Oh, what a difference a week makes. Fear the Walking Dead is (temporarily) over, replaced by the far superior The Walking Dead.

Not only was the show better, but my wife joined me. She refuses to watch FTWD and is actively angry at it. "How they could take a great idea like 'Walking Dead' and screw it up so badly is almost criminal," she huffed. And I couldn't agree with her more.

Not that this episode was anything to write home about. It was a mostly table-setting exercise. But It had some interesting moments.

Daryl is learning American Sign Language, and even has an ASL guide in his back pocket. Daryl is not exactly intellectually curious, so this is an obvious sign that he and Connie are destined for romance. Maybe now he'll wash his hair. (Or his wig, if that's what it is.)

Aaron has apparently become something of a hothead, and much more of a warrior. Given his lack of hand, I expect a weapon on that stump shortly, and for the character to act out some Rick bits from the comics. He is apparently the leader of the communities' combined armed forces.

Fun to see the new civilization go back to the past for their tactics and weaponry, including a shield wall straight out of Vikings

I was a bit let down by them trying to stop the forest fire. That's not smart, because it's really dangerous, and it's unlikely they'll affect the fire very much. We can't stop forest fires in the present, and we're using machines. They're using a bucket brigade. Their best use of manpower would be digging a ditch between their homes and the fire. The resultant ditch could later be re-purposed as a walker deterrent. Or a latrine.

Also, it took them into Whisperers territory, which they are supposedly are avoiding, but do so a bunch of times in this episode, none of them necessary. And then Carol and Daryl do it for no good reason, and Alpha sees them. It's no more fun to see TV characters acting stupidly for the sake of the plot than it is to see comic book characters do the same. We've all seen it, and none of us like it, so why do writers keep doing it? Anyway, it looks like war. They should have let the forest burn.

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In the comics, Beta was a professional basketball player in his fomer life. On TV, the latest fan theory speculates that he is a musician of singer based on some vinyl albums trampled by Daniel and Charlie in an episode of FTWD. the artist on one of the album covers supposedly looks like the guy who plays Beta.

My big takeaway from the October 20 episode is that they have a spy in their midst. (How else could Alpha have known about all the incursions into her territory?) The quesion is, who is it?

That was a humorous meta-reference to the comic book in the October 27 episode.

I have no idea where they're going to go with Negan's escape, but I hope it plays out on TV as it did in the comics.

Other than the episode that focused on Alpha and Beta a couple of weeks ago, I've been enjoying this season. (And there was nothing really wrong with that ep... it was just gloomier than I like.) I'm not sure if I entirely understood the source of the friction between Magna and Yumiko, though -- was it just that Yumiko pulled back when Magna wanted to stay and fight walkers, or was there more to it?

NOVEMBER 3: I am pleased that the first phase of Negan’s escape played out like it did in the comics. They grafted on the extra little bit about the mother and son to make Negan’s killing of the little psychopathic sycophant that much more “justifiable,” but I was ready for Negan to off him even before that. Looking forward to “phase two”: Negan meets Alpha.

Also, I think Gamma’s about ready to flip.

I don't know what the friction is between Magna and Yumiko, but it is clearly serious. My wife and I talked about how they were arguing over something petty, and my take was that like with most lovers' quarrels, they aren't arguing about the real problem, whatever it is. This argument is just a proxy, which is why, like in real life, it's so trivial.

the dialogue indicates that Yumiko was Magna's lawyer, and I'm guessing criminal lawyer. She was a white-collar professional, and Magna's from the wrong side of the tracks. Maybe it's a class problem. "I'm tired of you telling me what to do" kinda supports that theory. But it's just a theory.

My wife said she doesn't care. She doesn't like the newcomers, in that she feels that were added for diversity's sake and not organic storytelling. It's hard to argue about diversity: Two lesbians, a differently-abled person and what appears to be a trans woman. Oh, and a fat guy, which makes no sense in a world where food is scarce.

Anyway, I huffed about the guy in the wheelchair over on FTWD, and feel much the same about the deaf girl here. How many times have our heroes survived only because they heard a walker coming up from behind? A deaf person probably wouldn't survive her first battle.

And while I understand slingshots can be effective, I still laugh when I see them in use. Seriously, what's the range of a slingshot? How did they know how to build them? How can you predict the trajectory of a rock, all of which are shaped different? And if you're going to take the time to do build a slingshot, why not make a proper bow, which is far more effective? There are good reasons why slingshots weren't used much in Bronze Age or medieval combat.

Anyway, I don't really care for the newcomers, either, but I don't even have a thought-through reason why. I just find them to be artificial constructs and not "real" people.

Speaking of archers, I disagreed with the decision to meet with Alpha without weapons. Just like with Negan, you're offering your enemy a chance to decapitate the leadership. Only on TV do the bad guys refrain from doing that. Which is how I addressed our heroes' decision to meet a large group of the enemy unarmed. "Only on TV," I said aloud.

Getting back to archers, I'd have had some in the treeline behind Michonne & Co. NOT having archers back there is criminally stupid.

I also find Rick's daughter ridiculously precocious. No kid that young is that good in conversation, or in battle.

But for all that, I'm enjoying the show, which has more to work with than FTWD, in both premise and interesting characters.

Siddiq's PTSD is well done, and even Negan has gotten more interesting, by becoming less one-note. I was gratified that he killed the sycophant, and my only regret was that it was a little too late (in regard to the mother and son). But, yeah, he's on the journey he takes in the comics, which took the character around a corner, from "annoying" to "tolerable," in my book.

BTW, it was just a brief shot, and I didn't get a good look, but was the fat guy carrying a battle axe into combat? 

“And while I understand slingshots can be effective, I still laugh when I see them in use.”

When she was about to shoot the wild boar I said, “You’re just gonna p*ss him off.”

“How did they know how to build them?”

They look manufactured to me. Probably raided a sporting goods store.

“How can you predict the trajectory of a rock, all of which are shaped different?”

“Wrist Rockets” were a thing when I was in junior high school. I had one, about 20 or 25 pounds pull. We fired marbles, but rocks worked just as well. No, they’re not generally lethal, but in a world in which the heel of a boot can easily crush a skull I’m willing to suspend my sense of disbelief.

“BTW, it was just a brief shot, and I didn't get a good look, but was the fat guy carrying a battle axe into combat?

His “distinctive weapon” is a mace made from two motorcycle gears welded together. That’s what I thought it was, but they spotlighted it Talking Dead.

It’s a slow boil waiting for the inevitable Negan/Alpha/Beta dustup.

They’ve introduced Stephanie, so the “Commonwealth” storyline is on the horizon.

I’ve long thought there should be a Walking Dead soundtrack CD, and a quick look on Amazon tells me that there are a couple. I’ll have to look into those a bit deeper.

Two episodes left this year.

Walking Dead didn't use a lot of popular music until just recently; it's been mostly scored, unless they had a specific reason to source some music (such as Beth singing a Tom Waits song in, jeez, season 3?). It's been one of the changes I've really enjoyed in Angela Kang's tenure as showrunner, and one of the techniques she's employed to pierce the unrelenting grimness of the previous seasons. 

Speaking of which, now that we're deep into it, the 5-year jump has been a pretty unvarnished success from my point of view. I like the newcomers, I like Rick's daughter (though I agree she's precocious), and I like seeing other members of the cast come into their own with Rick's absence. This show could have died without him -- as sturdy as the rest of the main cast is -- because it was SO focused on Rick & Carl. Instead, it's finding new heart in Darryl & Carol, the newcomers (although I fear poor Luke's gonna get it when he reaches Oceanside), and even Negan, of all people. I feel like it's given Michonne a little bit of short shrift this season, but I'm sure she'll get a nice spotlight before she departs. 

Alpha's a worthy & clever adversary -- if Negan was Bane, all testosterone and feats of strength, Alpha is the Joker -- two steps ahead, and too damn crazy to predict. She's a very different flavor of challenge for the group, and I'm glad that finally, not all of them are running scared.

NOVEMBER 17 EPISODE: I thought it was screamingly obvious that Dante was the Whisperer spy. Siddiq's PTSD symptoms were equally obvious red herrings. Apparently, roughly 50% of the TV audience were fooled (according to a poll during Talking Dead). To tell you the truth, I did not even associate Dante of the TV show (who is a jerk) with the Dante of the comic book (who is a genuinely nice guy and romantic interest for Maggie), as being the same character. Chris Hardwick pointed out that his comic book portrayal may have caused some viewers to give him the benefit of the doubt. Also, unless you watched Talking Dead, you missed a big revelation from next episode.

Oh, here's another thing...

Why didn't Lydia identify Dante as a Whisperer spy?

She had to have know him, in both his roles. It's not likely he wold have gained the position of Alpha's trust had he joined sometime after Lydia left. It just doesn't seem likely that Lydia wouldn't have known him.

Google just flagged me a news piece about The Walking Dead (the TV show).

I stopped watching shortly after Negan appeared on camera, for various reasons.

But if the newspiece is accurate, I am very optimistic for the future of The Walking Dead.  I will try to avoid spoilers, but it has long been my opinion that while I love the comics, it ill serves the series to try to be faithful to them.  Pacing and depth of characterization are simply too different between the two media for that to work very well.  The series is at its very best when it can find its own way without attempting to emulate the comics.

And there are certain recent developments that strongly hint that, for a good while in the near future, there will be a lot of room for the series to take the best elements of the comics without being hindered by those.

It just may be a good time for me to resume watching.

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