TIME Recaps

The Walking Dead Watch: ‘Crossed’

Walkers - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
"Who's bad?" Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC—© AMC Film Holdings LLC.

Things go all fubar before the mid-season finale. Plus, watch for extremely melted zombies

“Crossed,” the seventh episode of the fifth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead, might as well have been titled “Aftermath.” Nearly all the show’s characters find themselves reeling from the multiple denouements in last week’s episode, “Consumed.” All of them are more or less groping to find the boundaries of morality, the show’s most consistent theme.

The episode begins with the rage of Sasha, the latest of our unmerry band to have been pushed beyond the edge. Still distraught over the loss of her boyfriend Bob, she is taking it out on a church pew with an ax while the rest of the group fortifies the abbey in preparation for a standoff to come. The organ pipes are becoming battlements, the kneelers deadbolts. Gabriel, the milquetoast priest with qualms about killing the undead, looks around and asks worriedly, “Are you going to take the cross too?” “If we need it,” Daryl replies, implying it has little value beyond its physical utility.

This augurs the moral searching of the other characters throughout the episode. In a world where the clergy is futile and religious icons are only as good as the literal material they’re made out of, it’s up to every individual to settle their own codes. This is underscored (maybe) by Gabriel trying, manically, pointlessly, to scrub dried blood out of the church’s hardwood.

(Side note, the liturgical readings posted inside the church are all topical. They include: Matthew 27:52And the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. And Luke 24:5In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”)

At the hospital, Beth learns that Carol has suffered serious injury (duh) and may not recover without the right medication. Not wanting to waste resources on a seemingly lost cause, Dawn orders her taken off machine care. But later, Dawn also gives Beth the key to the medicine cabinet, suggesting she’s got to pose as a strongman to stay in control. Dawn is a new kind group leader. Though she seemed a run-of-the-mill tyrant at first, she increasingly appears to be just a figure head, barely keeping the hospital collective together. “You don’t know how fragile this thing is,” she tells Beth (who’s scars have reached Chucky frequency).

At the stalled fire truck, a concussed Eugene is baking in the sun. A PTSD-ed Abraham is looking off into the distance, spaced way out. In the mean time, Glenn, Tara, and Rosita take trip to the local pond to stock up on water and do a little impromptu fishing. It’s all very Stand By Me and the trio seems the least conflicted of any of the current sub-groups, amiably deciding to forge ahead even in the wake of the charade that was Eugene’s “mission” to Washington.

At the church, Carl tries to convince Gabriel he can teach him to protect himself from the undead. When Gabriel expresses discomfort at the conflict that ended the lives of the Termians, Carl points out they were “killers,” and Gabriel retorts, “So are we.” (Throughout, the confessor is on his knees and the teenager shaped by the post-apocalyptic world is towering above him in role reversal.) Gabriel retires to a backroom where he pulls up the floor boards and takes off. On his way to exile, he lands on a nail creating some Stigmata light for the road. When he encounters a roaming walker, he can’t bring himself to bash her brains out.

The main tension (and action) is with the fourth group—Tyrese, Sasha, Rick, Daryl and Noah—who are on a rescue mission to retrieve Carol and Beth from the hospital. Rick’s plan: slip in, special forces style, killing whoever gets in the way. Cold, ruthless, pragmatic. Tyrese’s plan: capture two of Dawn’s officers and diplomatically negotiate a trade. Measured, generous, idealistic. To Rick’s mild annoyance, the group sides with Tyrese’s more humanistic plan. Again, testing of boundaries…

Things go wrong pretty quickly. Though the group manages to ambush two of the hospital’s police officers, they’re quickly saved by a backup force. The shootouts that follow take place in a wasteland of badly burned walkers, many of which are melted to the pavement. This is the napalm-scented hell awaiting those who were evacuated from the hospital in the midst of the outbreak. Ultimately, Rick’s group gets its hostages.

One of them, Officer Bob, seems like a pretty good guy. Earnest, trustworthy. He convinces Sasha to put one of his former colleagues, now rotting and writhing outside, out of his misery. But as she’s lining up her shot, Bob bashes her against the window and scuttles off.

Zombie Kill Report
1 double fingers to the eyes by Daryl; 1 silenced shot to the skull by Rick; 1 knife to the head by Glenn; 1 knife to the head by Rosita; 1 knife to the head by Tara.
Estimated total: 5

TIME Recaps

The Walking Dead Watch: ‘Consumed’

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Carol: Woman on fire. Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC—© AMC Film Holdings LLC.

It's a ballad of the badasses as Carol and Daryl go on the hunt. Also, falling zombies redefine purple rain

“Consumed,” the sixth episode of the fifth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead, is a slow burn. The good kind—one of the series’ occasional faults is whiplash-inducing gear shifts—in which we get to watch Carol and Daryl go on the hunt for Beth.

The adventures of this Butch and Sundance (or is it Thelma and Louise?) are interspersed with vignettes from Carol’s recent past, starting with her being fromerly ostracized from the group by Rick for her draconian problem-solving style. (It’s not quite the same as being cast out of paradise but, in their world, likely the closest thing to it.) This is supposed to remind us, I think, of Carol’s character arc over the course of the last five seasons, from cowed, battered wife to lone-wolf badass.

Carol and Daryl are a captivating pair. Both are outsiders, at times morally righteous and at others nihilistically resigned. Both have lost the most important person to them, Daryl his brother and Carol her daughter. Both are damaged goods, in other words, and as such have formed a particularly strong bond to each other. The question is, is it romantic?

By the normal rules of television, it shouldn’t be. In the book, Andrea and Dale have a completely believable romantic liaison, despite their age difference. In the television series, partly because of casting, that idea is laughable. “Consumed” is particularly compelling for teasing out the “what’s up with us?” quality of the friendship. This teasing includes a moderately awkward scene about who’s going to sleep on the top bunk and a dialogue in which Carol says to Daryl, “You were a kid, now you’re…a man.”

Otherwise, the episode consists mainly of the duo making their way through a ruined Atlanta—a family shelter familiar to Carol from her past, abandoned and luxurious legal offices, sky-bridges full of walkers squirming in sealed sleeping bags like fussy mummies—looking for the hospital tribe holding Beth. Throughout, they carry on a philosophical discussion of the weight of the past, the meaning of survival, and the epistemology of identity. You know, the usge. It’s a little like the School of Athens—with zombies—or Before Sunrise—with zombies. (Or, maybe even better, a level in the Last of Us.)

Along the way, they scavenge for supplies in a van teetering on the edge of a freeway overpass. When the vehicle gets over run by walkers and, ultimately, pushed off the edge, the two just barely survive the fall. The undead following off the ledge like lemmings and splattering all around gives new definition to purple rain.

Eventually, they run into Noah, the orderly Beth helped escape two episodes ago. At first, he steals their weapons, but later, Carol and Daryl catch up to him and they join forces, trading information about where Beth is being held. Having resolved to go save Beth, Carol is unexpectedly hit by a car and taken to the hospital in question. Daryl and Noah steal a truck and presumably head back to the church to get reinforcements.

All of this, it seems, sets us up for The Walking Dead’s familiar dynamic, it’s cruising speed of warring tribes girding for conflict. But this time, the battlefield—a megalopolis teeming with walkers—promises much more danger.

Zombie Kill Report
1 run over by car by Daryl; 1 knife to skull by Carol; 1 arrow to the head by Daryl; 4 sharp object to the head by Carol and Daryl; 1 knife to the face by Daryl; 3 gunshots to the head by Carol; 1 knife to the head by Daryl; 3 machete chops to the head by Daryl; 1 arrow to the head by Carol.
Estimated total: 16

The Window Metaphor
When Daryl and Carol are holed up in the shelter, they come upon a mother and child who have turned, clearly an echo of Carol and Sophia. The walkers claw at a door made of frosted glass. This is a recurring metaphor this season: the lines, whether opaque or completely clear, that separate the living from the undead. Progressively louder, the show’s writers seem to be asserting, “Walkers, they’re just like us.”

TIME

The Walking Dead Watch: ‘Self Help’

Josh McDermitt as  Dr. Eugene Porter - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Eugene: "Hello, is it me you're looking for?" Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC—© AMC Film Holdings LLC.

Oh no he didn't! And a spectacular new way to kill walkers in droves

Episode five of the fifth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead takes a breather from the rapid-fire plot development of the first few episodes and goes into Balasana for some character study. Unlike the first handful of episodes which consisted of an anthropological tour through the various types of human communities—cannibals, cowards, exiles—and how they self-organize—command and control, perfectly rational, mildly democratic—“Self Help” turns inward, developing Abraham and Eugene, two relative late comers to the series.

It’s all a bit dull, especially if you’ve read the comic books and know what to expect from Eugene, the mullet-sporting scientist supposedly from the Human Genome Project and supposedly in possession of a cure for the zombie outbreak. Though, the writers were kind enough to toss in two gratuitous scenes, one of sex, one of carnage, to keep things from dragging.

Abraham, Rosita, Glen, Maggie, Eugene and Tara have taken the church short bus, leaving the rest of the group behind to get to Washington, D.C. as quickly as possible. On the way, the bus crashes spectacularly and for reasons unknown. The group’s only option is to fight its way out.

It’s nice to know that, even after the apocalypse, people are still quoting Bill O’Reilly even though he’s presumably been eaten. “We’ll do it live!” Abraham asserts before leading the charge into a thicket of walkers surrounding the vehicle. (It’s also nice to know that, even in a time of severe scarcity, Abraham is still managing to stock up on phosphorescent red hair dye.)

There’s a cloud of uncertainty around Eugene as all of this unfolds. Is he just a coward? Is he simply on the spectrum? Or, is there something else going on? We’re also treated to some radial tilt-shift flashbacks of Abraham’s former life as a father and husband doing his best to get through the end of the world.

The group fights its way to an abandoned book store. We get to see vignettes of life on the road during the end times, fashioning a lighter from a battery, making a stove with hangers, and so on. Abraham and Glenn, Glenn and Maggie, Tara and Eugene all engage in short colloquies during this interlude. In these quiet scenes, we can see the interpersonal bonds of the group tightening. Which is a nice counterbalance in a show where things are usually falling apart (or, more likely, being shredded apart by gnashing teeth). But there’s a shared delusion quality to it all.

The rationale of the group’s “mission” (getting Eugene to D.C.), which has seemed tentative all along, frays even more when Tara catches him watching Rosita (Laura Croft in pigtails) and Abraham making love. Eugene, peeping from the self help section (winky face), admits that he caused the crash by putting crushed glass in the bus’ fuel line. Tara chalks it up to bad judgement and promises to keep Eugene’s secret.

But why—considering he almost killed everybody aboard—doesn’t exactly add up until we see Maggie and Glenn engaging in their own pillow talk. Maggie is happy to have something to be going toward, rather than dwelling on the horrors of the past. They’re finally living for the future, she explains, and that feels pretty good. Cut to a shot of a walker shambling ever forward, presumably happy and fulfilled by his life’s “ambition” to eat another brain.

You get the feeling everybody senses Eugene is full of it, but that it’s alright so long as his story of weaponized diseases and missiles and secret labs provides a pretext for forward motion (and meaning) for everybody in the group. All in all, this is one of the series’ more deeply nihilistic episodes I can recall.

The group finds a semi-functioning firetruck and heads out of town—but not before Eugene mows down a dozen walkers with the roof-mounted firehose. It’s new, it’s gross, and it’s spectacular. This saves the day but also empties the tank which causes problems down the road, a lot like Eugene’s save-the-world story itself, which provides a reason to keep going in the present but will soon cause much, much bigger problems.

Things finally come to a head when the group finds itself face to face with a massive ranch (feed lot?) of walkers. Abraham—who we’ve learned drove his wife and children away by trying to protect them, brutally—wants to push through and the rest of the group revolts.

As the tussle over what to do gets physical, Eugene confesses that he’s full of it. “I’m not a scientist,” he says, “I just know stuff.” He goes on to explain, in a perfectly delivered, Deadwood-esque monologue, that his story is an adaptation to the environment, his way of getting strong people to protect him. And get him to Washington, which he believes is the most likely place to provide refuge.

Abraham loses it and punches Eugene, a lot. We flash to Abraham finding the corpses of his daughter, son, and wife. Just as he’s about to kill himself, we hear Eugene mewling for help. In that moment, Abraham and Eugene seal their pact. Eugene will provide the lie and Abraham the muscle. Or as Ernest Becker might summarize it all, living is lying.

Zombie Kill Report
5 knife blades to the head by Tara; 1 bayonet to the face by Maggie; 1 knife to the skull by Rosita; 3 blade stabs to the head by Abraham; 2 knifes to the head by Glenn; 3 rifle butts to the head by Abraham; 1 riffle butt to the head by Glenn; 3 knife blades to the head by Maggie; 11 firehose sprays to the head by Eugene; 1 knife to the skull by Rosita; 3 blades to the head by Abraham.
Estimated total: 34

Product Placement
The book store is replete with easter eggs. Not only is Eugene watching from the self help section, his confession to Tara is backdropped by a row of We All Fall Down, whether that is Nic Sheff’s addiction memoir or the Y.A. hit from the early-90s is unclear but still… The shelves and signage in the story are filled with clever, covert messages to the audience.

About the Artist
TIME editor-at-large Richard Lacayo helpfully pointed out to me that Caravaggio’s The Denial of St. Peter, which was featured prominently in episode four “Slabtown,” is not located in Atlanta but in New York. So how did it make its way down the eastern seaboard during the apocalypse?

TIME Television

The Walking Dead Watch: ‘Slabtown’

Emily Kinney as Beth Greene - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Beth: "This is going to be uncomfortable, right?" Gene Page/AMC—© AMC Film Holdings LLC.

New group, new maladjustments. And, in a first, the show's most uncomfortable scene involves a lollipop

Beth is back! In “Slabtown,” the fourth episode of the fifth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead, Beth—who had been taken by roadmen at the end of the previous season—wakes up with the trappings of old-fashioned civilization around her.

The lights are on. Wall clocks still tick forward. People are wearing uniforms, just like they used to. We meet police officer Dawn and medical doctor Steve who have been holed up in Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta with other survivors, some of whom reportedly found Beth on the road and saved her. Within the first few moments of their meeting, Dawn makes the stakes clear when she tells Beth point blank, “You owe us.”

The hospital has a time warp quality to it. The ventilators and other medical machines work. People are clean, neatly dressed and tightly coifed. They have normal professions—cop, doctor, nurse, even a janitor. There’s order, in other words. But the price for this, it quickly becomes clear, is being useful. It’s obvious that the denizens of this group are accruing debts and constantly trying to chip away at them however they can. Or, as the tightly wound control freak who runs the place, Dawn, eventually puts it: “Food, clothes, protection. When have those things ever been free?”

In the hospital cafeteria, Beth meets the quiveringly pervy officer Gorman who tells her a walker was “eyeing your thighs…but I got there first.” Ew. Beth forgoes dinner when it becomes clear Gorman is going to want something unsavory in return. She bonds with doctor Steve, who is chilling in an office equipped with a record player, Junior Kimbrough vinyl, and a Caravaggio somebody stopped finding valuable once the dead began shambling around looking for brains to munch. (It’s The Denial of St. Peter, which Steve makes reference to later, though I can think of at least a half-dozen more that would have been apt given the times.)

Beth, who begins paying her way by assisting the doctor, witnesses the gut-wrenching way this group makes its decisions. One survivor named Joan who seems to have tried to escape but gotten bitten in the process has to undergo an emergency amputation, which we get to see—and hear. As far as grating sound effects go, chalk on blackboard has nothing on sawing wire on bone.

Beth also meets Noah, a scrawny janitor planning his own emancipation. Both Joan and Noah eventually tell Beth that Dawn is only barely in control of brutes like Gorman. Shortly thereafter, Gorman himself proves this is indeed the case when he suggestively forces a lollipop into her mouth in a scene that’s as uncomfortable to watch as anything involving Marlon Brando waving around a pad of butter.

Everybody here seems miserable, but they can’t really leave. Dr. Steve takes Beth on a tour of the grounds that shows how trapped this group is by the mass of walkers outside. He seems like a good guy—until he sends Beth to give a patient an injection that ends up killing him. Noah tries to take the fall for the incident (and gets a beating for it). Turns out, the patient in question was a doctor from a nearby medical center Steve had known before the fall. Steve wanted him eliminated to be secure in his role as the group’s only medical personnel. (So much for the Hippocratic Oath.)

Gorman’s last unseemly advance toward Beth ends with Joan—who turned after committing suicide—eats his face off. Beth and Noah attempt to escape. He gets out, but Beth is caught by Dawn’s goons. In the final scene, Beth grabs a pair of surgical scissors and is about to make some carnage when Carol is carted in unconscious on a stretcher.

Zombie Kill Report
8 gun shots to the head by Beth; 1 boot heel to the face by Beth; 2 head shots by Dawn’s officers.
Estimated total: 11

Calling Lévi-Strauss
Increasingly, this season seems like Gulliver’s Travels penned by H.P. Lovecraft. Each new group we encounter is organized along a different set of principles, makeshift morals depending on their particular shared experience. Each one reminds me of a city state with its own deviating customs—the cannibalistic Terminus, this Spartan-like hospital group. Noah, at one points, hints at more to come when he talks about his home in Virginia. “We had walls,” he says wistfully. And, of course, there’s Rick & Company which is still forging its values.

Nomenclature
This group appears to call the living dead “rotters,” which though cooler seems less apt than “walkers.” What’s your favorite non-walker term from the series?

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Top Media Official Shared a Fake Photo of a Beaten Cop

He was hoping to win sympathy for police dealing with pro-democracy protesters, but the move backfired

The Hong Kong cop’s wounds looked grave — so grave, in fact, that he appeared to have just arisen from one.

The media-and-communications adviser to Hong Kong’s beleaguered leader, Leung Chun-ying, posted a photo to Facebook on Wednesday that showed a grimacing, blood-spattered “cop” said to have been wounded in a clash with pro-democracy protesters the previous night.

The photo was being circulated by supporters of the police, keen to show that the demonstrators weren’t as peaceful as they claimed to be.

“Everybody who uses violence is wrong,” wrote an impassioned Andrew Fung, under the photo of a man wearing police blue, his hands and face caked in bright blood. “If the police get hurt, you should have sympathy. The idea of democracy includes love.”

There is no suggestion that Fung knew the image to be a fake when he shared it. But, unfortunately for him, this was not a Hong Kong cop. It was an actor, made up to play an undead cop on a new local TV show called Night Shift.

The gaffe has left Fung, and many others who shared it, also red-faced — but with embarrassment, not cheap theatrical makeup.

HKTV, the network set to air Night Shift, confirmed on Facebook on Wednesday that the image was of one of its actors. It posted the zombie-cop photo next to a picture of the show’s actor without his living-dead makeup.

Twitter users also gleefully pointed out the error.

Ironically, Fung’s post about a grievously injured policeman came as outrage built in the city over the beating by officers of a political activist during a demonstration in the early hours of Wednesday. The violent incident was filmed by a TV news crew and has jolted open a fresh rift in unrest that has paralyzed parts of downtown Hong Kong for almost three weeks.

Fung’s Facebook page is private, and it was not clear on Thursday if the post was still there.

TIME States

Kansas Will Be Prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse

FRANCE-CINEMA-FANTASTIC-ZOMBIE
People dressed as zombies take part in the Zombie Walk event on Sept. 13, 2014, in the eastern French city of Strasbourg Frederick Florin—AFP/Getty

Or any other disaster, for that matter

If the zombie apocalypse arrives, one U.S. state will be ahead of the game.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed a “proclamation” naming October the state’s “Zombie Preparedness Month.”

The announcement, to be signed Sept. 26 in the governor’s ceremonial office in the Kansas statehouse, urges state residents to prepare an emergency plan and survival supplies that can last at least three days.

Of course, gathering up water, nonperishables and batteries to wait out a zombie siege sounds an awful lot like how a Kansas resident might prepare for a range of natural disasters — which, officials say, is exactly the point.

“We came up with the idea of Zombie Preparedness Month because it is an engaging way to get people on board with emergency preparedness,” the governor’s office says. “If you’re equipped to handle the zombie apocalypse then you’re prepared for tornadoes, severe storms, fire and any other natural disaster Kansas usually faces.”

It added: “If you’re prepared for zombies, you’re prepared for anything.”

TIME Television

WATCH: The Walking Dead Season 5 Trailer Debuts at Comic-Con

AMC unveiled the trailer for the upcoming season of the popular zombie series

The trailer for Season 5 of AMC’s The Walking Dead debuted at Comic-Con on Friday — and it features new series regular Gareth, a long trek towards Washington to cure the epidemic, and plenty of blood-spattering human-on-zombie violence. Yep, there’s guns, a crossbow, a sword, a firehose, a baseball bat — and that’s just the beginning.

The new season will debut on October 12.

TIME Zombies

Survive the Zombie Apocalypse With Corpse Perfume

Use it to fool the undead, or go on a hot zombie date.

How will you prepare for the coming zombie tide? (Don’t kid yourselves, we all know it’s coming.) Axes are usually a good choice for decapitation. Guns don’t seem to work that well. Stakes are for vampires. What about perfume?

This video from Reactions: Everyday Chemistry explores the possibility of creating a scent that would disguise living humans as dead bodies, fooling zombies who always seem so sensitive to the smell of flesh. Now we can smell just like them and safely wander among the enemy!

The key to the cologne is the combination of two chemicals, scientist Raychelle Burks tells us. The aptly-named putrescine and cadaverine, produced by the body just after death, are what make the scent of a rotting corpse so smelly. Add in a little methane, and voila! Smell just like a zombie. Just don’t try to pull this trick before the zombie apocalypse.

TIME viral

Zombies Emerge from New York Sidewalk Grates to Promote ‘The Walking Dead’

Don't worry, they're just actors promoting the Walking Dead

New Yorkers can’t catch a break. First a “devil baby” in a remote-controlled stroller terrorized residents to promote the horror flick Devil’s Due last month. Now, The Walking Dead has hired actors dressed like zombies to promote the hit AMC thriller. In this video of the prank, watch their “bloodied” fingers and arms creep out of the sidewalk grates and startle passersby. New episodes of the show start Sunday, Feb. 9 — at least for the people who made it past the zombies alive.

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