The Walking Dead Season Nine Premiere!

The Calm Before The Storm?

Sunday night saw the beginning of the ninth season of AMC’s highly successful The Walking Dead.  Despite sagging ratings in recent years, it’s still one of the most watched shows on television.  The new season brings with it a few changes in front of and behind the camera that have given the series an entirely new tone.  Scott Gimple is out as showrunner, with Angela Kang, a long time writer for the series, now in charge of the gang.  Gimple’s tenure ceased with the end of the “All Out War” that saw the Hilltop, the Kingdom, Alexandria, and Oceanside come together to stop Negan’s tyrannical rule over their communities.  The Scavengers were obliterated by Simon, leaving only their leader, Jadis, alive. Carl dies from a walker bite while helping Siddiq and Morgan has hit the trail once again.  Maggie shows signs of breaking away from Rick’s vision for the future of all of their communities.

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Prior to the premiere, information was released stating that the ninth season would see the exit of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan).  The loss of both of them means that the series will take a major detour from the comics yet again.  This brings up a ton of questions such as who will take Rick’s leadership role in Alexandria? Who will replace Maggie?  Will they die or will they leave like Morgan?  What happens to Judith? We won’t know for at least a few more episodes.

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Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne, Chloe Garcia as Judith  – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Mild Spoilers Ahead!

Season nine opened with Rick, Michonne (Danai Gurira), and young Judith (Chloe Garcia) having a nice little family moment and all of the communities settled into a mildly pleasant atmosphere.  As the show continues, though, we see that some communities aren’t quite as idyllic as they appear.  Many of the survivors at the Sanctuary, which is now under the guidance of Daryl (Norman Reedus), are beginning to grumble about not having enough food.  They also appear to dislike Daryl and prefer Rick, treating him like a nicer version of Negan (but signs, literal signs, are everywhere showing that the community still respects Negan).  Maggie has set up a sound little democracy on the Hilltop, but has to deal with dissenters such as the persistently devilish Gregory (Xander Berkeley) on a daily basis.

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Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and the Scavenger formerly known as Jadis, Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh) set out on a supply run.

While on a joint community supply run, Ezekiel (Khary Payton) is almost killed by walkers.  When he is rescued, he and Carol (Melissa McBride) share a kiss.  He eventually proposes to Carol on their return from the supply run, but she denies him.  The group is then forced to take an alternate route back to their communities as a bridge has collapsed under the weight of a walker herd.  When one of the wagons gets stuck in the mud, the group’s struggle to free it attracts walkers and one of the Hilltop’s younger citizens, Ken (A.J. Achinger), is killed while attempting to free the horses.

Once Maggie returns to the Hilltop, she notifies Ken’s parents of his death.  Brett Butler is nearly unrecognizable as Ken’s mother, but she does an excellent job as a mother spiraling into severe depression after learning of her son’s death.  Gregory sees Ken’s death as a chance to make a play for power in the community, and he manipulates Ken’s father (John Finn) into assisting him.

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Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Carol (Melissa McBride), Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) on a supply run in Washington, D.C.

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!! STOP NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE PREMIERE!!!

With hints here and there about unease in the communities, specifically the Hilltop and the Sanctuary, the leaders make moves to remedy the situation.  Daryl tells Rick that he doesn’t want to lead the Sanctuary anymore and shows signs of siding more with Maggie than Rick.  Carol offers to take over as the leader of the Sanctuary (a pretty solid move in my opinion, as she has consistently proven that she can handle herself quite well in bad situations).  Maggie’s moves are a bit more vicious.

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Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Xander Berkeley as Gregory – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Rick approaches Maggie, whose community is thriving, about providing more assistance for the other communities, specifically the Sanctuary.  She agrees, but only at a large price, making demands that Rick agrees to, but with some obvious reservations.  The tension is getting quite thick between these two.  Maggie is then attacked by Ken’s father, who has been convinced by Gregory to murder her.

It is at this point that Maggie makes her own power play.  Instead of imprisoning Gregory, she has him hanged in the community in full view of many of the citizens.  Daryl apparently supports her decision, but Rick doesn’t appear to agree with her.  Michonne notices children watching the hanging and attempts to stop it, but is too late.  Maggie, not phased one bit, tells the people to get their kids back in bed.  Gregory dies begging for his life.  It’s a brutal end for the character, but not necessarily undeserved.

Summary

This episode was full of new things.  From the growing divide between Maggie and Rick to the revelation that the communities are growing not only food, but corn for use as fuel in vehicles.  Governments appear to slowly be developing in the communities as well.  Carol once again seems to have her head on straight and while she doesn’t want to marry Ezekiel right now, she appears to be open to a romantic relationship with him.  Enid is in a wheelchair thanks to Ken’s father, but that’s probably just a temporary thing.  Characters that have taken a backseat in recent seasons are now moving to the front of the story.  Heck, even the title sequence has been freshened up for the new season.

The only thing really missing from the episode was Jeffery Dean Morgan as Negan.  No doubt that he’ll be taking on a bigger role in later episodes, but for now, showrunner Angela Kang has him on the backburner.

The episode was very good.  It wasn’t the best season opener (Season Two’s opener is still  my favorite), but it was definitely a nice change of pace.  I was never really that upset with any of Scott Gimple’s choices in the series except for the death of Carl, but the tone of the series has definitely changed under Kang’s guidance and that was immediately evident in the first episode.  Hopefully the season will only get better.

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On a sad note, I hated hearing that Scott Wilson, who portrayed Hershel on The Walking Dead, passed away over the weekend due to complications from leukemia.  The series paid tribute to him at the end of the episode.  Wilson was an excellent actor and his portrayal of Hershel was one of the best things about The Walking Dead while he was on the series.  He’s one of the cast members that I always wanted to meet but never had the chance to see in person.  Rest in peace, Mr. Wilson.

Gulf Coast Fan Fest is this weekend.  I’ll be there and so will three cast members of The Walking Dead.  Seth Gilliam, Denise Crosby, and Joshua Mikel will all be at the event and I hope to meet all of them.  I’ve had opportunities to meet Denise Crosby before, but time and/or expenses always prevented me from approaching her.  Seth Gilliam was supposed to be at an event I attended last year, but he had to cancel and I didn’t get to see him.  This will be the first opportunity for me to meet Joshua Mikel, and I really want to tell him just how much I loved to hate his character, Jared.

As always, thanks for reading.  Keep an eye open for my Throwback Thursday post and a full report on Gulf Coast Fan Fest after this weekend!

 

 

All Out Whimper….

On A Walk With Rick And Carl

Sunday night’s season finale of The Walking Dead capped off what has been one of the most uninspired and dull seasons of the franchise.  I started to question my loyalty to the franchise earlier this year and posted about it here.  I hoped that the show would get better as the season progressed, but it continued to leave me empty and longing for more.

Spoilers For Season Eight (Especially The Finale) Below This Picture!!!!

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Promising an all out war to fans of the series meant that expectations were high for a ton of brutality, major character deaths, and an ending that left viewers hungry for more.  What we got instead was the needless and completely dumb death of Carl, a bitter dislike for the increasingly annoying Eugene, the elimination of the only interesting Savior, Simon, and almost every member of the core group making irrational decisions and/or taking actions that are completely out of character.

When Morgan, who faded in and out of sanity all season, is the most sensible member of the gang, you know things are getting bad.

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But the season finale could fix all of the misfires, right? Wrong.  What we got instead was Rick walking hand in hand with a little version of Carl, Eugene not shutting up, Morgan attacking Henry and then running off for Fear The Walking Dead, and hints at mutiny that I’ll get to in a bit.

The whole episode revolved around Negan leaving obvious hints as to what his group would be doing and Rick taking the bait.  A huge stand-off is set up with Rick’s group completely surrounded by the Saviors and Negan getting ready to assassinate Father Gabriel.  At this point you would expect something to happen and it did.  All of the Saviors’ guns misfired (thanks to mouthy Eugene and Gabriel) and Rick’s group seized upon their sudden luck.  Almost immediately the Saviors throw up their hands and beg for mercy despite having been full of blood lust for pretty much the entire time that they’ve been a part of the show.  The only person acting like they should was Negan, who yelled at Eugene and turned tail to run away.

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Negan and Rick square off under a picturesque tree and despite being shot in the hand, Negan handles Rick quite well.  Rick then starts to beg Negan to stop and talk things over with him and, completely out of character, Negan agrees.  What does he get for his sudden change of heart?  A slit throat.  Then, despite all of the rage that had built up in him prior to this moment, Rick has a moment of mercy.  He asks the new doctor, Siddiq, to save Negan.  Maggie (the only sensible member of the either group left at this point) screams out to Rick that Negan has to die.  Michonne holds her back, though, and everyone just walks away in uneasy peace.

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As the episode comes to a close, we see Rick and Michonne making a powerplay against Negan.  They threaten to let him bleed out if he doesn’t agree to any and everything they say to him.  Daryl, who is still around although he’s rarely seen anymore, allows Dwight to leave the community and right what he’s done wrong with his wife.  Daryl also tells Dwight that if he comes back, he’ll kill him.  We then cut to a scene where Maggie is sitting at her desk with a “Wait’ll they get a load of me” face a la the Joker from 1989’s Batman and she’s talking to someone.  She tells that person that Rick and Michonne are wrong for allowing Negan to live (and, really, she’s correct) and that she wants to build up her forces at the Hilltop and wait until the moment is right to “prove Rick and Michonne wrong.”

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The other person is revealed to be the peace-loving Jesus who, completely out of character, smiles and agrees with her.  Then, out of the shadows like a puma, rolls Daryl, who also agrees with Maggie.  Is mutiny afoot, or is Jesus planning to eventually win Maggie over to Rick’s side like he did Morgan?  Is Daryl just going along with Maggie so that he’ll become relevant to the show again?  Who knows?

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What I do know is that this season finale has got to be the worst one so far in the series.  Much like the bulk of the rest of its season, it limped along to an unsatisfying conclusion and attempted to bait us for next season by creating a divide within the core group (mainly with Maggie and Daryl because Jesus hasn’t been around long enough in my opinion).  Do the writers honestly believe that audiences would accept that the Saviors would just fold up all of a sudden?  I don’t think so.  I believe that they are beginning to realize that there needs to be more to these stories than a new big bad every couple of seasons.  Their plan for that appears to create some sort of monster with Maggie.  I must admit that I would love to see her go off on everyone, but I have a feeling that she’ll either die in a rage or simply cave under to Rick’s way of thinking.

I don’t know, folks, but I might not be watching TWD for much longer.  Let me know what you think about the most recent season and the actions of the primary characters.  Are you still enjoying the show?  What do you want to see happen next season?  Is it time for TWD to hang up it’s sheriff’s hat????

Thanks for reading.  I’ll be posting about the new Netflix series Lost In Space by the end of this week.  I have two more episodes to go before I’m finished with the first season and I have to admit that I’ve really enjoyed most of the series so far.  Oh, and I also began working on a project with another nerd like myself that I hope to let you all know about real soon!  Stay tuned!

Is It Time To “Walk” Off?

No More Pudding

Last night’s episode of The Walking Dead left me with a lot of questions.  Most of them weren’t about why certain things went down in the episode.  No, they were primarily about why I watch the show and have loyally done so for eight seasons and whether or not I want to invest as much time in the lives of these characters anymore.

Spoilers for last night’s episode and the entire series after this photo!

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Season Eight, Episode Nine, Honor, showed TWD fans the one thing that they thought they would never see happen in the series…….Carl died.  Sure, anybody that has been watching this season of the show, in particular the last couple of episodes, knew that Carl’s chance of survival was pretty much zero unless the bite he received was from a Whisperer (who haven’t officially joined the series yet but may or may not have been alluded to in past episodes).

Starting in the mid-season finale, Carl started to become weak and feverish.  He hid the symptoms well from his friends, but by the time episode nine arrived, he was quickly going down for the count.  The episode spent most of its hour plus run time saying goodbye to Carl through his own visions and through his words of wisdom to his father, Rick.

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The secondary plot of the episode featured Morgan and Carol attempting to save King Ezekiel from the Saviors.  In it, we see Morgan once again spiraling into a mindset of murder and mayhem over saving precious lives.  Carol attempts to counter his decent, but with very little success.  By the end of the episode, though, King Ezekiel has been saved and a possible new “kid of the apocalypse” named Henry (Morgan’s protege) rises to the top of the heap when he stabs Ezekiel’s last remaining captor through the back of the neck.

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The episode was okay.  It definitely wasn’t my favorite episode but I’ve seen better.  Questions entered my mind as the show played out.  Should it bother me that I’m not bothered at all by the loss of Carl? Can Morgan just pick a mood and stick with it?  Rick’s eyes have been red for the entire season.  Does he need to get that looked at? Why did it take Carl so long to get sick? Will somebody please shut Eugene up?

The biggest question, though, was this one:  Why am I still watching this show?

I’ve been a huge fan of The Walking Dead from the start.  I loved the fact that it focused on the human aspects of a zombie apocalypse.  I appreciated how the living became the real threat to our little group of survivors and that the walkers were a constant, but fairly predictable secondary threat.  I enjoyed seeing characters such as Carol and Daryl change over the seasons.  I loved to hate Shane and hated to see him go when he did.  Yeah, Lori was a pain, but I missed her after she left as well.  Beth, Dale, T-Dog, Noah, Glenn, Merle, Hershel, Sophia, and so many more characters came and went and I hated seeing most of them go.  In fact, I still miss a few of them.

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I defended the second season, which took place in and around Hershel’s farm.  Many fans of the series considered it to be a boring and slow sophomore effort, but I appreciated the character building done over the course of the season.  I have defended recent episodes that focus on one character, particularly the Tara-centric episode.  I also loved and defended that crazy cliffhanger that asked the question, “Who did Negan kill?”

But these last few episodes have found me spending more time looking at my phone and getting up to check the laundry.  I’ve lost interest in most of the new characters and now hate characters that I once really enjoyed (I’m looking at you, Eugene).  Only a few of the newer characters (Gabriel, Simon, Ezekiel, Aaron) keep me interested in the series.

As far as the older characters go, Carol has been pushed to the background.  Daryl mumbles and grunts his way through most of his scenes without really adding anything positive to the storyline anymore.  Michonne is a shell of her old self.  Maggie still has potential, but has been derailed in recent episodes.  I’m not quite sure where they are going with Rosita and Tara.  These characters just aren’t interesting anymore.

I can’t buy into the fact that Negan is this all controlling leader.  No offense to Jeffrey Dean Morgan, but he doesn’t have an imposing frame nor does he have the intensity of the comic version of Negan.  I’ve also grown tired of Rick constantly crying and moping about the place.  There were flashes of old Rick here and there, but for the most part I don’t care about what happens to him or most of the other characters in the show.

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Carl was the one character that seemed to always be developing into something impressive.  He was the one character that pretty much everyone hated in the early seasons of the series.  In fact, most people wanted the poor kid dead.  I think that it says quite a lot about the acting ability of Chandler Riggs that he was able to portray such an annoying little turd (who is responsible for the death of one of my favorite characters, Dale, no matter what Riggs says, LOL) and develop him into quite possibly the toughest and most intelligent character on the show.  I SHOULD have cared that Carl died last night, but having become so detached from the series in recent months, I didn’t care at all.

I’ll continue to watch the series for a few more episodes, but if things don’t change soon, I might be walking out on The Walking Dead.

Thank you for reading my post.  Let me know how you feel about the current state of  The Walking Dead in the comments.  My The Cloverfield Paradox review will be coming later this week.

My Geeky Christmas List!

Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-laaaaaaah!

I am not ashamed to admit that Christmas is my favorite holiday.  I love the music, the cheesy Hallmark movies, the gaudy decorations, and all of the wonderful smells that range from the pine of the Christmas trees to the cinnamon of the cookies baked for the holidays.  I also love the smell of frankincense that fills my church for Advent as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Oh, and I love presents, giving and receiving them, as well!

I also enjoy making a Christmas wish list.  I have one over on Amazon (but I’m not shallow enough to link it on this post) that my friends and family use as a guide for picking out a gift for me.  I also have one that includes things that aren’t always attainable in this world, such as peace for all mankind, warm food and shelter for the homeless, and at least one gift for every child in the world, no matter how big or small it may be.

For this post I’m going to be making a Geeky Christmas List.  Feel free to list any of your own wishes in the comments section below, and let me know what you think about my list as well!

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First off, I hope that the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series will be at least as good as the last few.  From what I’ve read so far, the team’s dynamic will be changed.  How?  Raphael will be the leader in this series and Leonardo will have a “rebellious heart” (whatever that means).  It looks like Donnie and Mike will remain basically the same characters.  Look for Rise of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to hit Nickelodeon next fall.  I haven’t seen any artwork for the new series, but it will supposedly follow a more traditional animation style similar to the original 1980’s cartoon.  Here’s a look at the logo:

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My next wish is that I hope that the upcoming Black Panther film (February, 2018) will bring back a more serious tone to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  With the latest Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy flicks laying on the humor to annoying levels (at least in my opinion), I hope that T’Challa and the people of Wakanda  cut back on the comedy a bit and focus on getting some serious work done.  After all, it’s the last move before Avengers: Infinity War hits the big screen (May, 2018).  You can’t tell me that Marvel will make Thanos’ attempt at conquering everything a buddy comedy, right?  Let’s hope that it’s pretty serious as well.

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My next wish is that the upcoming Aquaman film (December, 2018) proves to be a success similar to this 2017’s brilliant Wonder Woman.  2017’s other DC film, Justice League, appears to be somewhat divisive among fans and critics.  I personally enjoyed it, but professional critics (and a lot of fanboys) attacked it for its CGI, what they saw as a disjointed plot, rushed story, and, my personal favorite, too much humor.  Let’s hope that Aquaman can bring fans and critics together once again.  Jason Momoa looked good as Aquaman in the JL film, and gave a nice balance of grit and humor to his character.  I believe that he has enough charisma to carry a film on his own, so here’s hoping for a successful cinematic run for Arthur Curry.

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Another wish that I have for Christmas this year is that The Walking Dead finds its mojo when it returns for the second half of season eight.  With an “all out war” promised at the end of season seven, fans haven’t been offered much in the way of actual conflict.  Sure, the season opener featured an attack on the Sanctuary by the Kingdom, the Hilltop, and Alexandria, but it was nothing more than a drawn out action sequence.  There have also been character developing episodes that focused on Negan, King Ezekiel and Eugene, but unlike similar episodes in the past (and I know that I’m in the minority when it comes to enjoying these types of episodes), something is missing this time around.  At the end of this weekend’s episode, I was completely ready for Eugene to die.  He annoyed the fire out of me!  Let’s pray that the mid-season finale amps things up and that it will carry over into the second half of the season next year.

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My next wish is a selfish one.  This year I was only able to attend one sci-fi/pop culture convention.  While I really enjoyed my time at Louisiana Comic Con, I sorely missed getting to visit with my friends at CoastCon, CyPhaCon, and Southern Geek Fest.  Wizard World has lost my interest thanks to crazy crowds and absurd pricing.  I’d much rather stick with the smaller conventions where I can actually here myself talk to other people.  Hopefully I will make it to at least one of my favorite conventions this year.

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My list continues with a wish that is really all on me.  I hope to catch up on all of the shows that I have fallen behind on over the last couple of years.  I’m way behind on Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Gotham, and Doctor Who.  Peter Capaldi’s run as the Doctor turned me off to the show, but with a new Doctor on the horizon, I’ve decided to give Capaldi another chance and have started watching that show again.  As far as the rest of the shows go, I just need more time.  Between work and life, I don’t have time to sit down and binge watch shows like I want to.

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I’m not a very big fan of anime, but I do enjoy watching it every now and then.  With Batman Ninja coming soon, I hope that it is better than the last Batman anime that I watched, 2008’s Batman: Gotham Knight, which is an anthology of six anime shorts.  I didn’t really care for any of the shorts that much, even with Kevin Conroy voicing the Dark Knight Detective.   The trailer for Batman Ninja was released in October of this year, and included a peek at a few of the villains that Batman will face, including the Joker and Gorilla Grodd.

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Something else that I’m wishing for this year is a truce between Marvel and DC Comics fans over the films, the cartoons, and the comics of each series.  I highly doubt that this will happen, but a boy can dream.  I enjoy both Marvel and DC’s offerings for different reasons, and while I might be a hardcore DC fan, I won’t automatically dislike any Marvel work just because it’s from Marvel.  Let’s all work together to make this wish come true!

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Speaking of comics, my next wish is that the Doomsday Clock series from DC Comics is good.  I haven’t read any of the DC Rebirth stuff yet (I’m still reading stories from the New 52), but I’m very intrigued by the combination of the Watchmen and the rest of the DC Universe, specifically the interaction of Superman with Dr. Manhattan.

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A project that I’ve been waiting on for some time is about to come to fruition.  It’s the topic of my next wish, which is that I hope that the screen adaptation of Steve Alten’s first MEG book is successful.  I loved the first three books in Alten’s MEG series about Jonas Taylor and his adventures squaring off against Megalodon sharks.  The first book, MEG, is probably my favorite, but I also love The Trench.

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The film is supposedly coming out in August of 2018.  It has been green-lighted, halted, restarted, etc. since the 90’s.  The version that is coming out next year will star Jason Statham (Snatch, Revolver, The Expendables) and Li Bingbing (The Forbidden Kingdom).  I’ve never been a fan of Statham’s work, but I’m hoping that MEG is more than just another action yarn in the deep blue sea.

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Star Trek makes it to my wish list this year as well.  I haven’t watched Star Trek: Discovery other than the first episode that aired on CBS Television and probably won’t see it until it comes out on Blu-ray and the fan series Star Trek Continues ended last month, so I don’t have a whole lot of new Trek content to look forward to except possibly reading a Trek book or comic.  My wish is that CBS and Paramount come to their senses and loosen up the tight reins they’ve placed on fan produced shows.  Star Trek Continues was a brilliant show and it will be sorely missed.  Don’t let the good guys suffer for the actions of a greedy few.  I guess I’ll just watch some reruns of classic Trek until something new comes along.

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My final wish is that all of you have a Merry Christmas.  I’ll probably do at least one more post this year for the upcoming Star Wars film, and possibly an End of the Year review.  Until then, I want to say that I appreciate each and every one of you that read my posts.  May all of your Christmas wishes come true!

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Somebody Cue Up “Eye Of The Tiger!”

All Over Alexandria

Two warnings right off the (barbed-wire wrapped) bat:

1.  This post is loaded with spoilers from all over the seventh season, including Sunday’s epic finale.  Avoid at all costs if you’ve missed any of this season.

2.  I’ll probably go into Shiva overload before this post is over.  You’ve been warned!

With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Sunday’s season finale of The Walking Dead was one of the best ones yet.  It ended on a note of unity and confidence, two things that were gravely absent most of this season.  We witnessed the Scavengers turn on Rick and company at the worst possible moment.  I have to admit that while things were falling into place for the beginning of the war, I had my suspicions about Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) and her crew.  What really tipped me off was the way that the Scavenger sniper leered at Michonne (Danai Gurira) while they were setting up and her, “We win!” remark while swapping places with Michonne.

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The episode unfolded while we were given snippets of a vision Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) was having while riding in a coffin to Alexandria.  The vision came in the form of Sasha talking to her deceased (by way of Negan) lover, Abraham (Michael Cudlitz).  She was also listening to some sweet tunes provided by Eugene (Josh McDermitt).  Eugene also provided her with a pill he created earlier in the season for some of Negan’s wives.  It was meant to kill Negan, but Eugene refused to take the risk and didn’t give it to the wives.  Sasha made the decision to sacrifice herself in order to get one last shot at Negan and possibly save her friends in Alexandria and The Hilltop.

Meanwhile, Rick (Andrew Lincoln), the Alexandrians, and the Scavengers were preparing for war against the Saviors.  Little did they know that the Kingdom and the Hilltop were also planning to attend the festivities, and their presence would pay off in spades later in the episode.

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Dwight (Austin Amelio), fresh from giving himself up to Rosita, offers to help Rick bring down Negan from the inside.  Nobody trusts him except for Daryl (Norman Reedus), and even Daryl’s trust in him is weak, but the group decides to let Dwight return to the Sanctuary so that plans can be put into motion.

Cut back to the moment where the Scavengers have betrayed the Alexandrians.  The Scavengers have confiscated the guns from Rick’s group and have them pretty much surrounded.  Michonne realizes what’s going on but is immediately jumped by the Scavenger sniper.

Negan says that Sasha (safely tucked away in a coffin on a flatbed truck) can help make things right with the group.  When Negan opens the coffin, though, a zombiefied Sasha leaps out at him in one last heroic attempt to take him down.

Not even flinching, Carl (Chandler Riggs) sees the surprise as an opportunity, grabs his gun, and starts shooting.  Other members of Rick’s group do the same.  Chaos ensues.  Soon enough, though, Negan and Jadis’ groups regain control and Rick and Carl find themselves in a very familiar and very uncomfortable spot.

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With that being said, Rick still mouths off to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and reminds him that he will, no matter what, kill him.  Negan decides to take his own confusion and fury out on Carl, but midway through the first swing of Lucille, a surprise attack comes out of nowhere.  That surprise?  None other than Shiva, King Ezekiel’s pet tiger!

The big cat’s attack heralds the arrival of the Kingdom and the Hilltop communities.  Scavengers and Saviors run for safety, and Negan, completely shocked and, for the first time, a little bit scared of what’s going down, makes a mad dash for his truck.  Ezekiel screams that Alexandria will not fall that day and Maggie leads the Hilltop’s charge, barking sure orders to the left and right.

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A side by side look at the CGI Shiva attack and the “real” Shiva, a stuntman, in action.

I let out a yell of “Shiva!” when she appeared on the screen.  I then screamed out Ezekiel’s name, Carol’s name, Morgan’s name, Maggie’s name, and pretty much anybody else from either community that I recognized.  It was a glorious moment and the biggest highlight of the season.  All of the poor CGI from earlier in the season was forgotten.  All of the somewhat drawn out episodes were forgiven.  It all led up to this beautiful, wonderful, tiger-fueled moment and it…..was……GLORIOUS!

Negan and his crew bolted, middle finger held high, but they knew that for the first time in their existence that a potential threat to their safety had arrived.  The combined forces of the Alexandria Safe Zone, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom will definitely be a formidable opponent, and I can’t wait to see what season eight has in store for us.

As I warned y’all earlier, I’m going to have a Shiva love fest for a bit.  That big cat scared the crap out of Negan and all of his crew.  Negan was caught with his pants down and was made to look like a fool.  How in the world are they going to fight a tiger?  Shiva is fast, silent, and strong.  She adds an entirely new weapon to the mix.  I just hope that the production crew holds off on any other lackluster CGI in the show and focuses strictly on Shiva.

I’d also like to point out how quick Carl was to react whenever Walker Sasha tried to eat Negan’s face.  The kid is tougher and smarter than his father most of the time, and that’s saying something.  He accepted his fate at the hands of Negan THREE TIMES this season.  He’s definitely got some brass in the ol’ Fruit of the Looms!

Ezekiel (Khary Payton) has definitely injected some life into the series.  As I’ve stated before, Negan doesn’t impress me that much.  He’s too slight to be physically imposing and I find it hard to buy him as a feared leader.  King Ezekiel, on the other hand, has charisma, a booming voice, and can look very imposing with that hair and….that….TIGER!  Payton does a brilliant job in the role, and I hope that Ezekiel stays around for a long time.

That’s all I have for this week.  I hope to see some of you this weekend at CyPhaCon in Lake Charles, LA.  Online registration is closed, but you can purchase tickets at the door.  Folks in the Lake Area will get to see a couple of familiar faces in Chuck Huber and Luciana Carro, both of whom have attended other conventions in the area.  If I remember correctly, this will be Huber’s third visit to the area and Carro’s second.  Her first visit was for ConDuLac, the defunct convention that bore CyPhaCon and a second convention which has also shuttered its doors, BayouCon.

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Julian Glover (Star Wars, Game of Thrones, James Bond) will also be in attendance. I hope to meet him this weekend.

I plan on attending late Friday night, Saturday afternoon or evening and possibly on Sunday.  If you’re in attendance, come say hello!

As always, thanks for reading.  I’ll post a follow-up on CyPhaCon next week and then I’ll start prepping for Southern Geek Fest at the end of May!

“Walk” Right Up!

Lake Charles, LA

The Walking Dead has definitely had a peculiar season seven.  Some fans loved the violent opening that finally revealed the victim of Negan’s brutal attack.  They were shocked when Lucille, Negan’s beloved barb wired bat, dealt a second death to a character that was very near and dear to viewers of the show.  Many viewers (and I’m betting that most of them were casual) believed that the violence in that episode was a bit too much for viewers, and demanded changes to the levels of violence in the program.

Where in the heck have these people been since season one?  Oh, well, AMC folded to the complaints and apparently a lot of the gore that we would have seen this season was reduced to wide angle shots and audio-only deaths.

BEWARE!  SPOILERS AHEAD FOR SEASON 7!!!!  STOP NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THIS SEASON YET!!!!!

From there, the show went on what many consider to be a hit-and-miss cycle of episodes.  Many of these episodes focused on just one or two characters, like The Well, which caught up with Morgan and Carol, and Swear, a Tara-centric episode.  I enjoyed both of these episodes, and pretty much every other character driven episode like these, with the only exception being the Rick and Michonne lovefest known as Say Yes.

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Other episodes saw our beloved heroes attempting to acquire support against the Saviors from the Hilltop community, the Scavengers, and the Kingdom, all with varying degrees of success.  The Scavengers, lead by the bizarre Jadis, agreed to an alliance after uneasy (and violent) negotiations in New Best Friends.  This carried over into the Say Yes episode, as did a considerable amount of poor CGI, but I’m not going to talk about that today.  The Kingdom refused, but despite this, Rick found allies within the group, particularly Richard.

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As the season wore on,  Richard tried unsuccessfully to force the Kingdom to join with the Alexandrians by setting up Carol to be murdered by the Saviors and then attempting to sacrifice himself but failing in that attempt only to have young Benjamin die instead.  The result of Richard’s actions led to the return of the voices in Morgan’s head, as he brutally choked Richard to death in front of a gang of Saviors and King Ezekiel.  I was so glad to see crazy Morgan back, as well as crazy Carol after she reunited with Daryl and found out about Abraham and Glenn.

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Last night’s episode, The Other Side, gave us a slightly deeper look into the life of Jesus, revealed even more friction between the Hilltop’s leader, Gregory, and Maggie, who is quickly building her own following within the community, and focused primarily on Sasha and Rosita as they set out to murder Negan.

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Rosita’s vengeance has clouded her mind, making her want to infiltrate the Savior’s compound and kill Negan.  Sasha, the levelheaded member of the duo, believes that it is best to shoot Negan from a distance.  Rosita is eventually convinced that Sasha’s sniper technique is the best method to use, and while waiting for the perfect shot, the pair iron out their differences over Abraham.  When Sasha can’t get a clear shot, Rosita’s desperation plan goes into effect.

The pair make a failed attempt to free Eugene from the Saviors.  After successfully making it to the front gate of the compound, Sasha and Rosita offer to free Eugene.  He refuses their help and runs back into the compound.  This sets off the community, and Sasha seals herself inside the compound after tricking Rosita to stay outside of the gates.  She tells Rosita that she’ll get another chance and then runs off into the compound.  Rosita runs off and then the camera focuses on her shocked face whenever she sees a figure watching her.

Who is it?  Rumors are flying around, but you’ll have to wait until next week to find out.

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With that brief summary out of the way, I have to say that this season has been lacking.  I’m a huge fan of the character development episodes (heck, I enjoyed season two, the heavily loaded character developing season that many fans hate with a passion), but only a few of them were strong this season.  There were a lot of boring sequences (and that dumb Easy Street song) that made watching some of the episodes quite a task.  Also, the CGI was noticeably horrible in the two episodes I mentioned earlier in this post.  I’m assuming that the background behind Rick in New Best Friends and the wretched deer from Say Yes were a result of AMC throwing all of their money into Ezekiel’s tiger, Shiva.  If that’s the case, lay off of the CGI until Shiva shows up in a scene!  Shiva has looked pretty awesome for a television series CGI animal, but don’t sacrifice the rest of the show just for the cat.

On the plus side, I’ve grown to really enjoy the performance of Steven Ogg, who portrays Simon, one of Negan’s most trusted leaders in the Saviors.  In all honesty, he’s more imposing than Negan.  There’s no showboating with a bat or excessive leaning back.  Simon’s just straight up untrustworthy.  I love that about the guy.  In last night’s episode, I’m not sure if he was truly wanting to help Gregory or setting him up for a fall.  That difficult to decipher demeanor and the added bit of “just one wrong word shy of crazy” makes Simon one of my favorite characters this season.

Oh, and even though Jeffrey Dean Morgan is an excellent actor, I still believe that he is a poor choice to portray Negan.

Well, I’ve blabbed enough.  As always, thanks for reading.  If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it on social media.  I’ll be hitting the con scene in the very near future, so look for me if you feel the need to do so.

I’m Jealous!

Not At A Convention!

I have to admit that I am super jealous of all of my friends that have been attending conventions this year.  Many of them went to Wizard World NOLA earlier this year, but this weekend a ton of them headed over to Pensacola, FL for Pensacon!  It’s one of my wishlist conventions to attend because they seem to bring the big guns every year as far as guests go.

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You don’t know how hard it was to see my friends taking photos with the likes of Sophie Aldred (frickin’ Ace from Doctor Who!), John Wesley Shipp (The Flash, the original frickin’ Flash!), and Lita Ford (a legend in hard rock and my ex-wife in way too many dreams).  It pained me to see Ming from Comic Book Men hanging out with my friends in Southern Geek and Southern Geek Fest.  It bruised my innards whenever I saw that the Nature Boy, Ric Flair, was also a part of the festivities.

To top it all off, Pensacon had the audacity to really rub it in my face by announcing guests for next year’s event (February 23-25) including Lou Ferrigno (The Incredi-frickin’-ble Hulk), Paul Blake (gosh darned Greedo from Star Wars), former WWE star Lita (she hangs out in my dreams with Lita sometimes!), and Frazer flippin’ Hines, Jamie from Doctor Who!  Don’t you dare click here to learn about this year’s event and to keep up with what’s happening next year!  Hopefully the scheduling gods will smile upon me and I’ll get to attend this wonderful event!

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You’re probably thinking:  Ken, why don’t you just go to one of your all-time favorite conventions, CoastCon!  Brilliant idea, you!  Except for the fact that I have work scheduled for that weekend!  CoastCon truly is one of my favorite conventions.  It’s one of the oldest fan-run conventions in the southern United States and it’s celebrating forty years this year!

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This wonderful event decided to stick it to me this year, inviting some of the coolest guests that they’ve ever had like Oded Fehr.  You know this guy.  He’s killed mummies in the flippin’ The Mummy franchise, taken on zombies in the Resident Evil franchise, and dominated in Showtime’s Sleeper Cell.  To make the fact that I’m going to miss this event even worse, they’ve added awesome authors like Claudia Gray and the Gothic Queen Supreme (and Facebook friend) Kimberly Richardson!  They’ve also thrown in stuntman, actor, and all-around cool guy (and friend), John Mangus!

This excellent event is taking place March 3-5 at the lovely Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center.  Visit their webpage for more information about this great, long-running convention.

Okay, okay.  So I missed Pensacon and won’t be able to attend CoastCon.  What about something a tad more local?  CyPhaCon, perhaps?

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Yeah, it’d be awesome to attend CyPhaCon, which has consistently put on awesome events in Lake Charles, LA and will do so again from April 7-9, but work is going to prevent me from attending the bulk of the convention.  Hopefully I’ll get to visit on Saturday afternoon and meet Julian Glover (Star Wars, Game of frickin’ Thrones), Chuck Huber (Bones from Star Trek Continues and anime vocal mastermind), and the lovely Luciana Carro (Battlestar Galactica).  I’ve met Luciana at CyPhaCon before, and she’s an awesome lady.

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To really bust my chops, CyPhaCon also added the very talented Jessica Von Braun, who happens to be one of my favorite artists.  My family loves her work as well.  There’s going to be awesome tunes, awesome authors, and all sorts of cool panels to attend.  Check them out here and see what all the fuss is about.

Despite missing all or most of some of these wonderful events, the month of May has graciously offered me a small window to attend another of my favorite events, Southern Geek Fest.  This one is close to my heart, as I’ve become good friends with many of the folks that are a part of this event and love the fact that Southern Geek, a Facebook group, gave birth to this wonderful convention.

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Southern Geek Fest will feature tons of awesome artists, authors, and panels, as well as a lot of celebrity guests and cosplayers as well.  One of my favorite wrestlers of all time, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, will be in attendance, as well as Peyton Wich of Stranger Things, Victor Gischler (who has done work on titles such as Deadpool and The Punisher), and one of the loveliest, friendliest cosplayers on the circuit, Kimberly Battista.

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Oh, and rumor has it that DDK will make his triumphant return to Hattiesburg, MS once again and turn it into Hottiesburg!  Visit SGF’s webpage to learn more about the event.  I promise that you’ll have a great time!

So, I might be jealous of all my friends at the moment, but whenever I return from SGF with an autograph and photo from Hacksaw and a pic with the wonderful Kimberly Battista, we’ll see who’s jealous then!

As always, thanks for reading.  If you happen to attend any of these events, especially CyPhaCon and/or SGF, be sure to drop me a line so that we can meet in person!

Heating Up The South!

Somewhere in Mighty Mississippi

The southern United States isn’t necessarily the first place that comes to mind whenever someone mentions geek culture, but geek culture is definitely thriving in key parts of the South.  Almost all of the southern states have successful fan-run conventions.  Some states, such as Louisiana and Mississippi, have multiple successful fan-run events.  Larger cities in the South have attracted the likes of Wizard World as well.

With that in mind, I decided to pose Ten Burning Questions to Tim Nicholas.  He’s one half of the dynamic duo that heads up Southern Geek Fest, a fan-run convention that’s celebrating its second year in 2017.  It takes place in Hattiesburg, and I was fortunate enough to attend the first SGF, and I have to admit that it was an excellent event.  You can read more about my time at that event here.  I’ve been friends with the second member of that duo, Rafe White, for quite a while now, but I’m still getting to know Tim, so I showed no mercy to him with these Ten Burning Questions!

Read on to find out some juicy tidbits about Tim and Southern Geek Fest!

1. You’re a big part of Southern Geek Fest. What exactly do you do with that convention?

Along with Rafe White, I am one of two promoters. At our last SGF, I was in charge of vendor relations, floor planning, volunteers and a hundred other things. Basically I do everything that Rafe doesn’t do.

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2. Rafe White or Snow White? Who is the bigger diva?

Rafe is definitely the biggest diva!! He is constantly needy. I think he made an SGF volunteer pick out all the yellow M&Ms before he would eat the bag.

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The Dynamic Duo of Southern Geek Fest, Tim Nicholas (L) and Rafe White (R).

3. Which celebrity have you always wanted to meet but haven’t had the opportunity to see in person?

Jackie Chan is probably highest on my list right now.

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4. What is the most fun part of running a convention?

It has to be all the women throwing themselves at your feet!! Wait, that was a dream I had. The fun when running a con happened for me after the show, getting the feedback from all the attendees and vendors that we put on a good show.

5. What is the toughest thing about running a convention?

The unexpected. All the multiple fires that had to be extinguished.

6. Black Sabbath with Ozzy or Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio? Who do you prefer and why?

Sabbath with Ozzy. I love Dio, but I’m all the way Ozzy!!

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7. Read any good comics lately? What is your favorite title?

I really haven’t read anything lately. I keep telling myself that I need to get back into comics, but I just haven’t done it.

8. What is your favorite fandom and why?

I’m a huge Trekkie and I love Fantasy novels . Star Trek was a favorite of my parents. I guess them introducing it to me as a child made me love it for my entire life. When I was in high school, a local video store went out of business. I took every dollar a could get together and bought the entire original series on VHS from them. I still have all those VHS’s.

9. In your opinion, has The Walking Dead jumped the shark? Why?

I don’t think so yet. This season has not been very good so far, but I think they are trying to move the show in a different direction. You can’t turn the Titanic on a dime, and I think the same thing goes for mega shows like Walking Dead.

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10. A volcano is about to blow and the only way to save the village at the foot of the mountain is to blast Miley Cyrus tunes at the lava? Do you crank up the Cyrus or die a painful death?

“Came in like a wrecking ball!!!”

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Mega, happy, deluxe bonus question: Is there a webpage or social media pages where folks can learn more about Southern Geek Fest? If so, share them here and I’ll include links!

Facebook group at Southern Geek 

Our webpage is southerngeekfest.com

@SGeekFest on Twitter and Instagram.

I hope that everyone enjoyed reading about Tim and Southern Geek Fest.  For the record, this is the first time that Miley Cyrus will be featured on a tag in one of my posts.  Thanks for that, Tim.  Be sure to click on all of the links above and follow Southern Geek Fest to get the latest on their wonderful event.

As always, thanks for reading.  I have a few more victims lined up for Ten Burning Questions, and I’ll be getting to them very soon!

A Galaxy On Fire!

A Long Time Ago, In Mississippi

From Rancors to ghosts to Gotham’s toughest villains, the brave soul that’s stepping up to answer Ten Burning Questions, Karen Camp, has her hands full!  She faced down all ten questions with the bravery of Princess Leia, and gave me some great answers.

Here are Karen’s Ten Burning Questions:

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1. DDK found out that you’re part of the Mississippi Mandalorians. Could you tell us a little bit about this group?

The Mississippi Mandalorians are a Star Wars based fan group. We have members who cosplay and those who don’t. We try to help raise money with different charities anytime possible. Mostly we are just a bunch of geeks who like to get together as often as possible and geek out.

2. Who puts the “Man” in Mandalorian, Boba Fett, Jango Fett, or someone else?

Boba Fett, most definitely!

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3. Are you a part of any other groups, cosplay or otherwise? (click each group to go to their Facebook page)

I’m a member of : Dead South Horror, Gotham Rogues, Mississippi Metahumans, 501st Rancor Raiders, and I’m a member of Mississippi Paranormal Research Institute.

4. Darth Talon or Mara Jade? Who wins that fight and how do they do it?

Mara Jade wins. One good force slam into a wall, then a clean slice across her neck with her purple light saber.

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5. The zombie apocalypse has begun! Name three characters that you want by your side when it all goes downhill!

Daryl Dixon, Rick Grimes, Michonne.

6. Do you collect anything nerdy or geeky? If you do, what is it?

I collect anything Luke Skywalker. I have other Star Wars pieces as well. My main item is a life size Han Solo in Carbonite.

7. Should the Star Wars prequels be rebooted or left as they are, warts and all?

The prequels should definitely be left alone. The Phantom Menace was the first Star Wars movie I saw on the big screen. It is what made me fall in love with a galaxy far far away.

8. You’re stranded on a dark highway. Which of these characters would you rather have by your side: Batman, Rick Grimes, or Howard the Duck?

Rick Grimes.  Hopefully he will take me to Daryl Dixon.

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9. What are some of your favorite conventions to attend?

My favorite conventions are the Star Wars Celebration, Texas Frightmare, and of course Southern Geek Fest.

10. If you could live on any planet in the Star Wars universe, which one would you pick and why?

I would choose to live on Coruscant, but it would be the Coruscant from the EU. I know it’s not canon anymore, but I wanna live on the Coruscant with the Jedi Temple. The one with Luke Skywalker as the Jedi Grand Master.

Mega happy, super bonus question: Do you or the Mississippi Mandalorians have a webpage or social media pages that you’d like to share?  Karen provided links to all of the groups that she is a part of.  To visit any of them, simply click on the links in questions above.

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I want to give a big thank you to Karen for answering Ten Burning Questions.  I have two more interviewees waiting in the wings and will post their answers in the very near future.  I also want to thank all of you for taking time to read this post.

Not to steal any of Karen’s thunder, I also want to briefly address the death of Carrie Fisher.  As many of you know, our lovely princess passed away today, 12/27/2016.  She will be greatly missed.

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I plan on doing a more in depth post about Carrie Fisher in the near future.  Rest in peace, beautiful lady.

Again, thanks for reading.  See you all at a convention soon!

Saa-Winggg, Battahh, Battahh!

Pee-Pee Pants City

Unless you’ve been under a massive rock for the last six months, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about a dude named Negan and his girlfriend, Lucille (she’s not really his girlfriend, for you non-TWD fans).  You might not even be a fan of The Walking Dead, but I’m sure that you have at least one friend who is that hasn’t shut up about it recently.

In any case, let me get you up to speed if you don’t know what is going on with the TWD season opener.  Basically, last season ended with a cliffhanger.  It was a glorious cliffhanger in my opinion because it baited folks for the season seven opener.  That’s what cliffhangers do.  Despite no new shows (unless you count the forgettable Fear The Walking Dead), TWD stayed in the headlines on a lot of social media and entertainment pages because everybody was trying to figure out who met the business end of Negan’s barbed-wire wrapped bat, Lucille.  There were a lot of other people (products of the instant gratification age) griping that the cliffhanger was the worst possible way to end the season because they didn’t know who died.  Yet I’m pretty sure that all of them showed up on Sunday night to find out what really went down.

Well, Sunday night finally arrived and we all got the answer.  Sure, folks who’ve read the comics had a pretty good idea about who might meet their demise, but the show has been known to go off on wild tangents in the past just to keep things interesting.  There are characters that have died early on in the series that are either still alive or died later in the comics and a few characters have been knocked off in place of other characters.

Warning:  Reading beyond this point means spoilers await you.  STOP READING NOW if you do not wish to find out who died in the season seven opener!!!

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The latest episode brought us back to Negan’s world, where he has a whole bunch of Rick’s group on their knees.  Some are scared, some defiant, and none of them knowing what to do.  Negan is pacing in front of the group and explaining to them in fairly clear terms that he must punish one of them for stepping out of line in his world.  In his hand is Lucille, his beloved dealer of punishment, and he begins to play a game of Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo with the group (just like at the end of last season).  He points his bat at each member of the group and finally makes his selection.  He swings, compliments his victim for taking it like a champ, and then swings some more.  Crunches, screams, tears, groans.  All are present while the beating is going down.

The show managed to carry out the suspense for a bit longer thanks to flashbacks to the events that lead up to the thrashing.  We also see Rick tell Negan that he is going to kill him…..eventually.  This leads Negan to take Rick for a ride in the RV and then proceed to verbally and mentally torture him throughout the rest of the episode.  This particular string of events has become quite controversial, as well as the violence shown on screen during the beatings, but I’ll get to both later.

The victim, if you don’t already know, is Abraham.  Before his untimely demise, he manages to flash a peace sign at Sasha, which makes her break down into even more tears.  Negan proceeds to pound in Abraham’s skull.  We are only shown a couple of the whacks on Abe’s noggin before they cut to Negan’s face and an occasional glimpse of Lucille as she becomes laced with gore.  The production uses sounds to deliver the gruesomeness of the scene, and they do so with perfection.

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But wait!  There’s more!

Whenever Abraham goes down, a lot of people are understandably upset.  The character has quickly become a fan favorite during his run on the show, and Michael Cudlitz has given us more one-liners in his time with the cast than pretty much all of the others combined.  Cudlitz also seems to be a genuinely cool dude in real life, so seeing his character go was tough.

However, The Walking Dead has always killed off fan favorites.  This is nothing new.  It’s the nature of the show and I highly doubt that it’s going to change any time soon.  Yes, Abraham and his brilliant “dolphin smooth” phrases are gone, but life goes on.

After Abraham’s death, many folks gave out sighs of relief because their favorite, whether it was Daryl, Carl, Maggie, or one of the other members of Rick’s crew, were still breathing.  But Negan wasn’t finished with them yet.

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We bounce back to Negan’s torture of Rick for a little bit and we witness him break down everybody’s favorite zombie apocalypse deputy even more.  Negan is relentless, forcing Rick to go after his ax amongst a horde of walkers engulfed in fog.

Then we cut back to the lineup and we find Negan realizing that he just pounded in the skull of Rosita’s former lover.  He begins to taunt her and this pushes Daryl to the limit.  He jumps at Negan but is quickly subdued.  Negan’s men hold Daryl down and Dwight aims Daryl’s crossbow at him.  But Daryl lives to fight another day as Negan tells his men to put Daryl back in the lineup.

That’s when the shocker happens.

Negan reminds the group that he let the first attack on him slide because it was a very emotional time for the group.  But this second attack would not go unpunished.  Negan pontificates a little bit more about his rules and then, out of nowhere, he pops Glenn in the noggin.  This actually caught me off guard.  I wasn’t expecting a second death (despite having caught wind that multiple cast members might be dying in the season opener.

Negan continues to pound on poor Glenn, even making one of his eyes pop out of the socket.  Glenn tells Maggie that he’ll find her and then he succumbs to the multiple swings of Lucille.

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But that’s STILL not all!

Negan continues his torture of Rick.  He forces Carl to the ground and draws a line across  the arm of Rick’s son.  He then gives Rick his ax and tells him to cut off Carl’s arm at the line.  Rick is at a loss.  We get to see him fall to pieces and beg Negan to let him cut his own arm off (hinting at a moment in the comic that involved the Governor).  Negan pushes on, demanding that Rick do it or he’ll bash in Carl’s head with Lucille.  Carl tells his father to “just do it” and Rick lifts the ax, only to be stopped by Negan at the last moment.

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I immediately thought of the Old Testament story of Abraham and his son, Isaac.  For those of you who don’t know, Abraham’s faith is being tested by God, and He asks Abraham to kill his own son when no other sacrificial animal is available.  Abraham then proceeds to bind Isaac and is about to kill him whenever an angel stops him.

Perhaps this event during the show was meant to show the god-like power that Negan held over not only Rick, but his entire group.  It also could have been meant as a nod to the Biblical story and Abraham, who had been killed by Negan.  Perhaps it was just director Greg Nicotero’s way of making people talk even more about a show that seemingly everyone is talking about????

In any case, Rick is broken, Glenn and Abraham are dead, and the group finds themselves at a point where they have no plan of action and no real way of winning….at the moment.  Maggie, despite just witnessing the death of a friend and of the father of her child and being sick due to complications with her pregnancy, picks herself up and tells Rick that they have to go back to Alexandria and figure out a way to fight Negan.  The group carries off their deceased friends, and the episode ends.

The Aftermath (And My Two Cents)

I know of no other episode that has caused as much friction with the fans as this one.  Many people have publicly decried the episode for its violence despite the fact that there have been decapitations, people ripped apart while alive, machetes through skulls, the shooting of children, and many other violent acts throughout the entirety of the series.  Others have complained that the payoff for the cliffhanger wasn’t satisfactory because (all of a sudden) they knew who was going to die in the first place and that the last six months of speculation were wasted.  Some have even gone so far as to say that the show has become a “kill of the week” series, where character development has died and gore and violence have become to focus.

To all of those people I say, “Where have you been?”

From the beginning this series has been about the living characters (the real Walking Dead).  We’ve witnessed Rick go from being an honest and ethical man to a person who is forced to do things that he doesn’t want to do but must in order to survive.  We’ve seen him make good choices, bad choices, and a few stupid moves as well.  He’s learned from all of them.  He’s gone a bit crazy at times as well, but who can really blame him?

We’ve seen Carol go from a meek, domestically abused mother to the literal mother of all butt kickers.  She, too, went a little crazy, but I’m sure she’s going to be back on track soon enough.

Carl, Abraham, T-Dogg, Merle, Maggie, Daryl, Glenn, Beth, Eugene, Lori, Andrea, Morgan, Deanna, Lizzie, and almost every other character that had any decent amount of screen time was changed in some way.  That’s still happening with characters like Enid, Gabriel, and even Dwight.  If you don’t see these characters developing, you’re looking in the wrong direction and focusing on the violence.

For those of you that feel cheated by the cliffhanger ending and/or the cliffhanger payoff, I have to ask you what did you really expect?  The cliffhanger was meant to force you to talk about the series while it was on its break.  You say that you felt manipulated?  Yep, you were.  That’s what cliffhangers do.  You felt like something bigger should have happened?  Exactly how many skulls did Negan need to bash in to get his point across to you that he is a bad man?  Why did Glenn or Abraham have to die?  Hello!  Zombie apocalypse where all sense of order has broken down?!?!?!?

Yes, the episode was extremely violent, but I’d bet you ten dollars that the people griping about the lack of character development were also the same ones griping that episodes that focused on one character (like the Morgan episode) weren’t violent enough.  Also, Negan’s character developed more and more with each swing of the bat.  It was violent character development, and I’m pretty sure that we all now know just how nasty Negan can be without a doubt!

Also, for all of those people that instantly claimed that they called the death of two characters, I highly doubt that you actually picked them both.  Sure, you might have called Glenn’s death or Abraham’s death, but I seriously doubt that many people actually thought that Negan was going to kill two people from the lineup.  Sheesh, the interwebz can fluster me so easily sometimes!

I’m sorry.  I had to get on my soapbox for a bit there.  I promise that I’m finished for the moment.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Well, once the dust settles on this latest season opener of The Walking Dead, we have this guy to look forward to:

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You see?  That’s how this show has always worked.  Characters live.  Characters die.  New characters arrive to add to the story.  The season opener was pretty good, but I definitely think that the rest of this season of The Walking Dead has a whole lot more surprises waiting for us.

Are you ready?

As always, thanks for reading.  Comment below if you disagree with me (and I bet that a few of you do) and feel free to share this post with your friends.  Oh, and here’s a photo of me and Steven Yeun from a few years ago.  He was a cool dude and I’ll miss him on the show.  Thanks for being a great part of the show, Steven!

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