Ghost Lori? Or Divine Zombie Presence??

The Walking Dead - Season 3 - Poster Art - Frank Ockenfels/AMC

I finally was able to watch the Season 3-B premiere of The Walking Dead. It can be summed up in two words: “cold shower.” That’s okay, though. I shelved the show 3 episodes into season 2 because it seemed stuck… though I admit, a big reason I shelved it was also my gf’s complete disinterest in the program… combine that with my hectic work schedule and non-existent down-time and it all equals out to Netflix binge down the road.

Well… I binged and crammed a rewatch of season 1, then a first viewing of season 2, then I figured out a way to watch season 3 (as it is not yet available on Netflix). Mayhaps this series works better as binge viewing. The commercial breaks and the week of waiting to see what happens makes me feel like I am watching Lost… and I despise Lost. For every really sick, 5 star episode of The Walking Dead, there are 2 somewhat lame, sluggish episodes. Don’t misunderstand me, the 5 star episodes make up ten-fold for the sluggers and I cannot wait to watch the remainder of this season. I am stating that this series works best without commercials, one after the other (unlike Lost, which is actually worse without commercials and back to back to back so on and so forth).

So, after the emotional high of watching over twenty episodes of Rick and Glen and Maggie and Daryl and Lori and all the rest, I was salivating to get to my DVR and see if Daryl and Merle survive, if the Governor gets his, if Andrea gets back with her friends, if Cutty from The Wire is able to convince the gang to let he and his friends stay in the safety of the prison, and if Michonne puts a few sentences together. The payoff wasn’t there. Sure, some cliffhangers were settled, but not really… and more knots were tied… and characters ended up in frustrating places that I don’t want to see them in.

Rick and Cutty (for those of you who have never watched The Wire, please stop reading and go and watch all five seasons before you look at yourself in the mirror again) didn’t form an alliance like I was hoping they would. Merle is still alive and will cause more trouble. The Governor is going to cause more trouble. Andrea… I don’t know exactly what she is looking for… maybe she doesn’t either. She is safe where she is, this much is true. She can’t exactly go running off to be with her friends but it is frustrating that she is sticking with Woodbury.

What was most frustrating in this premiere episode was Ghost Lori… who I didn’t even know was Lori until I saw the first few minutes of The Talking Dead and Chris Hardwick said it was Ghost Lori. (NOTE: I only watched the first five minutes that my DVR had recorded. SECOND NOTE: Chris Hardwick is a very inspirational person.) I felt that Rick had settled himself with Lori’s death on the Ghost Phone. I guess not… so now we have Ghost Lori. To be honest though, when I first saw the strange specter, half its face hidden in shadow, its hair all done up and wearing a beautiful white dress, I kinda was thinking of a divine presence. As much as I don’t want to see Rick lose his mind, it was intriguing to think of the possibilities of a god… for the zombies? For the survivors? For the new world that these characters have finally accepted completely? Whatever it is, sign me up.

What is the End Game for this program? Do they just press on year after year, killing off characters and bringing new ones aboard? Great shows last 5 good seasons or thereabouts. And even then, there is filler. Homeland may be the greatest television program ever… and I wish that this past season had been its last…. although I wish more that Shotime proves me wrong. The Wire was 5 seasons… perfect. Some say the 4th season was thumbs down as well as the 5th. I say those people are insane.

My point is that the narrative of a group of people surviving a zombie apocalypse is great, but there needs to be somewhere that they are all heading… an ultimate goal… a final confrontation… a mountain that these characters know that once they climb, they can let out a sigh of relief and simply live a somewhat normal life off screen. Where is this series headed? Obviously, The Governor and Woodbury will attack the Prison and there will be a battle and obviously, Rick will somehow survive. Carl will somehow survive. Glen… Idk about Glen… Daryl will obviously give in to his older woman fetish and get with Carol. Merle will get what’s coming to him. I applaud the regular deaths of characters and the feeling that nobody is safe that the show gives, but that can only go so far. What is the End Game?

I’ve read spoilers in the comic book series and I don’t really like the direction that goes in, but this is a television show and it can’t go on and on like a comic book, forever. This will get old and the show will lose viewers and at some point, it will be announced that this upcoming season of The Walking Dead will be the Final Season. What will happen then? What is the End Game?

Ghost Lori? Or Zombie Goddess? I think Zombie Goddess is cooler. And if She looks like Lori, that’s all good. But give me something more than these people running around in circles and trying to survive. Let me know there is an end in sight and it will raise the stakes and it will keep my DVR tuned into AMC every Sunday night. Sure! Let Rick be some kind of Messiah for this new world. Fine! Make Carl the Messiah. Whatever! Maybe there has to be some pilgrimage to some holy place and once the gang gets there, they will start a new world. I don’t know. I’m not writing the show. I’m just watching it. But I can only watch something for so long if there isn’t an end in sight.


The Beheadings of House Stark



When I consider the patriarch of House Stark and his first-born son and his baseborn son, I think of the beheadings. Eddard Stark, the Lord of Winterfell and the Warden of the North is introduced to us through Bran’s point of view i A Game of Thrones. He is introduced to us delivering the King’s justice to a deserter from the Night’s Watch as Bran, his older brother Robb, and his bastard brother Jon Snow look on. Eddard’s lesson is simple enough: if you are to sentence a man to death, it is honorable that you hear his final words and you swing the sword.

While most all the major Houses of Westeros keep headsmen to deal out their justice, the Starks keep it real. They worship the old gods. They aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty. They are honorable… or at least Lord Eddard is honorable. It seems that the Starks haven’t always been the holier than thou, driven by honor, never lie, never cheat, never steal family that they are when the events o ASOIA pick up, but that is a topic for a different post. As far as Ned Stark and his family go, they will look a man in his eyes before they kill him, no matter what the crime.

Eddard beheads Gared for the crime of deserting the Night’s Watch. The man explains why he did it- he and his fellow Rangers were attacked by White Walkers beyond beyond The Wall. The White Walkers, The Others, are supposed to be scary bedtime stories told to the children of the realm or a curse used upon people that are really irritating or frustrating you. i.e. “The Others take my wife and her credit card!” Gared didn’t sign up for that. The Others slew his asshole commander, Ser Waymar Royce, and his good buddy. Ser Waymar Royce even rose from the dead as a wight to come at the poor bastard Gared. Gared was just running for his life and wound up in Stark territory. “That sucks,” Eddard says, “but I still have to take off your head for deserting the Night’s Watch.”

And take off Gared’s head he does. Jon Snow tells Bran to not look away because his father will know. It is a right of passage for the Stark boys to see their father deliver the King’s justice. It is reality and it is something that the boys very well may have to do as they become men and Lords in their own right. Bran may be young but noble children grow up fast, especially in the North and it is important to Eddard that his sons know what it is to pass sentence on a man’s life. It is implied that Robb and Jon Snow have seen a beheading before. For Bran, he sees it through a child’s eyes- the head falling to the ground, the blood spraying out onto the snow, the jackass Theon Greyjoy kicking the head as though he were Pele. Bran doesn’t yet quite understand how fragile life is and what was truly lost to Gared that day and what it took for his father to swing the great Valyrian sword, Ice.

It is a cruel twist of fate that brings Eddard Stark south to King’s Landing and an even crueler twist that brings him to The Great Sept of Baelor as a traitor to the Iron Throne. The story ends for Ned Stark how it began with him for the reader, except Ned is beheaded in front of the same people he came south to rule and protect. Crueler still is that Eddard is beheaded by Ice, his own Valyrian sword and the sword of House Stark for thousands of years.

We fast forward to A Storm of Swords and Robb Stark’s reign as the King in the North. The War of The Five Kings is in stride and a terrible crime has occured amid King Robb’s court. Lord Rickard Karstark, bannerman of Robb, Lord of Karhold, and going back far enough, a man that has the same Stark blood flowing in his veins, has brutally murdered two Lannister boys that were prisoners of Robb. Being a noble prisoner entitles a person to certain comforts and protection. A prisoner of noble birth is more of a bargaining chip than a criminal and Robb has the responsibility of protection of the prisoner. Not to mention, the Lannisters hold his sister Sansa as a prisoner and any act of cruelty committed against the boys can easily be reciprocated upon her.

The murder, though justified by Lord Rickard due to his sons death at the hands of the Lannisters, puts Robb in a very awkward position. The man that killed Lord Rickard’s sons had been released by Catelyn Stark, Robb’s mother and Eddard’s wife and the Lady of Winterfell. Rickard Karstark takes great offense to this and is absolutely teeming with anger at his King and his King’s mother. His desire for vengeance for his sons leads to this tragic event. But now, King Robb must make the choice between the honor of his rule and loyalty to his bannerman who had fought alongside him in many a battle. Robb Stark makes the right decision, the decision his father would have made- honor. To make amends for the dishonor that Rickard Karstark brought upon his rule, Robb passes the sentence of treason on Karstark. He must die. And Robb, being his father’s son, must swing the sword.

Robb asks Lord Karstark to say what last words he has and swings his sword. This beheading does not go as smoothly for Robb as the last Eddard did. The grey area is too prevalent and it is difficult for Robb to do what needs be done. But he does it, much like his father would have. Afterward, Robb has difficulty dealing with the emotional toll of beheading his bannerman. Ruling is not so easy for Robb as it was for his father.

We move forward again, to The Red Wedding. Robb’s rule and kingdom has come to an end. He won every battle that he fought but it was the politics and the game of thrones that did him in. The honor that Eddard taught him was no match for the snake-like ways of the southernors. Robb was betrayed by his own bannermen. But his downfall was well underway by the time he took Rickard Karstark’s head. Robb is killed in The Twins by Freys and Boltons. He is fettered with arrows and killed with a dagger by Roose Bolton, the Lord of the Dreadfort. Though not beheaded, upon Robb’s death, the Freys decapitate Robb and his direwolf, Greywind. They sow Greywind’s head onto Robb’s body as the ultimate show of disrespect for the honor of House Stark.

Moving forward still through the series to A Dance With Dragons, we come to Jon Snow on The Wall having been voted to be the 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Though bastard born (the reality of that a topic for another post), Jon Snow has climbed to a position of rule much like his father and his brother. The Night’s Watch is not a Great House but a ragtag group of criminals and outcasts that defend the realm from dangers beyond The Wall. As Lord Commander, Jon receives his first tests almost immediately after being voted into the office.

One of his first tests is Lord Janos Slynt, the fallen from grace former Lord Commander of the City Watch in Kings Landing. Slynt was an integral part in the betrayal and beheading of Eddard Stark. For that crime, and many others, Tyrion Lannister, having taken the office of Hand to the King for his father Lord Tywin Lannister, and succeeding Lord Eddard, has sent Slynt to The Wall. Slynt made his own bid for Lord Commander of the Watch but was beaten out by Jon Snow. This wounds his pride and does not sit well with him at all. He had already plotted to have Jon Snow killed for treason, and to respect him now as his commander is something that he cannot abide.

Jon Snow is well aware that Janos Slynt had much and more to do with his father’s beheading. He is also aware that Slynt will continue to plot his downfall. Jon Snow’s plan is to send Slynt to an abandoned fortress beside The Wall far away from Castle Black, where the main strength of The Watch call home. Mayhaps he already knows that Slynt will not comply with the command, but Jon Snow gives him the chance regardless. Which is more than Slynt gave Lord Eddard. As he foresaw, Janos Slynt refuses the order. He refuses the order and is subordinate in front of the whole of the Watch at Castle Black. Jon Snow is left with no choice but to execute Slynt for this. He has Slynt dragged out onto the main yard of the keep and as Slynt realizes that not one of his brothers will step in to save him, he recants his initial stance and says he will follow the order. Too late for Slynt. Jon Snow orders him to be hung until he dies. As his men make to tie Slynt up, Jon Snow has a change of heart. He remembers his father and the honor of being a Stark of Winterfell. No, he will not have Janos Slynt hung. He will execute Janos Slynt himself.

Slynt is lay down in front of Jon Snow and Jon Snow unsheathes Longclaw, his own Valyrian sword. He asks Slynt if he has any last words and beheads him in one even strike. The execution is so poetic and so exhilarating to both Jon Snow and the reader. The bastard son of Eddard Stark has become a ruler in his own right and has passed a sentence onto a man and did the deed himself. Eddard Stark would be smiling from his grave if he still had his head. Robb Stark would have been proud as well. There is justice for Eddard, finally. And it was justice passed in Eddard fashion. Even Stannis Baratheon has to respect what Lord Commander Snow has just done.

Eddard beheading the deserter seems textbook, it seems the norm. Robb beheading Lord Rickard Karstark was a complicated and ugly mess. Was it honor? It was, but honor doesn’t work in the south the same way it does in Winterfell. Honor can get a man killed… and it does. The honor that Robb thought so important was in fact a large part of his downfall and subsequent death. In that sense, the beheading of Karstark feels a bit forced on Robb’s end. He wanted to do the right thing. He wanted to be like his father so bad that perhaps he made the wrong decision for his kingdom, though it could be the right decision for his own honor.

It is Jon Snow that passes the test. His decision to execute Janos Slynt with his own sword is absolutely righteous and absolutely necessary. It is necessary for the honor of House Stark, for Jon Snow’s honor and for the honor of the office of Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. It is necessary because only Slynt’s death would stop him from sabotaging Jon Snow’s rule and the success of the Night’s Watch’s fight. There is no grey area in the beheading. There is right and there is wrong. There is just and there is unjust. There is no in-between area. So the sudden realization of what he must do is Jon Snow accepting his role, accepting his office and most importantly, grasping his manhood and accepting the responsibilities that come along with it. I just hope that Bran did not look away.

Jar Jar Abrams


My friends are all missing the point I am trying to make. My boycott of Star Wars is not because of the lame prequels, nor George Lucas’ retirement from film-making (or special effects montages, if you will), nor my dislike of Lost. Though each of those are reason enough to stop kicking the dead horse and the sum of them all is reason enough to toss my Greedo action figure, I say “Nay,” those are not the reason for my boycott of Star Wars.

If George Lucas went out to the deserts of New Mexico and took peyote and did some serious soul searching and came to the conclusion that he is, in fact, the bloated, pompous windbag that he comes across as to the public, and if he said to himself, “I think that it is time to give up the reins. I feel that my story could be told better by someone who is not as in love with myself as I am. I think I will go and study the sci-fi/fantasy/adventure films that have been made over the last five to ten years and find my successor. I will take this person under my wing and try to make him see what it is that I see and have been unable to express since the early 80’s,” and then he went and actually did that, and then, at Comic-Con or some other platform, he announced that he was passing the torch to J.J. Abrams and that he would be 100% hands-off, this would be joyous news. I mean that.

J.J. Abrams is a dude much like George Lucas. He is a dude that has a unique, epic vision. He is a dude that knows how to make magic on a screen, be it the small screen of television or the big screen. Let’s take a quick look at his work…
Lost J.J. Abrams’ baby. It looked great. It was a great idea. It had some great characters. But ultimately, it was dumb. He didn’t know what the end was when he started it and he was only concerned with getting the audience through the commercial break. I don’t care what anybody says, he was making that up as he went along. And I feel sorry for everyone that got hooked on Lost.
Cloverfield- This film had a lot of hype. It was unique. It was fun. It was real. It was amazingly epic for a film shot completely on a handheld camera. And he didn’t have to explain anything! The hook of Cloverfield was the roller coaster ride that the film took the audience on. Where did the monster come from? Who cares? Run!
Star Trek Not his property! A pre-existing property! A universe already built! Paramount let J.J. Abrams run wild with this universe and what he delivered was a Star Warsed Star Trek. It was awesome! Right?!? He didn’t have to explain anything! It was already explained by Gene Roddenberry and a ton of other people. He made it awesome and he made it work for a new audience and that’s great. He didn’t have to answer any questions or explain any of his ideas.

So J.J. Abrams taking an even grander mythology should be even more epic… and more exciting… especially considering that the dude loves Star WarsHe remembers what he loved about good Star Wars and what he was disappointed with in new Star Wars and I guarantee that he would deliver exactly what the tortured and humiliated but loyal fanbase of Star Wars wants to see.
He doesn’t have to explain the polar bear, the smoke monster, John Locke, or the island. He has a universe of interesting characters. He has a built-in mythology. He has the largest built-in fanbase. He has a blank canvas and an endless arsenal of paint… the greatest colors that can be had.

So why my boycott? The Star Wars saga died for me when Natalie Portman popped out twins while she was dying and said “Luke..ah…ah… Leia..ah..ah… there is good in him, Obi-Wan.”
The prequels sucked. They were bound to disappoint because nothing could live up to the expectations that they were given. There were a few very memorable moments, there was great action, Ewan McGregor was great, Natalie Portman is hot, Darth Maul was sick, the lightsaber fights were nuts, Yoda saved the day, and we saw Chewbacca. Whatever. I waited in line with other fans. I cheered. I applauded. I had fun. It ended. I put it to rest. I never thought there would be Episode VII. But take George Lucas out of the equation… ok, I’m listening.
Why my boycott? The new director? No. I explained J.J. Abrams already. He is really good at telling a story he doesn’t have to think about telling.
Why my boycott? There is nothing left to tell. The story is complete. As dumb as the second half, which was the first half, was, it is complete. The story is whole. But is it? Maybe there is more to the story? If you put a gun to my head and told me to continue the Star Wars Saga, I’d like to think that I could come up with a reason to continue telling the story. So, no that’s not it.
Why my boycott? Is it because the actors that played the characters from the Original Trilogy, which would be the same characters that The Unnecessary Trilogy must continue narrating, all look like they got run over by a truck? No. I would be ok with new actors taking over those roles. I can suspend my belief enough to accept that.

I am boycotting the upcoming NEW Star Wars films because they are Disney movies. The Walt Disney company is no longer a relevant story teller. They were once magical. They are now a monster. They buy properties to remain relevant. They buy Pixar. They buy Marvel. They have now bought Star Wars

Fuck Walt Disney. Fuck Mickey Mouse. Fuck them if they think they will get me to pay my money to watch a Disney version of what I loved as a kid. Star Wars: A New Hope was renegade film-making. No studio wanted to touch it. George Lucas almost killed himself to get that made. And his vision was equal to Walt Disney’s. Star Wars wasn’t just cool because of the mythology and Han Solo. It was cool because it was a young film-maker so hell-bent on getting his vision on film and into theaters that he did whatever was necessary. It was rock and roll. It was punk. It was “Fuck you Hollywood. I’m going to tell an awesome story with or without you.”
If George Lucas of 1976 could see what became of his idea, he would not have made Star Wars in the first place. He would have been Steven Spielberg’s lame friend that he took to parties. He would have said “I’ll change the future. I will never let Walt Fucking Disney buy my story. I’m not a sell-out!” 

J.J Abrams has nothing to do with my boycott. The story being completely complete has nothing to do with my boycott. The story taking a tremendous turn for the worse due to George Lucas thinking he could sell a video of himself taking a shit so long as it was called Star Wars isn’t the reason for my boycott. Seeing “Walt Disney Pictures Proudly Presents” with Tinkerbell and the Magic Kingdom before the opening scroll that says “Episode VII” is the reason for my boycott. And it should be the reason for your boycott. Don’t let Disney take over the world. Fight evil Hollywood. Fight the same old-same old. Fight for what you cared about as a kid so much that you waited in line for hours and hours to see a shitty version of it.

Yes, the prequels were shitty, but at least they were George Lucas’ shitty prequels. He earned the right to destroy his credibility as a film-maker. He earned the right to shit all over his greatness. Now he is just earning an easy buck. This isn’t cool. Even the talk of one-off Star Wars films… like one directed by Brad Bird about seven Jedi Knights based on The Seven Samurai, which sounds like it’d be really fucking cool, ISN’T COOL! WALT DISNEY ISN’T COOL!!!!!!!!!!!

That said… I am really looking forward to Star Trek Into Darkness.