House of Cards / Scandal VS. Helix / The Walking Dead

I am EXHAUSTED, in large part thanks to the BET Network, Shonda Rhimes and her merry band of preternatural writers, who seem to believe that the cliffhanger shouldn’t be reserved for the end of the show, but for every commercial break until the end of the episode.  They dare you to look away, and I took them up on that dare.  I lost.  My children were fed this weekend, I just don’t remember how it happened – but I suspect it took place between commercial breaks (#leftoversrock). BET aired a monster marathon this past weekend, to help fans catch up before the new season starts.  I am both thankful, and trying to figure out how to get up for work on Monday morning.

The exhaustion I feel is not physical, but psychological.  It’s so clear to me that #Scandal writers are determined to not give way to one good clear moment for the audience to catch its collective breath before they throw another twist or turn our way.  They give you moments that you know have to be significant (such as Olivia repeatedly playing back the morning her mother disappeared, while rocking herself in an upright fetal position) but they refuse to let you in, until it’s time for you to figure it out.  Paraphrasing Papa Pope in his speech to ( President) Fitz, “You are on a need to know, and this goes way above your pay grade” dear viewers.

As I watched the madness that is Huck, I found myself wondering if he was playing Quinn in the hopes of drawing out the people who were blackmailing her – understanding that she was probably under surveillance.  Maybe he knew she’d been set up and couldn’t tell her that he was on her side, there to protect her.  I held on to that hope until the second he pulled the first tooth and told her that he was going to make sure she felt pain.  Papa Pope is a hero?  Mama Maya is a terrorist?  He loves and is protecting his daughter, her cherished mother would slit her throat and not look back?  I am in a tailspin.  Cyrus set his own husband up to be used and James is now learning how to play the game?  Innocence lost.  Veep Sally has killed her husband and is only reprimanded for making the first phone call to the wrong person?  Crazy on Steroids! Where do you go with that?  How can any of these people be saved, pulled back from the legend?  I am driven to distraction waiting for the season premier to see if the writers will give us a clue.

Between Scandal and House of Cards, I don’t know that the difference in carnage is all that disparate from Helix and The Walking Dead (evisceration, endless violence, without ever being able to fill hunger or meet needs).  If there is one lesson both of the above political dramas teaches us, is that we don’t need the monsters of Helix and The Walking Dead to make us  afraid.  Dehumanization doesn’t have to take place at the hands of the scariest (and most soulless) monsters science fiction has to offer, it can sometimes take place at hands of people who appear, on the surface, at least, to be just like the rest of us. The Vectors of Helix, the Walkers of The Walking Dead are easy for us to identify.  We know them when we see them.  We cannot tell who the monsters are when watching House of Cards or Scandal and if we lived in those worlds, we wouldn’t know how to defend ourselves.  On the positive side, our political dramas do us a favor by allowing us to go into denial about the state of the political world crafted by gifted writers.  We can pretend that the world could never be that corrupt.  The monsters of Scandal and House of Cards are small “m” and not capital “M”.  We are safe without worrying who is crawling in the vent, or making inhuman noises behind us, maybe.

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The Walking Dead – The Emotional Life of Carl Grimes

As the show opens, it’s clear to me that Carl is learning to emotionally detach himself, ready for the day when he’ll either have to live without his father (after losing his mother and his baby sister – maybe) or preparing for the day when he’ll have to be the first to say good-bye to his father – leaving Rick alone. It was clear long before he gave Rick the “drop dead” speech.  First Carl separates himself physically, walking ahead and leaving a weakened Rick to become a potential walker victim.  Then he separates himself emotionally (throwing Shane’s death in Rick’s face despite the fact that his father killed Shane in self-defense).

So much has been taken from Carl that it saddens me. He’s even loses the respect he has for his father only to regain it later.  It has become a vicious cycle for this kid.  Was Carl’s unexpected mention of Shane a clue of what’s to come, or just a random barb meant to figuratively twist the knife into his father?    Whenever these moments happen between the father and son I wonder just how far the writers are willing to stray from the graphic novels.  I have to wonder if Carl doesn’t become the new Shane and at some point try to take his father’s life.  He clearly sees Rick as a failed leader and failed father – but the only father he has and one he still needs.  What happens when the need is gone?  Will Rick eventually have to kill Carl, whose emotional fragility seems to be hidden behind a willingness to verbally eviscerate anyone who stands in the way his attempt to reclaim something that resembles a real life? How much longer before Carl’s verbal evisceration of others become physical?

You can see just how much Carl yearns for moments of normalcy and hasn’t accepted the new world,as he pretends.  Every moment of joy is so quickly replaced by realities of his new world order – his smile seeing computer games and a flat panel TV was quickly replaced with the realization that the TV cords were only useful for tying the door shut to keep the walkers out and the two of them safe , if only for one more night.  What would have once been a stroll down a beautiful tree-lined street became a trap for walkers and a fight for his survival.  Sitting on the rooftop, eating  a 120 oz can of pudding was tempered by him listening to the hissing of the walker behind him as it was reaching through a window at him, in what should have been a moment of solitude.  Carl, I’m guessing, is supposed to be imagining that home with its parents  inside and children and dog playing in the yard.  He was supposed to be imagining that street filled with children his age.  Tragic.

Those moments of vulnerability (such as Carl not being able to kill his father when he believes that Rick has turned – and the fact that he continues to come back to watch over him) give me hope that we will never see this father and son fall apart and make the ultimate choice to live, one without the other.  This is The Walking Dead, the TV series, so I’m never sure.

Michonne, who has been a rock from the moment we met her, was, this episode, a puddle of nerves, tears, and memories, and I thank the writers for that.  Thank you, producers, for finally bringing Michonne’s life to screen.  I thank Danai Gurira for always giving the audience a new reason to love Michonne.   She is incredibly multidimensional and it’s time for that to be stated openly instead of implied.  So the two awful men she turned into her first set of walkers were?  One her significant other, the other a friend.  I take it that the horrible thing they did was turn, and take the life of her beloved child?  I don’t need the gory details, the implications were sad enough.  I hope tonight’s scenes of her flipping and clearing a field full of walkers is an indication that she has a much larger role to play in the second half of this season.  Will Michionne become the leader that Rick cannot allow himself to become when needed (his refusal to track down and kill the Governor, for example, before the Governor had time to plan that first large attack prior to Andrea’s death)?

I’m glad the returning scene focused on Michonne, Rick, and Carl.  She needs and desperately wants the child she lost.  Carl desperately wants a mother. Both Michonne and Carl became vulnerable and Rick took a step back. Between the two of them, maybe they’ll save each other.  BRILLIANT!

Daytime Comings and Goings

General Hospital

Ever keen to display their decision-making prowess, TPTB at GH have decided to bring Natalia Livingston back in a new role – speculation being that NotEmily will be a long lost twin sister. Uh…short stunt returns for Genie Francis/Laura… back from the dead (sorta) for NotEmily. GEEZ!

All My Children

AMC is planning a heart transplant storyline for Kendall Hart Slater. Will the donor be big brother Josh or frenemy Greenlee Smythe? Assuming Josh is the donor this storyline is not unlike the BnB storyline with Storm Logan comitting suicide in order to donate his heart to his sister Katie.

Hopefully the AMC writers will handle the storyline better. The BnB writers transformed the gut wrenching plot into a storyline about lust when recent recpient Katie had sex with her niece’s future husband, manwhore Nick Marone.

Maybe there’s something to be said about having sex with a man who won’t blow out your brand new, freshly implanted heart. What can be said, can’t be good.

As for AMC, I REALly hope Kendall gets the REAL Greenlee’s heart. The character wore out her welcome with me the first time she married Ryan Lavery to spite Kendall. Greens isn’t slated to leave the show until Spring but there’s nothing to stop her from spending the rest of her time on canvas as a ghost comforting Kendall and Jack.

As The World Turns

I’ve always loved Damiangodofall men so I’m glad to have him back. The writers have a lot of work to do to repair the character and surely they’re invested enough to do it.

I can see Damian coming back as the perfect foil against Craig who will probably want Luke’s money, next. Craig has a penchant for taking on the Walsh/Grimaldi-Snyder crowd. Is it a mere coincidence that Craig returned after Lucinda’s cancer did? Lily and Holden are too busy saving their perpetually troubled marriage to help Luke or Lucinda..

And be careful grabby grandpa Brian! Big pappa is back in town and I hope he’s a Noah fan!