The Walking Dead 7.14: “The Other Side”

The second half of The Walking Dead is really picking up. Why couldn’t they have maintained this pace in 7A? At some point before season 8 arrives, I’d like to do a re-watch of the entire 7th season and take apart what worked and what didn’t.

Sasha and Rosita

I’ve read some complaints about Sasha doing a 360 in abandoning Rosita and running into the Sanctuary, kamikaze style. I disagree somewhat. Sasha has be plotting to kill Negan since the Lucillings. Rosita just gave her the means. And yes, Plan A was to shoot Negan, sniper-style, from inside the building near the Sanctuary, but that is not a risk-free endeavor. There was no guarantee they would be able to get away before being captured. This entire idea to “go get Negan” is foolish, especially considering they both knew Rick and Co. are working on a rebellion.

That being said, I don’t like Sasha sacrificing herself for Rosita. I say sacrifice, because it’s obvious what will happen (I hope I’m wrong!). They’re doing a lot of character development with Rosita and it has not come full circle yet, meaning, she will probably live to see season 8. Sasha has been through a lot and worked out her trauma from losing Tyreese and Bob. Yes, she lost Abraham, but instead of sending her over the edge for more junk to work out, it’s given her a steely calm. She said in this episode that Negan took Abraham’s choice to go down fighting and I think that’s what she wants to do for him. This isn’t an emotional decision. It’s a rational one. She doesn’t want to die, but she is not afraid of dying.

Rosita wants to die. And she has not worked her junk out. Sasha knew this and that’s why she locked Rosita out and went into the Sanctuary.

To summarize, I’m happy Rosita is getting some shine, but upset that it seems Sasha’s time is up.

Eugene

Oh, my gosh. This. Fool. Okay? I remain intrigued, but Eugene’s behavior is upsetting. But I am not surprised. I said in this post that he is just trying to survive with a long-term con and this episode confirmed that. Now, does he really believe that running society Negan’s way is right? This is the upsetting part. I don’t know. I mean, his crying and sniveling. He was afraid they’d get caught and he’d get lumped in with them, I guess? Or if he escaped successfully, Negan would track him down and he’d get killed?

Maggie and Daryl

So much drama on the interwebs about this. The Daryl haters are livid that his grief seems to be overshadowing Maggie’s. I don’t see it this way. At least not completely. I think this scene was all about Maggie’s strength and resolve to keep her eye on the goal, which is too destroy Negan. If there was ever a point where she did blame Daryl, writers clearly do not want to dwell on it. I don’t think Daryl is to blame for Glenn’s death, but he definitely had a role in it, due to his impetuous behavior. While I don’t hate Daryl, I do think that his character needs to grow up. Case in point: he almost attacks that Savior in the cellar where he and Maggie are hiding. Dumb move. Was this to show that Daryl really, really, really hates the Saviors? Do we not know this by now? To me, it just shows that he has not learned his lesson from the last time he lost it and it led to someone getting killed. Also, he left the Kingdom, when Rick explicitly tells him to stay. Sure, the idea of Daryl trying to convince King Ezekiel to fight is silly. But, maybe it’s an opportunity for character growth? Just a suggestion. So he leaves. Why? Oh, I don’t know, maybe it’s a way to get him out of the Kingdom because Carol was going to leave the creepy house soon, and she needs to cozy up to the King without Daryl being around.

I see what you’re doing, writers! You need to do better.

Next week, my lovelies, Richonne (and Carl!) return. Eric is holding a gun, and doing something besides whining to Eric. Yay! And we’re back at the Oceanside community!

The Walking Dead 7.13: “Bury Me Here” Review

Great episode. Acting was superb all around.

Morgan

We sometimes forget that these characters have experienced some intense trauma since the ZA began. Losing spouses, children, friends. When Morgan called Benjamin “Duane” by mistake, my heart lurched. Of course he is still grieving his son’s death. When Benjamin died, we witnessed Morgan almost completely become unhinged. And since he did make the choice to kill Richard (strangling him with his bare hands, no less) he’s lost a bit of his mind for sure. Clearly, Aikido was holding him together mentally. So it makes sense now why he was trying so hard to hold onto the “all life is precious” stance. What he’s really trying to hold onto is his mental stability.

Let me add that I was greatly disturbed that no one stopped Morgan from strangling Richard. I understand that King Ezekiel probably intuited that something major with up between Richard and Morgan right before the Saviors arrived. Perhaps everyone was in extreme shock. But at least one person should have jumped up and tried to stop Morgan, yes? Sure, he was scary and unpredictable in that moment (even the lead Savior flinched when Morgan stepped close to him). But still. Poor writing maybe?

Carol

So Carol is acting like a human again! Kudos to Morgan for telling her about Glenn and Abe’s deaths without any buffering. I’m glad she reached out and essentially switched places with him. Right now, I think she is in a better place emotionally and mentally than Morgan is.

Ben and Richard

Very sad about Benjamin, though he had “sacrificial lamb” written on his forehead for a while now. I am not mad at Richard, but he was incredibly stupid. His willingness to “use” Ben’s death was pretty low. I think he did want to die, but I’m still side-eyeing Morgan for obliging him so readily. I don’t think Richard deserved to die and I’m not sure Morgan really wanted to do it. It just happened. I view Richard’s death as someone who found themselves in the path of an oncoming train and couldn’t get out the way.

 

The Walking Dead 7.12: “Say Yes” Review

This episode was amazing. I think I’m being objective here!

Richonne

Rick and Michonne have come such a long way. From straight up animosity, then a cautious trust, to a tight friendship and now a committed romance. If anyone didn’t know this or thought their relationship would fall apart, they learned today (or, last week, because this post is way late, because, you know, life).

Rick almost had a nervous breakdown when he saw Michonne’s dreadloc on that walker in 6.12. Now we see Michonne just about flatline when she thought she was witnessing Rick getting eaten by the horde of walkers. This shows a lot of character development for her, and how far Michonne had come from being the crazy-loner-lady with the sword. She told Carl at the tail end of season 4 that both Rick and Andrea had “brought her back” from the black hole she fell in when her boyfriend and their friend (whom we know she turned into her walker pets) let her son Andre get killed. So for her to see the other important person in her post-ZA life die…yikes. She must have thought, “I’m back where I started”. I think she would have gotten herself together for Carl and Judith’s sake. But in that moment, she was devastated, and realized that this war they were preparing to start could take Rick from her and it might kill her inside. So we see Rick give her a much needed pep talk, the same kind she gave him in the cell, in an attempt to anchor her. I’m glad that Michonne isn’t always the strong one and Rick always the one needing reassurance.

Everything else was great; the candlelit dinner, Rick’s teasing that she could take down eight walkers easy, their collaboration throughout the entire episode. Oh, and Rick’s barely controlled rage when Jadis asked for that cat back. She had better not let the words “cat” fall from her lips again.

Rosita and Sasha

No surprises here. Clearly, one or both of them will get killed. Neither have anything to lose. Abe and Eugene are gone for Rosita. Sasha seems to have take on part of Comic-Michonne’s arc of every-man-in-her-life-getting-killed (her brother Tyreese, Bob, and now Abe).

Tara

Also not a big surprise. We knew Tara would tell Rick about Oceanside and their guns. Now, how will they navigate convincing this group to cooperate with them and how Tara will deal with betraying them?

Final Thoughts

Other than enjoying Richonne, nothing much is taking me off guard. I know the tide will generally turn for our heroes, but how will things shake down in the end? I have an inkling on that, so I doubt anything will shock me. But if the ride to the end of season 7 is good, I’ll be satisfied.

The Walking Dead 7.11: “Hostiles and Calamities” Review

I gave this a 10.

I dig the character-focused episodes. This is what TWD does best!

Eugene?

I’m almost positive Eugene’s situation is short-term survival vs. some grand scheme that just occurred to him in the moment to take Negan down as a covert operative. Remember, as far as Eugene knows, Rick is still cooperating with Negan. Now, Eugene isn’t riding the it’s-cool-to-force-people-into-slavery train, but his foremost concern right now is his life and he’s trying to stay alive in the manner he knows best: a long-con game. I’m not mad at him. I’m intrigued with where this will go.

I liked seeing Negan’s “wives” attempt to rebel. It showed that folks aren’t sitting back and accepting Negan’s rule. Even if nothing materializes, they are unhappy and scheming. Oh, and those kill pills are gonna get used. They didn’t get made for nothing.

Oh, Dwight…

I felt a grain of sympathy for Dwight half-way through this episode. I understand why Sherry feels responsible, but what happened is not her fault. Ultimately, Dwight is his own person and can choose at anytime to go against Negan. However, my grain of sympathy eroded to about half of a grain when he coldly threw Dr. Carson under the bus. He was not protecting Sherry, he was protecting himself. Where is this good person that Dwight was supposed to be? I don’t see it. In some ways, I can appreciate that kind of grey area for a character. But it’s not clear that Dwight is having this internal struggle over the choices he makes. He just seems mostly motivated by a cowardly fear and a bizarre obsession with Daryl’s things. One thing is clear is that he does loathe Negan, who seems to get some twisted joy out of throwing Dwight shade. But why does he stay? I didn’t feel much for Sherry, but my respect for her increased when she bounced. Instead of feeling sorry for Dwight, I feel disgusted.

Negan wasn’t so irritating this time

This set up with Negan being blind to the two people who are lying and playing him like a fool, Dwight and Eugene, is very interesting. Perhaps evidence that his hubris is making him slip and causing him not to be as perceptive as he has been in the past? I’m just ready for Negan to go down. Maybe he’ll become more interesting once he is weaker and emasculated? I just know they really messed up his characterization on TV (I have a familiarity with the comic storyline). He’s an annoying psychopath. And let’s add dumb to that, because he kills a doctor. Kills a doctor in a zombie apocalypse. A medically trained person is the most precious commodity in this environment. He thinks he’s setting an example, but he’s just showing how incredibly short-sighted he is becoming.

Next Week

We Richonners have been losing our minds over what we’ll be seeing in 7.12. I just am barely dealing.

 

The Walking Dead 7.10: “New Best Friends” Review

I gave it a 9 out of 10.

Richonne

This couple is going to kill me.

I loved Michonne helping Rick defeat the Thunderdome/punk zombie and not standing around fretting. His kiss on her forehead was so sweet. And giving her that cat. An undeniable receipt that Rick has been intrigued by Michonne, in that way, since the prison after their mutual animosity disappeared (let it sink into your brain: at some point during their time at the prison, he walked by her cell, noticed that rainbow cat, and filed that away, guys). Proof that the writers were creating a crumb trail leading to that canon episode. Richonners were not imaging things.

Rick and Michonne’s relationship feels normal. There is no angst. It’s the perfect mix of romance and friendship. They have been acting as the “mom and dad” of the group since season 5, after everyone reconnected post-Terminus. Nothing about their relationship, or their personalties as individuals, has fundamentally changed post-canon and it’s gratifying to watch.

Father G and Rick

Father G was an shifty coward when we first met him and I am delighted with how he has come full circle, in a manner that is realistic. While I was not a fan of the opening scene in 7.9, it was overall a decent way to both introduce the Garbage People and showcase the bond between Father G and Rick (honorable mention is his relationship with Aaron, too). With Glenn and Abe gone, Rick needs some bosom guy friends.

Carol and Daryl

Loved the scenes between them. I’m still sick of Carol, but I have always loved the relationship that she has with Daryl. She is on the same journey as Morgan, trying to hard to hold onto her humanity and isolating herself is the only way she knows how to do it. With Morgan, it’s the stick. I just wish they would not have her act so bitchy to people about it (I mean, you have people bringing you cobbler and you’re scowling at them, Carol). It was also very kind of Daryl not to tell her about Glenn and Abe, even though he very much wants revenge on the Saviors. Clearly, he does not want this at the expense of his friend’s mental state. Now, I am not sure where he thinks he is going since the Saviors want his hide and most likely will force Rick to take it from him. But perhaps at this point, he knows this won’t happen and they would all just go down fighting if it came to anything like the nonsense that happened with the Lucilling.

Morgan’s Stick

Morgan’s face when that petty Savior took his stick. He looked like someone took his blankie. He’s close to losing it.

Garbage People

How long has it been since the zombie apocalypse started? Not long enough for them to be acting like they are a decades old cult. I thought their leader, Jadis, was interesting, though. Perhaps there is a story here that began before the turn happened. In any case, I don’t trust them (duh). Pretty sure Rick will get stabbed in the back, but it’s a smart, calculated risk with the information and resources they have at the moment.

Richard, What Are You Doing?

I liked his character until he decided it was okay to get an innocent person killed to provoke King E to fight. Incredibly, I don’t distrust him because I know his hatred for the Saviors is sealed and he is clearly loyal to King E, but he’s probably going to do something stupid and get someone killed.

Cheap Green Screen

This is why I gave it a 9. What was up with that god-awful green screen when Rick and the Garbage People were at the top of the pile of trash? Was that on purpose? To give it more of a corny 80s feel? I have a feeling it was and…NOPE, that was dumb. An “E” for effort.

Final Thoughts

There was a lot of character-centered interactions in this episode and this is what TWD does best. I want to see evidence that these people care about each other. Next week, we’ll be at the Sanctuary, seeing how Eugene is doing and watching Dwight continue to be a shell of a person. SNORE (except for Eugene). I don’t miss episodes, so I’m not going to try to act high and mighty, like I’m going to skip it. I won’t.

 

The Walking Dead 7.9: “Rock in the Road” Review

After a dismal first half, the midseason premiere of The Walking Dead was pretty near awesome for me. I gave it a 9 out of 10. Not a 10 because there were parts that felt a little uneven to me. The direction? The cinematography? Rosita’s attitude and Carol’s bitchiness? I’m not sure, still musing on that.

Just to clear the air, I am a huge Richonne fan. Anything that happens regarding Rick and Michonne will get full, unrestrained, and possibly embarrassing, attention. Embarrassing to others, not me, you understand. You’ve been warned.

Team Family Back At It

Our 7B starts out strong with Team Family together and making plans to take Negan down and I am here for it. They ask Gregory for help with Negan (he says no, hilariously; however his people say, “Yes, teach us to fight”), connect with King Ezekiel (who, much more respectfully, also says no), meet back up with Morgan (who updates them on Carol) and have the audacity to steal explosives from Negan and take out a zombie herd by clotheslining them with a metal wire attached to two cars. Like, what? That was a glorious action sequence.

It was gratifying to see everyone on point like this, given The First Half of a Season That Shall Not Be Named, where our heroes and sheroes were scattered and traumatized and we didn’t see some characters for weeks. I completely understand that we needed to get familiar with and introduced to new groups. But it was still an unpleasant viewing experience. Judging by what executive producers and show runner Scott Gimple have said in various interviews, this was on purpose. Fine, fine. Moving on.

Carol and Rosita

I am exhausted with Queen Carol. How many times are we going to watch people be concerned about her, and she, in turn, treats them like the dirt beneath her feet? Since Daryl was left at The Kingdom, I assume he’ll run into or try to find Carol, tell her about Glenn and Abraham’s deaths (and Spencer’s and Olivia’s), that’ll snap her out of her emo-ration, so we can move her story along here. In my Ming the Merciless voice, “I’M BORED.”

I thought Rosita put on her Big Girl Underwear and had a truce with Sasha, but obviously not. I suspect she is angry about her part…wait. It was her entire fault. Right. She is angry about her 100 percent involvement in the event leading to Olivia’s death. You know, her half-baked attempt to take Negan out. I get it. But why be pissy at Sasha? I guess this drama will lead to something, so I’ve got popcorn.

Richonne Highlights

The hand hold that I barely registered the first time I watched, but it’s there. Their teamwork taking down the zombie herd. Michonne comforting/encouraging Rick after their close call getting back into the car (in which I agree with Rosita, it was too close). Their collective eye-rolls when Morgan suggested “just capturing Negan or whatever”. Perfection.

Another group? And they have guns!

Looking forward to seeing who this new group is that was mean-mugging Team Family really, really hard and invading their personal space. Rick grinned. He has a plan.

Moving: “Oh? Upsizing?” Nope!

During the process of selling our house and buying a new one, I read a lot about downsizing. Apparently, it’s not just for retirees anymore. There is a real trend happening where young families are trading in large homes for smaller ones or choosing to buy smaller homes from the start, many times located in the heart of the city.

I was finally able to put a name to this thing we were doing! Admittedly, it felt a little foolish to sell our roomy (although aged) home and exchange it for something  smaller in square footage with a bare patch of earth on the side of the house. Quite a change from high ceilings, a family room, living room, formal dining room and a large yard complete with fruit trees and berry bushes.

When we took a look at the first house we bought, there was so much to love about it! I found myself daydreaming about gardening with my kids. But in the almost four years that we’d lived there, we outgrew the space.

Not physically, but psychologically and emotionally.

The Yard

Maintaining a yard is a pain. In money or time. Neither DH, nor myself, want to spend multiple weekends weeding or using extra money to pay for upkeep. And the gardening? It wasn’t happening. Not because I was juggling a new baby and toddler at the time, and I just hadn’t got to it. It wasn’t happening because it is not my thing. I like spending time with my kids, my partner, reading, going out to places, and especially writing. Writing. And really, what makes me think gardening with my sons would involve anything other than seeds and dirt being thrown everywhere? I strongly suspect it’s not their thing either.

And there’s living in the Pacific Northwest, where 8-9 months out of the year, it’s wet or damp out. Sure, hiking on one of Oregon’s many beautiful trails in a misty drizzle is cool. Sitting in my backyard in a misty drizzle is not. I’ll just go in the house and brew some coffee, thanks.

Wasted space

Do you know what we did with the “formal” dining room? Turned it into a playroom and used the smaller eat-in near the kitchen for meals. My DH intuited before I did that a dining table in there is not a very good use of space for us.

And the living room. No one hardly ever went in there. It’s furnished, but the most use it gets is when we change things around a bit to accommodate a sleeping space for my visiting mom. And upstairs, a fourth bedroom was not being used (again, except for when my brother was here visiting) because my youngest still co-sleeps with DH and I. My sons are also quite close. When my littlest guy finally exits the big bed, they will probably want to share a room.

In retrospect, I realize how way too open and impersonal our first house was. Now granted, a interior design genius could have done wonders. I’m okay decorating, but not that good. But I think our new home fits our lifestyle much better. It’s smaller, but it’s perfectly cozy for our tastes.

Homeschooling: ENTP/ENFP learning style

I’ve started researching learning styles. Our #1 son is doing great with school, but I think there is always room to improve the process.

Most children in the early elementary school years love being active and have a hard time sitting still. This isn’t necessarily along biological gender lines, but boys tend to be more prone to the wiggles. This is my experience with our #1 son. And I don’t think him being a boy has much to do with it, but rather, his personality type. People have different opinions on the reliability of Myers-Briggs Personality Type, but the research behind it is solid. And if understood correctly, it’s a tool; a guide for explaining behavior, not so much predicting it. Also, each letter of a type is on a continuum. That means two people who have the same type, will still be very different from one another.

From what we can tell, we think that our #1 son is either a ENTP or an ENFP.

From the Myers and Briggs Foundation, ENFP adults are described as:

Warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. See life as full of possibilities. Make connections between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns they see. Want a lot of affirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. Spontaneous and flexible, often rely on their ability to improvise and their verbal fluency.

ENTP adults are described as:

Quick, ingenious, stimulating, alert, and outspoken. Resourceful in solving new and challenging problems. Adept at generating conceptual possibilities and then analyzing them strategically. Good at reading other people. Bored by routine, will seldom do the same thing the same way, apt to turn to one new interest after another.

 

But what is life like for these personality types as children? According to the latest research, some letters show up fairly quickly and are easy to spot (such as Extroversion and Introversion) by the time your child is toddler age. For the other letters, it can take years. The above types as children are referred to ENP’s. Kidzmet has an excellent description of the ENP child and it very much describes my #1 son well. Here is another place that describes the learning style of an ENP. That really hit home; I recognized some of the challenges we have during school. He needs an incredible amount of stimulation and gets bored easy, any little thing will distract him and our nickname for him is The Negotiator. Our #1 will not take a simple no for an answer, and your explanation has to make sense to him. And when our final answer is “no” on something, we’ve found that we have to very clear about it. As the page with learning styles states, “there can be no room for alternative interpretation.”

Since we homeschool, I think’s very important to create the best environment in which he (and his younger brother eventually) can learn and I can facilitate that learning well. I’m an ISFP and knowing what his type probably is explains so much. Especially the exhaustion! But part of living life well on this planet, is learning to get along with people that are different from you.

Adult privilege

Remember those memes that were going around (and still probably are) of all these rules dad had for dating his daughter? It rubbed me the wrong way because it clearly expressed archaic, unhealthy ways on how to respond when your daughter inevitably starts dating. I recently saw another one that showed a wonderful alternative, here.

Not only do both parents and partners have no say on what a woman does with her body, but this is the case for all young people, including men. There is definitely plenty of sexism in the idea that dad has some kind of co-CEO role in deciding who is good enough to date his daughter, but what is also missing is the larger role adult privilege has in this mindset as well.

People are so quick to tell other people to check their privilege regarding race, sex, or sexual orientation, but rarely will you see someone check their own adult privilege or encourage someone to do the same. I doubt most people even believe this exists. The idea that your dad has a say in who you date or marry is very demeaning to women. But it’s also equally demeaning to young people in general. No one should have to jump through your arbitrary, subjective hoops to be worthy to date your child. And there should be enough trust in your child that they can choose someone who will respect them on their own terms, not yours.

Ok, no easy feat, I know. But it’s certainly a great parenting goal to aspire to. My kids are not teens yet, so check on how stressed my DH and I will be in 10 years!

Writing: Finding your own story

Yesterday, I read this post from Brain Pickings titled, “Good Writing vs. Talented Writing.” It discusses what literary critic Samuel Delany has to say about the craft in his book, About Writing: Seven Essays, Five Letters and Four Interviews. It really resonated with me, this part in particular:

Good writing is clear. Talented writing is energetic. Good writing avoids errors. Talented writing makes things happen in the readers mind — vividly, forcefully — that good writing, which stops at clarity and logic, doesn’t.”

I have a story in my brain that I started writing many years ago. I had a lot of great starts, then I’d hit a creative wall. Looking back, I think that I had no idea what I wanted to say or what issues I wanted to explore. A story about an interracial couple. Okay, what about them? Even ten years ago, I intuitively knew it needed to be about much more than their family/friends/co-workers don’t like the relationship. Outrageous plot-twists and secret-keeping sounded good at first, but once it got onto paper, it didn’t feel right for this story.

Another issue I struggled with was character development. Every writer does, but the main reason for my struggles were this: as a Christian at the time, I thought I had to weave a gospel message into the story. As a result, my characters were flat and boring. They also lacked clear, realistic motivations. I was attempting to wrench in a religious message at the expense of creating relatable, complex characters. And the final message of salvation, even then, felt incomplete and empty. What did I really want to communicate to my reader? Did I want to lecture them and manipulate their feelings or just present an experience and let them create their own meaning? Did I want to tell my own story, or a story I think I should be telling? Ultimately, self-censorship will never produce a good story.

Now, after maturing a bit, having different life experiences and leaving religion behind, I feel like I’ve grown as a person and can write from a more authentic place. Authentic for me, to be clear. This will be different for everyone. And shrugging off the shackles of religion is by no means the only way to grow as a person. But religion can indeed be a hinderance to personal growth (particularly the fundamentalist kind).