Here comes the slump. I was hoping it'd never arrive. ***Spoilers Ahead***
There are few shows is perfect for catching up on during a long weekend than The Walking Dead. It works better all at once than week to week, but generally I am never able to be patient enough to make that happen for myself. Here’s the recap of the midseason premiere of The Walking Dead. Spoilers and Zombies ahead.
This week, like last week, was mostly set up with small bits of action toward the end. Loved every non-Jasper second of it though.
The 100 continues to be one of the best shows on TV and of all the shows I watch, this is the one I don’t save to watch at the gym or some other time in the future. It’s appointment TV. Also, it mirrors some of the struggles in Dallas education and it’s fun for me to imagine some of our leaders/students in these roles. Episode 3 was a tense, non-stop, political thriller. ***Spoilers Ahead*** Proceed at your own risk.
More action less substance in my opinion. Still as solid episode and a deeper dive into the impact of loss on the young mind. There's some teacher stuff at the end if you've already seen it or don't care. ***SPOILERS AHEAD***
The Walking Dead this week was a great example of putting kids in impossible situations and expecting them to come out unscathed. It's a great episode for teachers because it shows what happens when you push kids too far. This season has been up and down, but overwhelmingly up. They did a pretty good job with the one off character episodes and had some good groupings of characters when they needed to divide up the cast to manage their ever growing and shrinking cast. What'd we think? It worked.
***Spoilers Ahead - Click to read more***
A special note to the 5000+ people that were reading from the Thanksgiving table yesterday: I'm thankful for you. We are very fortunate that, instead of devoting your full attention to your dinner plates and loved ones, you chose to spend part of your break with us.
We've been binge watching a few shows that you've no doubt heard of, but we'll go ahead and mention them here so you can make the most out of the remainder of your break.
1. Jessica Jones on Netflix - Dark new Marvel show available for 13 episodes of action and a bit of detective work. I'm sure the real TV review folks would call it "cerebral," but I like it because it shows the evolution of people traumatized in childhood and what that looks like when they grow up. It shows the impact that the words and deeds of adults can have on developing humans. Great for teachers to take a look. Daredevil would also be a good watch.
2. The Man in the High Castle on Amazon - Not all the way through this one, but I often get the "what if the other side won" question in my World History class and this show imagines that out for me.
3. Assassination Classroom on Hulu - I'm a huge anime nerd, but a show about a teacher that moves so fast he can do all the impossible things teachers wish they could do is right up your alley. He makes individualized tests for every one of his students based on their strengths and weaknesses. I'll leave it at that.
Thanks again for reading and listening. See you tomorrow for your weekly rundown of education talk. Happy Thanksgiving!
Episode 6 was a little pointless for me so I decided to skip it, but this week was a tad more exciting. Thanksgiving break is a great tim to catch up on your favorite shows, I'll be talking a little about Jessica Jones on Netflix and The Man in the High Castle on amazon tomorrow afternoon, so if TV is your thing and you're looking for things to binge, check back in tomorrow. It's Thanksgiving, and you've earned it.
So S6E6 followed our characters that have been kind of out on their own. Daryl spent some time alone while Sasha and Abraham got closer. The lesson for Daryl was that trying to be a nice and good person ALWAYS bites you in the behind during the zombie apolcalypse. I don't think this really moved his character forward and potentially closed him off to strangers even more than he already was. Can't he get a break? Can't he meet someone that doesn't tear his heart out by dying or betraying him?
Anyway, I like the PTSD talk between Sasha and Abraham, but the only think I buy less than Sasha being all of a sudden the master of mental health is the show's attempt to create some romantic chemistry between the two of them. Why? Is it because they spent so much time in the car driving zombies around? I think the show should probably have not meddled with their roles as extra muscle. They'd probably be better served as purely characters used to show us other parts of the world and introduce us to new survivors. Leave the character building to Daryl.
Now this episode I am equally neutral toward, but in terms of being useful as a teaching tool, this episode is great for teachers to reflect on themselves. Glenn is alive. Great! I love the character, but honestly, I never thought he was dead and I think the show may have been better off killing him. There was a lot of potential for Maggie to change that we saw in episode 5 and it would almost certainly cause more tension between Rick and the Alexandrians. We see even more clearly in this episode that Rick doesn't much care for them anyway.
Why is this a great episode for teachers? Glenn and his interactions with Enid are classic teacher trying to force a student to do what they want with little explanation. Enid doesn't take kindly to that. In addition to pulling a gun on him, she's generally a pain. It takes Glenn a while to recognize that she is acting out of trauma, not out of wanting to make his life difficult. He's thinking about himself first and taking it personal. They only begin to get along when he sets some of that selfishness, that he's completely entitled to, aside so that they can both accomplish something important together, staying alive and getting back home.
I'm getting a little tired of the Rick/Morgan/Carol morality debate. Now that it's boiled down to "I know you're right, but I don't want to" for Morgan and his ideals, it's much less fun to watch. He's more seeking salvation than trying to embrace humanity at this point and I'm not as persuaded as I once was.
Next week looks like the show is going to get back to action. Can't wait. If you haven't started this season yet, thanksgiving break is a great time to do it, and if you missed Fear The Walking Dead, checking out how those educators deal with the zombie apocalypse is absolutely worth 6 hours of your time.
S6E1 - A
S6E2 - B+
S6E3 - B
S6E4 - B+
S6E5 - B-
S6E6 - C+
S6E7 - B
The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 2-5 Review
The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 1 Review
Fear The Walking Dead Season 1 Episodes 1-6 Review
Here's what I love about The Walking Dead: They understand people.
As a history teachers, I find their depiction of human crisis behavior fairly realistic. They experiencing what settled and developed peoples have struggled with since the beginning of "civilization." Sedentary life makes you soft. Outsiders constantly test you and your defenses until you are worn down and overrun.
What makes this show different than any other zombie show/movie is that you can miss an episode and need to go back. The development of key characters happens over time, not just in an episode. In fact, you can reorder some of the episodes and create mini series for key characters or cut them up to make a single character focused movie if you want. Carol, Morgan, The Governor, and others were/are so well developed that even a show like Game of Thrones, which boasts a rather bloated cast, struggles to match it.
Every week when my students come in and ask me if I watched, I use it as a teachable moment in small groups for those that watch. The reviews have slowed down a bit because I've been trying to figure out where it's all going.
S6E2 - The Wolves Attack - Great example of a raid by nomadic/semi-nomadic peoples on the fringe of the city. They have a different philosophy and social structure. Power seems to be decentralized and clan based, but they are unified by their "death is good" mantra. Not really sure what their goal is and they seem to be a hodgepodge of damaged people that came together by chance. They don't seem to have made the collective decision to engage in depravity like Terminus. They seem more like the folks Rick dispatched in season 4. Carol has maintained her skills acquired from nomadic life, but the sedentary people of alexandria are largely helpless.
Parallels: The historic relationship between Chinese dynasties, like the Tang and Song, struggling with nomadic peoples and using them to fight each other. Similar policies existed with the between various steppe pepole and the Assyrians and Persians.
S6E3 - The human memory fails and Glenn takes a tumble, potentially dying in the process. Now, I'm one of those people that thinks he's alive but isn't quite sure how. Nicholas thinks he knows a way our and Glenn, rather than abandoning the weak, tries to save everyone. Things can't go right all the time. Pressure situations and past trauma don't go well for everyone, especially if that pressure is new. Nicholas is probably a good example of how most of us would be if we made it past the first part of societal collapse but had only limited exposure with the horrors of combat. People freeze. That's why military training is so rigorous and repetitive. So you don't have to think, your body knows what to do and does it.
There's a conflict here between morality and survival as well. Rick isn't wrong. Glenn and Michonne would be fine if they abandoned the hurt and weak. Many animals would do the same thing. They choose to ignore instincts and end up in trouble. That is also the tension between Rick and Morgan that causes problems for Rick as he's attacked by the same Wolves Morgan let escape.
Parallels: 20th Century professional soldiers vs. Insurgent militia; Colonial Militia v. British Regulars
S6E4 - Morgan learns peace but is still burdened by past trauma, losing some friends in the process. Poor, Poor goat. Eastman and Tabitha didn't have to die. I think the show would have been better off if they were living somewhere happily until they could join up with our main group somehow. Anyway, this is the closest thing to what I feel like teaching is like. Literally, he teaches him Aikido, but he rehabilitates him and heals his mind. Many of our students have issues. Period. Just because they have done wrong, are a little rough around the edges, and are obstinate doesn't mean they are beyond compassion and possibility. Does Eastman's trust and Morgan' relapse (literally) bite Eastman in the behind? Yeah, but that doesn't mean what he did was purely stupid. He was on his own atonement journey and wanted to do something good with his life. It got him killed, but it could be argued that he wouldn't have truly lived if he didn't follow his code. He took a risked on a damaged person and it didn't pay off for him, but it paid off for the world (maybe).
Parallels: Rehabilitating child soldiers, veterans, felons, victims of various traumas.
S6E5 - The siege is on and people are starting to turn on each other. Leadership questions it's ability to resolve the crisis while others step up to fill that gap. Rations are thin, enemies are inside the gates, and previous expeditions are trapped outside and feared dead. I feel like the show is laying it on pretty thick trying to make it seem like Glenn is dead only trying to make shocking when he turns up alive. She's pregnant and she's behaving recklessly trying to find him. Good on the showrunners for making the zombies in the sewer extra slimy and decayed. She was straight up going to die if she didn't use the buddy system. Rick is even more clearly now in charge where as Deanna and her son, the previous queen and prince, are busy giving grand speeches to quiet the masses while simultaneously embezzling what little food (and booze) they have left.
Parallels: Siege of Carthage, Siege of Ostend, Siege of Kiev
This episode was probably my least favorite of the season so far, but still solid.
S6E1 - A
S6E2 - B+
S6E3 - B
S6E4 - B+
S6E5 - B-
The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 1 Review
Fear The Walking Dead Season 1 Episodes 1-6 Review
Fear The Walking Dead was good, but it didn’t quite quench my thirst for zombie survival action. Part of that is because the two shows, while related, are completely different. Yes, there are zombies, but the tale of the fall of civilization compared to the post collapse story are very unique even though they have a common “enemy.” What I love about The Walking Dead is its ability to turn something repetitive and familiar into something exciting and interesting. If you watched last night’s season premiere, you know what I’m talking about. If not, stop reading because there are SPOILERS AHEAD.
We’re back in Alexandria with a few more characters and many more zombies. I’m not attached to the new characters just yet and I never really got to know the Alexandria folks well enough to care about them. The development of the townspeople has been thin with the exception of the two who died at the end of last season. The spotlight is still clearly on Rick and the gang with little room for others on the team...with one big exception of course.
There’s a new black guy (Heath) which is nice, but I’m reserving my excitement because I’m sure he will be brutally zombie killed soon. Noah, TDog, Bob, and Tyreese all had some of the worst deaths on the show with Noah’s being so bad that even seasoned veteran Glen couldn’t stomach it. The shining light in the black zombie survivor camp is 100% Morgan. His return has brought a level of calm and cool that Rick really needs. He’s been going crazy since the end of Season 2 and it’s gotten much worse ever since Lori died (she was horrible).
Now to the meat of this episode. The Walking Dead clearly had something to prove since Fear The Walking Dead released hundreds of thousands of zombies last week. Clearly The Walking Dead wanted everyone to know who the real champ still is, and they did. They saw FTWD’s 100k and raised it a million complete with cliffs, 18 wheelers, and face bites. These are the zombies we know, the ones we’ve watched decay over the past 6 seasons. The special effects were top notch as always and I think the speedy emotional development you see in FTWD is forcing the same in The Walking Dead.
Until Rick’s most recent crazy attack, I don’t think he would’ve killed a guy just to keep him quiet. Rick is very much in “plan first” mode. He isn’t so concerned about people, especially those not in his group, as he is with his plans coming together. Yes, the guy was already done for, but that was cold even for Rick. Michone and Morgan pretty much said the same thing and they definitely looked like they were impacted by Rick’s...decisiveness?
There seems to be some chemistry between Heath and Glenn. I think they’ll make a nice team. Glenn even seems to be slowly forgiving the coward that caused Noah’s death.
I like the decision to have Alexandria come under attack already. I was afraid we’d get into some stagnation, but it looks like the show is determined to keep us moving at breakneck speeds.
S6E1 - A
Is this The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones? These days I can never tell. Spoilers ahead, escape while you can.
Last week we talked transition to desperation. I’m sure the hot topic this week will be Papa Sanchez, but for me, his character was always in survival mode. Distrustful, resourceful, calculating. His was a character always on the brink. One foot in and out of madness. Again we see mama teacher show the world she’s ready for the apocalypse. She’s all in. One bump in the night and she’s grabbing kitchen knives ready to stab zombie heads. I’d like to focus more on the soldiers and, I can’t believe i’m saying this, the kids.
The kids have been characters I’ve been all in on acting wise. The addict and his sister have been fantastic. They work well together. Apart, the sister is less good, but still quality. Camera son I’m less happy with as an actor. I find him unbelievable and emotionally thin. As characters, I find them all painfully annoying and frustrating, but as a teacher, I can’t help but love them. They do being teenagers with issues very well. The step siblings aren’t a pair we’ve gotten to see much of. From the hokey “i’m sheriff of these parts” routine by the sister to the awkward “oh crap I saw my step sister changing” interactions, their scenes together were great.You get to see kids trying to be kids and getting an little out of hand while the adults are away. They got drunk, they broke stuff, they lived while the world around them was dying. Enjoyable.
The other “kids,” as they were described by their commanding officer, were the soldiers. Overworked, exhausted, and increasingly underinvested, these kids got the impossible task of enforcing order in a collapsing society. They were turning to drugs and random acts of violence to keep their spirits high and their eyes open. In our first review, we noticed the parallels between social unrest around police brutality and the zombification of LA. They laid it on thick again in this episode with the soldier comparing himself to a power tripping police officer. Easy showrunners, we get it. We know how you feel. Less monologuing and more development please. I don’t feel like I know the soldiers.I feel like they are walking emotions. You see the “we’ve abandoned our humanity and you haven’t” scene that TWD has become know for when they try to force Travis to shoot that poor donut woman right in her nametag. They go from beaten up but obedient soldiers to raiders looting the little settlement in about 50 minutes. Especially after their increasingly unhinged commanding officer bit the bullet (or was bitten by zombies). I wish I got to see more of the soldiers and their dynamics. Maybe in the next companion series to the companion series.
Papa Salazar does his own “you’re too human” showing when he tells mama teacher to go away and let him do his best Roose Bolton impersonation by coldly flaying that poor lovesick soldier he used his daughter to capture. Interesting, but not surprising.We knew he was in some kind of civil war situation that was less than enjoyable for him and his family causing them to come to the US. He revealed that he was actually a torturer and not the tortured in this episode which I was shocked by, but not super invested in.
Overall a good episode. I’m glad we got some zombie action, but even happier it was balanced out with some quality human interaction as well. One thing I don’t get is the nurse/doctor storyline. I’m not into it. I don’t get the doctor. Is she trying to help people or not? Does she actually care? I’d understand her character more if she was a mad scientist or someone trying to cull the undesireables in the population, but she seems stuck in between. Why did they try to save Mama Salazar? Seems to me the military would have just killed her like they’ve been doing everywhere else. Why does this one doctor have so much say? Anyway, ex-wife is annoying too. Both of them can get out of my show. I’m waiting for a zombie nurse to bite both of them.
Shady fast talking scam artist salesperson guy? Wtf is that guy. Totally unnecessary character. Not sure what his angle is and not interested enough to be excited about it.
Episode 1: B-
Episode 2: B
Episode 3: B+
Episode 4: B
Episode 5: B+
Episode 1-3 Review
Episode 4 Review