A Look at Gotham- Season 3, Episode 11: “Mad City: Beware the Green-Eyed Monster”

If there’s one positive thing you can say about Jim Gordon, at times, it’s that he’s obsessed with his job.  That’s it.  I never said he was obsessed with doing the right thing or always playing by the rules, but he did just rejoin the force, so maybe he’s back to normal.  Maybe Mario and Leslie’s upcoming marriage won’t cause any more complications than it already has.  Maybe Jim won’t rush to judgment.

I like a good joke every now and then.  We’re now at the halfway point of Gotham’s third season, and by episode’s end, our hero has indeed become the green-eyed monster. Let’s dive right in.

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The episode begins at Gotham Bio Lab, where hematologist Ryan Pfeffer, played by Jonathan Fielding, examines Alice Tetch’s blood.  After leaving, he heads to a bar, where he’s joined by Mario, who tells Pfeffer that he’s getting married tomorrow.  Mario didn’t believe in love at first sight until he met Leslie.  Pfeffer confirms that he is indeed working on Alice Tetch’s blood.

As Mario’s fiance is the medical examiner on the case, Mario brings up the fact that the lab has a test for the virus- a fact that Pfeffer can neither confirm nor deny.  Mario then brings up how Leslie almost married someone else who hopes that Leslie will come running back to him.  With voices blaring in his head again, Mario soon pins Pfeffer to a wall and crushes his skull.

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Over at Wayne Manor, Bruce and Alfred learn from Jacob that Dmitry and Luka have been killed by the Court’s assassin, Talon.  And if Talon saw Bruce with Volk, then the Court may already know Bruce has broken the deal.  Despite still not knowing what’s in the safe, whether it’s okay to trust the Whisper Gang, and the cost of taking on the Court of Owls, Bruce is still willing to fight the Court.

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As GCPD examines the crime scene, Bullock is prepared to hand the case over to Alvarez and wants Jim to take the day off.  Jim, though, refuses, even though it’s the day of Leslie’s wedding.  As the two examine Pfeffer’s head, they realize that it would take an immense amount of strength to crush his skull, and Barnes is ruled out since he’s locked away at Arkham.

Pfeffer’s wallet is still on his person, but whoever killed him took his work badge.  Bullock sees this as a classic case of wrong place, wrong time, but then Jim finds a receipt from the cafeteria of the Gotham Bio-Lab, where Alice Tetch’s blood is being tested.  Jim heads off and has Harvey, acting captain, finish up at the crime scene because he can do that.

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Barbara makes yet another stop by Penguin Manor and is surprised to find Nygma still working instead of looking for Isabella’s killer.  But Nygma isn’t worried, as he has spies all over the city in the event that Isabella’s killer reveals themselves.  Barbara fake coughs out Penguin’s name, but Nygma finds that notion both amusing and absurd.

But Barbara presents a good point: a crime just needs means, motive, and an opportunity. And Oswald had the oldest motive- rich men want it, wise men know it, and the poor all need it.  The answer?  Love.  Nygma finally begins to piece it together, but he still finds it unbelievable that Oswald would be in love with him.  Not Barbara, since she saw Oswald’s jealousy towards Isabella, which led to her unfortunate accident.

With all the evidence in front of him, Nygma asks what Barbara’s motive is, and she’s only interested in seeing justice.  But Ed is still in denial about both Oswald being in love with him or the possibility of him killing Isabella.  Poor, dumb Ed.  With the seed planted, Barbara leaves.

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Bruce, Alfred, Selina, and Jacob do surveillance at one of the Court’s buildings.  Jacob explains the security layout of the building, including one room in particular that has a safe, but also is littered with infrared sensors, so whoever enters the room must cross on a rope.  Jacob offers to do it himself, even though he still doesn’t know what this mystery object is.  Some help you are, Jacob.

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At the lab, a guard tells Jim that Pfeffer’s card key was last used 20 minutes ago and he hasn’t logged out since.  As Jim goes down to check, he finds another dead doctor and is soon attacked from behind from Mario, who he doesn’t see.  With great strength, Mario throws Jim through a window, but won’t kill him since that would make him a martyr and have Leslie love him forever.

For Mario’s plan to work, Leslie has to hate Jim.  Mario leaves a message on Jim’s hand and beckons Jim to find him.

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Later, GCPD arrive, with Bullock and Lucius Fox agreeing that Jim’s attacker was looking for research on Alice Tetch’s blood and, as many of Pfeffer’s files are missing.  In addition, the writing on Jim’s hand spells Arkham, but Jim realizes that this isn’t about Barnes.

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Realizing that Alice might have accidentally infected someone, Jim goes straight to Arkham and confronts Jervis Tetch, who had his suspicion about the accidental infection, but kept quiet until the symptoms started to show.  Jervis sees no reason to give Jim a name, and he’s locked in Arkham, so his life is already hell.  Rather, Jervis speculates what the blood would do to Jim since he already has anger in him.

So Jim plays along with Jervis’ game by rhyming to learn the name of the infected individual, but Jervis doesn’t like Jim’s attempts of playing the game.  Instead, he reveals that Jim will know his name when it is too late, when the one he loves will be murdered by hate.  And one part of the rhyme specifically mentions “from healer to killer is no easy to trick.”  Jim realizes that the victim is a doctor.  He soon leaves Arkham.

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Back at Wayne Manor, while Bruce practices his wire work, Selina prepares to leave, as she has a bad feeling that they’re all being watched.  She’s concerned about Bruce taking on the Court, but Alfred stands by Bruce since it’s ultimately his decision.  Not to mention that even though he made a deal with the people who killed his parents, Bruce did it to protect the people he cares about, including Selina.  And that cost him dearly.

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So Jim has brought Mario to the police department to be tested.  It’s a stretch, but Jim figures that Tetch infected Mario that night at the hospital, which would hopefully explain some of Mario’s behavior, such as the rage he showed when attacked at the shop. Harvey maintains that Jim should have waited until he had enough proof, plus if Mario was infected, there’s no telling why he would want Jim to find him.

As it turns out, after three tests, Mario does not have the virus.  Though Bullock apologizes on Jim’s behalf, Mario sees no issue.  Jim still believes that Mario has the virus and vows that he won’t marry Leslie, but Mario just heads off for his big day.

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As Alfred and Bruce prepare for the break-in, Bruce tells Alfred that once they find this item, the Whisper Gang may try to take it from them.  But it’s not the Whisper Gang that worries Alfred.  Not long after this, Jacob is murdered by the Talon.

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So Oswald is glad that Ed is back to his old self, but he’s stunned when Ed hands over his resignation, as Isabella’s death has changed things.  Oswald won’t allow this, as it’s not in Ed’s best interest to leave- he keep himself busy instead.  Ed asks Oswald if the two of them are friends, and they are, but since the accident, Ed has had the desire to become more than a friend or employee.

Oswald admits that he’s been feeling the same and was too worried to say so due to Isabella, but there’s a problem: Ed meant becoming a business partner.  Easy mistake, I’m sure.

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Jim finds Mario and demands to know how he passed the test, but Mario maintains that he’s not infected.  If the virus stoked Barnes’ anger, it also awakened Mario’s jealousy at the thought of losing Lee.  What keeps Mario up at night is the thought that part of Lee still loves Jim.  In that case, Jim figures that Lee should decide if she’ll go through with the marriage, but Mario isn’t on board with that idea.

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And since, as Falcone’s son, Mario has connections, he has Zsasz hold Jim hostage. For a moment.  Zsasz waits until a certain time to let Jim go, and he’s knocked out for his trouble.  Come on, Victor, you’re smarter than that.

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At a library, after Oswald presents an award, he tells Nygma that he wants things to go back to the way they were before.  He admits that Ed is his best friend and doesn’t want to lose him.  Nygma puts the knife away and hugs Oswald, saying that Oswald is his best friend as well.

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Jim arrives at the chapel just in time to tell Leslie that she can’t marry Mario.  But Leslie expected this, as she knows that Jim arrested Mario and had Fox test him for the virus. Leslie figures that Jervis is planting ideas in Jim’s head and that Jim is obsessed with this marriage.

In another wild theory, Jim thinks that this is what Mario wanted: he wanted to get arrested so Jim would look like a jealous ex, he figured out how to beat the test, and Zsasz let him go so he’d race to the chapel to stop the marriage.  To be fair, Jim, no one made you go to the chapel as fast as you did.

Leslie tells Jim to get help, but Jim admits that he never stopped loving Leslie.  He should have seen her after he got out of prison, but he had to set things right.  But then he saw her happy and he’s regretted not making his move ever since.  Touching, but Leslie says that after the wedding, she and Mario are leaving Gotham.  And damn Gordon for admitting this on today of all days.  She slaps Jim in a rage.

While Leslie and Mario are joined in holy matrimony, Jim fights some of Carmine’s men and gets the hell kicked out of him.

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Bruce and Alfred do more surveillance of the Court building, but Jacob is nowhere to be seen.  No kidding.  Selina joins the two to help out, prompting Bruce to ask if this means that Selina is his girlfriend.  Bruce, shut up.  As the three get to work, they are unaware that they’re being watched…

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Meanwhile, Lucius discusses a theory of how Mario could have beaten the test- it turns out that the test looks for a particular marker in the blood, and this marker can be masked by other drugs.  Turns out that Mario’s blood came off the charts for Cloracinamine.  It’s not proof that Mario killed those men, but it’s enough for a search warrant.

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While is tossed from a speeding car, Alfred, Bruce, and Selina infiltrate the Court’s building and soon find the infrared room.  As Alfred goes to check the rest of the building, Bruce holds a tightrope so Selina can make her way across the room.  Too bad Bruce doesn’t have a grappling hook yet.  Selina reaches the other side and unlocks the safe to find an owl sculpture.  Not the most prized possession, but Selina pockets it anyway.

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Then the Talon enters and attacks the two.  Bruce tosses down a flash bang that gives the two a chance to escape while Alfred soon attacks the Talon.  The Talon is soon knocked out by the mysterious watcher from before, who turns out to be Selina’s mother, Maria, played by Ivana Milicevic.  That came out of nowhere.

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Lucius finds the chemical that Mario used, only for him, Jim, and Bullock to learn that Mario and Leslie snuck out of the reception, so Alvarez was unable to catch them.

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Nygma stops by Barbara’s bar to tell Barbara that he doesn’t want to kill Penguin. Rather, he tells Barbara, Tabitha, and Butch that he wants to destroy him and take away everything that he loves.  With Penguin gone, the underworld would need a new leader, and Barbara volunteers herself.

Nygma knows the crime families would never follow her lead, but Barbara is aware that Ed knows the ins and outs of the families and is great at strategy.  It’s a great combination: the family’s brawn, Ed’s brains, and Barbara’s…screen presence, I guess.  Before Ed can destroy Penguin, he apologizes to Tabitha, who managed to get her hand reattached. Like any person, Tabitha doesn’t buy the apology, but we can work on that.

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At a cabin by the lake, Mario and Leslie talk of Jim’s obsession and how Leslie vowed she would never see Jim again.  What Mario wants to know, though, is if any part of Leslie that still loves Gordon, and he will never ask her again.  Part of her will always care for Jim, yes, but she married Mario and loves him.  And that’s all Mario needed to know.  With that, the two kiss.

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Jim confronts Carmine to tell him that Mario is indeed infected, and while Carmine didn’t know that, he knew his son was in danger.  Carmine will have his men bring in Mario, as he knows Jim would kill Mario if given the chance.  If Mario does have the sickness, he could harm Leslie and do more damage, even if he’s cured.  To speed things up, Jim shoots Carmine’s henchmen and then swears to bring Mario in alive.

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Back at the cabin, Mario continues to hear voices in his head as he approaches Leslie with a knife.  Before Mario can stab her, Jim fires and kills Mario on the spot.  The knife falls into the water and Leslie is left as her husband has now been killed by her ex.  Nice going, Jim.

It’s funny.  Jim rejoined the GCPD in order to make things right and get his life back in order.  And for a minute, it looked like he was on the right track, but his love for Leslie blinded him from being rational.

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However, in a bit of delicious irony, I do like how Jim’s shoddy work and cutting corners have now bitten him in the ass in one of the worst ways possible.  One of my complaints about Jim in the past has been his random hunches and ability to piece a case together on nothing more than a guess.  And now, Jim is trying to solve the matter with Mario without getting all of the facts.  He’s the very green-eyed monster the episode title sees him as.

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If Jim wanted to try and win Leslie back on his side, close the case, and keep Mario from doing any harm, all he had to do was stay away.  If he’d gotten hard evidence to support his claims, Mario might have been arrested and Leslie wouldn’t have ended up with a dead husband.  Instead, Jim’s jealousy and irrational got the better of him, he’s harmed his relationship with both Leslie and Carmine, and it will be hard to prove himself now.

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In addition, he’s now incurred the wrath of Falcone after promising that he would bring Mario in alive.  Yes, he was right about Mario being infected, but why make a decision as rash as shooting and killing Mario?  Put aside how fast Jim seems to get from one location to the next between scenes- teleportation, perhaps?- he also didn’t even, as far as I can tell, call for backup or tell Bullock or Fox, who did have the information that Jim needed.

Let GCPD take care of the situation.  Jim already looks bad for being suspicious and arresting Mario just to have him tested.  There was no need for him to head out to confront Mario on his own except for easy drama.

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Some of the drama is earned, though.  I’ve enjoyed the slow growth of Jim and Leslie’s bond, so for him to admit his feelings for her and how he missed his chance to make things up felt genuine, as did Leslie’s anger that Jim would pick today as the opportunity to come clean to her.  But she’s got every right to be angry because Jim did come off looking like a jealous lover.  Somewhere in Arkham, the Mad Hatter is laughing.

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It will be interesting to see if and how Jim can even get himself out of this mess.  Mario’s knife fell into the water and the only thing Lucius can prove is how Mario beat the test. Not the kind of news that will change Leslie’s mind or make her any less livid at Jim.  While I have some issues with how this all ended, I am looking forward to hopefully seeing what kind of ripple effect Jim’s actions have caused.

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Same can be said for Edward teaming up with Barbara, even if I still find it ludicrous that he couldn’t figure out that Oswald had been playing him.  But he knows now and has every reason to take down Penguin.

What I don’t get is why Ed needs to partner with Barbara.  He said he has spies all over the city, so he must have some network of allies.  I imagine Barbara just wants in for the hell of it and just to see some fireworks.  She did tell Butch last time that she only wanted to start a war, not be involved.

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And it’s a huge leap to go from bar owner to leading Gotham’s underworld, but stranger things have happened.  Look at Penguin.  He went from being Fish Mooney’s umbrella to declaring himself the king of Gotham and he’s still got a great deal of power as mayor, so it might not be too strange for Barbara to have a similar rise.

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Side-note, I was hoping that Tabitha would get some sort of replacement for her hand, like Butch did, but no.  Her hand has been reattached.  Well, you can’t have everything.

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The Court of Owls stuff with Bruce, Selina, and Alfred was fun to watch at times, and they were put in a precarious position as they didn’t have a member of the Whisper Gang to help them.

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Plus, having the Talon after them put them in a dangerous scenario, but they got help from the most unlikely of places in Maria Kyle, who has not committed suicide in this interpretation of the Batman world, unless Maria has nine lives.  Either way, given how little Selina has spoken of her parents compared to Bruce, I hope we get to learn more about their relationship in the rest of the season.

While “Beware the Green-Eyed Monster” sort of crumbles towards the end due to Jim’s actions, it leaves everyone in a challenging position.

Jim has now further damaged his relationship with both Leslie and Falcone and has little to go off of for presenting his defense, Barbara and Ed have teamed up to raise hell on Penguin, and Maria Kyle’s debut should provide an interesting diversion as Bruce, Selina, and Alfred continue their battle against the Court of Owls.  Here’s looking to the second half of Season Three.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 6: “Swear”

You remember Tara and Heath, right?  While Rick and the others left to further attempt dismantling the Saviors, Tara and Heath left to go on a run after the events of “Not Tomorrow Yet.”  Now it’s time to catch up with The Walking Dead’s two most exciting characters.

I kid, but there’s been a lot of speculation about this episode.  We’ve had bottle episodes this season that deal with, for the most part, one community.  But given how the Saviors are the major threat, it’s easy to write off Tara and Heath’s time as filler.  However, that’s not the case here, as we get an episode that focuses a good amount of time on Tara and introduces us to a new community that could be vital to the battle ahead.

This is “Swear.”

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The episode begins by the water.  A couple of girls: Cyndie, played by Sydney Park, and Rachel, played by Mimi Kirkland, make quick of walkers lying dead in the sand, though Rachel is more eager than the other.  They then stumble upon Tara’s body.

Rachel wants to kill her, but Cyndie says that they don’t have to, even if that’s their responsibility.  Rachel won’t snitch, but she’s not going to help Cyndie, either.  With that, Cyndie drags Tara onto the shore.

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Then we cut back to the camper as Heath and Tara go through what they’ve found so far.  They two went further than they were supposed to, but as Glenn once said, there’s nothing in the world that isn’t hidden, so they just need to keep looking.  But there’s not enough gas to keep going, as it’s already been two weeks.  Tara maintains that they need ammo and medicine, so she doesn’t want to leave without fulfilling her end of the bargain.

But Heath is still rattled by the amount of people killed at the Savior outpost.  Sure, maybe they all had to do it, but Heath reminds Tara that the people of Alexandria lived a certain way before Rick’s group arrived.  Now Heath gets it: you take what you can, kill who needs to be killed, and keep going because no one is in this together.

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Tara calls bullshit on that and knows even Heath doesn’t believe his words, but Heath disagrees.  That’s not just him, but it’s Tara and everyone who wants to stay alive.  After today, Heath declares that the two will push towards the shore, but head back after that, even if they just have rusty cans.  Tara picks up the gun with a bat scrawled onto it.

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In the present, Cyndie, after looking over a map, returns to the shore and leaves Tara two bottles of water, a fish, and a spear before leaving.  Soon after Cyndie is a good distance away, Tara awakens and begins to down the water.

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As Cyndie goes through the forest, Tara follows her from a considerable distance and winds up in a small village.  She finds the people working under the cover of mesh, which also is used to cover their homes.  Soon, the members then all fall in, grab their guns, head off…and start opening fire on Tara.  But they have Stormtrooper aim, so of course they all miss.

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Tara manages to take down one woman, Beatrice, played by Briana Venskus, and knocks her out with the butt of her gun, but she’s soon cornered by Rachel, who still wants to kill her.  Tara finds herself surrounded and then meets the group’s leader: Natania, played by Deborah May, who warns Cyndie to get away from Tara.  In response, Tara feebly offers to leave.  A bit late for that, Tara, isn’t it?

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We flash back to Tara and Heath heading to the bridge, where they find a cavalcade of vehicles .  The two wait to see if any human or walkers are waiting to strike, but soon head towards the cars.  They then happen upon an overturned truck filled with sand.

Just as Heath finds some shells in the ground, Tara pulls loose a backpack that sends down all of the sand.  Walkers begin to crawl out of the sand.  As walkers surround Tara, Heath falls back.

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Back in the present, Natania introduces brings Beatrice and Kathy, played by Nicole Barré to speak with Tara.  Natania explains that the bells and horns that Tara hears are in place to redirect any dead.  The area is clear, for the most part.  When asked where she’s from, Tara explains that she came from Atlanta and stayed on the move with her friend, whom she worked with on a fishing boat apparently called a larder.

Then Tara is asked why she’s here, as the community gets nervous when newcomers arrive.  Tara explains finding the settlement on the bridge when, during the walker attack, she got knocked off the bridge and ended up in the water.  She only snuck around to see if the area was safe.  If she’s pointed in the right direction, Tara will leave.  However, Tara knows too much about the community.

Normally, Tara would have been killed because strangers are killed on sight, which I find hilarious since these women can’t aim for shit.  But anyway, Tara spared Beatrice at least, so that has to count for something.

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That evening, Tara is invited to dinner, which is fish stew.  Natania then formally introduces Cyndie to Tara, who thanks Cyndie for saving her life.  Cyndie is trying to show Rachel a certain way, as she hasn’t had to kill yet.  Natania explains that living so close to the ocean gives the village access to fish.  She’s hopes that Tara can stay so the village stays a secret.  Plus, Natania believes that Tara is a skilled fighter and is a good person.

When Natania offers a chance for Heath to stay as well, Tara asks the million dollar question: where are the men?  The women explain that their group got into a fight with another group and none of the men made it.  After that, the women decided to protect themselves and kill whomever they met on sight.

Again, ladies, your aim is shit, so I don’t buy that claim.  Anyway, the women found the village with the intent to stay hidden and alive.  Tara could have hurt them, but she didn’t.  Natania hopes that Tara can be honest about where she’s really from since a larder is not a boat, but a room for storing meat.  Silly Tara.

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Tara talks about her community, her girlfriend, and how her group has done bad things like this village, like kill this group of people at a satellite station.  In Tara’s eyes, the people her group killed got what they deserved, but that’s not why they were killed.  Tara’s group did it to stay alive, just like these women.  In fact, she hopes that the communities can work together, but the women shoot down that idea.   After all, they want to stay hidden.

Tara says that, eventually, the village will need friends.  If they see everyone as enemies, then enemies are all they’ll find.  Natania offers Tara a guide so she can find Heath and so the women can check her community.  Beatrice will go, but Natania refuses to let Cyndie leave as punishment for breaking the rules.  Though Natania does tell Cyndie that, if this works out, there will be plenty of other chances.

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The next day, Natania bids Tara farewell as Kathy and Beatrice escort her away from the village.  When the three happen upon a walker caught in some branches, Tara goes to kill it right when she finds herself under fire from Kathy and Beatrice.  But again, their aim sucks, so they miss as Tara makes her escape.

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Tara soon hides in a ditch and eventually engages Beatrice in another fight until Beatrice gets her gun.  Tara pleads for Beatrice to let her go, given that Tara could have killed her.  Beatrice retorts that Tara’s group had no idea what they started by killing the people at the satellite post, and she calls mentions the Saviors by their name.

Even if Tara’s group got one small win, Beatrice tells her that there are more Saviors and outposts, and if they know about Tara’s group, it’s too late for them.  Beatrice explains that the Saviors executed every man and boy over the age of 10.  Jesus.  The remaining people were supposed to keep working for the Saviors, but they decided to just leave.  And Beatrice won’t let Tara lead the Saviors back to them.

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Before Beatrice can open fire, given her many chances, Cyndie tackles her.  Tara continues her escape, knowing that Cyndie won’t shoot her since she saved her already. Cyndie wants Tara to swear that she’ll never return or tell anyone about this village, but Tara sees no reason do so in the first place.  Cyndie tells Tara that her group didn’t have to kill the Saviors at the outpost.  No one is evil- they just decide to forget who they are.

Again, Cyndie demands that Tara swear that she’ll keep the area a secret, and Tara soon does agree not to talk about the village.  Cyndie gives Tara a backpack of food and water before taking her to the bridge.

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The two return to the bridge, with Cyndie not willing to leave until Tara makes it to the other side.  Tara asks why Cyndie isn’t like the others, but Cyndie simply asks why Tara isn’t as well.  That’s not an answer, Cyndie.

The two make their way past the vehicles and take out as many walkers as possible. Cyndie picks off as many as she can, but she soon runs out of ammunition.  As luck would have it, Tara soon makes it to the other side.

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After a flashback of Tara and Heath’s final moment before the two were separated, Tara spots Cyndie being hauled away.  She continues her trek when she spots a pair of broken glasses and begins following a path in the dirt.  She then finds a key card in the dirt, hoping it was Heath, and heads off.

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She later happens upon a fishing boat because payoff and then winds up at a supply shop where she eats the fish that gave her.  With a new pair of sunglasses, Tara soon returns to the Alexandria Safe Zone, where she reunites with a crestfallen Eugene.

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Having been briefed on what’s happened, Tara later talks with Rosita, who asks if she has any leads on guns or ammunition, no matter how dangerous of an area she found. She’s ready to take this fight to the Saviors and needs any way to make this right, but Tara that they can’t.  The episode comes to a close with Tara telling Rosita that she didn’t see anything while on her run.

Well, here we are.  There’s been a lot of talk and anticipation about this episode.  Many had believed it would be filler or just a much slower paced episode.  Given how we’ve spent the past few weeks dealing with how communities deal with or combat Negan, to go from that to catching up with Heath and Tara felt like something that wouldn’t factor into the overall plot.

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Not to mention the fact that Tara and Heath probably aren’t topping many people’s favorite character lists, and how we were meeting this new community, “Swear” had the makings of what could have been an episode that people could write off as irrelevant to the season.

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But, to my surprise, that wasn’t the case.  While this wasn’t anything great, this episode did two things: first off, it introduced us to Oceanside, a community I never thought we’d see this early on the show.  More than that, the show fleshed the community out in a way that I don’t believe the comic did, certainly not this soon or prior to “All Out War.”

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However, instead of the TV version of Oceanside having any generic backstory, the show managed to tie them into the main storyline by connecting them to the Saviors.  Granted, if you removed the Saviors from the equation, Tara’s time with this group probably would seem more like filler, but this was a good way to make the community more relevant right now as opposed to later.

And while Tara may have been cocky enough at first to think that the outpost attack was enough to derail the Saviors, the Oceanside community knows all too well what happens when you fight against Negan.  And wow, the repercussions paint Negan as even more of a villain than he already is.

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This is a lingering questions I have regarding Oceanside’s conflict with the Saviors: what in the world did they do to warrant all of the males over 10 being executed? Hell, Rick’s group killed an entire outpost and Negan planned to kill just one person in retaliation- two due to Daryl’s interference.  But the Oceanside group must have screwed up or fought back long and hard to lose the majority, if not all, of their male population.

Either way, even if we don’t know, this further showed the consequences of trying to fight against the Saviors and took some of the wind out of Tara’s confidence.  Tara was in cahoots with the Governor and now sides with Rick: she’s now allied with two leaders willing to kill who needs to be killed in order to survive.

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Sure, Tara is nowhere as hard or cold as Rick or the Governor, but she still understands the need to strike early.  But between learning how both Oceanside and Alexandria suffered at the hands of the Saviors, I think that Heath’s words about killing have left a mark on Tara and she may not want to take part in or possibly be the catalyst of another incident.

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After all, she didn’t tell Rosita about what she saw on her run, but keep in mind that Tara only promised to not reveal anything about Oceanside.  She didn’t promise anything about the bridge.  We saw all of the shells in the sand, and between that and Rosita wanting Eugene to make her a bullet, there’s nothing stopping Tara from at least telling the others about the bridge.  So the door’s still open for Oceanside to meet our survivors.

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As for the Oceanside folks themselves, I’m curious to see whether they play a part in the coming conflict with the Saviors.  Given how we see all of those guns just after Negan has deprived Alexandria of their weapons, I expect some sort of follow-up.  You don’t introduce a community like this that has a shit ton of guns and there not be any sort of payoff later.

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That said, I’m of two minds about the inhabitants.  They seem like decent people when you get to know them and they have every reason to be suspicious of anyone they meet. But for all their talk of killing strangers on sight, Tara walked out relatively unharmed.  Not even so much as getting popped in the knee for even sneaking around the village.  It’s hard for me to think Oceanside’s inhabitants are ruthless when they couldn’t subdue one person.

But at least they were smart enough to see through Tara’s ruse and invite her to stay to help grow the community.  I get the sense that Oceanside would prefer not to engage in battle, but if necessary, they will defend themselves.  Of the residents that we meet, Cyndie comes off as the most welcoming to Tara, given how she saved her multiple times and helped her cross the bridge.

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And I got the vibe that she’s one of the residents who is still willing to fight the likes of the Saviors.  The others seem reluctant, but ready, to take part in another clash, but Cyndie admitted that she’s a good shot and she’s not against breaking the rules to help out someone else.  If the other communities had a battle ready ally in Oceanside, I would put good money on Cyndie stepping up first to lend a hand.

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It was nice to see Tara handle this new situation on her own.  While I like Alana Masterson in the role, Tara has never been a character I’ve had an attachment to, and while I’m still not her biggest fan here, it was good to see her prove how useful and good of a fighter she is outside of the main survivors.

Though she could use work on her storytelling, since she was exposed on not knowing a larder, followed by her coming right out and admitting what her friends had done to the Saviors.  Then again, as far as I can tell, she hasn’t told them the name or where her community is located, so she didn’t play her entire hand.

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The problem with this episode was the pacing.  More so the cutting back and forth between the past and present.  It wasn’t done as well as “First Time Again,” I feel, and not like the flashbacks were frequent, but I would have rather we had all of Tara and Heath’s moments played out as one long sequence.

You can start out with Tara washing up on the shore, sure, but then just start with Tara and Heath’s conversation, end with Tara falling into the water, and then play out the rest of the episode in the present.  The problem with cutting back and forth is that we knew where Tara ended up before we saw the scene of her ending up in the water.

And once more, going back to “First Time Again,” those flashbacks filled in the blanks of how the community dealt with the deaths of Pete, Reg, and the new set of circumstances. Those flashbacks were complimented by them still addressing those issues in the present. Whereas here, Heath and Tara have a conversation before heading to the bridge and dealing with walkers.  That’s about it.

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I hope that Heath’s fate being unknown isn’t just a way for the show to remove Heath from the equation right now since Corey Hawkins is also going to be on 24: Legacy, but for now, where Heath went to is anyone’s guess right now.

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By the way, getting real tired of these fake-outs.  It would have been pretty damn cliche if the walker Tara saw on the bridge was indeed Heath, but it wasn’t.  Just a fake-out.  Was it necessary?  No.  Was it effective?  Also no.

So “Swear” was a good episode.  Not as bad as people expected it to be, but not as engaging as the others, in my opinion.  The introduction of the Oceanside community and the reveal that they have had a run-in with the Saviors helps connect this village to the greater, ongoing story.  Even though Tara swore not to tell anyone about what she saw, I’m hopeful that we see more of Oceanside this season.

A Look at Gotham- Season 3, Episode 10: “Mad City: Time Bomb”

So with Captain Barnes locked away in Gotham City, it’s time to turn to the most important thing to hit Gotham City in years…Mario and Leslie’s upcoming marriage.  Oh, and this strange group about owls or something like that.  This is “Time Bomb.”

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The episode begins with Carmine, Mario, and Leslie discussing the upcoming rehearsal dinner.  With everything going on, Leslie has taken a few days off of work in light of Barnes’ actions, but she maintains that what he did was due to the virus.  In addition, the lab analyzing Alice Tetch’s blood has developed a test to see who is infected.  It’s a step towards finding a cure.

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As the three leave, someone attempts to bring the car around, but once they turn on the ignition, the car explodes.  I hate when that happens.

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When GCPD later arrive on the scene, Carmine pulls Jim aside with a theory: some of his old enemies have resurfaced because Mario is getting married.  Though Carmine is retired, he won’t stand by after something like this, but Jim doesn’t want Carmine tearing up Gotham to get revenge.  He gives Carmine his word that he’ll solve this, and Carmine gives him one day.

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Over at Penguin Manor, Oswald gathers members of the five families to discuss the state of Gotham City in light of Barnes’ downfall.  People will be looking to Gotham’s finest for protection, so Penguin proposes a 50 percent increase in protection fees.  In enters Barbara, who informs Oswald that Tabitha and Butch are missing.  Oswald, though, hasn’t seen Butch since the Red Hood fiasco.

Tabitha has been hiding Butch ever since then, but she hasn’t checked in with Barbara as of recent.  Oswald scoffs at the notion that he was involved.  Rather, he offers Barbara a chance to lower her gun and apologize.  Barbara soon retreats, figuring that Tabitha and Butch must have run off without telling her.  Oswald warns Barbara that if she points a gun again, Olga will be the one to clean her brains off of the floor.

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When everyone leaves, Oswald calls Nygma to ask if he is finished yet.  But Nygma needs to work through his grief in his own way.  True, but Oswald wants him to work faster.  Nygma gets back to work with his hostages: a bound and gagged Butch and Tabitha.  Butch tells Nygma that he will regret this and tells him to let Oswald know to do his own dirty work, but this has nothing to do with Oswald.

However, when Ed brings up Isabella’s death, Butch has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about.  And since that’s the response Nygma wanted, he begins the shock therapy.

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Over at GCPD, Lucius Fox tells Gordon and acting captain Bullock that the car bomb used a mercury switch with military grade plastic, which is high-end for a mob hit.  More than that, the explosive was laced with an accelerant that made the explosive burn at ten times the heat of standard C-4.  Whoever did this didn’t want anything left behind.  Bullock has an idea of a potential lead: an ex-military guy by the name of “Fuse.”

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So Harvey and Jim check it out and find Fuse dead just as he was prepared to leave town.  After inspecting the bed, Jim finds a folder filled with documents on times, locations, and surveillance photos.  Jim realizes that Carmine isn’t the target.

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And in record time, Jim arrives at the hospital where Mario works in order to prevent him from being killed by a pair of assassins on a motorcycle.  When the attackers flee, Jim tells Mario that he is the target.

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Over at Wayne Manor, Alfred prepares frittata for Bruce and Selina, who are in the middle of research to learn about the key.  Alfred doesn’t want anyone leaving the manor if someone is after them, and Bruce agrees.  He goes off to the study for more research, but Selina thinks that it’s just, in fact, an old key.

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At the conservatory, Ivy cares for the plants and asks Alfred to turn off the alarms so she can put the plants outside.  Alfred refuses, so Ivy asks him to smell her perfume.  When she’s close enough, she gets Alfred in a trance, so that’s the perfect time for Ivy to ask how to turn off the alarm.

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Back at GCPD, Jim tells Mario to lay low in case he has any enemies, even though the marriage is tomorrow.  Mario figures that Jim wants the wedding canceled, but Jim needs Mario to trust him since whoever is coming after him will keep coming.  Mario figures that as long as there’s a target on his back, Leslie isn’t safe.  So Jim asks Bullock to keep an eye on Mario while he goes off to talk with Carmine.  And be subtle about it, Harvey.

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With Oswald out, Barbara again stops by the manor and ends up speaking with Olga, who notes Barbara’s expensive looking ring that Barbara soon hands over.  Olga likes how Oswald treats her, but she’s not a fan of Nygma and doesn’t get why Oswald likes him so much.  As for Nygma, Olga remembers that Ed talked about receiving a special delivery, but nothing came to the manor except a bill.

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Despite the shock therapy, Butch still tells Nygma that he’s never heard of Isabella.  In fact, he goes as far to say that Isabella didn’t really exist if she fell in love with Nygma of all people.  Not something you say to the man who can shock you.  Ed turns his attention to Tabitha, who learns that Ed wants to break Butch’s heart before killing him.  An eye for an eye, but in this case, Ed will take a hand instead.

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Selina figures that there is something on the key that can’t be seen, so she dissolves it in vinegar and baking soda.  After some bickering about their sort-of relationship, Selina takes out the key, which does indeed have an engraving.  Upon closer inspection, Bruce sees that the engraving is a bird- not just any bird, but an owl.

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Alfred, however, figures that Bruce just having the key could be seen as breaking the deal with the masked woman and the people she represents.  Bruce still wants to contact with them to let them know that Ivy didn’t know what she stole.  Speaking of, Ivy is nowhere to be seen. Nice going, butler.  Alfred gets a call from a man who wants the necklace in exchange for Ivy.

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So the three arrive at the exchange point and head down a manhole to meet the people holding Ivy.  The leader of this group, Luka Volk, played by Costa Ronin, warns Bruce not to trust Kathryn.  She will betray Bruce just as she and her group betrayed Volk, as he and his comrades are working to destroy Kathryn’s group.  And what is the name of this group? They call themselves the Court of Owls.

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Jim informs Carmine that Mario, now a target, but now safe at GCPD.  With military grade explosion and a sword wielding assailant, this doesn’t feel like a mob dealing, so Jim wants to know if Mario is mixed up in something.

Carmine still believes that Mario is nothing like him, so Jim figures that Carmine doesn’t know something.  Jim gets a call from Harvey, who tells him that Mario has left the GCPD to take care of this matter himself.

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Barbara, now going under the last name Nygma, arrives at a bondage shop and asks the merchant, Todd, played by Brian Charles Johnson, that she was looking for a package that was apparently already delivered.  She then asks Todd to show her how a particular device works.  Todd, like an idiot, demonstrates it in a way that gets him stuck so Barbara can begin the torture.

She needs to get information from Todd on Tabitha’s disappearance, so she demands to know the combination to Todd’s safe.  He gives it up and Barbara gets what she needs without letting Todd go.  Nice going, Todd.

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Butch awakens just in time for Nygma to show off his mini guillotine.  He sets the timer for 55 seconds and tells the two that it can be stopped with the press of a button.  When the timer hits zero, the spring loaded blade will be released.  However, if Tabitha stops the guillotine, . It can be stopped with the press of a button, but if Tabitha pushes it, the button will also send a fatal shock of electricity to Butch.  It’s that or Tabitha loses a hand.

Or, you know, Nygma could avoid wasting time and just remove Tabitha’s hand himself.  Just a suggestion.

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Back underground, Volk explains to Bruce that initiates of his group, called the Whisper Gang, wear masks to ensure their silence until they become full members.  The Whisper Gang are notorious smugglers that used to number in the hundreds until the Court of Owls betrayed them after offering a partnership.  Many went back to Ukraine, but others stayed back in order to enact revenge.

Which brings us to the key, which opens a safe in one of the Court’s buildings.  Inside said safe is a device that can apparently destroy the Court of Owls.  The Gang captured a member of the Court, but even they don’t know what’s inside the safe.  The Court just fears it would fall into the hands of their enemies.

Selina figures that the Court would know who stole it, but turns out that the safe originally had two keys and the Court still has one.  Bruce tells Volk that he stood down because he thought there was no way to defeat the Court of Owls.  If what Volk is saying is true, then that’s no longer the case.

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Jim arrives at a jewelry shop where an armed Mario is using himself as bait.  Jim figures that Mario is protecting a secret if he’s going through all this work.  Assailants soon enter the shop and attack Mario and Jim.  While Jim manages to subdue and arrest his attacker, Mario chokes his to death.

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Back to the sadistic choice, Butch, maintaining his innocence, is instructed by Nygma to plead to Tabitha, not him.  Figuring that Butch will die one way or another, Nygma enacts a new deal: if Tabitha loves Butch enough to sacrifice her hand in exchange for his life, Nygma will free them both.  Tabitha tells Butch that she likes him, but she isn’t in a love place.  Nygma figured that Tabitha would say that.

So Butch tells Tabitha that he’s enjoyed these past few weeks and it’s fine if Tabitha doesn’t love him.  He still loves her.  For a guy like him, that’s enough.  Then Butch confesses to killing Isabella, but he says that he did so by shooting her.  Huh.  In the end, Tabitha refuses to push the button, so when time is up, it’s bye-bye to Tabitha’s right hand.

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Realizing how Butch’s story clashes with how Isabella dead, he sees that Butch didn’t kill Isabella after all.  He heads out just as Barbara arrives.

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Back at GCPD, Jim, Mario, and Carmine observe the one remaining assailant when Bullock arrives with bad news: the assassin is to be transported to a federal facility upstate, meaning that somebody wants him out of the GCPD precinct.  Jim asks Mario about what happened between him and the other assassin.  Jim wants Mario to tell Leslie what happened since she deserves to know the truth.

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In interrogation, Carmine believes that he knows who sent the assassin, but since he figures the assassin won’t talk, Carmine resorts to force.

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In the captain’s office, Bullock gets used to the role and tells Jim that it’s not too late for him to tell Leslie how he really feels.  The talk is interrupted when the two see, on surveillance footage, Carmine dealing with the assassin.  Falcone fishes out one of the assassin’s teeth and is ready to take care of this matter his way now that he knows who hired the assassin.  He also warns Jim to stop pursuing the matter.

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At the docks, a masked man attacks Volk and Dmitry before asking if he found the second key.  A fight breaks out until the masked man overpowers and kills both Dmitry and Volk.

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Over at a hospital, while Tabitha is taken into patient care, Butch tells Barbara that he’s ready for war with Oswald and Nygma.  Barbara, though, is too focused on Isabella and soon pieces together who loved Nygma and doesn’t want to share him.  Barbara wants more than vengeance.  There’s no need to go to war, they just need to start one.

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Carmine presents Kathryn with the tooth, confused since he’s always done what the Court has done, even against his own wishes.  Hey, he got them Indian Hill when Maroni refused to sell, but now the Court now wants to kill Mario.  Carmine swears that if Mario is harmed, he will retaliate with everything that he has.

Kathryn isn’t bothered by Carmine’s threats, as she’s sure that Carmine won’t win.  But if Mario dies, winning won’t be the point.  Gotham will burn.  Kathryn feels that Gotham is on the brink of chaos and only the Court can save the city.  The Court will expect Carmine’s assistance when he’s called upon, but until then, Mario is safe.  With that, Kathryn leaves Carmine.

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Back in his crappy apartment, Jim receives a visit from Leslie, who was on her way to the rehearsal dinner.  Mario told her what happened and how Jim put his life on the line.  She still believes that Mario is a good man and she asks Jim to say what he has to say.  Jim admits that he missed his chance to make Leslie happy, but more than anything, he still wants that for her.

Perhaps saying goodbye is all they have left or they haven’t done it properly yet.  And with one kiss, Leslie bids Jim Gordon farewell.

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She heads off while Mario, watching nearby, is distracted by two random men.  As a voice in Mario’s head tells him that Leslie loves Jim, Mario attacks the men and declares that Leslie loves him and he will never let her go.

With Barnes out of the picture for now and Mad Hatter now in Arkham, Gotham put a lot of attention this week on multiple storylines.  Compare that to the previous episodes, where the bulk of focus went to dealing with the Mad Hatter, and it seems like Gotham would devolve back into a mess at trying to juggle different, potentially unconnected plots.

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But that wasn’t the case here.  “Time Bomb” was a pretty good episode that took advantage of the three plots, advanced each of the storylines, and even managed to tie two of them together, so I expect some of these plots to cross paths as we approach the mid-season finale.

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I feel that it’s inevitable that Jim and Leslie will find their way back together, and with Mario infected by Alice’s blood, this could be the way Gotham makes that happen.  At various points in the episode, Jim is told that he should be honest with Leslie on how he feels about her.  There’s clearly still some chemistry between the two and I am certain that the kiss won’t be the last intimate moment that they share.

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Not to mention that, like in most triangles, one or two elements have to be plagued with jealousy.  While Jim may still have feelings for Leslie, I doubt he would go out of his way to sabotage her relationship with Mario.  But Mario, having now seen Leslie leave Jim’s apartment and knowing that Jim told Jervis to shoot Leslie, has more reason to dislike Gordon more than he already does.

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So why is he a target?  It’s a reveal I’m looking forward to because it would shed light on whatever Mario and Carmine may be keeping from everyone else, but it’s also a way to rope Carmine back into the game as he deals with the Court of Owls.  And given his vast sphere of influence in Gotham City that we’ve seen since Season One, I buy that he’s had involvement with the Court in the past.

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And this is a good way to tie into Bruce and Selina learning more about the Court through the key and their run-in with the Whisper Gang- another element that Gotham has cherry picked from the New 52, by the way.  But with the kids having found the key, the Court is coming after them as well, so I would expect Bruce and Selina to cross paths with Jim soon.

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Plus, I’m glad that Gotham hasn’t had the relationship be the forefront of any scenes Bruce and Selina have.  It comes in small increments, but Gotham doesn’t put too much attention on it.  The show acknowledges the challenges in the ongoing relationship and gets back to the plot.  It’s nice that the show is taking its time with Bruce and Selina, rather than spoon-feeding their bond to us, as was the case in Season One.

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Meanwhile, you would think that a smart guy like Nygma would put the pieces together as far as Isabella’s death, but he puts Butch and Tabitha through the sadistic choice that’s no different than Jervis making Jim pick between Leslie and Valerie.  By the way, I’m curious how Nygma got the drop on Tabitha and Butch.  He doesn’t have any henchmen, as far as I know, and he’s not a strong guy, so how’d he capture the two so fast?

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Well, regardless, Barbara is the one to figure out who killed Isabella and that Penguin pines for Nygma.  And it looks like her next move is to use this information to drive a wedge between the two.  Plus, while Nygma isn’t smart enough to see the bigger picture, he did at least manage to hurt Butch by taking Tabitha’s hand.

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You know, I’m starting to think that Barbara doesn’t even need Tabitha and Butch at her side for any sort of support.  She can clearly walk into any party or gathering no questions asked.  Hell, she could sit in the captain’s chair at the GCPD and I’m sure few of the cops would question that.

With the mid-season finale coming up next, Gotham is shifting its focus away from the Mad Hatter and focusing its attention on the protagonists dealing with the Court of Owls. As powerful as the Court is, and with Carmine Falcone ready to get involved again, things are no doubt going to get hectic as Gotham City heads for war.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 5: “Go Getters”

Right, so last time we were at the Hilltop, Rick killed one of the members and acted like he hadn’t done a damn thing.  Well, things have changed now.  As Maggie and Sasha have finally arrived at the Hilltop, the two become more direct in their confrontations with Gregory and their plan to strike back at Negan.  But not before an unexpected visit from the Saviors.  This is “Go Getters.”

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The episode begins with Maggie awakening at the Hilltop.  Carson informs Maggie of her condition, detached placenta and such, and trauma she endured, but despite that, she didn’t lose the baby.  Carson advises her to take it easy for a few days so she can recuperate.  Maggie asks Carson to repeat everything he said.  God, Maggie, start listening.

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She’s soon released and reunites with Sasha, who takes her to the grave sites of both Abraham and Glenn.  Sasha hands Maggie the pocket watch that was in Glenn’s pocket.  Maggie then rests her father’s watch where her husband now rests.  Sasha feels that everything is wrong now, but to Maggie, not everything has gone to shit.  Given Carson’s instructions, Sasha insists that the two of them stay.

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Jesus approaches and places flowers on the graves.  Blue flowers apparently inspire strength, and green mean release.  Gregory joins the two and asks whether the rest of their group eliminated Negan, but it was just the folks at the outpost.  He wants Sasha and Maggie gone and isn’t going by Carson’s instructions.  Also, Gregory informs Sasha and Maggie that the dead at the Hilltop are burned, not buried.  Keep that in mind.

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Gregory tells Jesus that he’s recuperating just like anyone else is.  Stab wounds can make you do that.  Maggie promised that her group could take care of the Saviors, but the Hilltop is still at risk.  If the outpost was attacked, Negan may think it was Gregory’s idea.

But if Maggie and Sasha leave, then Gregory has plausible deniability.  He concedes that the two can stay the night and leave in the morning.  And though Jesus wants to talk about this later, Gregory won’t have that.  So it’s settled, but not to Sasha.  And Maggie’s pregnancy isn’t Gregory’s problem- it’s Maggie’s problem.  Well, shit.

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Over at the Alexandria Safe Zone, Rick wants Carl to come with him on a supply run for the Saviors, but Carl still doesn’t like this arrangement.  He’ll stay behind to take care of Judith.  As Aaron heads downstairs, Rick gives Michonne a walkie-talkie and tells her that he’s headed north.  The two have a goodbye kiss before Rick departs.

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Carl later asks why Michonne didn’t join Rick, but she has to figure out how the community can do this, if possible.  Carl doesn’t see a way and thinks that his father is wrong about this deal.  Even still, Michonne doesn’t know.  She cautions Carl to change his bandage and be nice to Olivia.  What the hell did Carl do to Olivia?

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He heads outside and finds Enid preparing to scale the walls again, as she’s planning to see Maggie at the Hilltop.  Enid assures Carl that she will be fine, and has better aim than Carl.  Enid, don’t be a dick.

Carl tells Enid that he won’t be saving her anymore.  He claims that he did as much in the armory.  Plus, not sorry about what he had to see on the road, either.  Enid then heads over the wall.

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Jesus helps Sasha set up in her room, but she wants him to get Gregory to change his mind.  She asks Jesus why he isn’t in charge, but he doesn’t see himself as a leader.  The people need Jesus there.  If it was just Gregory, things would be worse.  Sasha offers to scavenge for the Hilltop as long as Jesus can keep Maggie safe.

Jesus doesn’t want that, though, so Sasha asks what he wants the Hilltop to be.  Jesus responds that he just tries to help, so Sasha says that he may need to start doing more. He then pulls out Abraham’s necklace that he dropped in the dirt during in “Knots Untie.”  You remember that fight, right?

He gives it to Sasha just as Maggie arrives and tells Jesus that she won’t be around much longer.  Jesus promises that he’ll do what he can to help.  When Maggie asks Jesus why the dead are burned, Jesus says that it’s just to keep going.  Their memories remain in the people who are still alive.

Sasha suggests that the two of them stay.  After all, Gregory is an idiot and coward.  True as that is, Maggie suggests that they sleep it over so their minds will be clearer in the morning.

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So Enid finds a bike and spots a walker approaching her.  It’s soon decimated by an approaching car that quickly crashes into a post.  The driver backs up and slams the walker into a wall.  Turns out that it’s Carl, who tells Enid that he likes to drive.  I don’t see how.  He’s a worse driver than Lori.

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That evening, Maggie and Sasha hear whistles, music playing, and spot fires across the Hilltop.  With the windows locked, Sasha slips out on top of the trailer just in time to spot walkers streaming into the Hilltop.  Maggie alerts Jesus that Sasha needs backup, as well as tells two Hilltop residents to close the gates.  Sasha approaches the source of the music: a locked car.

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Then, the badass she is, Maggie enters the battle with a tractor that she uses to mow down walkers because that’s how Maggie rolls.  While Jesus and Maggie continue taking care of walkers, Maggie backs the tractor over the car and stops the music.

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The next day, Carl and Enid, now on foot, talk about killing for the ones they love.  Carl counters that it’s not for them and he apologizes for locking her in the armory.  Enid is still concerned about Maggie.

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Jesus tells Gregory that he won’t turn away Maggie and Sasha, but Gregory maintains that he’s in charge.  However, if Jesus says the word, he can have the Hilltop and all the shit that’s happened with the Saviors.  Then Sasha and Maggie enter just as Gregory informs the two that they can leave and take Jesus with them.

Sasha offers to leave, but Maggie stays in exchange for what happened last night.  She asks Gregory what can be done to make this right.  For that to work, Gregory wants to meet one-on-one with Sasha, and Maggie gets the wrong impression about that.

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The conversation is interrupted by the sound of a truck arriving.  While Jesus puts Maggie and Sasha into hiding, Gregory watches as Simon leads a large group of Saviors into the Hilltop as they converge on the mansion.

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Back on the road, Carl finds a backpack that actually contains two pairs of roller skates that miraculously fit both him and Enid.  Now what are fucking odds of that?  The two join hands and skate down the road like something out of a 1980s movie.

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The Saviors enter the mansion with Simon surveying the place.  He tells Gregory that the two of them need to talk in his study.  See, Simon wants to see Gregory’s painting.  He then brings up that the Saviors that Gregory used to deal with have been removed from play, hence the need to talk.

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In the study, Simon does indeed admire the painting.  Gregory received last night’s message loud and clear, assuming that the Saviors were just showing who is in charge.  Simon, though, is transfixed on the painting, seeing it as management by example.  Simon figures that people in the Hilltop probably forget what the corpses look and smell like.  He offered to kill the walkers, but Gregory already cleaned up the mess.  Simon likes that.

But Gregory says that the Hilltop picked up skills from the Saviors.  He’s a team player, which is why the people chose him.  But Simon brings up the other people who apparently got spoiled dealing with Gregory.  Gregory is surprised to learn that these other Saviors are, in fact, extremely dead.  And the people who killed them work for the Saviors now.  They’re real go-getters.  Roll credits.

Gregory wants Simon to tell Negan that he understands the benefits in crossing the aisle, but Simon sees no reason for that.  Right now, Simon is Gregory’s Negan.  It means a lot that Gregory sees what the Saviors can offer.  It’s why he’s still alive and others aren’t.  Simon asks if there’s anything else he should be aware of, and Gregory eventually says that there is.

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So he takes Simon to a closet to reveal…alcohol.  Unfortunately, Simon hates scotch- it tastes like ashtrays and window cleaner to him.  How he knows what those taste like, I don’t know.  Anyway, Simon is a gin man.  Negan will love it, though, and Simon will say that it’s from him, so he takes the whole damn box of booze.

Simon thanks Gregory for the gesture, and he then tells the Saviors to go through and only take half of what’s needed.  Also, Simon is taking the painting.

Then Simon has one last task for Gregory: he wants him to kneel.  And Gregory does just that.  Simon gets down to his level and tells Gregory to remember his solid kneel for next time.  As the Saviors get to work, Jesus stares down the Hilltop leader with disgust.

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Back to Carl and Enid, it turns out that the two have made it to the Hilltop in record time.  Carl wants Enid to come with her since, hell, they both want to kill the Saviors.  It would be for them, but Enid says that it wouldn’t be for Abraham, Maggie, or Glenn.  Carl is doing this for himself.  However Carl does it would still matter to Enid.  Enid begs Carl to return with her, but he refuses.  And she knows that she can’t stop him.

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Gregory is livid that Maggie and Sasha were hidden in his closet, not the hallway closet. He maintains that the Saviors attempting to kill him was a misunderstanding.  At last, Jesus puts his foot down: Sasha and Maggie are staying.

Jesus won’t be in charge, it’s just that Gregory won’t be.  That or the public can learn of the deal with Alexandria and Gregory’s plausible deniability.  Jesus, Maggie, and Sasha are staying so they can be one big, happy, and dysfunctional family.  Gregory says that he will keep things going.

If the Hilltop plays nice, the Saviors will play nice.  And that’s when Maggie slugs Gregory before taking Hershel’s watch, which he took because he felt a fine watch didn’t need to be outdoors and left in the rain.  Going forward, though, Maggie wants to be called by her proper name: Maggie Rhee.

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Later, Jesus tells the two that when he arrived at the Hilltop, Gregory was already in charge.  He didn’t like how Gregory operated, but couldn’t imagine anyone else in his place.  Now, he can.  Who?  Well, more on that later.  He apologizes for not talking to Maggie sooner and promises to make it up to her.  Also, the gates are finally closed.  Sasha tells Jesus that if he wants to make it up to her, find out where Negan lives.

With one of the trucks going back to Negan’s stronghold, Jesus may be able to do that.  Sasha asks if Jesus can keep this between them, and neither she nor Jesus like the sound of that.

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Maggie goes out and finds Enid at the gravesite, which now includes some green balloons.  Okay, did Enid scale the Hilltop walls or just walk right through the gates?

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Whatever.  Anyway, Maggie tells Enid that she couldn’t stand by and watch walkers invade the Hilltop.  It wasn’t hard or her first time.  She ran over this guy’s Camaro- Maggie is a dick to Camaros.  Then Sasha enters the trailer and learns that Enid came, alone, to help.  She asks about the balloons, but ultimately sees nothing wrong with them.  Plus, there was nothing marking the graves.  Maggie then gives Hershel’s watch to Enid.

After all, she doesn’t need anything to remember him by because they have each other.  Maggie then prays over the dinner, even though Jesus isn’t in their presence.  How rude.

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Meanwhile, the Saviors load up and leave the Hilltop, unaware that they have new travel companions in both Jesus and Carl.

Well, we were bound to end up here sooner or later.  While we’ve dealt with Alexandria, the Sanctuary, and the Kingdom in previous episodes, “Go Getters” lets us catch up with Maggie and Sasha in the aftermath of Negan killing Abraham and Glenn.  It’s not a complete bottle episode, mind you, as we do cut to the Alexandria Safe Zone for a bit, in addition to Carl and Enid’s adventures on the road.

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But for the most part, this was our chance to see how Maggie and Sasha have been, and I love every second of it.  Unlike Rick trying to make the most of Negan’s terms for now, right from the gate, we see that Sasha and Maggie are ready to fight.  Their bond, strengthened by the people they’ve lost, has elevated them to start calling the shots at the Hilltop.

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Yes, Maggie was the one who brokered the deal with Gregory, and in addition to Rick saying that his group has never had trouble with confrontation, she’s seen the consequences of her confidence.  But even with that and her pregnancy problems, Maggie is not going to sit on the sidelines and be a bystander.

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In addition to taking Glenn’s name, Maggie is rising as a leader at the Hilltop.  When the colony comes under attack, she springs into action and gives orders to the Hilltop members, who were just watching the walkers, to defend the community.  Despite her condition, she gets into a fucking tractor and crushes both walkers and the car to get rid of the sound.  Regardless of being hindered, Maggie still has a voice.

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And it helps that she and Sasha push Jesus to step up and become more outspoken. Even if Jesus does believe that he can’t be a leader, he’s vital support.  He can hold his own in a fight, we’ve seen how nimble he is, and he sees Gregory for the coward that he is.  I sort of see Jesus as a person who could lead, but might not want that responsibility.  As an adviser, maybe, but he has no desire to be in charge.

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But that’s not good enough for Sasha and Maggie because they’ve seen what he brings to the table as far as support.  So it’s great that the three of them have banded together to bring about a change at the Hilltop.

This extends to their plan of gathering information about Negan.  While Rick is trying to avoid pushing Negan’s buttons again for now, Sasha and Maggie are already brewing for war and have taken the first step towards that by asking Jesus to find out where Negan lives.  Even though Rick doesn’t want anyone else to die, Maggie and Sasha are being more proactive by learning whatever they can about Negan.

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They’re willing to fight back against him, unlike Gregory, who would rather keep his head in the sand to save his own ass.  I love how Xander Berkeley is handling Gregory, as he’s ripped right from the comics and brought to the life in a great way.  He’s mean, slimy, and doesn’t seem to have an ounce of integrity- proven when he tries to sell out Maggie and Sasha or when he takes the pocket watch.

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He kneels to the Saviors because he’s unwilling to fight.  He would prefer to stay fed and protected as long as he doesn’t piss off his oppressors, even though that paints him as a weakling.  He blames the Hilltop’s problems on Rick, Maggie, and their negotiation, as he refuses to take responsibility and lead the community.

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And I get the sense that he’s not interested in paying respect to the dead.  In addition to taking Hershel’s watch, he doesn’t dwell on the memories of those lost.  He prefers to burn them and move on rather than honor them with a proper burial.  Now this is a callback that I love.

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Remember back in Season One when Glenn told Daryl and Morales that they don’t burn their friends and comrades, but bury them instead?  This really shows the disconnect between the survivors we know versus Gregory.  Back then, they chose to honor the people they knew by giving them the burial that they deserved. Sure, Maggie wasn’t around back then, but I imagine she feels similar.

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But not Gregory.  He’s the opposite and would sooner burn the dead members of his community and deal with the next obstacle instead of giving the Hilltop a way to remember their fallen.

Not that there’s any sort of mandate on how to dispose of the dead, mind you, and Jesus does tell Maggie and Sasha that the living will preserve the memories of the dead. That’s acceptable, sure, but a burial still helps honor them as well.  And with Maggie passing Hershel’s watch to Enid, she acknowledges that she doesn’t need anything to remember Glenn by because she has friends who will no doubt remember him.

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As far as the Saviors go, I’m curious how much, if at all, the group as a whole know about the Hilltop’s involvement or the arrangement with Rick to deliver Gregory’s head to the outpost Saviors.  I say ‘as a whole’ because based on what Simon says, it seems like the Hilltop only dealt with the Saviors at said outpost.  With them dead and Simon taking charge, I will be very interested to see if the remaining Saviors know of the deal.

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And this is another casting I’m loving, by the way.  Steven Ogg is great as Simon.  In addition to being charismatic in the role, Ogg still manages to make Simon come off as intimidating.  Despite how cheerful and funny Simon can be, he’s just as scary, as we see in his exchanges with Gregory.

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The one part of this episode I wasn’t a big fan of was the subplot involving Carl and Enid. Perhaps it’s the writing or some of the chemistry between Chandler Riggs and Katelyn Nacon, but some of the interactions between Carl and Enid felt…odd and awkward.  I suppose that’s the point since they’re still kids, and it’s nice to see the two bond, but you could have trimmed some of this down.

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And you know, a big part of that has to do with the skating sequence.  Seriously, the stars aligned in their fucking favor that they found not one, but two pairs of skates that fit them no problem.  That’s not convenient- that’s just dumb.

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Adding to that, they find the Hilltop in no time without any issues.  They didn’t even have to skate away from walkers.  Carl didn’t go to the Hilltop in “Knots Untie” and I’m guessing that Enid has never been there, yet the two arrive there before the episode even ends. I suppose the roller skates were outfitted with rockets.

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Wait…

But that’s my only real gripe with the episode.  Otherwise, I loved it.  Great acting and character development, a well done action sequence at the Hilltop that allowed Jesus to kick ass and Maggie to show how time on a farm will make you handy with a tractor when dealing with walkers.

At the same time, “Go Getters” also allowed for smaller, more intimate moments, such as Rick and Michonne’s farewell and the reunion between Enid, Sasha, and Maggie.  Lauren Cohan continues to do a great job as Maggie and I’m happy that we’re watching Maggie rise in leadership at the Hilltop.

Going forward, though, we’re getting a clear divide between our protagonists.  Rick is playing a long term game with Negan, but Maggie and Sasha are ready to take the fight to him.  With both Jesus and Carl headed to the Sanctuary to gather information- or in Carl’s case, to kill- Negan is in for a surprise.

A Look at Masters of Sex- Season 4 Finale: “The Eyes of God”

Well, here we are.  Life for William Masters and Virginia Johnson has been up, down, and all around in a season that comes to its conclusion with them choosing to tie the knot. Is everything going to end in happiness for everyone?  Let’s find out as we jump into “The Eyes of God.”

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The episode begins with Virginia awakening to the sound of Bill singing while he shaves.  As she joins him in the bathroom, she tells him that the marriage could take place at Hugh Hefner’s mansion.  Brides there have even appeared in puffs of smoke.  Virginia plans to head out before the kids see her.  She then reminds Bill that he has an intake with her parents.

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As Virginia heads out, she spots Libby returning in a hippie van, which she got from a man named Patches.  Libby doesn’t regret a moment from Woodstock.  She’s fine with Virginia and Bill being together, but then Virginia tells her that the two plan to get married, and Libby is the first to know.  Libby is glad, but she’s concerned about the children being confused.  Virginia hoped that the two of them could figure this out together.

Virginia, why can’t you ever handle your own shit?

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At the clinic, Barton and Guy congratulate Bill and Virginia.  Guy asks about the wedding planner, and since the two don’t have one, they select Guy for the responsibility because of course.  Barton is to stand as witness.

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Just then, Edna and Harry arrive for the intake.  Bill walks the two through the questionnaire process and begins with their current sexual activity.  Virginia, briefly interrupted by Lester, listens in on the session from the recording room.

Edna wants to know how revealing of this private information helps.  Once you say the ugly and secret things, they’re out there for good.  Edna admits that she’s done her best to be a good wife and that should be enough.

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If Harry knows Edna well enough, he should know that he’s asking too much.  With that, Edna leaves.  Harry is out, too, if Edna leaves.  He’s done with marriage.  Virginia chases after her father to get him to stay, but Harry is now even more upset that his daughter listened in on their conversation.  Virginia doesn’t want her parents to break up- there are worse things than driving each other crazy, like growing old all by yourself.

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But again, with two failed marriages of her own, Harry asks how Virginia can say that.  Before Virginia can follow her father, Art arrives to discuss an urgent matter.  He tells her and Bill that Nancy plans to open her own clinic using their work and patient names, particularly the wealthy one.  Right now, Nancy is in New York to sign paperwork for office space.  Art was with her, but no longer.

He’s facing hard truths about his marriage.  Art tells the two that they didn’t deserve to have their trust betrayed and hopes that it’s not too late.

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So Bram walks the team through a process of cutting off Nancy’s breach while she’s ahead.  Barton doesn’t believe that Nancy would do this, but Bram counters that it’s often a trusted employee who would do this.  Bill and Virginia need to get to Bob Drag and tell them that any book on homosexuality based on their work, will be from them, not Nancy.  Guy goes back to the important thing: the wedding.  Priorities.

This is news to Lester and Bram, so Bill reveals that, yes, he and Virginia are getting married.  Lester wishes the two the very best and hopes they don’t find it as soul-crushing that he has with Jane.

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Libby gets to work on making phone calls to register for law school when Bram enters, glad to see her after a week.  He missed her a lot.  What does he mean by a lot?

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Fucking in the van.  That’s what he means.  Bram isn’t a fan of Libby’s van, but Libby calls it an awakening.  Me?  I’ll just never get tired of a topless Libby.

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As Guy makes calls and Lester goes to work putting new locks in place, Nancy calls Barton to speak with her.  Nancy, though, is at home when Virginia and an officer arrive to search the premises.  Nancy isn’t intimidated by Virginia’s threats since never signed the nondisclosure agreement.

Nancy believes that the two of them will end up alone, so Virginia brings up that she’s marrying Bill.  She’ll end up happy, while Nancy will not.  Nancy, though, maintains that Virginia won’t find anything- not even her happy ending.

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That evening at House Masters, Libby tells Bill all about her experience at Woodstock and a doctor who inspired her to enroll at law school at Berkeley.  The kids would come with Libby, but Bill still wants to spend time with them.  It’s taken years to find a path forward, and while Libby is happy about that, it’s time for her life to fall into place as well.  Bill maintains that she can do that in St. Louis.

Libby has no intention of fighting for the kids, but Bill is worried if the kids will think that he doesn’t care if he won’t fight for them.  Libby isn’t about to pay for Bill’s selfishness just because he spent years as an absent father.

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Then they hear a noise.  The two rush out to see Johnny driving away in the car, and doing so shitty of a job that Bill is able to catch up to him.  Johnny is tired of the fighting as Bill embraces his son.  Bill apologizes that Johnny had to hear that.

Johnny tells Bill that he doesn’t plan to move- he’ll stay in St. Louis with Bill because it’s the right thing to do.  Bill won’t have friends or his mother, so if Johnny leaves, Bill won’t have anyone.  Not even Bill deserves to be alone.

Bill informs Johnny that he and Virginia are about to get married.  He didn’t want to hurt Libby, but adult lives are complicated and as much as he’s tried, he couldn’t change his feelings for Virginia, no matter how much he tried.  He admits to many mistakes, but there’s still love in it.  He even still loves Libby, but not the way he loves Virginia.  As such, Johnny won’t stay if he doesn’t have to.

Bill tells Johnny that he doesn’t have feel responsible for adults- they have to figure out their problems for themselves.

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Virginia meets with her mother and apologizes, but Edna considers it a relief.  She knows that Virginia won’t understand how she feels, and at least agrees with Harry on how baffled they are at why Virginia wants to keep them together.  So Virginia drops the bombshell that she and Bill are getting married, hopefully, next month.  She hoped that Edna and Harry could walk her down the aisle.

But Edna considers the marriage a mistake.  For years, she attended to her father, but she’s now done with sex.  Hell, she has been for years.  Now she crawl into a bed alone with a book in peace.  Now Virginia does bring up that Edna told her to nail down Bill, but Edna was speaking from fear.  Plus, given Virginia’s age and what she’s endured, Edna wonders if her daughter needs another failed marriage.

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Virginia lays out her woes to Bill and wants to push the wedding back so planning doesn’t feel overwhelmed.  Okay, so Bill wants to have the wedding tomorrow with just the two of them.  After all, they only have to do what they want.  The two have each other, so their marriage should reflect that, but Virginia feels that marriage is bigger than that.  All they’ve believed in has come true and their marriage would be inspiring.

But Bill doesn’t care about people.  That much is true.  They need to separate themselves from Masters and Johnson and push aside their distractions.  They need to make this about them in the eyes of God.  Roll credits.  Bill concedes that Barton can still witness, but just him.

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Nancy awakens and finds Art standing before her because he forgot his high school wrestling trophies, which now mattered to him.  Nancy didn’t believe that Art had betrayal in him.  She’s impressed and sad at the same time.  Art is still upset about Nancy aborting their child.  Even though Nancy may not love Art, he could have found love with a child and Nancy took it from him.

Art will never again swallow everything that he is and feels for the sake of someone else.  However, Nancy admits that Art was wrong about one thing: she does love Art, but couldn’t imagine being with a child.  What kind of mother would she be?  Worse than Virginia?  Art could have loved a child for both of them.  Nancy still tries to convince Art that New York could be a fresh start.

But Art isn’t backing down.  He is a shrink, after all.  And Nancy confessed the one thing she knew would end her marriage.  Sometimes what we want can surprise even us.  And with that, Art and his trophies leave.

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At the clinic, Bill and Virginia talk with Bob Drag about their work and his supposed loyalty to them, based on his deal with Art and Nancy.  Bob maintains that Art put in the work, but he’s not a known entity in the publishing world.  Point is that Masters and Johnson are a household name and, as Virginia says, their book on homosexuality would chronicle the homosexual transition.  As in conversion.  And Bob doesn’t like that.  Neither does Bill.

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Bob tells Bill and Virginia that the book is theirs.  He’s not sure how this mix-up happened now in the first place.  Virginia later tells Bill that she just said what was needed to get the book back.  She then decides to head home to get changed.  Virginia doesn’t want the two to see each other before the small ceremony.

In enters Guy to tell them that Hugh Hefner has offered the mansion for the marriage.  Bill and Virginia want that plan on hold for now.

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Art meets Bob at a bar and learns that Bob plans to do the homosexual book with Virginia and Bill, and Art is fine with that since he’s leaving the work.  Bob is upset by that since Art is a great doctor.  As for Nancy, that’s not difficult for Art anymore.  Bob is sorry about what Art has endured, though he feels the two understand each other very well.

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Then Bob confronts Art in the men’s room and kisses him on the grounds that he’s tipsy.  Oh, it may be more than that, Bob.

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As Libby packs, Bram is upset that she’s moving far away.  He’s proud of her, but also loves her.  Libby doesn’t know how the two will keep in touch.  She’s just being realistic.  If the two find their way to each other, fine, but if not, it wasn’t meant to be.  She’s happy about the wonderful time they’ve had.

Bram won’t allow her to go, but it’s not up to him.  Libby won’t organize her life around a man anymore, but Bram will organize his around hers.  For the time being, Libby can go, but one day, Bram will be there.

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Back at the clinic, Guy informs Virginia of an important phone call: it’s Art, who tells her that Bob Drag kissed him like Rhett kissed Scarlett in Gone with the Wind.  Bit of a random reference, Art.  In his opinion, Bob is an active homosexual, so if Virginia wants a success story of turning homosexual impulses to heterosexual, Bob Drag is not that.  Art’s fear is that this negates the book entirely.  Art maintains that he at least tried his best.

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Virginia promises to give this news to Bill.  As Virginia prepares to leave, Dody arrives.  She and Bill talk in the diner about Dody’s cousin who just moved to Chestefield, so Dody is staying with her.  But Dody tells Bill that seeing him again helped upend her marriage.  It had to happen since she’s been living like a visitor in her life for so long.  Seeing Bill helped clarify another truth: she was always meant to be with Bill.

A stunned Bill reveals that he’s getting married today to Virginia, so Dody says that she would like to properly meet her someday.  It would make Dody happy to see Bill happy, but he tells her that no one actually knows about the marriage except for her and Barton.  Dody wonders what it would be like if the two ended up as friends, but Bill reminds her that they already are.

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In the parking lot, Nancy confronts Barton and says that he’s the last person she wanted to hurt.  She feels that the world of sexual therapy is exploding and Bill and Virginia are holding onto something that’s slipping from their grasp.  Nancy plans to take the work places that Bill and Virginia could only imagine, but she isn’t saying that the two won’t stop what they are doing.

However, Virginia’s ambition is pushing the work into an area that could be their undoing: gay conversion therapy.  Barton doesn’t buy that, so Nancy presents a recording and tells Barton to do his own research.

Wait, how’d she get that?

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Whatever.  Anyway, Virginia arrives at a court building to check in for the wedding, but she can’t do that since both parties aren’t present.  So the court clerk, played by Aloma Wright- hey, it’s Laverne from Scrubs– tells Virginia to have a seat.

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Back at the clinic, Barton tells Bill that he won’t be going to the wedding if it’s true that Bill and Virginia are indeed publishing a book advocating gay conversion.  Bill doesn’t deny that he and Virginia took back their work from Art and Nancy and will publish a book, but Barton reminds Bill that he promised he wasn’t advocating conversion therapy.  Bill admits that yes, Bob Drag redirected his heterosexual impulses.

Barton is stunned by Bill’s clinical take on the situation after everything Barton suffered, not to mention the hell he put Margaret and Vivian through and how he nearly killed himself just trying to get rid of his homosexuality.  Bill doesn’t want to see that again, but he says what he and Virginia are exploring is nothing like the torture that Barton endured.

They’re just taking what they knew about heterosexual couples and redirecting it towards people like Bob Drag.

Bill felt it was his duty to help Bob change, but Barton says that people like him shouldn’t have to change.  And then Barton brings up how Virginia may be pushing Bill towards this conversion work.  Barton is and always has been fond of Virginia, but he feels that she has always had the most to prove, maybe because she doesn’t have credentials.

And that’s where Bill gets aggressive, as he won’t allow Barton to malign Virginia.  Barton won’t abide by this and will say what needs to be said.  Given their relationship of over 30 years, Barton admits that he loves Bill like a son.  But if Bill uses his pulpit to advocate gay conversion, Barton will make it his life’s work to see Bill discredited.

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Because Bill is at the clinic, he’s 13 minutes late for the marriage, so the clerk presents Virginia with a box of tissues.  After all, the court house closes at 5 pm.

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Libby is all packed up and ready to head off in the Hippie Mobile as she and the kids head off to start their new, bright future.

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Virginia sits at the courthouse all by her lonesome and prepares to leave, but Bill and Guy finally arrive, Guy taking the spot of witness.  So indeed, Bill and Virginia take their sacred vows, place their rings, and are pronounced man and wife.

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As the two head out, a cameraman takes a quick picture.  Odd, considering this is not only a private affair, but there’s no telling how he found out about the ceremony.  As the two head out, cameramen and journalists approach from all directions.  With the courthouse locked, Virginia proposes giving the paparazzi just one photo.  Bill doesn’t look so happy about this.

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And as cameramen snap photos of the newly wed Masters and Johnson, the fourth season of Masters of Sex comes to a close.

By season’s end, I sort of see Bill and Virginia standing on a house of cards that appears stable for now, but you can spot an occasional wobble or imbalance that threatens to ruin the entire arrangement.  Despite everything the two have endured, Masters and Johnson are now wed and prepared to spend the rest of their personal and professional lives together.

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This comes at the cost of…not necessarily burning bridges, but hindering most of the relationships with the people around them.  With the exception of Libby, who gets a decent and happy sendoff, we end on mixed notes for Bill and Virginia’s friends and family.

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The door is left open to explore the potential fallout or rebuilding of these relationships in a future season, but as of now, while Bill and Virginia are wed, others are left with their hopes dashed, as if wherever Bill and Virginia go, they leave a path of despair behind them, whether intentional or by accident.  What started as a bright and happy intro with this finale ends with a feeling of uncertainty.

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But we’ll get to that later.  As much as I’ve disliked some of Libby’s decisions and demeanor in past seasons, I have enjoyed her arc this time around.  Free from Bill, in love with Bram, and with law school in her future, Libby has made a major turnaround from the quiet housewife we saw back in the first season.

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She’s independent, outspoken, assertive, and doesn’t back down just because Bill doesn’t like being called out for his shitty parenting.  And that argument not only felt genuine, but I feel they both had a point.  Libby shouldn’t have to and won’t have to fight for the kids and she’s waited long enough to let her life fall into place on her terms, not a man’s.

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More than that, she doesn’t feel obligated to stay in one place because Bram will miss her. That’s great for Bram, but he has advocated that Libby think outside the box and saw a future law career for her.  If he does care for her, he has to be willing to let her go, and he is.  Unlike Bill, Bram is willing to sacrifice the closeness of Libby so she can pursue her dreams.

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And while he doesn’t have a leg to stand on as far as his parenting goes, Bill has made strides to improve his relationship with the kids.  For all his faults and strained bond with Johnny, I did like him assuring his son that he doesn’t need to try and feel responsible for adults.  They’re complicated people and right now, Johnny should just enjoy being a kid.

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That said, given how complicated Johnny’s relationship has been with his father, he’s come a long way since throwing Bill’s work in the water last season.  Then, he hated Bill, but now, he initially refuses to leave St. Louis because not even Bill, as bad as he’s been, deserves to be by himself.  It was a very warm exchange between the two and felt like, by episode’s end, Johnny, though hesitant, was ready to let his father go.

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All that in mind, it is upsetting to see Libby go if this may be the last in which we see her.  I can’t imagine Masters of Sex juggling a storyline in California in addition to St. Louis, and while there wasn’t much subtlety to Libby’s storyline this season, this felt like an appropriate point to end her character arc if we never see her again.  She’s free, has a goal in mind, and is ready to begin the rest of her life.

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The same can’t be said for Dody, who came all the way to visit Bill and tell him that she’s relocating.  I’ll admit, it was sad to see the heartbreak on Dody’s face when she learned that Bill was getting married soon, but at the same time, I’m glad that they have remained friends.  And since she’s making this huge move, optimistic as this sounds, I don’t think this will be the last we see of Dody.

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As I’ve said before, Nancy had every right to be upset at the shitty way Virginia treated her, but her revenge wasn’t well thought out.  Once Art learned about her aborting the child, it was clear that he would try to get back at her and he did.  If Nancy wanted to start her own clinic and get the recognition she felt that she deserved, fine, but don’t do it by taking the work and research of the very people who hired you in the first place.

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It felt so sudden and half-assed that Nancy deserved to end up where she did by episode’s end.  She brought it on herself and she drove Art away in the process. The most she could do is taunt Virginia by claiming that she won’t get her happy ending.

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However, she did manage one win with giving Barton the recording on Bill and Virginia seemingly accepting the idea of gay conversion.  Side-note, how did Nancy get the recording in the first place?  Lester changed the locks, right?  And I’m sure if Nancy entered the clinic, someone, or at least Guy, would have stopped her or alerted the proper channels.

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Anyway, while Nancy didn’t succeed at being able to start a clinic, she is successful at driving a wedge between Bill and Barton.  You would think that these people could be more careful since their entire office is bugged.  But Barton was right: Virginia is ambitious. Even if just to save the book, it was wrong of her to say that the book would chronicle homosexual conversion.

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This goes against what Bill stands for.  He saw back in “Parallax” how society tries to convert homosexuals.  And we saw Barton’s suicide attempt and how much that hurt Margaret and Vivian.  Now that he’s out and proud of who he is, the very idea that Bill or Virginia would advocate or include anything related to conversion in their book is a slap in the face.

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And it’s a shame if this is how Barton’s relationship with Bill and Virginia ends.  I’m sure he wouldn’t want to be adversaries or be put in a situation where he might have to discredit the two of them, but Virginia has forced his hand.  And as noble as it may be for Bill to defend Virginia, Barton and Nancy are right: Virginia is ambitious, and her current trajectory has driven away one of her biggest allies.

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Virginia’s overconfidence often gets the best of her, and that’s very prevalent here.  She wants to protect the book?  Fine, but that means saying that you’re in favor of conversion. Whether she means it, it’s still recorded.

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And as we’ve seen in previous seasons, she learned here that she can’t save every couple, even if it’s her parents.  While Bill and Virginia are set to tie the knot, Edna and Harry are all too anxious to be rid of one another.  Based on Virginia’s experiences with George, Bill, and Dan, she knows what it’s like to drive away a significant other and end up alone.  She doesn’t want that for her parents, but she’s not a miracle worker.

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The fact that, despite the craziness of the season, she and Bill still get married at the last second is a miracle in and of itself.  But she continues to go by “Masters and Johnson” to the press, even though that’s just their marketable, household name.  And it doesn’t look like she’s told Bill about Bob Drag kissing Art, telegraphed as it was, thus negating the book.

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With Libby gone and him revealing his plans to Dody, Bill is now wed with the woman who truly gets him.  But based on that final moment, I didn’t get the sense of warmth with Bill and Virginia that I got with some of his interactions with Libby and Dody this season.  With Virginia, there looks to be some anxiousness about what the future holds.

That holds for the show as well.  At the time of this posting, unlike Ray DonovanMasters of Sex has yet to be renewed for a fifth season.  And while I hope the show doesn’t go the way of Penny Dreadful when there’s so much to tell, the future is uncertain.

What will become of Bill and Virginia’s marriage?  Will we follow-up on Libby and her law school adventures?  How far will Barton go at discrediting Bill and Virginia?  Is the book in jeopardy now?  And what became of Betty’s custody battle?  With the future unknown as of now, it’s anyone’s guess.  But for the moment, here’s hoping we get a chance to further explore this world in the fifth season of Masters of Sex.

Update: Well, should’ve mentioned this sooner since the news has been out for awhile, but apparently “The Eyes of God” was indeed the swan song for Masters of Sexas Showtime has decided to cancel the drama after four seasons.  While I had my issues with Season Four, it was still enjoyable to watch and I was curious to see what the future held in store for the characters.

But looks like that won’t be the case.  With that said, on the off-chance that anyone is still reading, I do want to thank those who have followed or took any time to read my unnecessarily long recaps and ramblings on this show.  It was the first program I blogged about and it’s been fun getting to know these characters, see their conflicts, and watch them grow as people.

Masters of Sex had its flaws and took some liberties, but even with its flaws, I had fun watching this.  Like Penny Dreadful earlier in 2016, it’s the end of this chapter for Masters and Johnson.  Thank you all for reading and take care.

A Look at Gotham- Season 3, Episode 9: “Mad City: The Executioner”

Of all the things Gotham wants me to believe, a man being pushed through a wall and crashing onto a car stories below, and still survive, is a huge stretch.  But with Symon telling Jim that who harmed him, all eyes are on Captain Nathaniel Barnes as the GCPD must now contend with one of its own.  This is “The Executioner.”

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The episode begins at GCPD, with Jim and Leslie discussing what happened to Symon at the party.  With the suspect pool wide open, Jim asks Leslie if Barnes talked to her at all. She did, around 9 pm, and Symon died around 10:30.  That’s as much as Jim is willing to discuss with Leslie, though.

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Now Bullock doesn’t want to believe that Barnes would be responsible for Symon’s death, even if Symon named him.  Plus, given Barnes’ squeaky clean record, Bullock believes that if Barnes did anything wrong, he would confess to his crime.  Plus, what would have been the motive?  Doesn’t make sense that a man with a spotless record would just lose his crap.

But Jim reminds Bullock that something has been off with Barnes as of late, not to mention how he almost beat Jervis Tetch to death and how he’s running point on the Paulie Pennies case.  True as that is, neither Jim nor Harvey want Barnes to be guilty.  As for Barnes himself, he’s at home.  Bullock heads to the crime scene to see if forensics can pull prints from the bathroom.

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We then cut to Barnes speaking to three men he is prepared to execute: one a sex trafficker, one involved with drugs, and the third a murderer.  Barnes was waiting for the proof needed before the men sneered at the law.  Tonight, Barnes is the law as he tries the men, finds them guilty, and sentences them to death.  With that, he kicks the stands from underneath the men and watches as the men strangle do death.

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Anyway, some unassuming antiquities dealer allows Ivy into his mansion.  Ivy takes interest in the man’s vault, which is where the man keeps his most precious acquisitions.  The two have just met, so not sure why the man would admit this.  Ivy tells the man all about her profession: she meets men who give her things.

In return, Ivy gives them nothing.  Her love is for the plants, which are more powerful than people imagine.  Ivy has been using the plants to make a perfume that she uses to put the man into a trance.  Ivy orders him to open the vault, which he does, and he’s rewarded by being knocked out.

She enters the vault and finds, among the items, a lovely necklace complete with a green gem.  However, when she leaves the vault, she runs right into the man, who is no match for a knee to the crotch as Ivy flees.

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Over at Penguin Manor, Oswald notes that Edward has been checking his watch nonstop, as he’s expecting a call from Isabella.  Then Ed receives an unexpected call from GCPD- he’s needed at the station, but not told why.  Ed wonders if something happened to Isabella, but Oswald doesn’t believe that to be the case.

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Well, in that case, let’s go to GCPD, where Ed sees Isabella’s body.  He learns that Isabella blew through a red light and crashed into a train, and officers believe she might have fallen asleep at the wheel.  Ed asks if Isabella suffered, but she didn’t.  Oswald offers anything that Ed needs, and with that, Ed embraces Oswald.

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Selina Kyle receives an unexpected visit from Ivy, who finally reveals that yes, she’s the same Ivy Pepper from before.  Just less Clare Foley and more Maggie Geha.

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Bullock gives Jim an update on forensics: tons of prints were found in the bathroom where Symon was attacked, and they put Barnes at the scene.  Bullock, still thinking that Barnes is innocent, suggests that Jim tell Barnes what Symon said.  That way, Barnes at least has a chance to defend himself.  Jim agrees.

Jim then goes into the captain’s office and looks over a few files when Barnes enters. Gordon’s excuse is that he was looking for the Paulie Pennies file since the cases might be related, so Barnes hands it over.  Jim claims that he doesn’t have any new information regarding Symon yet, but Barnes says that, based on witness statements, Symon was still alive when he fell.  And Jim was first on the scene.

However, Jim says that Symon was unable to identify the killer, even though one of the witnesses apparently saw Jim talking to Symon.  Either way, Barnes called a criminal investigator named Sugar, who works out of the East End and apparently admitted to the killing.

That being the case, Jim wants to go pick up this Sugar, but Barnes wants this kept private since the mob still has its pockets in some GCPD officers.  Instead, Barnes and Gordon will handle this themselves.  As the two leave, Jim tells Bullock that he’s headed to an old foundry on 133rd and 6th.

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Barnes hands Jim a shotgun as the two head off.  He tells Jim that he’s disappointed in him since, as lead detective, he didn’t get statements from people present at the murder scene.  Well, Barnes waives his right to counsel and lets Jim ask his questions.  He did see Symon at the party, but didn’t talk to him or see him go into the bathroom before he was attacked.  Barnes was in the bathroom, but before it was a crime scene.

For now, Barnes is in the clear.  He sees Gotham as a cesspool and wonders how cops can fix it.  And he figured that Jim of all people would find being a cop limiting as far as being able to work with the law.  Jim maintains that he cake back to the GCPD to do things right, like when Barnes told about drawing the line.

But Barnes says that their job foremost is to protect the citizens, even if it means bending the laws.  Jim says that crossing the line makes them no better than criminals, but Barnes counters asks if Jim sang that same tune when Theo Galavan died the first time.  The city is at a crossroads and good men must do what’s necessary to fight for it.  Jim then notes that Barnes has passed their stop, but no.  Turns out he meant to say 136th and 3rd.

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Because she doesn’t have many options, Selina brings Bruce to see the new and recast Ivy, who is busy eating all of Selina’s food.  Selina is upset that Ivy didn’t tell her she was alive, but in Ivy’s defense, she was too busy having fun taking stuff from guys now that she looks different.

As for what Ivy gives them, it depends.  Bruce concedes that Ivy does look nice because he has poor timing.  Ivy then reveals that she’s in trouble for stealing a necklace.  This irritates Selina, and though she’s in no position to argue about stealing, she at least doesn’t get caught.  The conversation comes to a halt when Bruce hears a sound.  Intruders are heading their way, but Bruce, Ivy, and Selina manage to flee.

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Barnes and Jim confront Sugar, played by Wade Mylius, to ask about where he was last night.  He’s unfamiliar with the name Symon and his alibi is that he was at the fights.  Barnes believes that Sugar is telling the truth and didn’t kill anyone, but he sure as hell isn’t innocent, so Barnes blasts him with the shotgun.  He then turns the gun on Gordon.

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Bruce, Ivy, and Selina continue their escape, with Ivy unsure about the masked men coming after her.  Bruce offers to just buy the necklace.  That way, Ivy gets paid and the necklace can be returned, so hopefully the men won’t have to harm her.  And Bruce is so confident in his plan that he meets all of Ivy’s proposed prices, but he ultimately decides on $5,000. That or Ivy can get out of this situation on her own.  Nicely done, Bruce.

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In the middle of posing for a painting, Oswald, speaks to a melancholy Nygma, who is drowning his sorrows in music.  Oswald knows what it’s like to lose someone and warns Ed that what he’s doing isn’t healthy.  In fact, Oswald finds it scare, so he tells Ed to heal by moving on with his life.

Ed concedes that Oswald is right, so he’ll go to where Isabella was taken from him and say his goodbye.  Oswald says that Isabella would want Ed to be happy, but nonetheless, Ed leaves.

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Barnes knows that Jim is thinking about why killed Symon and now Sugar.  Plus, he knows that Symon said something to Jim before he died.  So yes, Jim knows that Barnes killed Symon and Paulie Pennies.  Barnes calls himself the law and claims that he’s always been this way- he just needed something to unlock it, but he’s not sick.

In fact, he’s never felt better.  Jim finally realizes that Barnes is infected with Alice’s blood, so Barnes is innocent and just needs help.

But Barnes doesn’t see himself as insane.  Jim isn’t seeing the big picture: Barnes plans to frame him for Sugar’s murder.  Barnes deals in absolutes and believes Gotham needs people like him who have the courage to cross the line.  Barnes wants Jim to join him, and given how Jim shot Galavan, he’s in no position to take the moral high ground.  But Jim wishes he could undo that because of what he’s lost.

Oh, but Barnes isn’t ready to turn back.  He detests how criminals thumb their noses at the law and now he’s drawing a line in the sand.  As for Jim, he stands against Barnes. The two are interrupted by a man who arrives for Sugar, and this gives Jim the opportunity to dive through a glass window and run off, even though that dive probably should have killed him, but who am I to start talking about realism?

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As Ed stands at the train tracks where Isabella had her accident, he remembers that he’s only four blocks from Isabella’s apartment.  A nearby blind homeless man tells Nygma that he heard a woman screaming, but before the crash.  How odd indeed.

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Bruce, Ivy, and Selina arrive at the mansion and find the man now dead with an arrow through his eye.  Turns out he was killed by the same men that pursued them.  Bruce wonders why the necklace is so important, but Selina doesn’t give a damn.

She throws and shatters it, revealing a key inside.  Good thing she decided to throw it.  And this is where Ivy pieces together that Bruce and Selina are apparently a couple, though they give different answers as to whether that’s the case.  Bruce’s plan is to reconvene at Wayne Manor.

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Bullock returns to GCPD, where Alvarez explains that Jim apparently shot an unarmed citizen and tried to take out Barnes.  If Jim doesn’t come in quiet, things could go south for him.  Just then, Bullock gets a call from Jim, who tells him about Barnes being infected with Alice Tetch’s blood and how he just killed an unarmed man in front of him.

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So Bullock relays this information to Leslie, who believes that Bullock has to tell the GCPD, but he knows no one would believe him.  The medical examiner, though, that’s a different story.  Right now, Harvey needs Leslie to trust Jim because right now, the two of them are all he has.

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Continuing his investigation, Edward examines Isabella’s car and finds that her brake lines had been cut, so he wonders who is powerful enough to pay off the GCPD so they wouldn’t notice.

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Back to the chase, Barnes corners Jim and laments how the two of them would have made a great team.  Before Barnes can fire, GCPD arrive on the scene, fully aware of what Barnes has done.  With a momentary distraction, Jim tackles Barnes and a fight breaks out.  Jim manages to get his hands on a gun, but Barnes refuses to lower his weapon.

Instead, he orders Jim to stand down so he can escape.  If the cops want to hunt him, that’s fine, but he wants Jim to let him escape.  Barnes maintains that he’ll save the city and that he’s the same as Jim, but he has the guts to admit it.  Jim fires a shot and manages to put Barnes down for the moment, but leaves him alive.

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Ivy and Selina settle in at Wayne Manor.  Ivy hopes that she didn’t mess things up with Selina and Bruce, though Selina maintains that Bruce isn’t her boyfriend.  Funny, Selina.

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The assailants continue investigating Selina’s spot until one pulls apart a brick wall and finds newspaper clippings on the Wayne murders.

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Jim arrives at GCPD and tells Leslie that Barnes is alive.  It turns out that Leslie might have fabricated a blood test stating that Barnes had a psychosis-inducing virus.  Hey, at least justice prevailed.  Jim thanks Leslie for her help before she departs.

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When Ed returns to the manor, Oswald has a surprise for him.  See, he regrets not being compassionate enough for Ed, so he had the artist include Ed in Penguin’s portrait. But Ed has no time for sentimentality.  He knows that Isabella was murdered because who would actually fall asleep just four blocks from her apartment?

Oswald doesn’t want Ed to get so worked up, but Ed is on a roll.  Given that the brake lines were cut, Ed surmises that Isabella’s murderer was none other than…Butch in retaliation for exposing him as the leader of the Red Hood Gang.  Oswald swears that he will help Ed find Butch to make him pay for what he’s done.

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Now that the captain’s office is empty, Bullock feels that it’s cursed.  Well, between Essen and now Barnes, he’s not wrong.  He apologizes for doubting Jim, but Jim says that Bullock didn’t doubt him when it mattered.  And that’s what matters.  Jim eyes the captain’s chair with a sense of longing.  Almost as if it’s destiny calling him.

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The episode comes to a close as Barnes, now incarcerated at Arkham Asylum, yells ‘Guilty’ over and over again.

It’s interesting that Gotham has given us a look at Jim’s psyche and examine his dark and tortured self for the past two seasons.  Though he’s been confronted on his wrongdoings, more recent with his vigilantism, what Jim had to contend with might as well have been a mirror image of him.

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Or rather, a harsher version of himself.  When Barnes entered the scene in Season Two, he pledged to sweep the city and GCPD clean of corruption.  He’s always been by the book and, as Bullock said, would give himself a ticket for even a minor offense.  He’s the idealist that Jim was in the first season, but with more authority and experience under his belt.

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But after being infected by Alice’s blood, Barnes becomes the sort of vigilante that Jim would be if he kept going down his dark path and continued to cross the line. I found this to be a nice way to draw parallels between the two and I kept wondering if Barnes would have snapped on Jim at all.  But despite his violent outbursts before, he managed to keep his rage in check.  Plus, Jim hasn’t killed anyone as of recent.

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Though I did like how Jim didn’t try to act high and mighty.  And truth be told, he couldn’t. Even putting aside him shooting and killing Galavan, he’s still been a bounty hunter that operates outside of the law and without a badge.

But Barnes has taken it a step further by deeming himself Judge, Jury, and Executioner. He shares Jim’s notion that Gotham City is a cesspool that needs to be drained, but he doesn’t stop at crossing the line once.  After spending so much time believing in the very system that has let Barnes down, he’s seeing things in a new light thanks to the effects of Alice’s blood.

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And while Jim wishes he could take back killing Galavan, Barnes welcomes becoming a murderer if it means ridding Gotham of a few criminal elements.  So it’s like Jim is seeing the man he could have become if he didn’t stop with Galavan.  What if he had killed Fish Mooney? Or Jervis Tetch?  Or Valerie Vale for breaking up with him?

Okay, that last one wouldn’t have happened, but how much of a twist would that have been?

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Anyway, the kids return to the story with Ivy revealing her new self to Selina.  Roping Bruce in felt contrived at first, but he did ask Jim to look for her, and him being there provided a potential out for Ivy by paying her for the necklace.  That felt like a very Bruce Wayne thing to do, and it didn’t need a Bat-credit card.  Based on the masked men searching for the key, I wager this will tie into the Court of Owls.

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Then you’ve got Nygma looking into Isabella’s murder.  First off, how much of a waste did that end up being?  You bring back Chelsea Spack, give Ed a woman who seemed to genuinely love him, and then she dies due to Oswald’s jealousy.  It could have been anyone.  Why someone who looked so similar to Miss Kringle?

Anyway, in addition to being so analytical, Ed did work in forensics at the GCPD, so he knows a thing or two about crime scenes and piecing together a larger puzzle.  So I’m glad he knows that Isabella’s death was no accident, but him settling on Butch as the murderer felt like a forced way to keep him from figuring out the real culprit.

And Butch never even met Isabella.  As far as I know, he’s still holed up with Tabitha and Barbara, so even if he did somehow meet Isabella, under what circumstances would he learn that she had feelings for Ed?  This just makes Ed to look like a moron when he should be smart enough to realize that Oswald is hiding something from him.

That said, “The Executioner” had a good main story with Jim facing off with himself as Barnes came to embody what he once was when he chose to kill Theo Galavan for a greater good.  Hopefully with Jim wanting to learn from his mistakes, he avoids going back down that dark road.

The stuff with Bruce, Ivy, and Selina was fine, but felt more like setup and an excuse to have Ivy poke and prod Selina about her supposed ‘relationship’ with Bruce, and we didn’t need that, but hey, shows that while Ivy may be recast, she still acts like a kid at heart. As for Oswald and Ed, Nygma better start realizing that the person who murdered the woman he loved is right in front of him.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 4: “Service”

So you’ve lost two of your friends to a madman with a bat, you’re given a week to prepare him an offering, and even though everything may not be in preparation for his arrival, he decides to give you a surprise by strolling right up to your doorstep early because he loves you so much.

If the weak residents of the Alexandria Safe Zone have already had rude awakenings about life outside the walls before, they’re in for a real nightmare when Negan arrives.  Welcome to “Service.”

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The episode begins in Alexandria as Michonne awakens before Rick does.  As she’s ready for the day, with her sword on her back, she retrieves a sniper rifle from the fireplace.  No one ever thinks to check the fireplace.  She stuffs the gun inside a bag and exits without saying a word to Rick, who watches her leave.

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Michonne then stakes a post at an abandoned truck in the middle of an empty field and waits.

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While Rick cares to Judith, Rosita and Spencer return to Alexandria and ask Eugene to open the gate so they can find things for their offering.  Eugene, though, is busy working on a radio and isn’t into joining them.  He’s repairing the radio for the Saviors- that’s his part.  However, no one will be leaving anytime soon.

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The sound of many approaching vehicles gets their attention.  From the other side, Negan marches up and bangs on the gates of the Alexandria Safe Zone, demanding entrance.  Spencer isn’t familiar with Negan, but then Rick arrives.  He’s hesitant to open the gate at first since Negan has arrived earlier than expected, but Negan just missed Rick.  Negan then makes quick work of an approaching walker for the sport of it.

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As the Saviors unload, with Daryl in tow, Negan says that what he did was service.  Despite Spencer not knowing him, Negan killed a walker that could have killed him.  As Negan enters, he hands Lucille over to Rick and walks right into the Alexandria Safe Zone.  He calls it an embarrassment of riches and tells Rick that there will be plenty to offer.  Also, Negan doesn’t allow Rick to speak with Daryl.  Same for the others as well.

In addition, Rick doesn’t decide what the Saviors take- that’s up to Negan.  One of the female Saviors, Arat, played by Elizabeth Ludlow, calls the others into action and they make their way into the area to search the houses and keep the process moving.  The residents seem stunned, but are unable to act.  Rick then begins showing Negan around the zone.

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Dwight relieves Rosita and Spencer of their firearms, both on them and in the vehicle they planned to use for travel.  With that settled, he has a job for Rosita- find Daryl’s bike.  It’s not there, but if that’s the case, Rosita must know where it is.  Dwight then, for some reason, also relieves Rosita of her hat.  Now she’s good to go.  To pour salt in the wound, Dwight even empties out Rosita’s water.  Best not to take long.

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Back in the field that time forgot, Michonne spots an approaching walker, but misses with every shot that she takes.  So she takes out her sword and does this the old fashioned way.  Could’ve saved yourself a lot of bullets, Michonne.  She later heads into the woods and finds a dead deer on the ground.

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As the Saviors get to work taking what they want, Negan tells Rick that he and his people are indeed reasonable people.  One Savior gives Negan the video camera containing Deanna’s video interviews.  Negan finds it hard to believe that Rick had such a beard and never would have messed with that man.  As he turns the camera on Rick, Negan says that the Rick on that interview isn’t the Rick that stands before him.

Negan then asks about Maggie.  That gets under Rick’s skin, but he has to be careful how he looks at Negan.  Widows like Maggie are special.  Right after the husbands go, they are empty inside, but not for long.

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Then Gabriel out of nowhere, who asks Negan if he wants to pay his respects.  Negan asks if Maggie didn’t make it, and Gabriel confirms that the worst happened.  To prove it, he even takes Negan to the cemetery, where he sees three new graves.  A shame, as Negan would have asked Maggie to come back with him, despite what he did to Glenn.  Then a gunshot rings out.

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Carl holds a gun to some Saviors who are taking all of the medicine instead of half.  When Negan arrives, Carl tells him that he needs to leave before he finds out how dangerous everyone is.  Negan isn’t about to let Rick help his son.  In fact, he likes Carl and tells him that half is what he says it is.  He asks Carl if he wants him to prove how serious he is. Again.  With that, Carl lowers the firearm.

This reminds Negan that Rick has a lot of guns, and given how Rick took a lot of guns from Negan’s outpost, this must mean that Rick has even more guns.  And as Carl’s outburst has shown, Negan can’t allow that.  Those guns all belong to Negan.

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So Rick brings Negan and a group of Saviors to Olivia, who takes them to the armory.  While the Saviors head with Olivia, Negan tells Rick that he’s not taking any food.  It’s slim pickings and if Rick starves to death, Negan won’t get anything, so for now, Alexandria gets to keep its food.  Rick is unsure how to respond, but all Negan wants is a thank you.  The two got off to a rough start, yes, but Rick forced Negan’s hand.

Negan knows the two started off on the wrong foot, but he’s reasonable as long as Rick cooperates.  He asks if Rick is cooperating, and Negan knows what it looks like, but he’s wondering if Rick may have some hidden firearms.  Rick says that they’re all indeed in the armory.

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On the road, Rosita and Spencer find Daryl’s motorcycle by the train tracks.  Spencer realizes that the Saviors outnumber the Alexandrian community and accepts that this is their way of life due to Rick’s actions.  Spencer believes that things might have been different and some people wouldn’t be dead if Rick rethought his actions.  Now, though, they have to learn to live with this.  Rosita, though, heads into the woods.

As the Saviors load the guns, Negan picks up one to find out if Rick has taken care of his guns…and finds out by firing into one of the windows.  Then another Savior brings out the rocket launcher- the same one that Daryl used to take out some Saviors on the road.

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Arat informs Negan that the group is short two firearms.  Rick acknowledges that some people left for a run and took the guns with them.  Olivia maintains that the inventory is correct, but  she’s still two handguns short.  To Negan, this means someone isn’t on board and he can’t have that.  He tells Olivia that he doesn’t like killing women.  Men, that’s no problem, but at the end of the day, this is Olivia’s problem.

Negan is going to work this out right now.  Olivia screwed up at keeping track of guns, and that shit is life and death.

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Later, in the church, Rick tells the community that he thought of hiding some guns since he did it before.  What if the Saviors found those guns, though?  Someone could die.  It doesn’t matter how many bullets the Alexandrians have because the Saviors will still win.  Hiding a few guns isn’t the answer.  No one has to like it, but the guns have to be given to the Saviors.  He then asks the group about the two missing guns.

If those guns aren’t found, Olivia will die.  One of the residents asks Rick why the Saviors care since two guns shouldn’t mean much to them.  Rick responds that most of the community didn’t see what Negan did to Glenn and Abraham.  They can look away or help solve this now.

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Eric asks what the way out is if they find the guns, but Rick says there is no way out.  And with that, he tells the group that he isn’t in charge- Negan is.  Eugene then notes that everyone isn’t present at the meeting.

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Back in the woods, Rosita tries to approach the walkers and stealthily take them out, but Spencer calls out to her, attracting the roamers.  Nonetheless, Rosita is able to take out the walkers because that’s how Rosita rolls.  She then finds a gun, but the clip is empty.  She knows that Negan will take all of the guns and isn’t afraid of Spencer ratting her out.  Unlike Spencer, Rosita doesn’t believe that this has to be her life.

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So Negan is enjoying some lemonade with Olivia at his side since she doesn’t really have a choice.  Rick searches Spencer’s home to find the missing guns, but just ends up making a damn mess.  Gabriel tells Rick that he feels that this will work out and that they will find the guns.  Rick doesn’t believe that there’s a way to beat this, but Gabriel has faith in Rick.  Things change.  After all, Rick and Gabriel weren’t always friends.

Rick doesn’t believe that Michonne has the guns, and he thanks Gabriel for the makeshift grave he made for Maggie.  Aaron tells Rick that he found nothing at Rosita’s spot.  Even still, they will keep looking for the guns.  As Aaron and Gabriel leave, Rick pulls up an air vent and, after finding a few items, pulls out two firearms.

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In a bit of an uncomfortable scene, another Savior relieves Enid of her balloons and tells her to say please if she really wants them.  When Enid complies, the Savior returns them.  Well, he drops them.  Carl doesn’t like this shit one bit, but Rick assures his son that the Saviors will be gone soon.

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Negan is pleased to have the two guns back.  He asks which resident held the guns and this matters very much since everyone needs to be on board.  If not, the two sides end up back at square one.

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The Saviors are soon ready to depart just as Spencer and Rosita return.  Rick asks Negan for a second, and Negan eventually grants it.  Rick heads over and meets with Michonne and tells her how Rick made him hold Lucille.  He then tells her that he needs the rifle and knows that she’s out there practicing.  Michonne refuses to give up her gun, but Rick isn’t about to lose anyone else.

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Michonne does concede as Rick hands over the rifle to Negan, who is glad that Rick gets the message.  Now that Negan knows he can follow the rules, Rick asks if Daryl can stay.  Negan isn’t sure.  He wants to see if Daryl can sway him.  Daryl, though, doesn’t speak.

Now Negan tells Rick to start trying harder because the Saviors will be back.  If Rick doesn’t have something interesting for the Saviors, someone is going to die.  And no more magic guns.  Negan is also glad that Michonne brought a deer.  Good to have a woman hand over food without expecting him to put out.

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Now that Dwight has Daryl’s motorcycle, he gives Rosita back her hat.  He hopes that Rosita can find a place to lay her head tonight.  When asked if she found anything else, Rosita responds that she only found Dwight’s dead friends.  Nothing else.

Dwight tells Daryl that he can have his motorcycle back if he just says the word.  Daryl, though, still doesn’t respond.  Well, nobody died.  Negan thinks that he and Rick will find his understanding.  He then asks Rick if he wants him to leave.  Rick thinks that would be good, so he thanks Negan.  Another walker approaches, so Negan takes it out with a candlestick.  Rick’s grip on Lucille tightens, but nothing comes of it.

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Before Negan leaves, he remembers Lucille.  Negan thanks Rick for being so accommodating.  Also, Negan tells Rick that he just slid his dick down Rick’s throat and Rick thanked him for it.  Very important to know.  With that, the Saviors depart.

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With the Saviors gone, Rick tells Spencer about the guns he took from his house since there were two missing.  Rick calls Spencer weak for hoarding guns and food, but he just got lucky.  Spencer counters that the group should have made a deal with the Saviors when they had a chance.

This doesn’t get to Rick until Spencer says Glenn and Abraham were lucky. This prompts Rick to warn Spencer that if he says any shit like that to him again, he’ll break Spencer’s jaw and knock out his teeth.

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Rosita is also pissed that Spencer had guns, but Spencer’s justification is that he doesn’t trust Rick.  He worried about him being in charge and admits that Rosita was right- this doesn’t have to be their way of life. As Spencer leaves, Rosita pulls out another gun hidden under one of the car’s wheels.

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With the mattresses gone, Rick fixes himself a makeshift bed.  Michonne tells Rick that the rifle was from the outpost and more guns could have been hidden, but she apparently didn’t hide anymore.  Hmm.  Michonne tells Rick that everything they’ve earned came from them fighting for it.  Rick doesn’t believe that they have the numbers, even with the Hilltop.

Rick’s plan is to play by the rules and have some sort of life.  He then brings up how Shane got Lori and Carl to safety after the outbreak started.  Since Lori and Shane believed Rick was dead, they got together.  Rick knows and accepts that Judith isn’t his, but he loves her as a daughter and will do what it takes to keep her alive.  He’ll die before she does and Rick hopes that’s a long time from now so Judith can learn how to survive.

This is how Rick lives now.  Michonne tells Rick that it’s not his fault when people die, but Rick says that sometimes it is.  He needs everyone to accept these terms or this won’t work.  As Michonne gets to work helping Rick with the mattress, she tells Rick that she’ll try.

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Sometime later, Michonne returns to the field and climbs atop the truck once again. However, something in the distance gets her attention.  Soon enough, she finds the smoldering remains of the now burned mattresses.

Okay, that’s just a dick move, Saviors.

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That evening, Rosita, after coming across a shell casing, comes to Eugene and asks him to make her a bullet.

“Strategy” is a good episode with a few minor issues I have that don’t hinder my enjoyment, but do stand out enough to be noticeable.  However, it was a change of pace to see the residents of Alexandria get a taste of what Rick’s group had to contend with on the road and comply with the Negan’s demands.

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As Negan said in the premiere, it’s a brand new beginning for everyone.  He and the Saviors swarm the Alexandria Safe Zone and hover over it like hawks for as long as they please and I was on edge at times to see how the residents would react, who might break, and how they would deal with this gang coming in and ransacking their homes.

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It didn’t help that Negan changes the terms by saying that he dictates what half is.  Again, I can watch Jeffrey Dean Morgan all day and never tire of his performance.  Negan strolls into Alexandria like he owns the place and gets off on degrading Rick to where he is now. Negan tests Rick, handing him the very instrument that was used to kill Glenn and Abraham, and gives Rick many opportunities to retaliate, knowing that Rick won’t.

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Despite how Negan strips Rick and Alexandria of what they have, the man is willing to barter.  He says often that he’s reasonable as long as everyone else cooperates, and that’s the case when he allows Rick to keep the food.  What good are servants if they’re starving, after all?  As we saw at the Kingdom, though the Saviors are bullies, they will work with people who bend to their power.

But there are times when I can’t help but wonder if the Saviors take it too far.  Sure, that’s part of the point, but things like that one Savior taking Enid’s balloons, Negan taking all of the guns instead of some, and burning the mattresses feels like the Saviors are doing this just to fuck with Alexandria.  And not only are they doing that, but they can do that and get away with it.

These are the kinds of actions that give people like Michonne and Rosita a reason to retaliate, not keep the community docile, because we’ve seen Negan let Alexandria keep their food.  I would imagine he’d be willing to let them keep at least a few guns, but he did say that he determines what half is, as if he’s more than happy to change his own rules.

It’s not that the Saviors need the guns, chairs, mattresses, or other supplies they take from Alexandria- it’s that they can take them and know that Rick Grimes isn’t in a position to lead another attack on the Saviors.  Negan refusing to hand over Daryl or talking about how he slid his dick down Rick’s throat- it’s all to taunt Rick, as if tempting him to fight back.

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But like “Last Day on Earth,” I find it refreshing to find Rick stopped right in his tracks. This was a man who thought he could get the jump on the Saviors and crush Negan, but he learned the hard way that wasn’t the case.

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Now he’s made to watch the community members look on helplessly as they’re stripped of what they own and he can’t do anything about it.  But he managed to fool Negan in regards to Maggie ‘supposed’ death, so if anything, Rick has that card up his sleeve since we know that Maggie intends to fight.

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One of the better examples of this was when Negan goes through Deanna’s interviews- a callback I liked.  The Rick on video openly admitted to killing and wasn’t ashamed about it. This Rick is left red-eyed, neutered, and can’t raise his voice in opposition because he won’t let anyone else die.  It’s maddening to see Rick in a vulnerable state and Andrew Lincoln’s performance sells how complacent Rick has become.

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Another callback I liked was how Rick’s attitude towards Negan circled back to his relationship with Lori and Shane.  He knows that Judith isn’t his child, but he’s willing to accept that because he wants her to have a chance at survival.  Her parentage doesn’t matter because right now, Rick is all she has.  And right now, this arrangement is all that Rick has.  He may not like it, but he’s not about to let someone else die due to his actions.

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While we’ve seen Rick as a man who is more than willing to let his rage fly, it’s interesting to see how him biting his tongue and holding back his rage ends up coming out towards others.  Granted, Spencer should have known better than to bring up Glenn and Abraham, but also, Rick telling Spencer to say ‘yes’ felt the same as Negan demanding that Rick say ‘thank you.’

Segueing off of Spencer to Alexandria as a whole, I’m curious just how much the community knows about their new way of life.  Rick’s speech to the residents felt like something he said for the first time and some seemed surprised and confused when the Saviors walk into the Safe Zone without confrontation.  But I imagine someone has to know what happened to Rick’s group when they were on the road.

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Spencer obviously knows something since he brings up Abraham and Glenn, and Gabriel knew enough to make the fake graves.  And while Negan arrived ahead of schedule, I thought, given how he only gave Rick a week, he would give Alexandria as much notice as possible.  But hey, two of their comrades were just beaten to death.  They may not want to discuss this matter.

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While Rick may be willing to keep his head down for now, that’s not the same for everyone else.  Carl shows no weakness in front of Negan, Michonne kept a rifle despite the risk, and Rosita are still willing to fight.  Rosita is hiding guns and will no doubt follow-up on Eugene’s plan to make bullets, which we first learned of when he and Abraham found the factory in “Twice As Far.” Also, hope we get follow-up on Michonne learning to shoot.

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By the way, after “The Cell” softened Dwight, he looked to be back as a regular hard-ass with him taunting and, for some reason, hitting on Rosita, but given how there’s clear animosity between him and Negan, it could all be a front.

So while the survivors may have lost a bit of their bite, they aren’t defeated altogether. “Service” showed the residents of Alexandria at a low point as Negan waltzed in, pulled down their pants, leave them in vulnerable state, and serviced them with his dick while they thanked him for it.  At the very least, he didn’t feed them Lucille.  While this episode didn’t need to be as long as it was, it was enjoyable and tense all the same.

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Oh, and someone let Enid out of the closet.  That’s good at least.