Looking for an economic upside to climate change? Well at least we can get from Alaska to Finland easier. Turns out we’re estimated to have new shipping lanes over the Arctic by 2040. We’ll probably even need new maps. That will be helpful for travelling from your newly-tropical home in Homer to your other newly-tropical home in Helsinki, as long as they aren’t under water.
Tags: Arctic, Climate change, Northwest Passage
Tags: Alamo, American History X, Child Army, existentialism, Rite of Passage, Texas Cheerleaders, The Great Escape, The Walking Dead
Here there be spoilers.
Episode 11 is one of those sideshow episodes where we wander off and focus on one or two secondary characters for a while.
We start off with Merle laying down his knowledge of the Governor, talking up the Gov’s tactical brilliance and his superior numbers in terms of troops and guns. It’s kind of a great scene: Merle is always bitching about back when he was locked to the roof in Atlanta and had to cut off his hand. And now he’s right back in Rick’s captivity. He’s almost sympathetic, especially when conversing with Herschel. We learn Merle even has a brain as he starts citing bible verses and spouting scripture back at Herschel. I guess if East Texas cheerleaders can surprise us with scripture, so can Merle.
Merle’s warnings about the Governor establish the raised stakes: There are underdogs and then there is the Rick Grimes Gang. It’s looking like an Alamo kind of situation. But at least the good guys have the prison on their side, and the fact that they aren’t (like the governor) trying to raise a child army.
Then we get the big Herschel/Rick confrontation. “You once said this isn’t a democracy? You have to own up to that. I put my family’s life in your hands.” Exactly. Rick, please stop following hot hallucination/ghost Lori around the prison yard. Even your son wants you to back off.
(And Rick does. It’s not his episode.)
Much of the episode is dedicated to Andrea’s journey to the prison and back, in direct defiance of the Governor’s orders. Her exit isn’t exactly the Great Escape. It’s unclear why she appeals so idealistically to Milton and asks him to help her get out of Woodbury. Of course Milton goes straight to the Governor with news of Andrea’s “betrayal” (Milton’s entrance falls immediately after the Governor takes the bandage off his eye—looking uglier by the day, Gov!). “Help her,” the Gubernator says. It’s clumsy evil but still evil enough to keep us going, all things considered. With walkers crawling around all over and Rick descending into madness, we don’t need the Governor to be anything more than a straw man with an army.
Andrea’s quest allows us the gruesome scene of her going all Michone on a walker, first double amputating it and then using a rock to take out its teeth, while Milton holds it down. I’m going out on a limb and saying that this scene was the second most disturbing example of “curbing” ever caught on camera, after this one. I guess the joke is on Milton after all! He seems like the kind of guy who has bad dreams.
The problem with Andrea’s quest is that no one believes her tie to the Governor, or “Phillip” as she calls him. He keeps heads in fish tanks and his zombie daughter in a closet—typically a bad sign in a man. So her need to be this mutually interested ambassador between her friends (understandable) and this guy (fish tanks!) falls a little flat.
That said, the prison visitation allows for some intense moments for Andrea, especially during the scene with Carol and the baby, when Andrea first learns 1) that Rick killed Shane; 2) that Shane loved Lori, and in fact loved her enough to try to kill Rick; 3) that Shane probably wasn’t all that into Andrea, however it may have appeared at the time; and 4) that her post-apocalyptic track record with men is shoddy.
Even as Andrea’s episode sunsets, we see the raising of other stakes: The chess pieces are moving. The Governor gets his military intelligence: First by picking up Dennis-from-”The-Wire” and his fellow rejects, who know the inside of the prison and don’t like Rick; and second from Andrea, who confirms that Michone and Merle are with his other enemies. Of course he doesn’t know that his enemies are moving against him, with Rick promising to leave on a run in the morning. He’s taking Michone to test her, and Carl.
Some fathers and sons fix a car together as a rite of passage, but not Rick and Carl Grimes. No, they go on a “run” through zombie country to fight a cyclops. Could Carl’s Rite of Passage possibly be as bizarre as Harmar Cow Jumping?
Tags: Cobra Commander, existentialism, Orpheus and Euridice, The Walking Dead
As usual you are in Spoilerville. Proceed at your own risk.
Sorry to have been absent. Officially I’ve been on non-zombie matters. Unofficially I’ve been boycotting writing about The Walking Dead until Rick got over Lori.
I’m hoping my boycott can end now that we’ve slogged through episode 3.10: “Home.” What a painful episode it was. We can recognize the long-term character benefits of Rick seeing his dead wife Lori all over the prison yard. (How bleak is this show that she looked regal down by the barbed-wire fence?) But do we really need our protagonist to go on a micro-journey to the underworld? He’s already in hell as it is, hiding out in a “Home” carved out of a penitentiary. You might think you couldn’t lay this absurdity on too thick, but Lori looking hotter than ever in a white dress, making the prison yard blush, is asking too much.
Lori, let me remind you, was the root of so much trouble (hence my boycott). Harken back to the first season. Shane knows he’s in trouble given he’s been sleeping with Rick’s wife, presuming his best friend was dead, only to see Rick return. For maybe an episode and a half, Shane keeps it together, and his intentions are aligned with his best friend’s. But then comes the “Tell It To the Frogs” episode. Lori goes apeshit during the frog-catching adventure and tells Shane to stay away from her family. Her vicious, guilt-consumed reaction cuts Shane off from the only thing he was striving for: Lori and her family. Shortly afterward, stripped of any meaning, Shane flies into a rage. He beats up Ed, who is clearly a douchebag deserving of a beating, but still: Goodbye ego, hello id. Thanks, Lori, for triggering that. And now your visage is leading our hero around the woods in a daze. This is supposed to be a zombie series, not 127 Hours.
The most understated revelation of this episode was Rick’s admission to Herschel that when the phone rang in the prison it was Lori and Shane on the line. These hallucinations have been going on all season. His journey outside the prison walls, into the unsafe land of the dead, takes on a kind of listless Orpheus and Euridice quality, with Lori slipping away each time Rick nears her. (Myth nerds: Feel free to commence an argument on Edith Hamilton vs. Thomas Bulfinch in the comment thread if so inclined).
Of course all this fits well with the existential themes we’ve been talking about for a while. Rick’s visions are hand in glove with the doubled-down sense of confinement, trapped in a prison that could seemingly get overrun at any point, with the world around them offering few options but to continue this confinement.
Fortunately, we also have the Governor. I have never been so glad to see his ugly face. He shows up at the prison in the final ten minutes with various gifts: thugs, automatic weapons, a U-Haul full of walkers. Nothing like violence to snap our protagonist back into Ranger Rick mode. The attack also gives cover for Daryl to bring Merle back into the fold. I’m sure there will be a debate about whether or not Merle stays, but Rick can’t say no to Merle when the guy just saved his life.
While the Governor’s entrance snaps us back on track in several respects, he still finds time to remind us he is the most grating character on the show. I could have done without his Cobra Commander-style, from the hip machine gun play.
Bold prediction for next week: Shimmering Lori apparition appears over a herd of charging walkers. Yawn. Hopefully the single descent into the underworld was sufficient and I won’t have to resume my boycott.
Tags: Solar energy, Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett is known for making shrewd, long-term investments. So this news should be welcome to anyone who cares about green energy: Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway unit, MidAmerican Renewables, has purchased the 3,230-acre Antelope Valley Solar Projects (AVSP). The energy will be sold to Southern California Edison, and the contracts have the blessing of the California Public Utilities Commission.
AVSP is the largest solar project in the world. Warren Buffett is (only) the fourth richest man in the world. Not a bad pairing for those who want to look for marketplace examples of a move toward alternative energy.
Tags: Carbon tax, Climate change, Comics, debt, Elizabeth Kolbert, Obama
Elizabeth Kolbert penned an article in the latest New Yorker about the practicality–and political impossibility–of a carbon tax as part of a solution to the US debt crisis and fiscal cliff standoff. Now the editorial cartoonists are getting on board.
Tags: Jimmy Carter, Mitt Romney, Obama, Poll
Back in June we posted the poll below. Well now Bloomberg has “scooped” us with their own insight on the key question:
When zombies invade, who do you want for president?
Here’s an interesting excerpt from the Bloomberg piece:
One problem a president would face, [zombie researcher Daniel] Drezner says, is that the zombie crisis, like so many today, might begin ambiguously: “When it emerges, it will be very, very hard to define exactly what the threat is.”
Presumably, it would begin with some sort of terrible pathogen (the sort that has turned most of humanity into zombies on one of cable television’s most popular shows, “The Walking Dead”), but the devastation wouldn’t be immediate. The 3 a.m. phone call might begin more like this: “Something bad is happening, Mr. President, but we’re not sure what.”
Within days, though, it would become clear that in order to save what remains of humanity, a president would have to take the most dire and seemingly cruel steps imaginable, working in an atmosphere of paranoia and pervasive death and bureaucratic miscommunication.
Our poll is still open, so please vote.
Originally posted June 27, 2012: Poll results released today indicate that most people think Obama would do a better job than Romney at repelling an alien invasion. Maybe they are responding to the fact that Jimmy Carter called out Obama; receiving criticism from the 39th president is a sure-fire way to show you are strong on defense topics.
All of this made us wonder:
Granted, Jimmy Carter isn’t running for president. But he seems to think he’s relevant to this election so why not.