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Phew. Now that I've got all that out of my system, mostly (I'd apologise for all the sweariness, but really, it felt appropriate to the occasion), and had a chance to watch 5.01, I thought it might be fun to just play with it a bit, instead of racing breakneck through 50+ episodes of series, or even just whole seasons. Ramble around and maybe see if we can't spot and speculate on what's going on, try to read soma'these signs they're giving us (without cheating; no spoilers were harmed in the writing of this post, just speculations, based on one watch-through, a while of pondering, and bouncing around the episode in a fairly slipshod way to check my work, so, fair warning, accuracy might be uneven at best).

Also cos, while I gave the reviewers some guff, they do have to try to come up with a comprehensive, substance-engaging response, on a quick turnaround, to each episode as they come – a really good reason, among plenty others, why I will never be a reviewer. But it seemed fair to at least try to put myself in their shoes, even if I ... walk a different path? (Metaphors, man. They can turn on you.) I dunno if I'll actually keep doing this for S5, or even if I'll keep watching as they go or save up and binge; that depends on ... stuff. And, things. And the fact that it's not my job and I don't have to do it if I don't wanna. But being here now, let's see what we see.

And how – how – could we not begin with the utter delight that was Carol going to war for her people? That she looked Tyreese – Tyreese – in the eye and flat told him she was gonna kill people, and the perfect understanding that existed between them in that moment. Tyreese knowing, but in the perspective that came from having needed that quality of her with Lizzie, needing it again now to do what he can't bring himself to, and Carol knowing why – being the reason why – that block exists so deeply and painfully in his psyche. (Tyreese, overcoming that block for Judith's sake, refusing to choose the knife of a butcher – and its shades of Karen's death, too – but taking the blood literally upon his hands, and allowing that rage, and grief, bottled up inside out to do its work. Also, Martin – you verbally push Tyreese about the life-and-death choices he's going to have to make, or die and doom Judith too, using a water-based analogy, even before threatening to snap Judith's neck? Good grief, man. Why not just get up and sing a song about how you must have a death wish. Although, you know. Good Apocalypse Counselling, considering. Ever consider a different career?)

ANYWAY, Carol. Having reaped with Lizzie what she'd sown with Karen and David – her trial/baptism by fire, you might say – and, having consistently done both with compassion for her victims ("com"-"passion", literally suffering with) after wrestling with the decision, nor denying her guilt, the show allowed her to survive through it; now with hands tempered in bloodshed and fire she is able to kill in order to save with full understanding, judgement and efficiency. At the prison, after the deaths in Cell Block D, she killed Karen and David in a desperate attempt to save everyone else, but many of those put in Cell Block A – death row – died anyway. At Terminus, Rick and the rest would have broken free, fought back, but it would have cost them lives for sure; her actions, arriving just in time after the four victims that had been imprisoned in "D" were slaughtered, right before the slaughterers could begin on Glenn (who nearly died in Cell Block A, too), meant nobody from "A" was lost. (Recognising Lizzie for what she was, a twisted reflection of walker-Sophia – permanently changed, but unable to grasp what it meant when she killed – Carol puts her down humanely (same way that Sophia was); recognising Mary, a twisted reflection of Carol herself – permanently changed and fully able to grasp what it meant when she killed – Carol leaves her bleeding out to be consumed by walkers.)

(As for D victims – Sam. Sorry, dude. But you did close out the matched-pair couples from S4, with the Irish, erm, couple(?) from 4.01 – he saved her over and over again, never left her, and showed her how she had to change in order to survive, and with him being now just a walker head, she tries to feed Rick to him, and then kills herself and asks to be left behind to turn and stay with him – you, and your lady, hid from danger, unwilling to do what it took to save yourselves, offered Rick fruit to eat, and when it got dangerous you left her behind to be eaten, ran even though she couldn't; both sets still died! Also. There's a clear leg-injury motif developing, too, isn't there. Good. grief. Y'all just need to settle down, okay? I only have so many fingers for this stuff!)

And in the midst of Carol giving Rick the time he needs to break free, she finds Rick's watch (edited to add because I forgot to: which was sitting there right next to hers on the table, which she gave to Rick after he gave his to Sam, right before exiling (releasing) her – giving her more time, a reprieve from a death sentence – as punishment for killing their own; reapin' what ya sow for everyone! \o/) – wonder if she took it with her to give back to him? – and then brings him back to Judith, instead of waging possibly suicidal war in order to stamp out Terminus. Granted, even knowing they're not all dead and it's not over, and this will cost them, in the either/or choice between finishing the job and reuniting with loved ones, Judith was definitely the right option. Between humanity and survival, either choice will always cost you; maybe The Point is to learn to pay the right price. ALSO SPEAKING OF WATCHES, GLENN. /o\

(... WAITWAITWAIT, where was Gareth shot? Have we graduated to Rick being the one to inflict his own injury-motif on his own analogue? *rubs hands hopefully*)

Speaking of choices between finishing the job and reuniting with loved ones, that shot, where Rick – in the face of everyone going hell. no. to finishing the job – just gives Daryl his little eyebrow-waggle of are you with me, bro? as Carol appears out-of-focus over his shoulder, is perfect. Daryl catching sight of her just as he's beginning to nod has him being, as per his usual contra-themed ass, the only one saying yes to both choices. (His evolution toward humanity also has him being the one to correctly recognise that they ain't people. I guess we are getting the Horseman of Death's *wild beasts* after all!... unless you count walkers in that category for S1 – which would be further borne out by Merle "chewing" his own hand off to escape a trap – in which case, this is our second time through.) SPEAKING OF CHOICES BETWEEN FINISHING THE JOB AND REUNITING WITH LOVED ONES. ABRAHAM. MIGHT YOU PERHAPS HAVE INFORMATION ABOUT CARS WITH WHITE CROSSES TO SHARE? MIGHT YOU PERHAPS WANNA GET ON THAT. Cos if you don't, Rosita looks like she might perhaps, and that is not gonna win you friends and influence people with this group. And, as we've seen even just with Tyreese and Carol, you want to be friends with this group. Daryl already claimed you as such; do not piss that away.

Also, as we cut closer and closer to the quick of the human condition, revealing more and more intensely the most terrible recourses of human nature, it's kind of gorgeous to watch the intensity of raw human connection increase apace. I ... yeah. That was amazing, right through from Daryl and Carol – and Rick and Carol, *flail* – to the Grimes trio reunited and Sasha and Tyreese. Damn does this show deliver right to the FEELS. (Plus, Tyreese and Rick reaching out to grab-of-friendship each other's left shoulders with their left hands – as opposed to their right hands, last seen beating the snot out of each other – whether scripted or not, was pretty neat.)

So, the Terminus people. Or ... not!people. Failed to ask questions, I see. Yes, it's a terrible thing to have to turn people away from sanctuary in the apocalypse, a price they couldn't bring themselves to pay. The price they did pay seems a horrific one for indiscriminately sowing a welcome for all-comers, but ... that's what all-comers will inevitably include, and – sorry for putting it this way – those all-comers sure took their welcome at their word; after all, it wasn't lies, they meant it. (edited to add because I just noticed: All who arrive, survive. ! On behalf of Rick's group, lemme just say, fuckin' A.) But those things done to them didn't make them butcher or cattle; only their choices could do that. Poor Bob, to have to be the fourth group member to be brought to the slaughtering trough because nobody else in A was at all likely to plead that case for everyone "coming back" from this; and Rick, Daryl and Glenn certainly weren't. But your service – to draw out from Gareth exactly how very, very definitely they'd made their choice and were not letting go of the course they'd determined on – is noted. (Gareth. Let Rick go. I know you won't, but ... let it go, man. That machete's waiting for you.)

In terms of narrative karma, Bob, it might also get you killed; stop suggesting that you double back instead of fighting forward to your people. What part of "Can't go back, Bob" don't you understand? (Somebody might wanna also mention to Eugene that that's the stage of grappling with the inescapable fact of change we're at. Then again, he so wants to be badass. Why not let him try.) And Glenn. Glenn. You were ... if not right, at least within your rights to insist that choosing people over the mission-goal has to be something you at least consider, although insisting on what the answer has to be might be a bad idea, there. Especially with Maggie holding your watch and absolutely confident that you will be coming back to her alive and soon (although, Rick and Maggie, nice work there with making sure you use the time – and watch chain – while you have it). Just cos it worked this time is no reason to assume things are going to continue on that way! SO STOP INSISTING THE JOB IS OVER WHEN IT ISN'T (refusing to go back) JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE SUCCESSFULLY REUNITED WITH YOUR PEOPLE "SAFE" ARGH GLENN *HEADDESK*

And, let's see. Who died this episode? Three dudes who didn't do – finish – the job they'd been told to do. Martin – who, unlike Judith, could "wipe his own ass" – was "on his own" if he screwed up. One dude who failed to get his shell-count from the roundup, and wanted to disobey Gareth's stay here, got stabbed twice by Rick; the dude sticking to his post and yet still failing to finish his job only got stabbed once. So, *high-five* I guess, dude. (Both still died!) Daryl disobeyed Rick's wait here in order to have Rick's back and save him from a walker – which Rick, focussed on the human threat, didn't notice (Martin, focussed on the walker threat, didn't notice the human coming up behind, and no one had his back) – gets a little nod of thanks/approval from him, and, as a matter of course, follows through with him in gunning down their enemies (despite not even having the weapon for it himself) to clear a path forward to their people. So, I think we've some good solid beginnings of a theme pattern developing there. Now to see how the next episodes further develop and refine it.

Oh, and. MORGAN. Finally getting to the signs and warnings Rick has left along his trail (Carol had a much quicker return on her doomed-to-fruitful efforts), and heeding them, and on the way to finally reconnecting. Whatever that ends up looking like, I don't care. Just that we get there. BOOYAH \o/

... aaaand 5.02

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January 2016
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