Westworld: Les Ecorches – Action, Suspense and One Stupid Soldier.

4 and a half stars
Warning: Major Spoilers for the Episode.

In my review of the previous Westworld episode Phase Space I predicted that the seventh episode of season two, Les Ecorches, would be “absolutely insane” and I was right.
Les Ecorches was an insane episode with many exciting moments as Dolores led her army into the Mesa to retrieve her father Peter Abernathy.
What followed was a bloody battle that had many intense scenes, like the moment where Dolores confronted Charlotte and Stubbs.
This scene was probably the best in the entire episode with Charlotte attempting to go toe to toe with Wyatt-Dolores and fail miserably.
Speaking of Dolores, can someone give Evan Rachel Wood an Emmy?
She has given a fantastic performance all season long, showing both vulnerability and moments of disturbing savagery.
This is most apparent in her scene with Charlotte where she goes from comforting her father to preparing to torture Charlotte with a miniature buzz saw.

Dolores Wyatt
Evan Rachel Wood gives an excellent performance in the scene with Dolores’ confrontation with Charlotte.¬†

However, it was not just Dolores’ storyline that was really good this episode.
First there was Bernard who was having a rough time in both the past and present timeline.
In the present his existence as a host is discovered by Charlotte and the others who force him to tell them where Peter Abernathy’s brain is and in the past he had to deal with Anthony Hopkins in his brain.
Ford took over Bernard’s mind to make sure his plan for host domination continued accordingly, leading to some brutal moments from Bernard being controlled by him.
If this was not enough, another important revelation came for Bernard when it was revealed the scene we got last episode of Dolores checking him for “fidelity” was actually to get him to act exactly like Arnold, which means Dolores created him just as much as Ford did.
So my prediction that this scene was actually in the future and Dolores was trying to make Bernard Arnold was wrong.

Bernard and Dolores
Dolores testing Bernard for “fidelity” was to make him closer to Arnold.

The final great storyline this episode was Maeve’s whose confrontation with William was nothing short of enthralling.
I actually thought William was going to die this episode when Maeve made Lawrence remember how he killed his wife in the first season.
However, then the team Sizemore called in arrived and gunned down both Maeve and Lawrence.
Sizemore will most likely save Maeve next episode but it looks like Lawrence is done for, sadly, considering all the hosts’ backups were destroyed in the Cradle.
This also means that Angela, Peter and Clementine are dead for good as well.
Although there are some shots of Clementine from the trailer that have not been seen yet so I wonder if this was just footage for the trailer or if she somehow survived.
Speaking of Angela though, her death was the one scene that really brought down the episode for me.
She seduces a soldier and takes a grenade from him, blowing them both up, along with the Cradle.
In my opinion, this was the stupidest scene in all of Westworld.
This soldier knew how dangerous Angela and the other hosts were because he had seen them kill his fellow soldiers and yet he let her get close enough to grab his grenade.
He walked up to Angela, talked with her and let her touch his gun and kiss him, right before she grabbed it.
What did this guy think was going to happen?
While it was a nice callback when Angela said, “welcome to Westworld,” before she blew them both up, the soldier’s stupidity ruined the scene for me.

Angela
The soldier falling for Angela’s act was terribly written, a rare case for Westworld.

It is a shame that this scene happened because without it this would have been perfect.
It had many fantastic performances, the highlight being Evan Rachel Wood’s, intense action and plenty of deaths.

The Walking Dead Issue 179: Not a lot of Excitement but that’s not a Bad Thing.

3 stars
Warning: This review will contain major spoilers for the issue.

In terms of action, not much happened in Issue 179 of The Walking Dead, New World Order Part 5.
This issue mainly serves the purpose of bridging the gap between the previous issue and the next one.
However, even though some people might find this lack of action boring, it is necessary for the story to have issues like this to build character and avoid abrupt shifts in the story.
For example, if they had put Michonne deciding to stay in the previous issue and then had the characters immediately returning to Alexandria, we would have got barely any time to see them interacting with The Commonwealth community and set up each of their beliefs on how it is run.
But, just because we did not get any action this Issue does not mean there was nothing interesting happening because we did get development for some characters like Magna.
In one particular scene, the final nail was driven into the coffin and it was confirmed that The Commonwealth works on a class based system with the upper class class in charge.
Surprisingly though, almost all the characters seem to believe a system like this is a good thing.
This is strange because, if you think about it, they came from a society that was almost a Utopia.
Rick built a system in Alexandria where everyone is equal and it does not matter who you were before.
If you remove all the zombies and outside groups, like The Whisperers, trying to kill them, then Rick’s society would be the perfect one so it is strange to see characters like Eugene seeing the upside¬† to a class system.
It does make sense for Michonne, since she was a lawyer beforehand but for the others it was a bit odd, especially when they had just watched a member of the upper class assault someone and get away with it because of their status.
However, thankfully Magna comes in and, in a nice piece of development, seems to be the only one offended by this idea, no longer wanting anything to do with The Commonwealth.
After this, we get various small moments of the characters, escorted by Stephanie and Elodie, exploring The Commonwealth.
This was important because it allowed us to see the characters associate with those in The Commonwealth and get a feeling of how it works.
We even learn there are other communities out there that are part of The Commonwealth, like Greenville.
Afterwards, the group depart to Alexandria, with Michonne understandably staying behind to be with her daughter.
However, she does give her sword to Eugene, a decision I think she will come to regret because she may need it in the future, what with the problems of the class system.
Then, just like when exploring The Commonwealth, we get a series of scenes presented with single panels to show the passage of time as the characters return to Alexandria along with Pamela, Maxwell, Mercer and their soldiers in tow.
During these scenes we get a real sense of how bad the class system in The Commonwealth is.
Pamela sleeps in a big tent forcing the others to sleep outside and when she finally sees Alexandria she is very disapproving, declaring it “a s#*t hole.”
These scenes prove just how large Pamela’s ego is because she thinks of herself above everyone else.
The issue ends with Eugene and Magna riding ahead to warn Rick about The Commonwealth’s arrival and Eugene declaring they had better be as nice as they seem, “for their sake.”
I unfortunately found this cliffhanger to be rather pointless because, even if The Commonwealth does turn out to be bad, there does not seem to be a lot that the survivors would be able to do since the community has over 50,000 people.
They massively outnumber all of Rick’s communities combined.
This issue did have a few strange moments, like everyone agreeing about the class system having its advantages and the cliffhanger but, overall, I think it was a good one.
There may not have been a lot of action but it bridged the gap to the next Issue where we will finally have Rick meeting the new Governor.

The Commonwealth is run like a modern day government in Issue 176 of The Walking Dead… but that’s not a good thing.

4 stars
In Issue 176 of The Walking Dead, New World Order Part 2, we got to see how the Commonwealth operates when Eugene and the others are taken to meet its leader Pamela Milton.
The issue picks up immediately after the shocking reveal of the previous one that Michonne’s daughter Elodie is alive and looking for her.
Michonne’s reaction to this was well done, with her wanting to see Elodie immediately, even going so far as to threaten Lance to see her but he wants them to meet Milton first.
Over the next few pages we get to see how The Commonwealth operates.
We finally get to meet Stephanie, who tries to talk to Eugene but is reprimanded by Lance, rather severely in fact.
After this, we meet Maxwell Hawkins and the leader of The Commonwealth, Governor Pamela Milton (I am sure it is not a coincidence that Kirkman decided to bring another Governor into the story).
It is through these two characters that we see how The Commonwealth is actually run like a modern day government… but that is not a good thing.
It seems that Milton and Hawkins only see people who were of elite status before the apocalypse as important to The Commonwealth.
This can be seen when Hawkins decides to have Michonne talk to Milton instead of Eugene (even though Eugene was the one who lead them there and is one of the most important people from his community) just because he was a science teacher while Michonne was a lawyer.
It only gets worse when Michonne meets Milton.
Milton views herself as bringing back civilization, even though Rick’s group has been doing this as well and wants Michonne to thank her for what she has done when she has not done anything to help Michonne yet.
She also seems to view people below her status as weaker because of how she refers to the soldiers guarding her as “brutes”.

Brutes
These factors combine to show that The Commonwealth is run by elites and people who were not important before the apocalypse but are now, like Eugene, are of no importance to them, apart from doing grunt work.
This has pretty bad implications when you think about it.
Milton views her soldiers as “brutes” and soldiers are technically more regarded than police officers.
Rick was a police officer before the apocalypse so Milton might view him as lower than her own soldiers and therefore see him as an unfit leader.
Since Milton views herself as bringing back civilization, she will probably try to take over Rick’s communities.
I do not believe she and The Commonwealth are villains because they do have the best intentions but they will most likely be a problem for Rick’s communities rather than allies.
It has some very interesting implications for the future of The Walking Dead, which I like.
Then we get the final scene of Michonne reuniting with her daughter Elodie.
I was very surprised by this because I thought it would be at least a couple more issues before the two reunited but I am very glad it happened sooner.
It was a very touching moment and I cannot wait to see how their relationship evolves, considering the two have spent years apart thinking each other were dead.
Overall Issue 176 of The Walking Dead was a pretty good one.
We got to see how The Commonwealth is run, opening up some interesting story points for the future and got to see the heart warming reunion between Michonne and Elodie.

Time for Eugene to die after this episode of The Walking Dead

four_half-stars_0
Contains Spoilers for The Walking Dead season eight episode seven, Time for After

The Walking Dead has delivered another fantastic episode with its seventh episode of season 8, Time for After.
This episode was another Saviour centered episode, just like episode five and, just like that episode, it is one of the best episodes of the season.
Eugene was a particular standout of this episode, with actor Josh McDermitt doing a great job.
It was exciting to see Eugene’s character arc in this episode and I loved how it was symbolized.
When Eugene is having a conversation with Gabriel, (the same one they had in the comics, only much earlier) light is covering Gabriel, giving him an almost angelic look while Eugene is covered in shadow, foreshadowing him doing darker things as he helps Negan rather than his friends.
I also loved the scene where Eugene had an outburst at Gabriel after witnessing many Saviours die.
McDermitt gives his best performance on The Walking Dead in this scene.
However, although McDermitt does give a great performance as Eugene, I can’t help but fear that his time on the show might be over by season eight’s end.
It really does not feel like Eugene is redeemable at this point so I think it is likely he could die some time this season.
eugene
Another character given time to shine in this episode was Dwight, who had various interactions with Eugene.
Although these scenes were great, it did make me wonder why Dwight did not just shoot Eugene during their rooftop confrontation.
Dwight is clearly not above murdering Eugene and it would be pretty easy to make it look like an accident so Negan would not suspect anything.
Then we get get the second storyline of the episode with Daryl, Tara, Michonne and Rosita going to attack the Saviours, going against Rick’s plan.
Thankfully Rosita and Michonne do not go through with it.
I was really glad to see Rosita be against the plan because it shows how much she has grown since last season.
However, Daryl and Tara still went through with the plan and this possibly led to the Saviours escaping at the end of the episode.
I like Daryl and Tara but these two need to keep a clear head or they are going to get people killed.
The final storyline in this episode saw Rick bring Jadis and the trash people over to their side.
It was very exciting to see Rick be able to defeat a Walker and three of the trash people, including Jadis, while tied up.

null
Although, I was kind of hoping Rick would just kill Jadis because of how annoying she and her trash people are but whatever.
Then we get the closing moments of the episode where Rick sees, much to his horror, the Saviours have escaped.
And, if the trailers are anything to go by, the mid-season finale will be brutal.
There was also the announcement that there will be a big death next episode so we will probably get the question of what Rick was crying about in the first episode of season 8 answered.
There is also a spoiler floating around about who it is that dies and I hope it is wrong because I hate getting spoiled.
Overall Time For After was one of the best episodes of The Walking Dead season 8.
Like most of the episodes so far this season, it would not get on a top 10 list but it is still a really great episode.

What happened to Negan is no longer unknown in The Big Scary U.

5 stars

Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8 episode 5 follow.

The Walking Dead has delivered its best episode of season eight yet, with The Big Scary U.
The U, in this case, stands for unknown, as Gregory points out in the opening sequence, which is one of the longest, if not the longest, opening sequence in all of The Walking Dead.
This opening sequence goes on for a while but every moment of it is absolutely riveting, even though no action is happening.
Negan is scarier than he has ever been in this episode, as he yells at Simon for suggesting killing everyone at the Hilltop.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is definitely the standout of this episode, delivering his best performance as Negan so far.
I cannot wait to see more of Negan in the rest of the season.
bloody negan
And it is about time we saw him too since both he, Gabriel and the rest of the main Saviours have been absent for four episodes.
It is kind of strange, considering that Negan is the leader of The Saviours and yet he has not been seen in the war since the first episode, although this is because Morgan had scheduling conflicts.
It was great to see the way Negan and Gabriel interacted this episode, with a scene ripped straight from the comics, when Negan reveals he had a wife to Gabriel… after Gabriel tries to kill him, of course.
Meanwhile, inside the Sanctuary, we see the remaining Saviours falling apart.
This gives us a clear indication of why Negan has been able to keep power so long, he is the only one of this group that can keep them together, no matter how extreme his methods are.
We got a really good look at who many The Saviours are, who we did not have a good sense of earlier, which I really liked.
First there is the new Saviour Regina, who we met in the season premiere.
We got a good look at who she is along with who Simon is.
Until this episode, Simon felt more like a generic henchman to me and I had no interest in him.
This episode changed that however as we saw how Simon reacts to this dire situation and we also got a sense of his backstory as well, if it was his backstory.
From what Negan says, it appears that Simon was in charge of The Sanctuary before he arrived and was incapable of leading.
This clearly translates to how things play out in The Sanctuary and it makes Simon seem like he will have a bigger role in the war to come.
simon broods
Also, Eugene has discovered that it was Dwight who is working with Rick and the others, although it appears he is keeping quiet about it, at least for now.
Hopefully he and Dwight will begin working together soon.
Finally we have a few scenes with Rick and Daryl, where we continue to see how dangerous Daryl is becoming.
He is willing to bomb The Sanctuary, even if it risks the lives of the innocent people inside.
Rick thankfully is against this and it leads to an interesting fight between the two.
This leads to a great callback to the first season with Rick telling Daryl “a choke hold is illegal,” which is what Daryl said when Shane choke held him in the first season.
The two then go there separate ways with Rick going to see Jadis and the Trash People.
However, along the way he sees a helicopter flying overhead.
I’m curious as to what this could mean for future storylines but also I’m wondering what is The Walking Dead’s deal with helicopters.
There was one in Season One, a second one in Season two, one in Fear The Walking Dead and now in this episode.
It is kind of weird how a helicopter is a recurring thing in the world of The Walking Dead.
helicopterjpg
Overall, this was a fantastic episode.
It is easily the best of the season so far, with great scenes like the one between Negan and Gabriel.
It is episodes like this that show The Walking Dead is not losing its cool.

The Whisperers go out with a whimper in The Walking Dead Issue 173: Final Fight

two-and-a-half-stars
You know, I was really looking forward to Issue 173 of The Walking Dead.
After the brilliant cliffhanger in the previous issue, which saw Beta about to ambush Jesus and Aaron, I could not wait to see what would happened.
I was really afraid Jesus or Aaron might die and that Beta’s return would have a massive impact on the story going forward.
However, what I did not want to happen was for Beta to appear only so Kirkman could kill him off, thus tying off the loose end of the Whisperers.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened.
Instead of Beta’s return presenting a turning point in the story and making the Whisperers a legitimate threat again, he is just killed off when Aaron shoots him.
It makes you wonder why Kirkman even bothered keeping Beta alive.
Why didn’t he just kill Beta in The Whisperer War, there was no reason to keep him alive since he dies pretty much immediately when he shows up again.
Beta
Although I did like the reveal of Beta actually being a famous basketball player before the apocalypse, his death here is incredibly disappointing.
Kirkman should have just revealed who he was and then killed him in The Whisperer War.
I can see why Kirkman wanted to kill Beta off though, considering he is bringing in a new group of survivors into the story and wants to focus on them.
But ending the Whisperer story like this is really disappointing and left a bitter taste in my mouth.
The Whisperers should have gone out with a bang, not a whimper.
The rest of the issue is alright and filled with your regular The Walking Dead character development.
It looks like Maggie is going after Negan next issue and I really hope she does not kill him.
We already had one interesting character die in a disappointing way, we do not need a great character to die that way as well.
There is also a scene where Carl helps out Sophia only for Lydia to glare at them jealously.
This could prove to be interesting, considering Lydia’s upbringing with the Whisperers.
Maybe she will threaten Sophia to stay away from Carl.
By far my favourite scene in the entire issue though was when Laura berates Dwight for his treatment of Rick.
Dwight is a really good character but recently he has been going downhill with his antagonism towards Rick so it is good to see someone put him in his place.
Hopefully Dwight will realise how he is acting and get on the right track again.
dwight vs rick
The issue ends with Eugene’s group arriving at the place where they will meet the Ohio group only to be ambushed by a new group with guns that has bayonets attached.
The Ohio group is very cautious it would seem, or maybe they are just evil, we’ll have to wait and see.
Overall this issue was pretty disappointing due to Beta and essentially the Whisperers themselves’ demise.
The rest of the issue was alright but this one thing just dragged it down for me.
The Whisperers used to be this great threat but the way Kirkman ended their storyline just made them seem kind of pathetic to me.
They deserved better.
Still, I am interested to see what the future holds for The Walking Dead, with the new Ohio group being introduced.
I will be sure to review the next issue when it comes out next month.