TIME Kickstarter

Inventor Raises $120,000 for a Zombie-Fighting Tool on Kickstarter

Laura Natividad—Getty Images/Flickr RF

The invention has a few practical uses too

Americans have plenty to worry about these days, including terrorism, infectious diseases, to the specter of an 18-month-long presidential election.

But entrepreneurs can apparently move a whole bunch of units playing up fears of completely fictional dangers too. That has been inventor Marvin Weinberger’s strategy. He has raised more than $120,000 dollars in a Kickstarter campaign for his new product called the “Lil Trucker,” which he pitched to prospective investors in a video that shows the tool’s capacity to fight off a zombie invasion.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the tool is actually quite useful outside of a zombie combat scenario. The Lil Trucker weighs just 1.3 pounds, but comes loaded with features: “a glass breaker, folding saw, can opener, hatchet blade, hex wrench, pry, wedge, hook, hammer, nail puller, wire twist, gas valve wrench, spanner, and strap cutter.”

Despite the obvious practical uses for such a tool, Weinberg “thought that the tool itself needed something pretty sexy to market it,” according to the report.

Mission accomplished, Marvin.

TIME Recaps

The Walking Dead Watch: “Spend”

Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee - The Walking Dead _ Season 5B, Fog Gallery - Photo Credit: Ben Leuner/AMC
Ben Leunee/AMC—© AMC Film Holdings LLC. "Wait, what just happened?"

Back to the show's gory, gory roots

“Spend,” episode 14 of the fifth season of The Walking Dead, doesn’t skimp on the gore. Perhaps the title is a nod to what the producers anticipated having to do to pull off so many stomach-churning (also, stomach-dismembering) visual effects. Or perhaps it’s a nod to the writers’ willingness to let blood toward the end of a season. Whatever the case, this isn’t one to watch while eating.

The group is now more or less fully integrated with the Alexandria community. Daryl is out recruiting. Abraham is working on the construction gang. Noah wants to be an architect. Maggie is part of the town government. Glenn, Tara, and Eugene are doing scavenging runs. And Rick and Carol are preoccupied with the mundane whodunnits of small-town life.

Carol and Rick slowly suss out that something’s not quit right about the town doctor. He’s probably hitting his wife, Jessie, and maybe their son, Sam, Carol decides, before telling Rick the family drama is going to end in bloodshed. Meanwhile, Abraham shows himself a born leader at the construction site by saving one of the workers and taking command of the terrified crew.

But most of the action occurs at the warehouse where Deanna’s son, Aiden, leads a scouting party to find parts to fix the community’s power grid. Things go fubar almost immediately: Aiden is impaled on some metal shelving when he accidentally sets a grenade off; Tara is also knocked unconscious. While Eugene takes care of Tara, Glenn, Noah and the coward Nicholas try to un-impale Aiden to no avail. They fail, and he gets slowly, squishily eaten from the middle out by a pack of walkers.

When Glenn, Noah and Nicholas find themselves trapped inside a revolving door, the coward Nicholas makes a run for it, sacrificing Noah in the process. He gets slowly, squishily eaten from the face out by a pack of walkers. Glenn, Eugene, Tara and the coward Nicholas make it out alive.

The show ends with a prophetic warning. Gabriel tells Deanna that Rick’s group is corruption itself and to be wary for what is sure to come in episodes 14 and 16.

Zombie Kill Count
1 bullet to the head by Noah; 1 knife to the skull by Tara; 1 rifle shot to chest-mounted grenade by Aiden; 1 knife to the head by Noah; 1 shot to the head by Glenn; 9 shots to the dome on the construction site; 7 swings of a construction implement by Abraham; 1 shot to the head by Eugene; 4 shots to the head by Noah; 3 shots to the head by Glenn.
Estimated total: 29

Read next: The Walking Dead Spinoff Coming This Summer

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TIME Recaps

The Walking Dead Watch: “Forget”

Ross Marquand as Aaron, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes and Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 12 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Gene Page/AMC—© AMC Film Holdings LLC. "Ok, but what about the mortgage payments?"

Zombies eat horses, don't they?

Should I stay, or should I go?

That’s the essential question the main characters are asking themselves as season five of The Walking Dead begins to wind down. Episode 13, “Forget,” finds the members of Rick’s group trying to acclimate to their new, uber-normal surroundings in a self-sustaining suburb of Alexandria, Virginia.

Most on edge is Sasha, who opens the episode with some target practice on a set of framed family portraits. At first, it’s not clear if this is simply a form of catharsis or a way to bait nearby walkers. It becomes obvious it’s the later when she slumps down on a tree trunk and whispers to herself: “Come and get me.” (They don’t.)

Carol, Rick and Daryl, meanwhile, are scheming to get their embargoed guns back. None of them seems to trust the camp’s facade as a safe haven, and they all want to be ready for things to go downhill as they have before. (Daryl, by the way, is the only one that seems to be sticking with an apocalyptic chic look when pressed shirts and sweater vests are widely available.) When a walker interrupts their colloquy, they’re surprised to find that some unidentified sadist has carved the letter ‘W’ on its forehead.

Back at the split-level ranch, city planner Deanna gives the group an impassioned speech about getting rid of the ‘us’ and ‘them’ lines dividing Rick’s crew from the rest of the community. Her goal, she continues, is to reintroduce self-government, law and order, commerce—a.k.a. civilization—to the face of the Earth. Rick, concerned this is a naive world philosophy in the age of brain-eating hordes, convinces her to station guards along the walls and post a lookout in a nearby bell tower. Sasha volunteers for duty, but Deanna isn’t convince she quite stable enough yet.

Daryl and Aaron find themselves on a scouting errand together. They spot a wild horse some of the community’s kids have nicknamed “Buttons.” They try to catch him, but Buttons ends up being chewed up by zombies. Later, Aaron invites Daryl over for dinner and gives him a motorcycle to fix up. He wants him to join him as a recruiter for the community, a job Daryl more or less accepts.

Deanna throws the group a welcome mixer, which turns out shockingly normal and suburban. There are plastic cups, beer, chips’n’dip, and the hostess wears a pearl-lined Chanel dinner jacket. It’s surreal in other words. But most of the group seems to be warming up to the reality of the community, a.k.a. that it’s real and not some nefarious pretext.

Carol, who says she likes “being invisible again” as an older woman in flower-patterned jumpers, sneaks off to recover some of the group’s guns, just in case. She pulls a delightfully Cruella Devillian maneuver when a neighborhood kid who followed her in hopes of getting more cookies discovers her robbing the armory. Our poor August Gloop slinks off in terror at the thought of being tied to a tree and left in the woods if tells anybody what he’s seen.

When Carol, Rick and Daryl meet again to distribute the contraband arms, Daryl takes a pass. Rick takes an illegal gun, however. (In the mean time, we see Michonne hang up her samurai sword, symbolically and literally.) In the final shot, Rick is seen from above the wall while a zombie bumps aimlessly against the other side. The walls of the city provide a line between the inside and the outside, but how permanent is it really?

Zombie Kill Count
1 silenced shot to the head by Carol; 2 shots and 3 machete blows to the skull by Daryl; 1 arrow to the face by Daryl; 1 boot to the head by Daryl; 1 rifle shot to the skull by Aaron; 1 knife to the face by Daryl.
Estimated total: 10


You Can Now Buy a Huge Chunk of a Town Featured in Walking Dead

This deal could be a no-brainer

The former mayor of a town in rural Georgia town is using eBay to sell the downtown district featured on AMC’s hit television drama Walking Dead.

In an effort to leverage the new found fame of Grantville, Ga., Jim Sells is hoping to find a buyer for up to nine buildings, totaling 25,000 square feet, to help revitalize the area. His asking price is $680,000.

Sells prominently advertises the town’s attractiveness to the television and film industry on eBay.

“We have people coming from all over the world because of The Walking Dead,” he told USA Today.

The former textile town had fallen on tough times, with many residents leaving to find better jobs, creating the post-apocalyptic feel that the makers of Walking Dead found so attractive.

Sells bought the properties out of foreclosure during the recession and set to renovating the dilapidated zone.

Walking Dead, currently in its fifth season, is one of the most popular shows on television and follows a beleaguered cast of characters as they search for safety from a world inhabited by zombies.

TIME Recap

The Walking Dead Watch: “Remember”

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC—© AMC Film Holdings LLC. "I am gonna shave that apocalypse right outa my beard."

This is what it looks like when Rick finally gets to have a shave and shower

“Remember,” episode 12 of the fifth season of The Walking Dead, is a study in contrasts.

The group rolls up to a self-sustained, well-fortified city state in Alexandria, Virginia to find a land that time forgot. The community has been insulated—metaphorically and literally—from the worst of the outbreak, and life there seems not so distant from pre-apocalyptic times. Electricity and water still flow; people still wear pastel cardigans and tasseled loafers; there are even over-sized coffee table books in plenty.

Rick is introduced to Deanna, the community’s leader, who looks like she walked out of a Ralph Lauren catalogue, not the pages of a Cormack McCarthy novel. The former Ohio congresswoman has domain over the planned community, which is kitted with solar panels and an environmentally friendly water treatment system. She welcomes the group, she says, to help strengthen the community’s numbers. Rick, not quite believing it all, tells her she “should keep your gates closed. People out there are always looking for an angle…how they can use you to live.”

Life in Shangri-La is, well, weird. Rick and Carl walk around their new home (starting in the low-$800,000s!) somewhat dazed. How to make sense of Restoration Hardware reclaimed wood coffee tables and Kohler kitchen fixtures when you’ve been scraping by for so long? Most of the group’s main characters go through some similar kind of disbelief at their new surroundings—Carol takes to it quickly; Daryl, not so much. You could have called this episode Abercrombie & Feral.

After a nice svhitz and a shave, Rick meets some of the community’s other members. There’s Jessie, a mother of two, who offers him a hair cut. There’s Aiden, an enforcer with a temper. There are a few teens in various shades of moody, who Carl befriends. By the end of the episode, the group has decided to assimilate. Deanna, who jokes that “the communists won after all,” assigns each of them a job. She makes Michonne and Rick the community’s constables.

In the final frames, Rick dons a uniform once again. When Carol and Daryl wonder out loud if the community is really capable of dealing with the harsh reality of the world, Rick tells them somewhat ominously: “If they can’t make it, then we’ll just take this place.”

Zombie Kill Count
1 bullet to the head by Sasha; 5 knife points to the skull by Rick and Carl; 1 knife to the head by Glenn.
Estimated total: 7

TIME Recap

The Walking Dead Watch: “Them”

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead _ Season 5B, Fog Gallery - Photo Credit: Ben Leuner/AMC
Ben Leunee/AMC—© AMC Film Holdings LLC. "I'm shooting at my feelings of despair."

Existentialism, Bible metaphors, and lots and lots of crying as season five nears its end

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Camus were alive today and he plagiarized The Road? “Them,” episode ten of the fifth season of The Walking Dead, more or less provides an answer.

Life on the road to Washington, D.C. is not going particularly well for the group. Everybody is tired, thirsty and sad. There is crying. There is self-doubt. There is forlorn looking off camera. There is hurting one’s self to feel something, anything. “How much longer we got?” Maggie asks early on. How much longer, indeed.

The show does what it usually does when it has some time to kill: it pairs off the main characters for a few meaningful interactions. Carol tells Daryl to suffer through. Michonne tries to impart some anger management technique to Sasha. Rick tries to get Daryl to open up about Beth’s death. The priest prevaricates; Noah blubbers. And Carl gives Maggie a broken music box, which symbolizes…something.

In one pivotal scene, the group is dragging itself down a long, country road when it becomes apparent a gaggle of shuffling walkers is not far behind it. The obvious question is, which group is more bedraggled? Later on, things brighten slightly when everybody gets to eat some roasted dog, courtesy of Sasha’s angry trigger finger.

Still Maggie says, “I don’t know if I want to fight it anymore.” To which Glenn responds, “We fought to get here, and we have to keep fighting.” Nobody seems terribly convinced this is the case. The episode is soaked in ambivalence.

Eventually, a rain storm delivers the group from its thirst (as well as having to decide whether or not a stack of bottled water left in the road with a note reading “from a friend” is a trap or not). Taking shelter in a nearby barn, things get really deep. Rick, in a sepulchral version of the “Peace by Inches” speech, concludes, “We do what we need to do and then we live. We tell ourselves we are the walking dead.”

During the night, the increasingly powerful storm threatens to blown apart the barn doors and let in a hoard of hungry walkers. The group, faces illuminated by flashes of lightning, presses back against the doors to keep the danger at bay. In the morning, surveying the damage, it’s clear that they have, like Noah, survived the flood (or tornado as it were) thanks to Providence.

Just before the credits roll, we meet a new character—Aaron—who promises some “good news.” Hopefully he means some plot of some kind in next week’s episode.

Zombie Kill Report
1 knife point to the head by Maggie; 5 knife blows to the head by Sasha; 2 machete strikes to the skull by Rick; 2 katana chops to the frontal lobe by Michonne; 1 knife point to the head by Daryl; 1 knife to the skull by Abraham; 1 knife to the skill by Glenn; 5 “tricked ya!” falls into an open ravineen by multiple (it counts); 1 knife to the brain by Maggie.
Estimated total: 19

Episode 10 Curse
Is this a curse of this part of every season, this sort of meandering plotlessness? Maybe I’m being too demeaning, but this episode seemed a bit of a waste of time. Do you agree? Is this a perennial problem at this point in most seasons?

TIME Recaps

The Walking Dead Watch: ‘Crossed’

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

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
Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC—© AMC Film Holdings LLC. Carol: Woman on fire.

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.”


The Walking Dead Watch: ‘Self Help’

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

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
Gene Page/AMC—© AMC Film Holdings LLC. Beth: "This is going to be uncomfortable, right?"

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.

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?

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