Avengers April: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Captain America: The First Avenger

I have to admit, this is probably the movie I was most looking to watching again in this whole Avengers April, which leads up to the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. I imagine this is due to watching the TV show Marvel’s Agent Carter during Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s winter hiatus.

Agent Carter was really a direct sequel to First Avenger, as we get to look into the lives of Peggy Carter and Howard Stark after the disappearance of Captain Rogers. We learn that Carter is having a very difficult time adjusting to the loss of her love, along with life in the post-war SSR. We learn that Howard Stark’s biggest regret is that he was never able to bring Rogers back to Carter, as it’s that regret that almost spells doom for New York City on the first anniversary of V-E Day.

It’s worth pointing out that in chronological order, Captain America: The First Avenger was the last Phase I movie before The Avengers. In fact, I think the the post-credits stinger is lifted straight out of The Avengers. Following the stinger, there is a condensed teaser for The Avengers.

However, this is not my last Phase I movie I’m reviewing before The Avengers, and the reason is simple – the Tesseract. The McGuffin of The Avengers is introduced in this film, but then makes another appearance in Thor, which perfectly leads right into the plot of the The Avengers.

It’s said that when Kevin Feige was supervising casting, he wanted an unknown to play Captain America. So of course, he picked the guy who had previously played the Human Torch in the two Fantastic Four movies. Although to be honest, I had forgotten myself.

So the plot is basically this. Steve Rogers is a little weakling with an enormous heart who gets selected for Professor Erskine’s Super Solider Serum experience. The serum is a resounding success, as Rogers instantly bulks up and gains impressive abilities. But Erskine is immediately assassinated by Hydra, dooming the Super Soldier experiments to decades of failure, and eventually leading to Bruce Banner’s transformation into the Hulk.

With only one super soldier, Rogers is instead utilized as a propaganda piece, used to help sell war bones and get people on the pro-war side. His routine doesn’t work for a group of soldiers in Europe, however, and Rogers learned that he is visiting the very regiment that his childhood friend, James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes, recently went missing in. Rogers single-handedly infiltrates enemy lines to rescue Bucky and the rest of the captured 107th.

After that, Rogers is accepted as a member of the 107th, which takes the fight to Hydra, destroying their bases throughout the region. On one mission, they capture Hydra scientist Arnim Zola, although lose Bucky to his apparent death. Finally, they take down Hydra’s main base, and Rogers follows Hydra leader Johann Schmidt (aka Red Skull) onto a plane bound for New York. In the ensuing battle, Schmidt is banished or killed or something by the Tesseract, which burns its way out of the plane and to the ocean floor. Rogers is forced to crash the plane into the Atlantic to save New York City from the deadly weapons on board the plane, but not before a tearful goodbye to Carter onto a radio.

In present day, Rogers is found and revived by S.H.I.E.L.D. An attempt to break the news gently goes very wrong, and Nick Fury to forced to bluntly explain to Rogers while the Captain gawks at present day Times Square.

The movie ended with a few open-ended questions, some which will be answered in later movies, and some which have not. We later learn that Zola gets imprisoned and then brought into S.H.I.E.L.D., where he covertly rebuilds Hydra. The final scene from Agent Carter gives a hint of this, as you can see below (FYI, the only prisoner is Dr. Johann Fennhoff, aka Doctor Faustus, a master of mind control):

The Tesseract is actually found in the end of First Avenger, and apparently sits for 70 years before S.H.I.E.L.D. starts experimenting with it, leading to the events of The Avengers. Carter moves on after Rogers in her own show. Stark expands his empire, and has a son, Tony.

But there are two characters that we don’t know the rest of their story. Colonel Phillips, played by Tommy Lee Jones, is initially an obstacle for Rogers, but ended up as a major ally. I would assume he will eventually retire and pass away, but I would love to see him in a potential second season of Agent Carter (although unlikely, given the news of an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff).

And then there is Red Skull. Touching an Infinity Stone like the Tesseract has proven deadly, and it certainly looked like that’s what was happening. Then he basically disintegrated into a stream of light to the sky, which didn’t look all that different than when Thor and Loki later teleport across realms. I think we have to assume that Schmidt is alive somewhere, and I wonder when he would return. Avengers: Infinity War, perhaps?

Avengers April


Avengers April: Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2

Life has gotten in the way of my updates, which is why I’m quite behind. We’ve got 11 days until Avengers: Age of Ultron and after this, I still have six movies to go. We’ll see how close I can get.

So we return to the world of Tony Stark in Iron Man 2. This time, Tony has apparently made the world a safer man, due to his Iron Man technology. But alas, the government wants to get its hands in the cookie jar. Led by Senator Sterns (who we will lately learn a nasty secret about), the federal government wants Stark to turn the suits and the technology over to the military. And they succeed, more or less, and the slimy Justin Hammer gets his slimy hands on the tech (Hammer Industries got the military’s weapons contract after Stark Industries stopped selling weapons).

Tony is able to keep the government at bay, because as I said, he’s making the world a safer place.

“I’ve successfully privatized world peace!”
-Tony Stark

However, It turns out that there are outside forces working to unravel things. Long ago, Howard Stark invented the Arc Reactor along with the his friend and partner Anton Vanko. But when Vanko tried to sell the technology, Howard had him deported. Now Anton has died, and his own son, Ivan Vanko, is out for revenge. He designed his own Arc Reactor and used it to cause havoc at an Indy race in Monaco. Iron Man managed to defeat him, but Hammer arranged for Ivan to escape incarceration so that he can design tech to upstage Tony at the Stark Expo. Hmm… trusting someone who is hellbent on another’s destruction. What could possibly go wrong?

Another plot is that while Iron Man is protecting the world, the tech is slowly killing him. The core that powers his Arc Reactor that keeps him alive is slowly poisoning his blood. Of course, no other known element can simultaneously power the Arc Reactor and not kill him, so Tony starts acting quite erratic (in his mind, he’s a dead man walking, so he might as well go out with a bang). However, Tony discovers the blueprints for a new element hidden in the design for a Land of the Future designed by his father. Tony is able to synthesize the element, power the Arc Reactor, and not kill himself. Yeah, dad!

In the film’s climax, Ivan remotely takes over the drones he designed, as well as the Mark II suit that Hammer had acquired (with Stark friend and Air Force Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes helplessly inside), using them to attack Iron Man. With careful maneuvering and help from Natasha Romanoff, Iron Man defeats the drones and gives Rhodes control of his suit again. But like a video game, winning the boss battle leads to the final boss, as Ivan attacks on a special hybrid of the Iron Man suit and the electric whips he used in Monaco. Iron Man and War Machine (Rhodes’ suit isn’t referred as this in the movie) combine their powers to defeat Ivan and save the girl.

In the post-credits stinger, Agent Coulson had been reassigned from Stark duty to investigate an 0-8-4 in New Mexico… Thor’s Hammer.

Avengers April

Avengers April: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Incredible Hunk

Back with another installment of Avengers April, in anticipation for Avengers: Age of Ultron, today we look at the only standalone movie dedicated to the Hulk, titled The Incredible Hulk. Starring Edward Norton as Bruce Banner and the big green guy you won’t like when he’s angry, this film was seen as a correction for the mess that was Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003).

The film was not an origin story, as most people already know that story, due to the popular live-action television show The Incredible Show, which starred Lou Ferrigno as Hulk (but not Banner). As a nod to that cultural icon, Ferrigno voiced the Hulk in his few lines (in fact, I can only remember one… “Hulk Smash!”) and had an additional guest role as a security guard. The film instead picks up five years after the failed gamma ray experiment, with a Banner on the run and in hiding. For the uninitiated, the opening credits montage did recap the origin story.

You can’t talk about this film without talking about Edward Norton’s decision to not reprise the character in The Avengers. It’s a shame, because Norton is a Hulk fan who actually rewrote the script to fit his vision. Yet when casting was underway for The Avengers, Norton declined, and the role was given to Mark Ruffalo. I don’t think anyone but Norton really knows why. Maybe it was money, or lack of control. Maybe he didn’t like Hulk’s part in the film. Norton once she that being in The Avengers would keep him from pursuing other smaller films in the meanwhile, but considering Ruffalo’s ability to still do exactly that, that was an exaggeration.

Ultimately, I think Ruffalo is a better choice anyway. While I did enjoy Norton’s take on the character, I liked Ruffalo’s fit as Banner. I just get more of a “genius scientist” vibe with him. No offense to Norton.

The film centers on the U.S. Military’s efforts to capture Hulk. The commander for these missions, General Thaddeus Ross, was involved in the ill-fated experiment that turned Banner into the Hulk in the first place. Now he wants to capture Banner so he can weaponize the Hulk for military purposes. How exactly he intends to use this weapon, I have no idea. Does he intend to make a bunch of tamed Hulks that he can send out onto the battlefield? Does he want to refine the original experiment in order to continue to pursue the original Super Soldier serum?

To that end, Ross employs British marine Emil Blonsky, played by Tim Roth. Blonsky starts as the good marine who is shocked by the emergence of the Hulk, and even more surprised that Hulk and Banner are one in the same. To help even the playing field, he agrees to receive a serum that gives him increased speed, strength, agility, and apparently healing power. While it’s not quite the Super Soldier serum, it shows a clear improvement on Blonsky’s abilities. However, it also makes him mad, so that he eventually demands an infusion of Banner’s blood and turns into the Abomination.

In the film’s climax, Hulk and the Abomination battle through the streets and rooftops of Manhattan, with the Hulk eventually subduing Blonsky. He was going to kill him, but was stopped by the pleas of Betty Ross, Banner’s former colleague and girlfriend. While the film doesn’t go out and say so, I assume that Blonsky’s transformation may have put to rest Ross’s pursuit of weaponized the Hulk.

The film was one of the few (if not the only) MCU movie to not feature a mid- or post-credits stinger, instead slapping the final scene before the credits. Robert Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark, who approached a downtrodden Ross in a bar and tells him that “we’re putting a team together.” While everyone assumes that Stark and S.H.I.E.L.D. are inquiring about having Hulk in the Avengers, this was not actually so. In the comics that fill in the gaps between the MCU films, it’s revealed that the World Security Council wants the Abomination for the Avengers Initiative. Knowing that’s a crazy idea, Nick Fury seeks to sabotage the WSC’s efforts. So while he still is required to inquire about the Abomination, S.H.I.E.L.D. intentionally used Stark as its pitch man. Well, Stark succeeds as thoroughly pissing Ross up to the point that there is no way in hell the General will allow S.H.I.E.L.D. to get anywhere near the Abomination. Mission accomplished. Thanks, Tony.

Avengers April

Avengers April: Iron Man (2008)


I didn’t see Iron Man until shortly before seeing The Avengers (expect to see this statement a lot), so I don’t know if anyone knew that this was the first movie in a massive cinematic universe. As far as I know, there wasn’t any real hint to this until the post-credits stinger with Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Speaking of which, we were taught early on to not leave a Marvel movie until the lights turned on in the theater (Joss Whedon says that there will be only one mid-credits stinger in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Personally, I don’t believe him. Stay till the lights come on, just in case.).

“I am Iron Man.”

Such a cool statement. Tony Stark has saved the day, and there is every opportunity to disavow involvement. But Stark likes the spotlight, so why not?

There was a running gag in the movie when Agent Phil Coulson would introduce himself as part of the Strategic Homeland Intervention… and he didn’t get much farther than that. Pepper Potts and Tony would make a joke about the length of the name. Then at the end, Potts starts making another joke, and Coulson says, “Just call us S.H.I.E.L.D.” So were they trying to act like Coulson just created the acronym on the fly, because it’s well established by now that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been around a lot longer than Coulson has? Or did Coulson just like hearing the full name?

So this Iron Man movie didn’t really have a lot of Iron Man in it. The crude armor didn’t make its appearance until more than 30 minutes in. The full armor waited an hour. Once all the testing is done, Tony takes a joyride in the suit, saves the Middle Eastern village, and shows up for the finale battle. That’s it.

By the way, Stark has got J.A.R.V.I.S. running his home and his suit, but it seems that Tony could have benefited from a simple home security alarm. Obadiah Stane breaks in undetected and paralyses Tony, and later Fury makes his entrance. Stark, go ahead and give Brinks a call.

Now while I’m making jokes, I do want to stress that I enjoyed this movie. Robert Downey Jr. is the PERFECT Tony Stark. Terrance Howard is a fun Rhodey. There was a great nod to War Machine when Rhodes looks at an extra suit, thinks about it, and then says, “Next time.”

I close out this installment of Avengers April with the post-credits stinger, as Fury finished with, “I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger initiative (Holy shit!).”

Avengers April


Avengers April: The Day(s) S.H.I.E.L.D. fell

Mack and Morse

S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Alfonso “Mack” Mackenzie and Bobbi Morse on the Day S.H.I.E.L.D. fell

It’s April, so we start with our first installment of Avengers April, in anticipation for the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron. But before we get into the movies, let’s take a look at the current ABC television show, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The show had a rocky start to its run. Some of the characters weren’t particularly likeable at first. The episodes appeared disjointed, with a different mission each week. There were a lot of complaints about the pacing.

All that changed with the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It would make sense that a movie about the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. (at Hydra’s hands) would have an impact on the TV show about S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and it did. From that point on, the reminder of that first season dealt with the remnants of Agent Phil Coulson’s team battling against a Hydra cell led by former S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent John Garrett (played by Bill Paxton in a multi-episode guest role). One of Coulson’s agents is outed as a Hydra operative (although more loyal to Garrett than Hydra). In the end of the season, Coulson’s team defeats that cell, kills Garrett, and captured the mole. In a guest spot on the season finale, presumed dead director Nick Fury shows up long enough to help take out Garrett and tasked Coulson with rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D. from the ground up as its new director. He even gives Coulson a nifty gizmo (it’s called the Toolbox, and it’s about the size and shape of an alphabet block) with all of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s secrets and intel.

Speaking of presumed dead, let me rewind for anyone who is saying, “What? Coulson is alive? I saw him die in The Avengers. OK, here’s the back story. Prior to his death, Fury had put Coulson in charge of Project T.A.H.I.T.I., which was designed to revive a fallen Avenger using a serum created from Kree blood. The test subjects went insane, so the project was scrapped, or so Coulson thought. Once he was killed by Loki, Fury had the serum administered on Coulson, selectively wiping his memory to hopefully keep Coulson was losing his mind. Unfortunately, it didn’t work completely, and at the end of Season 1 and into Season 2, Coulson found himself carving strange symbols into the wall as the new S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, nicknamed The Playground.

The start of Season 2 deals with S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to uncover the meaning behind the symbols. Over time, it is revealed that the symbols were a map to an ancient Kree city, hidden underneath Old San Juan.

Unfortunately, Coulson and Co. aren’t the only ones searching for the Kree city. Hydra is still a threat, and is interested in using these Kree technologies to create terrible weapons. And while Coulson is trying to recruit old agents for the new S.H.I.E.L.D., so is Hydra and its U.S. leader, Daniel Whitehall (a former Nazi who utilized some of this technology to reverse the aging effect). The difference is that Whitehall is using brainwashing to turn loyal S.H.I.E.L.D. agents into loyal Hydra agents.

Let me rewind one more time (trying to sum up nearly two seasons of a TV show takes time). In the first episode of the series, we were introduced to a several new characters, including a hacker known only as Skye. I say “know only” because she had no idea who were her parents were, what her last name was, or even if “Skye” was really her name (it wasn’t). Skye ended up working with S.H.I.E.L.D., and then right before its’ fall, works for S.H.I.E.L.D. We learn enough about her backstory to know it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, she was identified at an early age of a 0-8-4, a S.H.I.E.L.D. designation for an object of unknown origin. In the second season, we discover that she reacts differently to Kree technology than everyone else does (one particular 0-8-4 is a strange obelisk than instantly kills most people who touch it; Skye just makes it light up). Clearly, she’s special.

At the end of the first season, we learn that Skye’s father is alive. In the start of the second season, he manipulates Whitehall by leading Hydra to the Kree city, all to show his daughter just how special she is. His manipulations ultimately lead to Whitehall dead and Skye in the Kree city being subjected to the Terrigen Mists. It would appear that Skye, who is revealed as Daisy Johnson, is an Inhuman.

So at this point, we’re halfway through Season 2. The second half of the season deals with the (probably not permanent) defeat of Hydra, as Coulson manipulates the remaining Hydra cells to destroy each other until only the remnants of Whitehall’s cell remain (and Coulson has Whitehall’s successor imprisoned). So we’re probably not going to be seeing a whole lot of Hydra anytime soon. So if you don’t see Hydra’s presence in Age of Ultron, now you know why (and if they do have a presence in the movie, attribute it to the evil organization’s mantra of “Cut off one head, and two more grow in its place”).

We also deal with the ramifications of Skye’s transformation. Once discovered, it’s clear that her comrades-in-arms are afraid of her. She can’t control her powers, which makes her dangerous. She is essentially banished to a S.H.I.E.L.D. safe-house/retreat for safekeeping, until she is contacted by a fellow Inhuman named Gordon, who teleports her away. Presumably, she has been taken to a place where fellow Inhumans live and learn to control their abilities. Sadly, this facility will not be run by a certain Professor Charles Xavier (wouldn’t that have been awesome?)

Finally, we are now dealing with some type of civil war within S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson had had to deal with a lot of outside forces since assuming control of S.H.I.E.L.D. Not only Hydra, but early on in Season 2, the U.S. Government regarded S.H.I.E.L.D. as a terrorist organization (when a significantly portion of your organization turned out to be Hydra, it apparently leads to a lot of doubt about how trustworthy the rest of them are). Over time, Coulson is able to convince Brigadier General Glenn Talbot (played by Heroes’ Adrian Pasdar) of his team’s sincerity , so that problem is fixed. But now there is a new problem.

Robert Gonzales

Robert Gonzales, one of the leaders of the organization that considers itself the legitimate S.H.I.E.L.D.

As I said, when S.H.I.E.L.D. first fell, Fury named Coulson as the new director. The problem is that everyone else thinks that Fury is dead. Meanwhile, when an aircraft carrier S.H.I.E.L.D. base was taken by Hydra, a small group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, including Bobbi Morse (aka Mockingbird) and Alphonso “Mack” McKenzie, rescue the base’s commander, Robert Gonzales (played by Edward James Olmos). The group attempt to follow through on a final order from Fury to destroy the carrier (to keep its secrets from falling into Hydra’s hands), but when considering the collateral damage following the order would create (there is still a fair number of loyal S.H.I.E.L.D. agents battling Hydra throughout the carrier), they defy the order and instead succeed at retaking the carrier. Thus, a new faction of S.H.I.E.L.D. is born, which they refer to as “the real S.H.I.E.L.D.” Embracing transparency instead of Fury’s secretive compartmentalization, they doubt the legitimacy of Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D., especially since they consider Coulson compromised due to the effects of Project T.A.H.I.T.I. The “real S.H.I.E.L.D.” plant Morse and Mack as operatives inside Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D., until finally attacking The Playground, stealing the Toolbox, and captured much of Coulson’s team.

So where are we now? Coulson is in hiding, joined by Lance Hunter, a former mercenary and now S.H.I.E.L.D. agent loyal to Coulson (and Morse’s ex-husband). Skye is with the Inhumans. Morse and Mack are with the “real S.H.I.E.L.D.” The rest of Coulson’s team, right-hand (wo)man Melinda May (nicknamed “The Cavalry”), weapons engineer Leo Fitz, and biochemist Jemma Simmons, have been captured. Hydra is back in the shadows.

So what now? Who are the bad guys? Are there bad guys? Both sides view themselves as the legitimate S.H.I.E.L.D. There are a few possibilities. Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. could defeat Gonzales’ S.H.I.E.L.D. Gonzales’ S.H.I.E.L.D. could get absorbed into Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. could get absorbed into Gonzales’ S.H.I.E.L.D. (Would Coulson be able to return to being just an agent?)

I finish with a simple question. What was Gonzales’ S.H.I.E.L.D. up to while Coulson’s team was battling and taking out Hydra? How do you claim to be S.H.I.E.L.D. while sitting on the sidelines while Hydra is a threat?

Avengers April

Avengers April is coming!

Avengers April

In anticipation of Avengers: Age of Ultron hitting theaters on May 1, I will be looking back at the previous films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I will be (or at least that’s my goal) re-watching every movie leading up to this (Except, possibly, Guardians of the Galaxy. Not because I didn’t like it, but it doesn’t really have a role in Age of Ultron that I’m aware of.)

So if all goes to plans, you can look forward to my thoughts on the following movies (in this order):

Iron Man
The Incredible Hulk
Iron Man 2
Captain America: The First Avenger
The Avengers
Iron Man 3
Thor: The Dark World
Captain America: The Winter Soldier

You may notice that although Thor came out before First Avenger, I chose to go with the Captain first. Well, the ending of Thor seems to lead pretty directly into The Avengers.

In addition, I will be adding my reviews/musing on episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, since it’s already been stated that Agents will be somehow impacted by Age of Ultron. I’m three episodes behind, so I need to catch up quickly.

Sometime, later this week, we’ll begin with Iron Man!

Don’t Mess with the Cookie Maker!

AMC_513_Joining_the_PartyLast night brought us a new episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead. The 13th episode of the season was titled “Forget,” and centered on the group’s adjustment to the Alexandria Safe Zone. The episode had three major plots going on:

  • The Welcoming Party
  • Daryl and Aaron
  • Rick, Carol, and Daryl’s plan to secure their guns

There was a fourth subplot going on with Sasha, who continues to struggle after the deaths of Bob and Tyreese. She’s having a hard time adjusting to life in Alexandria, building to a blowup at the welcoming party when an Alexandrian comments she’s worried about making Sasha a dish she won’t like. In a world with the dead walk among the living, not making Sasha’s favorite dish is apparently a stupid thing to worry about.

Party Time!

AMC_513_Rick_Jessie_PartyThe welcoming party was the largest part of the episode. Deanna, the leader of Alexandria, throws a get together for the community to welcome Rick’s group. Most of the group attend the party. Rick seems to to adjust quite well to his new role, smiling at the comments and getting involved with the kids (apparently, you’re not a true Alexandrian until you have the Scarlet Letter on the back of your hand). Rick is flirting with Jessie and even steals a kiss. It was unexpected, but considering Jessie’s smile afterwards, I don’t think she hated it. I wonder how Jessie’s husband, Pete, would think about that. Speaking of Pete, he doesn’t seem like quite the asshole he tabbed him for last episode. That said, he still showed signs of being controlling and possessive, but I think trouble is still on the horizon with him.

It was very strange to see the group dressed in nice clothes. When Abraham and Rosita arrived, I didn’t recognize Rosita at first. But they had beer, so Abraham was happy. Noah was thinking about bailing, but Glenn and Maggie wouldn’t let him.

Black Beauty

The second major plot was the story of Daryl and Aaron. In the previous episode, Daryl was the one guy who hasn’t showered yet, and hasn’t gotten a job yet.

This time, he’s hunting outside the gates when Aaron shows up, innocently hunting for rabbits (although considering Carol later states that the Alexandrians always have an eye on Daryl, maybe not so innocently). Together, the two start to build a bit of a bond. Despite his role in the community, Aaron still feels like an outsider, due to his sexual orientation (he’s gay, in case you forgot). He recognizes that Daryl still feels like an outsider. Considering Norman Reedus’s comment that he would be fine playing Daryl as gay, this was an interesting comparison between Aaron and Daryl.

The two hide a black wild horse the children of Alexandria have affectionately named “Buttons.” Aaron has unsuccessfully been trying to catch it for months. Daryl’s own attempt nearly succeeded, before a few walkers show up and spook the horse. They catch up with the horse shortly after, but this time it gets surrounded and consumed by walkers. After Daryl and Aaron take care of the walkers, it’s Aaron who sadly puts the horse down.

Back at the community, Daryl considers attending the party but thinks better of it. Instead, he’s invited to eat dinner with Aaron and Eric, who is still recovering from his broken ankle. After Daryl eats his spaghetti like a 5-year-old, Aaron shows him his collection of random motorcycle parts, suggesting Daryl build himself a bike so he replace Eric as the second Alexandria recruiter.

Rise of the Cookie Maker

In different intervals of the episode, Rick, Carol, Daryl meet outside the gates to discuss a plan to take back their guns from the armory. Carol does the pre-work, visiting the armory to subtly unlock the window while under the guise of collecting supplies for his special cookie recipe. It’s still awkward to see Carol acting all innocent around weapons (although this pales in her awkward ratio for this episode). Carol later sneaks out of the party, which the trio have seen as a perfect opportunity to do some undisturbed weapon shopping.

The fly in the ointment, however, occurs as the party. Around the same time that Rick gets the tramp stamp on the back of his hand, Deanna’s 10-year-old son Sam laments that the cookies are all gone. As part of his kinder, gentler Constable Grimes, Rick tells Sam that he personally knows the cookie maker, and she can bake some cookies especially for him. Sam is happy after, but then goes off in search of the cookie maker.

Carol sneaks into the armory, stops to gran some chocolate, and then starts shoveling guns into a bag. Unfortunately, Sam wants his cookies, and catches her in the act. Carol agrees to make Sam some more cookies, but he has an issue with the condition of not telling anyone about what he just saw. And that leads us to the creepiest part of the episode. It’s best to just use Carol’s own words.

“You can never tell anyone, especially your mom. Because if you do, one morning you’ll wake up and you won’t be in your bed. You’ll be outside the walls. Far, far away, tied to a tree, and you’ll scream and scream because you’ll be so afraid. No one will come to help because no one will hear you. Well, something will hear you. The monsters will come. The ones out there. And you won’t be able to run away when they come for you. And they will tear you apart and eat you up, all while you’re still alive. All while you can still feel it. And then afterwards, no one will ever know what happened to you. Or you can promise not to ever tell anyone what you saw here. And then nothing will happen. And you’ll get cookies.”

It’s safe to say that Carol just went to a very dark place. One wonders how she’ll explain it when Sam wets his pants every single time he sees her.

Comic Comparison

This episode had a few similarities to Issue 72 of the comic series. In that Issue, the residents of Alexandria thrown a welcoming party for Rick and his group. Glenn, like Abraham on the show, gets drunk at the party. Michonne flips out an a resident who offers to make Michonne dinner and worries that she’ll make something that Michonne doesn’t like. Michonne responds by saying, “Worried?! This is what you worry about?”

Random Muses

  • I wonder what is with the W carved onto the dead walker’s forehead. One theory is that is stands for “wolves.” Recall in Noah’s gated neighborhood near Richmond, their was a spray-painted sign that said “Wolves Not Far.” Also on the walls of the barn where Rick’s group took refuse during the thunderstorm is written “Wolves.” It’s possibly a group called “The Wolves” destroyed that neighborhood and are now living near Alexandria.
  • Rick having a touching moment with a walker on the other side of the wall was strange. I’m not sure if the scene was supposed to convey the safety the walls present, of the danger that still lurks on the other side of a metal sheet.
  • I was wondering if Norman Reedus’s comments of playing Daryl gas was supposed to allude to something in this episode. I was half expecting Daryl to start kissing Aaron.
  • Speaking to Daryl, when Aaron told him he needed a motorcycle, I thought he was about to tell Daryl that he wasn’t accepted into the community. That said, his new job will keep him away from Alexandria for stretches of time.
  • Where was Gabriel… again?!


If you don’t want to be potentially spoiled, stop now! This section will look at how the current events might translate to future events, based on the comics. If you are so brave as to continue, highlight the invisible text below to reveal.

  • In the comics, there was an attraction between Rick and Jessie, while Pete was revealed to be an abusive husband. Rick beats him up and later shoots him when Pete tries to retaliate with the knife.
  • The gunshot attracts a band of dangerous scavengers, who threaten to force their way into Alexandria. These scavengers could possibly be the Wolves. In fact, the leader of the scavengers introduces himself with the classic line, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.” How’s that for symbolism? Rick’s group engages in a firefight with the scavengers, with Alexandria winning. Unfortunately, the noise attracts a massive herd of walkers and leads them to Alexandria.
  • Rick’s comment about how lucky Alexandria is that they are there is very telling. Rick’s group gets a big head, thinking themselves superior after clashes with the Governor and the Hunters. So when they encounter another friendly community who is dealing with a tyrant, Rick offers to take care of the tyrant in exchange for some food and supplies. But their aura of superiority evaporates when Glenn’s head tragically meets the end of that tyrant’s barbed wire-encased baseball bat. Remember Glenn almost getting brained by a baseball bat in the season premiere? And how about Glenn picking up the baseball bat in Noah’s neighborhood? If that’s not foreshadowing, I don’t know what is.
  • In the fourth episode of the first season of the show, Dale has a quote. “I give you a mausoleum of all hope and desire which will fit your individual needs, no better than it did mine and my father before me. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you may forget it. For a moment, now and then, and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it.” The bolded words are the names of the final five episode titles of the season.

Next Week

In next week’s episode, titled “Spend,” Rick and his group face many challenges, some life threatening while trying to secure their new home. Is this really the utopia it seems to be?

Ripley returns in Alien 5

We’re enjoying a four-day weekend, thanks to winter’s last hurrah. It’s also a boys weekend at Stately Stratton Manor, since my better half is away scrapbooking. So while surfing the Internet, I find a few delightful nuggets.

As I previously, Neill Blomkamp, the director of District 9, Elysium, and Chappie, posted fan-made Alien 5 concept art in January. A month, 20th Century Fox hired Blomkamp to develop and direct Alien 5.

Yesterday was the premiere of Chappie, and Blomkamp was interviewed by Entertainment Tonight. Also interviewed was Ellen Ripley herself, Sigourney Weaver (who is in Chappie).

When asked about Alien 5, Weaver stated that she would indeed by returning as Ripley, saying “There are two factors [Blomkamp] needs: Ripley and the Aliens.” Blomkamp confirmed that Weaver would be in the cast, stating that “she is the Alien franchise, to me, so yeah.”

ET also asked Blomkamp if he would be stating pre-production the next day. Blomkamp shot down that idea, but added that he would probably start next week.

Weaver last appeared as Ripley in Alien Resurrection in 1997. IMDB is predicting Alien 5 to be released in 2017, so it would be 20 years between appearances. Weaver voiced Ripley much more recently in last year’s Alien Isolation video game. The game featured Ripley’s daughter, Amanda Ripley, searching for her mother 15 years after the original Alien. Weaver’s part had Ellen leaving a personal message to her daughter sometime during the course of the original movie. She also voiced Ellen in two DLCs.

Finally, I wanted to include a fan-made Alien 5 poster I found online. The poster was attached to a speculative plot article that was rather implausible, but the poster itself kinda rocked.


Source: ET Online

Alien 5? Alien 2.5? Who Cares? The B**ch is Back!

Final report of the Commercial Starship Nostromo. Third Officer Reporting. The other members of the crew… Kane, Lambert, Parker, Brett, Ash, and Captain Dallas… are dead. Cargo and ship destroyed. I should reach the frontier in about six weeks. With a little luck, the network will pick me up. This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.

Once upon a time, I got hold of a script for Alien Resurrection. I was pumped. There were aliens! And the ending was on Earth, with a new, bone white, terrifying alien!

Well, the end result was less impressive. Alien Resurrection wasn’t a very good movie. I still saw it three times in the theaters. This was 1997. With the exception of the Alien vs. Predator movies (which don’t count), the title creature has not graced our theater screens in a new film in the 18 years since.

But that’s about to change.

Last month, District 9 director Neill Blomkamp posted a series of Alien concept art on his Instagram account. It wasn’t anything official. He was just doing it as a fan, creating concept art for a project he was attached to, nor had ever discussed with 20th Century Fox. The photos made quite an impression.

A few weeks later, Blomkamp reported that there was some talk with Fox on another Alien movie, based on his ideas. Still, though, there was a lot of skepticism. But today, the cat came out of the bag.

So it’s official. There will be another Alien movie. This… is… AWESOME!!!!

Now excuse me while I celebrate with some Alien Isolation.

Marvel’s Agent Carter hits a Snafu

I would consider myself a latecomer to the Marvel universe. I was never a big comic reader, and the comics I have and mostly DC (mostly Superman, actually). My wife and I binge-watched the Phase 1 Marvel movies (Iron Man 1 & 2, Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger) shortly before seeing The Avengers.

Now, I’ve seen all the subsequent movies (Iron Man 3, Winter Soldier, Dark World, Guardians) and I’m an avid follower of Agents of SHIELD and Marvel’s new show, Agent Carter.

For those who need a reminder, Peggy Carter was Steve Rogers’ (aka Captain America) partner and girlfriend during World War II. After Rogers disappeared in the Arctic and the War ended, Carter took on a role with the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), a precursor to SHIELD.

The new show is set in the late 1940s, as Carter deals with bad Russians and sexist co-workers in the SSR. Despite fighting with the Howling Commandos during WW2, her colleagues view her as vital to such missions as filing reports, answering the phones, and taking the lunch orders. While she has to play the role of a secretary, he works behind the scenes to stop the bad guys. Howard Stark, the father of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, is Public Enemy #1 and on the run. He confided in Carter that someone broke into his private vault and stole several of his more dangerous inventions (his “bad babies,” as he calls them).

I thought this show would turn into a “find a new bad baby every episode” kind of thing, but the lot were recovered at the end of Episode 3 of the eight-episode miniseries. Since then, the SSR has investigated a believed link between Stark and an evil Soviet organization called “Leviathan,” as well as the fictional WWII Battle of Finow, which ended with a bunch of massacred Russians before the Nazis even got to the party. The show has introduced Dottie Underwood, a product of the Red Room (a Soviet facility for brainwashing young women and turned them into spies and assassins (yes, Dottie is the precursor to the Black Widow program).

So here’s where we are now, after the peni-ultimate episode, titled “Snafu” (see what I did there?). Carter and the SSR were able to extract a Russian therapist (Dr. Ivchenko) from a Leviathan prison to SSR HQ, but he’s actually working for Leviathan. Carter’s efforts in helping Stark weren’t actually sanctioned, so not she’s been captured and is considered a traitor.

So Carter is interrogated by her colleagues, but doesn’t reveal anything else (why?). Stark’s butler, Jarvis (who has been assisting Carter all season), tries to save Carter with a forged confession by Stark. While quarantined in an office, Carter and Jarvis witness Ivchenko secretly communicated out the window with Dottie via Morse Code. Carter decided to tell the SSR everything to gain some level of trust. It was a great scene when Chief Dooley, Agent Thompson, and Agent Sousa questioned how she could conduct an investigation without any of them noticing, and Carter rubbing in their faces that sexist views effectively blinded them.

Anyway, Dooley sends Thompson and Sousa across the street to get Dottie, but she gets the slip on them and escapes. Dooley keeps an eye on Ivchenko, who used mind control to hypnotize Dooley. The entranced Dooley locks up Carter and Jarvis, and helps Ivchenko steal a particular nasty bad baby, all while making Dooley imagine he was reconnecting with his family. When Thompson finally frees Carter, they find Ivchenko gone and Dooley wearing a strange glowing vest, another Stark invention. The vest is supposed to warm the wearer up in a frozen wasteland, but has a nasty habit of exploding. Naturally, the vest is securely locked and can’t be removing, so Dooley orders Carter to catch Ivchenko, shoots out a window, and leaps to his explosive death. A sad death.

At the end of the episode, Dottie and Ivchenko set off the stolen invention inside a crowded movie theater. It’s a gas canister that induces rage, followed by death. When some latecomers try to get into the movie, everyone is dead. I think we know what happened at the Battle of Finow.

I think it’s safe to assume that I am eagerly looking forward to next Tuesday.