were looking up with Tony and Percy deciding to not only take them to Ithaca but also to stick around and help them more.
Happy endings aplenty! Or rather a cliffhanger! It looks like someone, or something, has eaten off Tony’s face and Percy is missing and – HELLO CLIFFHANGER!
“Truth or Dare” might have been a little teen sudsy at times but overall, it was a solid step forward, giving us a destination (Hurrah! The narrative is saved!), some resolution of will-Hope-or-won’t she (she won’t, I suspect, but the truth will still out with messy consequences) and the mother of all cliffhangers, making the anticipation for “The Sky is a Graveyard” (yep, only good things can happen with a title like that!) all the more keener.
FEAR THE WALKING DEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD … A PAUCITY OF ACTUAL HAPPY-EVER-AFTERS …
Good lord but doesn’t Fear The Walking Dead know to rip your heart out – your metaphorical heart; we’ll leave it to the zombies to take your actual heart out – and not even deign to put it back again.
“Bury Her Next to Jasper’s Leg” is one of those episodes that looks like it’s going to be all action and little emotional intimacy and then bam! You are stuck not once but twice by two very different scenes of markedly different nature but both possessing an emotional impact so profound it’s hard not to feel #alltheemotions at once.
The set-up is relatively straightforward.
The oil fields, where Luciana (Danay Garcia) and Wes (Colby Hollman) have been toiling with a good forty or so others to get the fuel that keeps Virginia’s (Colby Minifie) empire of authoritarian self-centredness humming along, are sabotaged by “The end is the beginning” gang, dissenters of her rule who will apparently do everything it takes to bring her cruelly idiosyncratic rule to an end.
We meet one of the members at the start of the episode, Paige (Ellen Locy), a woman who has ostensibly been sourcing timber for the Pioneers settlements but has also, it turns out, been spray painting the rebels’ slogan on every tree she can find, which does not go down well with good old Ginny.
As character studies in autocratic rule go, Fear is providing a master class in not only how arbitrary and cruel these regimes can be, but how weak they actually are when people begin to collectively oppose them.
In one defiant act, where she grabs a gun and shoots herself in the head – not only does she not want to turn but you also suspect she doesn’t want to somehow survive and be taken back to the Lawton to be tortured – we witness how weak Ginny’s strong woman rule actually is.
She might wax lyrical with folksy delivery and deadly intent, projecting towering strength and unchangeable, unopposable rule but she is ultimately standing on shaky ground, made all the more unstable by the attack on the oil fields which is near absolute and total.
Not only are the wells utterly totalled, starving the Pioneers of the fuel that has enabled them to establish and maintain a vast reach in a world where that is problematic for a whole host of reasons, but tens of people die, not just in the initial attack but in Ginny’s prioritising of grilling Wes, who she thinks is one of the rebels because of the spray paint in his locker (remember he is actually a painter with whom Alicia, played by Alycia Debnam-Carey, bonded in a big, good mental health-restoring way), above actually treating the severely injured.
It speaks volumes about her twisted priorities, as does her admission that she only started the Pioneers to ensure her sister Dakota (Zoe Colletti) would be safe – so much for the common good huh? – and when you see her torturing Wes by making his injuries worse, you realise just what a beastial monster she is.
Someone who’s in no doubt about her true nature is sweet, full-of-integrity John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt), a man who is deeply troubled by the events of season six’s fourth episode “The Key”, so much so that he tries to convince his wife June (Jenna Elfman), the Pioneer’s chief medical person (ably assisted by Sarah, played with lovable swagger by Mo Collins) who is rapidly becoming disillusioned by her inability to make any real impact on the health of the overall community.
She is always “too little, too late” because of a punishing schedule and too many patients and not enough time or resources, and she is disillusioned by Ginny’s unwillingness to found a hospital, of all things.
So when John says “let’s leave!” she initially all ears – well after she struggles with the fact that if she stays, she might still make a difference – a decision given extra impetus by Ginny’s casual disregard for the welfare of the many injured survivors at the oil fields.
You might think that she and John would be marching in lockstep on this issue of Ginny being a terrible human being, but when she has the chance to let Ginny die, after a zombie trapped in a hut with the two of them bites the suddenly vulnerable of the Pioneers, June ultimately chooses to save her, prioritising a commitment to a hospital (haha she actually believes the commitment will be honoured; hilarious) over striking a blow for goodness and decency.
It’s easy to see where June is coming from because helping others goes to the very core of her being as a medical professional, but the shock on Luciana, Sarah and Wes’s face when they find out she spared Ginny underscores that her decision won’t be a popular one.
Especially with John who, though he loves June with every fibre of his honourable being, chooses in the final emotionally harrowing scene to drive off and escape rather than join his wife in what he believes is a cursed and evil place.
It’s as heartwrenching as the scene between June and Ginny is powerful in its moral implications, underscoring that “Bury Her Next to Jasper’s Leg” is evidence that Fear has not lost its passion for or ability to tell intensely moving stories that go the very human heart of the zombie apocalypse.