“God, I hate the apocalypse.”

The opening chords and the "Have MERCY" catchphrase are stuck in my head, and I am gleeful.
The opening chords and the “Have MERCY” catchphrase are in my head, and I am gleeful.

It’s been a frustrating sort of day, so I am accentuating the positive. (This is me, so I am doing so by discussing Z Nation.)

God, I love that show.

I’ve basically dropped The Walking Dead, which I’m sure continues to be a well-acted depiction of desperate people driven to cruelty and making harsh decisions as kindness is slowly eroded from a dying world that they have no hope of salvaging.

I don’t think Z Nation is as good, in terms of narrative consistency or pacing, as TWD. I’m okay with that. It’s cheesy in its simplistic approach; it openly says that anyone still around three years into the zombie apocalypse is some kind of pulp-action-adventure badass, and then uses that as a reason to eschew grinding subsistence-level misery and proceeds to give a group of flawed, hopeful, mostly well-intentioned and kind characters a chance to actually do something that might save the world.

It has dark humour. It’s fun. It’s hopeful, in the game grim way apocalyptic settings can be if you give the characters an actual chance to achieve something. And there are moments–when Murphy leaves the door open–when I am actually shocked and horrified by the bad things people do. I like that. I appreciate the hell out of a post-apocalyptic story that can still make cruel things upsetting instead of allowing them to fade into a background slurry of mean-desperate-selfish-mean. Continue reading ““God, I hate the apocalypse.””

World can’t drag you down if you start so low.

Notes on the latest Walking Dead;

I despise Shane.  I deeply, truly, honestly detest him in a way… well, honestly, I’m sick and I’m tired and I’m thinking a bit fuzzily.  But I can’t remember the last time I saw so little about a character in a TV show that I could like.  He walks over to talk to Laurie and the clearest thought in my head was “Oh, good, at least she’s got a knife.”  Not “I hope this doesn’t go too badly,” not “I can see where he’s coming from,” just a general attitude of “here comes the shitstorm, head down and shoulders up and let’s get through it.”

I can see where he’s coming from.  But it’s not a place I can feel for.

I’m glad he’s there as a character, but it’s in the same sort of way that I’m glad there are zombies.  This is a story with a threat that isn’t empathic in the slightest, that wants but doesn’t care, not now.  Everyone knows that the zombies are like that.  No-one seems to have fully internalized that Shane is.  (Well.  One person might be doing it; I refrain from saying who since I’m nearly done and am too wiped for talking around the spoilers.)

What else?  Still liking Glenn.  Watching the Daryl/Carol relationship, and liking how understated it is, since the bit about the Cherokee Rose.  Loved the ending,which is not to say I found it at all happy. Want to smack Andrea, but unlike my reaction to Shane I want to smack her in a way that’s like wanting to yell at a dumb human who could learn better.

Walking amongst the Dead

Yeah, there’s been more Walking Dead than American Horror Story lately.  The light of my life has laid hands upon Skyrim, and I’m holding off on watching new episodes without him.

Daryl’s my favourite character[1], although I think that’d change if we saw more of Glenn.  Stupid situation or not, something to be said for a guy who manages to lasso a zombie while being in serious danger of being dropped on it.  And is not charging merrily forward on the “OMG sex” bandwagon (pet peeve; have had too many people drop the “if a guy does not immediately jump at offers of (straight) sex, there is something wrong with him” line lately).  And sticks his neck out for utter strangers on a pay-it-forward theory.  And (practical or not) cares about how the formerly living dead are treated…

…okay, now?  Now I’m annoyed we haven’t seen more of Glenn.  Daryl’s cool, and Rick’s decent, but Glenn’s kind, and while I can understand that not being hugely valuable I think it’s important.  (How much has he been around this season?)  It’s not like it’s a case of people just needing to do anything they have to to get over the next hill; there doesn’t seem to be any greater social structure or network left.  If people who are scrabbling for their lives aren’t kind, it’s not as if people who aren’t scared and in danger will pick up the slack.  If people who are scrabbling for their lives aren’t kind, then no-one is kind, and that is a sad sad world.

I confess, in a fit of being horribly unjaded and sympathetic towards people who have had their lives fall apart, I like most of the characters.  Actually all of the group from last season except Carl and T-Dog and Sophie, who really seem the least fleshed-out; they’re watercolour sketches.  (Also I’m disappointed we haven’t seen more of the Greenes yet.)  I’d probably be a lot less sympathetic if I had to deal with the characters (see: Shane), but I like watching them.  It’s easier to put up with and watch their human failings from the safety of my living room.

Andrea makes me the most uneasy–I can see how she’s gone from having something to prove to having explicitly failed to prove it and, having been guilted out of a clean and relatively painless suicide, has sort of given up on these silly things like “group bonding” and “relying on others”.  She’ll still learn from them, which is practical, and I think she might still feel mild affection towards some of them, but in a really fundamental sense she seems to have checked out, and it makes me sad.[2]  And I get being upset–furious–at being guilted out of a clean and painless and easily-managed death.

At the same time… well.  A solid chunk of her is looking to kill herself.  I’m trying to figure out where to stand between the “ohgod I’ve been there, no-one can blame you for wanting this but that doesn’t mean a sane you would want it, please please don’t” and the “you know, even us stressed and crazy people can actually manage to make real and valid decisions about what we want to do with our lives”, and…

Been on both sides of that.  Like I said… uneasy.

[1] “Copperhead Road” ninja.
[2] Actually, looking back on last season, it also annoys me that the characters who chose to kill themselves were two women and one of those edumacated guys.

Well my name’s John Lee Pettimore/Same as my daddy and his daddy before

Paying proper attention to the first episode of this season of Walking Dead.  I’d forgotten how bloodily effective Daryl Dixon was.  He’s like some kind of “Copperhead Road” ninja.

It’s been a while since I saw the first season.  I can’t actually remember if there’s been an explanation provided for why some corpses turn into walkers and others don’t.  Clearly bodies staying down is common enough that people open cars with bodies inside as if it’s dangerous but not guaranteed to be deadly–

Come to think of it, I don’t recall if a passive corpse has ever gotten up and started chewing. Possibly it’s the perfectly normal human reaction of getting twitchy around anything that looks like it could get up and start chewing, even if it won’t do it.

The show has the same oddly unselfconscious mood that I remember from the first season.  Walking Dead came out in 2003; the zombies weren’t saturating the media horror tropes nearly as much as they are now.  No-one’s running around talking about how it isn’t like this in the movies, or conversely how it is like this in the movies.  I think that not needing to nod towards the movies and books that everyone’s heard of or seen gives the show a bit more room to develop people actually dealing with the situation, rather than just correlating it to something else.

This isn’t the “You mean the movie lied?” of Return of the Living Dead. This is the “I’m gonna board up that door, and I’m not going to unlock it again no matter what happens!” of Night of the Living Dead.

And having properly rewatched the first episode, am pleased to say that the characters are still being awesome, and flawed, and very reasonably human.

Balancing out.

And having written that title, I immediately want to read it as “coming to a point of balance that involves going out of my current position”. Clearly early-days job stress is still with me.

Apparently I managed to double-post yesterday, due to updating the time setting while I was the middle of writing a post. Will see about updating that when I’m not trying to write from my phone.

Finally got a chance to watch the first episode of The Walking Dead last night, although I don’t think I gave it the attention out deserved. It send to have handled the (unfair, ill-advised) budget cuts pretty well, though, and holy god was that episode grim. I don’t think that killing a kid in horror fiction inherently gets you any cred, but the first instance seemed well-handled and miserably bleak, and the second… I caught myself doing that thing where you go looking for reasons it couldn’t have happened. “But someone would have seen… Dammit, he’s wearing a camo-print t-shirt.” That kind of thing.

I realize he might not be dead – that technically neither of them might be dead – but it was still pretty affecting.