The Walking Dead — Home (S3E10)

(My review of the last episode of The Walking Dead, The Suicide King)

Merle is quick to insult Rick, the group, and their methods, but Daryl only weakly protests. However, the pain in his eyes is evident when Merle jokes about how soon the crew will die at the hands of the Governor. When they encounter another group of survivors being attacked by zombies, Daryl runs to their aid–against the protests of Merle. Daryl and the few men with guns take out the walkers (and Daryl gets the zombie kill of the season when he smashes the trunk of a car onto one of the walkers in a gory explosion). Since the survivors only speak Spanish, they can’t thank them properly, so Merle takes it upon himself to take his own reward. When he tries to loot their car, Daryl pulls his crossbow on his own brother. He helped the survivors because it was the right thing to do, and he wanted to save the baby. Daryl wasn’t surprised that he didn’t come to the survivors’ aid because he never came to his. The Dixons’ father abused them when they were young, and we see Daryl’s scars to prove it. Daryl realizes that Merle has never been there for him, but his new group took him in and appreciated him from the start. As he storms off, Daryl tells him passionately, “I may be the one walking away, but you’re the one leaving. Again.” And his eyes nearly well up with tears as he yells, “He’s Korean!” when he defends Glenn.

Rick spends the episode outside of the safety of the prison gates following his hallucination of Lori. When pushed, he admits to Hershel that he is following Lori, though he knows she isn’t real. He thinks that her presence means something and he won’t rest until he finds out what that is. Glenn finally confronts Maggie about the Governor’s attempted rape: she only let it go that far because she heard the beating he was receiving and was terrified they would kill him. She pushes him away, maybe because she doesn’t trust men in general or maybe because his first instinct was to seek revenge rather than ensure she was safe. Hershel warns him that the rage that is building up inside him will get him or his friends killed, but Glenn won’t hear any of it–he won’t be satisfied until the Governor lies dead. While the other couples struggle, Axel and Carol finally make some headway. He admits that he was in prison for robbing a gas station with a toy gun, they flirt as she shows him to load and use a real one.

With Rick’s lack of sanity and Daryl off gallivanting with Merle, Glenn decides that he has to take charge and lead. When the group shoots down his idea to take Michonne and attack Woodbury immediately, he sets off to check how the walkers got into the tombs where Tyreese and Co. were attacked.

The Governor is unsure of where Andrea’s allegiances lie. Though she took charge in Woodbury’s time of need, she has a much longer history with Rick’s group. He tries to push her choose Woodbury by asking her to take on the role of leader because he is clearly no longer capable. After the Governor calls Milton a friend, he is forced to lie to Andrea about where he disappeared to. His short, shaky response of “he’s on a run,” clearly won’t cut it, though. Andrea is not going to let this slide, and she is not going to be pleased when she hears the truth. But let’s be honest, she still won’t leave The Governor, she’s nuts.

The Governor led a surprise attack on the prison, beginning the battle by shooting Axel in the head. The survivors are quick to duck for cover and those with guns retaliate, but only succeed in taking out a few unimportant Woodbury guards. Rick is pinned outside the gates, where the real threat is the mass of walkers that surround him. Luckily Daryl and Merle arrive just in time to save him, which will probably lead to Merle being saved. A truck filled with zombies breaks through the prison gates, unleashing a walker bomb that nearly kills Hershel. Though the Governor only succeeds in taking out one survivor, he is beyond ecstatic, overjoyed by the attack and what he knows will be a fierce war.

I have to say, I’m pretty disappointed with the Governor. He had a dozen or so armed men attack the prison, but he started the battle with a single bullet. If he had used any sort of strategy he could have taken out a couple of the prisoners with the snipers they were equipped with. Or, at the very least, he could have shot someone important. Why would he choose to shoot someone he has never seen before when he could have easily killed Rick? This is gonna cost you, Governor, because it’s Rick’s move now.

The Walking Dead — The Suicide King (S3E09 Mid-Season Premiere)

(My review of the last episode of The Walking Dead, Made to Suffer)

The crowd at Woodbury is excited to watch Daryl and Merle fight to the death, Andrea is the only one who tries to resist it. Rather than a joyous reunion, Merle beats his brother, but promises he has a plan to get them out. Before he has a chance to prove this, Rick and Maggie shoot them free. Daryl retrieves his crossbow in the most badass–a very Daryl–fashion, and he and Merle escape. Rick, Glenn, and Maggie easily agree that Merle can’t be brought back to the prison, but Daryl refuses to return to the group without his brother in tow, so he storms off. Rick and Glenn disagree about whether they should bring back Michonne, but Rick, as the leader, prevails in and tells her that they will only patch her up and send her on her way; he’s terrified of new people, and finds any reason not to trust her, even though they definitely need her strength.

I don’t think it will take much abuse-–be it the verbal or physical-–for Daryl to realize that Merle might be his blood, but Rick’s group is his true family. He has finally found a group of people that accept and want him, he has finally taking on leadership and he has Carol back at the prison. I expect a joyous reunion between Daryl and the group, particularly between him and Carol very soon (Hopefully before the Governor launches his attack).

Glenn is no longer the sweet, innocent boy that we met in season one, he has seen the horrors of the world and realized how terrible people can really be. And he isn’t just fighting for his own life now, he believes it is his job to protect Maggie, and he failed. He’s infuriated that Rick didn’t take the time to kill the Governor and he wasn’t even given the chance to avenge Maggie himself. Until he takes out the Governor, Glenn can never forgive himself, and probably can’t have a healthy relationship with Maggie.

When the group rolls back into the prison, Carl seems genuinely surprised that they survived. Rick has the chance to hold baby Judy, and Beth mentions how she has Lori’s eyes. As all else fades away, Rick must wonder if her other features are his or Shane’s. After all this talk of the group’s amazing leader Rick, Tyreese and his group must be quite disappointed. Tyreese promises that they would do anything possible to stay in the prison, even help them in their battle with the Governor, the Rick doesn’t want to be responsible for them, since everyone he tries to protect dies. For the first time, Hershel stands up to Rick, telling him that this is the wrong thing to do, they need to reinforcements to protect themselves. But before Rick has the chance to change his mind, he sees ghost Lori. He is conscious enough to know that he wants nothing to do with her, but he doesn’t realize that she’s just a ghost; he waves his gun around and threatens her. Tyreese takes this a threat to his own life, and he and his group are quick to leave. Rick’s mind continues to deteriorate, and this time it wasn’t just Glenn who saw it. With Daryl gone, there aren’t many people left to take the lead.

Forgetting how dangerous it is outside of the walls, the citizens of Woodbury try to escape. A group of walkers manage to break in and bite one of the citizens before Andrea can kill them. The Governor walks out of his apartment, shoots the man in the head, and walks back into his house in complete silence. Andrea rushes into his place and demands that he give her answers and speak to his people, but he no longer cares about his people. He tells Andrea the whole truth now, thinking that she didn’t deserve to know before, because she was “just passing through.” Rather than become pissed, Andrea tells him not to push her away. For some reason, even after seeing tanks full of heads and his zombie daughter, she still wants to be with him. In my opinion, she’s even crazier than Rick. Because the Governor won’t take charge, Andrea makes a speech to the people about how they have suffered, but they must pull themselves back up; when society returns, the history books will write about Woodbury because they persevered. Though this inspires the people, I find it hard to believe that anyone expects the world to return to the way it was before. Now that Andrea seems to have found her place, it’s hard to know which side she will choose in the battle between Rick and the Governor, they did leave her for dead after all. And they barely reacted to the news that she was still alive, probably because they didn’t have the time to worry about it.

(My review of the next episode of The Walking Dead, Home)

The Walking Dead — Made to Suffer (S3E08 Mid-Season Finale)

(My review of the last episode of The Walking Dead, When the Dead Come Knocking)

Though Rick and co. believe that Michonne might be leading them into a trap, they still think it’s their best bet. The group quickly advances through Woodbury in their search for Glenn and Maggie, they easily take out a guard without lethal force. After Glenn and Maggie struggle with their captors, the group manages to find and save them. After mild protest, Daryl agrees to wait to speak to Merle, because right now they need to get out of enemy territory. While Rick’s group is trying to make their escape with smoke grenades and bullets, Andrea is intrigued by the gunfire and ignores the Governor’s order to stay off the street. Andrea manages to take out Oscar (Conveniently the only member of the group that she sees) and Daryl offers to stay behind to provide cover fire, but every other member of the group makes it out unscathed.

Michonne slips away during the firefight to confront the Governor and possibly to retrieve Andrea. While she waits for him, she finds the aquariums full of walker heads and Penny. Michonne finds the Governor’s only soft spot, h=e trembles with fear and begs for his daughter’s life, but Michonne ends it anyway. During the vicious struggle, she manages to stab him in the eye with a shard of glass, a token to remember her by. Andrea arrives in time to stop Michonne from killing the governor, but she lets her old friend escape. Andrea, completely blinded by her affection for the Governor, believes that he only keeps the tanks there to “prepare [him] for the horrors outside.” And now, with nothing left to lose, the Governor announces that he failed his community, he allowed Merle into their safe haven and he led the terrorists into Woodbury. The Governor brings out Daryl and ask the community what to do with these two monsters, they are intent on killing them.

During the battle, Rick believes that he sees Shane and hesitates before shooting him, almost ending in his own death. Though Rick’s realization that it was only his imagination on the phone made it seem as though he was improving, he has clearly gone insane. The question that remains: does Rick know that he’s gone crazy and will he ask for help?

To replace those lives lost in this episode and those most likely to be lost in the mid-season premiere, a new group of survivors is introduced. The leader of this group is Tyreese, a beloved character from the comics. One of the women gets bitten before they arrive at the prison, but Ben (most likely her son) refuses to leave her behind. Carl arrives in time to save them from her a group of walkers. Due to his reasonable lack of trust of strangers, Carl locks them in a cell block and promises them food and water. Though Sasha begs to be let free, Tyreese calms her down and promises they’re not looking for trouble.

(My review of the next episode of The Walking Dead, The Suicide King)

Sorry About the Hiatus!

Hey guys (well, the few of you who read this blog), sorry I haven’t been reviewing lately. I needed a little break and it turned into a pretty long one. I’m going to do my best to return to daily blogging, starting today. Thanks for sticking around to those of you who previously read my blog and welcome to any new readers!

-Maya

Dexter — Do You See What I See? (S7E11)

(My review of the last episode of Dexter, The Dark… Whatever)

The future always seemed distant, blurry, and unpleasant for Dexter, but that all changed when he got close to Hannah. He saw him and Hannah growing old together, raising Harrison into an attractive and athletic teenager. But when Debra gets into a car accident, that all changes. She passes out behind the wheel due to taking too many anti-anxiety pills. Dexter tries to convince himself that Hannah didn’t help her get to that state, he needs to believe that Hannah cares too much about him to hurt his sister. He could help clear her name for the murder of her halfway house counselor if he needed to, murdering Deb wasn’t the only solution. After a secret investigation, Dexter discovers that Deb’s water bottle was laced with a high percentage of the anti-anxiety medication. Since poison is Hannah’s weapon, Dexter is sure that this was attempted murder. Dexter gives up the pen that Hannah poisoned Sal Price with, which leads directly to Hannah’s arrest. Her last words to Dexter were, “You should have killed me.” Just like Dexter, she thought that she would never love again, and he proved that she really shouldn’t have.

I honestly don’t think that Hannah tried to kill Deb. If she wanted Deb dead, she would be dead, there’s no doubt about that. She wouldn’t have done something so stupid and risky as killing the lieutenant in charge of homicide who is also her boyfriend’s sister. She knows that he would figure it out. I think that Deb orchestrated the entire operation to form a rift between her brother and Hannah. And she was given the extra present of locking Hannah away. When she conversed with Hannah, Deb growled “It’s because I love Dexter that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to protect him from you.” And this would definitely protect Dexter from her–if he needed protection is still up for debate.

Tom Matthews invites Dexter onto his boat as a friendly heads up that LaGuerta is looking into him in relation to the Bay Harbor Butcher murders. Dexter realizes that he needs to settle the matter once and for all, so he alerts Matthews of Doakes’ secret boat, the one that he used to dump bodies. Since he was terrified of Doakes, he never spoke up about it before. LaGuerta and Matthews are led to an empty boat shed with plenty of plastic wrap along with Doakes’ fingerprint. As any cop should believe after confronted with such evidence, Matthews wants to drop the case, but LaGuerta immediately jumps to the conclusion that Dexter could have set this all up, he is a lab tech after all. Matthews is blinded by his love for the Morgans, while LaGuerta is biased by her love for Doakes.

Since LaGuerta isn’t convinced, she pushed for Hector Estrada’s early release on parole. Estrada is the last remaining man that was involved in Dexter’s mother’s murder. Dexter believes that once he kills Estrada, he will finally be able to move on with his life, so he sets up a meeting with Estrada under the alias Steve Gaskill, a drug dealer. When Dexter ties Estrada up in a cargo container and mentions his mother, Estrada realizes immediately that he is dealing with Dicky (Well, close enough) Moser. Estrada foolishly mentions that some b**** from Miami Metro Homicide helped him get out on parole, which gives Dexter enough time to escape from the container, leaving behind a calling card, a revving chainsaw. Estrada escapes into the water and Dexter makes a run for it.

Without so much as a goodbye, Nadia skipped town and moved to Las Vegas. She needed a fresh start and couldn’t risk staying near the Koshkas. Quinn didn’t just lose his girlfriend, but also his partner, Angel is planning on on tendering his resignation on New Year’s Day.

It looks like LaGuerta is honing in on Dexter once and for all. Dexter will surely make it through the finale, but will she?

Dexter — The Dark… Whatever (S7E10)

(My review of the last episode of Dexter, Helter Skelter)

Clint McKay, Hannah’s absentee father pays her a visit. Though she’s wary of him at first due to his terrible treatment of her as a child, she quickly warms up to him. Clint announces his desire to start a crawfish farm, but leaves out that he is a little shy on funds until the next day. When Hannah refuses to give him the $20,000, he storms off. Hannah quickly regrets her decision, but Dexter insists that she made the right decision; no man who would leave his daughter to drown would change that much after a stint in prison. Clint “accidentally” drives into Hannah’s greenhouse, calls her a monster, and blames her for her mother’s death (She died of a broken heart). Dexter is quick to protect his girlfriend, he chokes and threatens Clint.

Clint isn’t so easily scared, though. He arrives at Dexter’s house, makes an indirect threat towards Harrison and a pass at Jaime before trying to blackmail Dexter. He has an eyewitness account of Hannah murdering a counselor at her halfway house, her roommate Arlene Shram. The only reason this wasn’t announced to the police is because Clint was holding out for big bucks from Sal Price, who he had been feeding information all these years. Hannah wants to pay him off, but Dexter knows better: if they pay him once, he will never leave them alone. Without Hannah’s consent, Dexter kills Clint and dumps his body. He should have left him to drown, it would have been poetic justice for Hannah. Dexter says he had “a talk” with Clint to ease Hannah’s pain, but she understands why he won’t bother them again. But before Dexter took him out, Clint made a call to Deb about Arlene.

The Phantom Arsonist takes out his fifth and sixth victims–a woman and her child. The eyewitnesses say he looked like an alien or a monster in his silver suit, because they don’t want to think that a human is capable of such cruelty. He torches someone on a bus and leaves behind a fingerprint that led to no matches. Deb and Dexter both find the arson specialist Bosso to be suspicious, but Dexter vetted and cleared him. He is then led to believe that the newest clue, a sign that reads ‘It’s Bobby’ implies that the perpetrator was signaling someone or something from his youth. After sneaking into the juvenile records department, Dexter uncovers that the fingerprint matches Joseph Jensen, who burned down the school gym when he was 12. He got out of the psych ward right before the murders began.

When Dexter straps Jensen to his table, he blames his ex-best friend Bobby of burning down the gym. Dexter informs him that he’s no longer a kid, he has to start taking responsibility for his own actions. He realizes that he isn’t just talking about Jensen, but he’s talking about himself as well. He sends in an anonymous tip and allows the cops to imprison him rather than taking him out himself. Harry had told him that the Dark Passenger wasn’t real, he just let him believe in him when he was a child to make it easier for Dexter to cope with being a killer, “It’s much scarier to think that the Dark Passenger is no more real than I am.” Hannah had been right about him, killing isn’t a need, it’s just a feeling. He didn’t need to kill Jensen or Clint, but he really wanted to. To belittle the idea of the Dark Passenger, Dexter calls it the “Dark Rider” when he admits that Hannah understands him and he has the choice of whether or not to kill. Hannah tells Dexter that she loves him, to which he responds, “I think I love you too,” which is the only time he could honestly say this to a woman.

LaGuerta’s only lead to a Bay Harbor Butcher that wasn’t Doakes is Dexter, but Tom quickly throws this idea out. When they discover that the cabin was owned by Jimenez, one of the men responsible for the murder of Dexter’s mom, Tom becomes a little uneasy. Dexter’s mom was cut up just as BHB’s victims were. LaGuerta knew nothing about Dexter’s history or his association with Brian Moser, which is surprising as she was a cop in the same precinct during the Ice Truck Killer’s reign. She remembers that Doakes never liked Dexter, and is eager to investigate further. Tom wants to tread lightly because he is sure that Dexter is innocent, he will broach the subject with him because he has known him since Dexter was a little kid.

When George threatens to send Nadia to a sex club in Dubai, Quinn marches down to the club. When he sees George smacking Nadia around, Quinn kills him. He makes it appear to be self-defense by having Nadia shoot him in the arm. Angel knows that this story is nowhere near the truth, but agrees to telling Quinn’s tale of self-defense, and even agrees to letting Nadia disappear.

(My review of the next episode of Dexter, Do You See What I See?)

Dexter — Helter Skelter (S7E09)

(My review of the last episode of Dexter, Argentina)

Hannah is ready to take her relationship with Dexter to the next level, but Dexter is unsure how he feels, or if he even does feel. He’s forced to confront his feelings when Isaak kidnaps her. The Koshka Brotherhood sends two hit men for Isaak, and he knows that Dexter can take them out. When he refuses, Isaak was forced to add some incentive. Dexter takes out Oleg Mickic easily and offers himself up as bait for Benjamin Caffrey. Caffrey follows Dexter onto Isaak’s boat, The Fearless, where Isaak lies in wait and shoots a couple rounds into the hit man. Isaak leaves Dexter unharmed, he is “a man of [his] word” after all. As soon as the two dump their weapons, George arrives to take care of business himself. He leaves Isaak with a bullet in his stomach, a somewhat-slow, painful death. Rather than being taken to the hospital, Isaak requests to be laid to rest where his lover was. Before his death, Isaak tries to understand why Dexter is so brave in reality but so scared of emotion. Dexter’s response is that “Death has always calmed me. It’s soothing, predictable, inevitable.” And now that he’s not the one in control anymore, and it’s not so easy anymore. Viktor gives Dexter a small smile and tells him that there might still be hope for him before he shuts his eyes.

When on a video call with Hannah, Dexter manages to uncover the location that Jurg is holding Hannah, in one of the dead Columbian’s house. Deb finds the house, but when she gets there she finds Hannah and Jurg lying on the ground in pools of blood, Hannah still had a pulse. When Hannah’s poison didn’t take effect fast enough, she and Jurg fought and he managed to stick her with his knife. Rather than letting Hannah die–which she clearly wants–Deb calls in an ambulance. She didn’t save Hannah because she wanted to or because Dexter wanted her to, but because she couldn’t have her death weighing on her conscience. Debra Morgan has finally begun to do things for herself.

While Deb tries to avoid the issue, Dexter brings up her admission of love at the first chance he gets. He thinks it’s understandable: they’ve been through so much together and they’ve endured through all of it. That just makes her think that she’s in love with him. She remembers all of the good times she had with Dex, when they were kids and as adults, but now that she knows his secret all it is now is pulling strings, committing murder, and eating burritos. She will still help him, because of their relationship and her love, but she isn’t pleased, especially since she has to help him save Hannah, her nemesis, and someone she thinks Dexter can have no future with. She thinks that no one can ever be safe with a killer, but Dexter reminds her that “you’re safe with me.” That shuts her up, but she knows that he isn’t safe and it can’t end well. He’s always seen the world as “facts without emotion,” but not anymore, not when it comes to Hannah.

When Hannah tells Dexter that she misses him over the phone, he can only muster the word “likewise,” which infuriates Isaak. He has a woman waiting for him on the brink of death and he can’t even tell her that he misses her. Dexter knows that his love (or at least pretend love) never ends well and he doesn’t want to commit and risk harm to Hannah. He blames himself for Rita’s death, he could have taken Trinity out when he first met him, but instead he lost his wife and family. Even if he gets Hannah out of this alive, he’s worried that he will just push her away. When he arrives at the hospital to check on her, he is shaking, and admits that the two times he was scared beyond belief were when he watched his mother die and when he thought he would never see her again. Hannah is thrilled that Dexter finally opened up to her, but when he says that maybe their relationship should be out of hos control for a change, her smile vanishes. Dexter says something that is very troubling for the viewers, “All I know is that when I’m with you, I feel… safe.” Looks like Dex is starting to go soft.

LaGuerta realizes that the Bay Harbor Butcher case is out of her hands, so she approaches Captain Tom Matthews, her old boss. When she clears him of the crime, she enlists his help. He calls her nuts, but realizes that if LaGuerta is desperate enough to do actual police work, she might be on to something. She agrees to help restore his reputation, his job, and his pension for his assistance. She might hate him, but to get BHB, she’ll do anything.

The detectives’ are focused on two separate murders which involve the burning of the victims. There’s a note on the wall of the second murder that reads ‘Bobby,’ who just might be the murderer. The Phantom, as they call him, wore a protective suit and watched his victims burn.

When Quinn refused to assist George with his drug dealing, George forces himself onto Nadia. When Quinn learns of the rape, he throws George through a window and beats on him. But I don’t think that’s the last we’ll be seeing of him.

(My review of the next episode of Dexter, The Dark… Whatever)

Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook takes a more serious approach to the typical romantic comedy. Rather than just dealing with his feelings for his ex-wife and new female friend, the protagonist has to deal with his mood swings and newly diagnosed bipolar disorder. This creates a much more intriguing story than the archetype of the genre. But what really stood out were the stellar performances of the entire cast, not limited to the two leads.

Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), released from an eight-month stint in a mental hospital, is eager to win his wife Nikki back. He is in complete denial that Nikki left him for good after he beat up her lover (the reason he ended up in the clinic in the first place). Soon after his return home, he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), his best friend’s sister-in-law. Following the death of her husband, Tiffany broke down and now suffers from many mental traumas. After some hesitation and a dinner that Pat insists isn’t a date, he agrees to compete with Tiffany in a dance competition in the hopes that it will help him win Nikki back.

As I’m sure writer/director David O. Russell intended, from their first scene together it is obvious that Pat and Tiffany are made for each other. Neither can refrain from interrogating the other about their problems and they quickly bond over the previous use of many of the same medications. Though their relationship might seem unhealthy from the outside (such as Tiffany’s stalking Pat on his runs), it’s easy to believe that this is the healthiest, most genuine connection they have had. Neither really knows how to deal with their issues, but together they learn to overcome them. Somewhat, at least.

Because of Pat and Tiffany’s refusal to take medication to ease their disorders (and lives), the characters interact completely lucidly. This makes their interactions honest and unaffected, a necessity in a movie so reliant on well-developed characters. However, Pat makes significant improvements without the use of medication, which downplays the reality of mental disorders. He improves solely by thinking positively and basing his life around the idea of becoming the superior version of himself, what he calls ‘excelsior.’ Though positive thinking can play a part in getting over a mental disorder, it isn’t enough to deal with such a major issue.

On the other hand, the film is realistic in how it handles other aspects of mental illness, such as the effect it has on the family. Pat’s father (Robert De Niro) is also battling some mental health issues; he is loaded with obsessive-compulsive tendencies and superstitions about the Philadelphia Eagles. De Niro, experienced with portraying a tough parent (in movies such as Meet the Parents), easily captures this side of Pat Sr., but his talent really shows when he struggles to deal with Pat’s illness by trying to push him back into old routines to avoid the real issue.

Since this is a very character-driven story, the actors have to carry a lot of the weight of the film. The large number of close-ups on the characters’ faces pushes the actors to be very expressive. Bradley Cooper might be known for his raunchy comedy The Hangover, but he proves that he can do much more. He covers both ends of the spectrum when he snaps between his happy-go-lucky personality and a fit of anger within seconds. Pat’s eccentricities could have easily been taken too far, but Cooper succeeds in portraying him as delusional without appearing to be beyond saving.

This is undoubtedly one of Cooper’s best performances, but Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany is the true star. Though at 22 she may appear too young for the part, this is easily swept away by the maturity she brings to the role. She battles Pat and her inner demons with force and conviction that feels incredibly natural.

Silver Linings Playbook might be a romance, but the dark subject matter of mental illness keeps the story moving. Sharp jokes dot the movie to break up the intense scenes and lighten the grave conversations. Pat and Tiffany resort to humor to try to ease the harsh realities they face, and it gives the characters real substance.

Though a few clichés are sprinkled throughout Silver Linings Playbook, they are inevitable due to the nature of a budding romance. The dialogue is sharp and witty and the characters, including the supporting cast, are fully fleshed out. The movie is held together by the stellar performances of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Though it has its dark moments, by the end of the movie you are sure to be just as cheerful as Pat and intent on looking for your own silver linings in times of turmoil.

The Walking Dead — When the Dead Come Knocking (S3E07)

(My review of the last episode of The Walking Dead, Hounded)

Merle is eager to see his brother, appease the Governor, and get revenge for being left handcuffed to a roof. So when Glenn won’t reveal the location of his group and blatantly lies about who is with him (He names Andrea, who Merle knows for a fact is no longer with them), Merle is happy to coerce the information out of him. Glenn battles through a nasty beating and nearly being eaten alive by a zombie Merle sicced on him without spilling anything. Since Glenn won’t talk, the Governor tries his hand at making Maggie spill. His method of good cop doesn’t work, so he forces Maggie to strip down and threatens (rather convincingly, I might add) to rape her. Even this won’t break Maggie, though. Their last attempt proved fruitful, threatening Glenn in Maggie’s presence made her sing like a bird, she gave up their location and their numbers. The Governor doesn’t show it, but he feels threatened by them, a group of only 10 managed to clear out the entire prison, and they’re probably coming to fight for their people. And the biggest worry: is Merle going to side with him or with his long-lost brother?

With each episode the Governor seems to become more of a monster, but this time he showed that he knows no bounds. Rape is the one thing that everyone in the show has steered clear of, it’s the most vile act and they have to be true savages to resort to it. And he clearly isn’t lacking in that department, since he and Andrea have gotten close; it was strictly a power play. Luckily for Maggie (and Glenn), he only doesn’t make do on his threats. As for Merle, he’s excited to hear that his brother is alive and well, especially knowing that he came back to try to save him. When faced with choosing between Daryl and the Governor, I think he might struggle at first, but side with his brother. Daryl, on the other hand, will pick his friends. I don’t think that Daryl feels much for big bro anymore, he hasn’t mentioned him since the hallucinations last season. He has also formed a close bond with the group and even taken up the role as one of the leaders. Since they won’t accept Merle, Daryl will have to deny his brother’s entry.

While Rick stares dumbfoundedly at Michonne at the gate, Carl takes action and shoots the zombies near her. Right after promising not to hurt her, Rick grabs her bullet wound to force her to talk. She admits that she saw Glenn and Maggie’s kidnapping and reveals enough information about Woodbury to get the group headed in that direction. Michonne must have realized that these are Andrea’s people, but she doesn’t mention that she knows her or where she is. She’s saving this bit of information to leverage the best deal for herself. Rick apologizes to Carl for having to take care of his mother. Carl suggests naming the baby after his third grade teacher Judith, because Ass-Kicker just won’t do, and I think Rick would have agreed to just about anything. And the group is thrilled at Daryl’s discovery that Carol is alive and fairly well, it takes a bit of the sting off of their losses.

As soon as Hershel sows up Michonne’s wound (which she genuinely thanks him for, shocking!), she, Rick, Daryl, and Oscar set out for Woodbury. They duck into a cabin when they get ambushed by a hoard of walkers and find a paranoid hermit living there with no knowledge of the zombie apocalypse. When he is about to open the door and let the walkers in, Michonne stabs him and they toss him out as zombie bait. Michonne doesn’t let on whether this was a mercy killing or out of cold-blood. They all make it out in one piece and approach Woodbury unseen. The showdown is being saved for the mid-season finale next week.

The Governor enlists Andrea’s help in Milton’s experiments. He wants to prove that biters have a recollection of their past lives by training Mr. Coleman, a man about to die from prostate cancer, to respond to questions about his life. And when he reanimates he asks these same questions. When the response is inconclusive, he unshackles Mr. Coleman, who goes directly for the kill. Andrea kills the zombie and saves Milton’s life. From his reaction, it doesn’t appear that Milton has ever been near enough to an active zombie to feel the fear and threat that they bring about. When she goes to the Governor for comfort he promises her that “it’s over now.” But it’s never over Andrea.

(My review of the next episode of The Walking Dead, Made to Suffer)

Once Upon A Time — Child of the Moon (S2E07)

(My review of the last episode of Once Upon A Time, Tallahassee)

While on the run from the Queen’s men, Red’s hood rips. Since tonight is the night of the full moon, or wolfstime, Red panics, she has to get away from Snow White to protect her. When she awakes, a stranger named Quinn steals her cloak and threatens to burn it. He knows that she is “a child of the moon,” because he is one himself, and he knows how to tame the wolf. He brings her to a creepy underground castle hall that is filled with other werewolves. And the leader of the pack, Anita, was expecting Red, waiting for her daughter. Granny had taken her away from her parents when she was young to protect her from the horrid wolves, but she couldn’t be protected forever. Red is quick to learn the ways of the wolf, she just has to give in to the wolf and realize that she and the wolf are one. As this is explained there is a beautiful scene of the wolf pack running with Red staring at her reflection in a pool of water.

Snow followed the paw prints and made it into the wolf den. The wolves know better than to trust any humans, so Quinn attacks her on site, but Red calls him off. Red promised to run away with Snow, but she found her family, she’s part of a pack now. Snow is thrilled for her friend and is ready to leave her with her new family, but not everyone feels the same. The Queen’s men followed Snow into the den, before the wolves took out all of the men, Quinn was fatally injured. Anita blames Snow for bringing the men there and intends to kill and feast upon her as the wolves. When Red protects Snow she accidentally kills her mother, but insists that she didn’t choose Snow over her family, “I chose me! I’m not a killer!” But Red didn’t kill her family, she protected them. Snow is her only family, she is the only person who accepts her as both a human and as a wolf.

In the present, the dwarves strike riches: they uncover diamonds which can be refined into fairy dust. But before they have a chance to celebrate, Ruby builds a cage to keep the wolf locked up that night. She might have learned how to tame the wolf, but it’s been 28 years since she last turned and doesn’t know if she can contain herself. In the morning she had broken free from her cage and awoke in the forest. She assumes the worst and her suspicions seem to be confirmed when they find two halves of Billy (one of Cinderella’s mice from the tales). David decides that he has to believe in Ruby because he failed to believe in Mary Margaret when she was framed (those are two completely different scenarios though, David isn’t the brightest). David locks her up in the prison cell to appease her, though.

King George, known as Spencer in Storybrooke, rallies the citizens to kill the monster who roams the streets. If David won’t take action, then he will! But Ruby had already been moved to the library for her protection. If David has faith that Ruby is a good woman, then Belle does too. Which I find a bit strange since she knows Ruby better than she knows David at this point… Anyway, Belle insists that they can prove that she is innocent in the matter. Ruby is sure that she killed Billy and that she deserves to be executed for it, so she breaks out. When Ruby is about to surrender herself, David and Granny come to the rescue! David has evidence that Spencer set her up, and he can prove that Ruby is a tame wolf. He gets her to back down and reverts her back to her human self with the hood. When Ruby thanks him for saving her, he responds “No. You saved yourself. I just reminded you of what you already knew.”

Spencer doesn’t care that he managed to keep the wolf alive, because he knows David’s one true weakness, his family. Spencer tosses Jefferson’s hat into a fire, meaning that David can never get his family back. And he reminds him for the third time that David should have killed him when he had the chance. David pulls his gun on him, but Red eases him down. And in a reversal of roles, Ruby comforts David, she promises that they will find a way to get his family back. And until then, he isn’t alone.

Henry has been suffering terrible nightmares for awhile, but when he awoke this time, his hand was burnt. Gold lets him and Regina know that these aren’t just dreams, these are the side affects of the sleeping curse Regina accidentally put on him. He gives him a medallion to help him control these journeys. The next time he falls asleep, he has the same dream: a burning room and a mysterious woman. But this time he quells the flames and introduces himself to the woman, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty). The same Aurora that is in the other land with Emma and Snow.

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