A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 10: “New Best Friends”

Now to find out just why the hell Rick had that goofy grin on his face as he and the others encounter a new community.  But before that, let’s check up on the Kingdom.  This is “New Best Friends.”

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The episode begins Ezekiel and some Kingdom members in a clearing as they await the arrival of the Saviors.  One member, Diane played by Kerry Cahill, manages to down a walker that’s wearing a dress similar to her sister.  Don’t think too much about that.

Anyway, the Saviors soon arrive and receive their offering of fruit and supplies.  The leader of this small group, Gavin, played by Jayson Warner Smith, finds the load a bit light, but everything is accounted there nonetheless.

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Jared, though, wants Richard’s gun, even though he’s the one who hit Richard first. When we end up with a standoff, Ezekiel tells Richard to give Jared his gun.  Jared collects and tries to get in a strike, but Morgan blocks it with his staff, so he loses it in the process. Jared strikes both Richard and Morgan with the staff, but Benjamin intervenes and knocks Jared off of his feet.

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Both Gavin and Ezekiel realize that this can’t stand, but Ezekiel relents and says that Richard won’t attend any future exchanges.  Despite that, Richard could still be first on a potential lineup.  Gavin acknowledges that yes, this wasn’t Richard’s fault, but things may need to become more visceral.  And despite the connection Morgan has with his stick, , he won’t be getting it back.

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Back at the Kingdom, Ezekiel is impressed with Benjamin’s abilities, but admonishes him for seeking a fight just because he knows how to fight.  At least Jerry is impressed with Benjamin’s skill.  As for Richard, he’ll receive a talking-to from Ezekiel later.

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Daryl, meanwhile, figures that Morgan went with Ezekiel to meet the Saviors, and he’s less than pleased with that.  After all, Morgan knows what the Saviors are and Daryl says that if Carol saw what happened to Morgan, as well as if she learned what happened to the others, she’d be leading them right to the Saviors.  She would, yes, but that’s just why she left.

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Following this, Daryl meets with Richard, who is in the middle of target practice with a bow and arrow.  The Saviors are smart enough to know that Richard shouldn’t have a gun.  He gives Daryl a crossbow because he knows that they want the same thing.  As such, Richard will need Daryl’s help because the Kingdom needs something to move Ezekiel if the communities want to eliminate the Saviors.

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After bringing Daryl to his hideout and revealing his cache of weapons and explosives, he the two end up on a road that the Saviors frequent.  They’ll hit them with guns, followed by Molotov cocktails- the fire is so the fight looks bad, as the Saviors will no doubt be pissed about some of their soldiers being killed.

In addition, Richard left a trail from their current location to the weapons cache to the cabin of that someone Ezekiel cares about and occasionally brings food, even though they don’t live in the Kingdom.  Richard figures that when the Saviors find their friends dead, they’ll follow the trail and attack the woman living in the cabin.  Even if she’s not killed, this should be the push Ezekiel needs to join the upcoming war.

Daryl picks up on the fact that it’s a woman Richard is talking about and demands to know her name.  Richard does spill that it is, in fact, Carol, and he hoped that Daryl didn’t know her, but he also didn’t think that Daryl would care because he knows what needs to happen.  It doesn’t help that Carol is just living out there and waiting to die.

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Immediately, Daryl wants no part of this and just as the Saviors’ vehicles approach, he grabs Richard and a fight breaks out.  Richard fights back and the two end up in another standoff that results in no Savior losses.  They’re running out of time and Richard reminds Daryl that if he and his people want to move against the Saviors, they’ll need the Kingdom. And what they have to do may require sacrifice.

They’ve already lost so much and Richard can tell that Carol living on her own isn’t a good thing.  Daryl promises that if anything bad happens to Carol, he will kill Richard, who is ready to die for the Kingdom anyway.

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So let’s go back to the junkyard, where the inhabitants that time forgot soon circle the survivors.  One woman, who I’ll identify later, asks if Rick’s group is a collective or if there’s a leader.  After Rick gets in his introduction, the leader tells Rick that her group owns his life, as well as the others.  They can’t buy them back since the group is holding Gabriel.  Before anything else happens, Rick wants to see Gabriel alive.

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Sure enough, Gabriel is brought out.  The leader of this group tells Rick that the boat things Rick and Aaron found were taken, so the group took Gabriel.  In that case, Rick acknowledges that his group has nothing to trade for their lives.  Plus, their lives already belong to the Saviors, and if Rick’s group is killed, these people will be taking from the Saviors, who will no doubt come looking for this group.

So there are two options: they kill you or own you.  But there’s a way out: join Rick in fighting them.

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The leader refuses and Gabriel is taken away.  A skirmish breaks out between the two groups but it comes to a halt when Gabriel holds a knife to one of the group’s members: Tamiel, played by Sabrina Gennarino.  He demands that he and the others be let go and tells the group that the Saviors have communities and items that these people would want.

The group lowers their weapons and Gabriel is given a chance to speak: if these people join Rick’s group in fighting the Saviors, they’ll be rewarded.  Sounds nice, but these folks want something now.  Gabriel tells the leader that Rick can do anything.  If there’s anything the group needs, say it and Rick’s group will get it.  Instead, the leader tells Tamiel and Brion, played by Thomas Francis Murphy, to take Rick Up Up Up.

Who says Up Up Up?  I couldn’t help but think of the Upside Down from Stranger Things. But I digress.

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Rick is taken up on high and looks at the world’s worst green screen-I mean, looks at the vast, expansive junkyard while the leader tells him that her group has been here since the outbreak.  They take, but don’t bother.  Things grow harder and are changing again, so maybe it’s time the group changed as well.  She needs to know if Rick is worth it, so she pushes him into a sectioned-off area of the junkyard that none of the others can reach.

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And what makes this area so special?  Well, it’s home to a spiked walker that Rick must fight.  He takes advantage of whatever he can, such as a keyboard, but almost every move he makes results in him getting cut in the process.  After Michonne suggests that Rick use the walls of trash to his advantage, he buries the walker in mounds of trash.  He then finishes the walker with a glass shard.

This might be the closest we ever get to a Walking Dead/Mortal Kombat crossover yet. You could substitute the walker for Goro, Reptile, or any other secret or challenging character you must face when asked to test your might.

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Okay, anyway, Rick emerges victorious and the group lowers a rope for him to climb.  The leader says that if Rick can get his hand on a lot of guns, the group will help him.  Rick is confident that they will win and he promises a third to the group once this is all over.  The leader, however, wants half. They go back and forth and the leader soon agrees to a third as well as keeping what her group stole.

I mean, Rick’s not really in a position to negotiate, so he agrees to the leader’s terms. Turns out her group waited by that boat for a long time for someone to get the supplies for them.  Again, they take, but they don’t bother.  Sort of a dick move, but sure.  The walker, by the way, was named Winslow.  The leader, who finally identifies herself as Jadis, played by Pollyanna McIntosh, tells Rick to leave since the deal expires.

As Jadis’ group falls back, a bloody Rick stumbles out and tells the others that they have a deal.

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Carol gets a visit from Ezekiel and some followers who were out clearing the dead. Ezekiel respects Carol’s privacy, yes, but the dead, not so much.  He’d hoped they would be quiet enough to avoid getting Carol’s attention.  She then receives some cobbler from Jerry before heading back in and returning to her book.

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However, there’s another knock at the door.  This time, it’s Daryl, and she’s more than happy to see him.  He tells her that, despite Morgan saying she left, he was out there and happened to see her.  When asked why she left, Carol tells Daryl that she had to go.

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Back at the junkyard, Gabriel tells Rick that while on post, he heard a noise and one of the members jumped him in the pantry.  Jadis was upset about not getting the boat supplies, so they took him hostage and made him pack up everything.  Rick is just glad that Gabriel got them here.  Gabriel tells Rick that he was beginning to lose faith, but then he saw Rick nodding at him and knowing that Gabriel didn’t just walk away.

Gabriel knows things will be right again, but there will be tough times ahead before that. He then asks why Rick smiled and what made him so confident.  Rick responds that someone showed him how enemies can become friends.  If you’re talking about Gabriel, Rick, keep in mind that you’re the one who saw him as an enemy.  Not the other way.

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Alright, enough of this gooey shit.  Rosita wants to stay out so they can find guns for this deal, to get back to Alexandria, but Tara implores that they stay together and find supplies. Rosita, though, would rather go it alone because there’s always another fight brewing. She won’t let anyone get in their way.  If they have to take from other people, she doesn’t care.

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Jadis demands that Rick bring her guns soon or else.  Despite having no idea where to look, Rick is confident that they’ll find some firearms.  Since Tara has been out further than the others, Rick asks her if she at least knows where they shouldn’t look. She does at least know that much.  Before leaving, Rick grabs a cat statue to replace the damn gorgeous one that Michonne lost.

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Back at Carol’s place, she tells Daryl that she couldn’t lose any of the others, including him.  She could have killed if any of her people were hurt, but then there’d be nothing left of her after that.  Daryl confirms that the Saviors came.  When asked if they hurt anyone, Daryl, after thinking over his response, tells her that the Saviors are no more and that everyone at home is fine.  The two then eat.

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Later, Daryl leaves, but warns Carol to watch out for herself.  He then sits outside of Shiva’s cage and tells Morgan- who is impressed with how Shiva warms to Daryl- that he found Carol and understands why Morgan lied to protect her.  However, they still need the Kingdom on their side, but Morgan doesn’t believe he can persuade Ezekiel.

Daryl tells Morgan that whatever he’s holding onto is gone, but Morgan believes that the two of them are the same.  After all, if Daryl had told Carol what really happened between their group and the Saviors, she’d be with him right now.  For that, Morgan is glad.  They’re all holding onto something.  Daryl ends this by telling Morgan that he’s headed back to the Hilltop tomorrow morning.

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Indeed, the next day, Daryl departs as the episode comes to a close.

So if negotiations broke down last week between Rick and the Kingdom, this week focused on terms slowly deteriorating between the Kingdom and the Saviors, but also allowing Rick to somehow find a new alley in the junkyard that time forgot.

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But let’s start with the Kingdom.  We saw on the first encounter that Ezekiel is being very patient when the Saviors humiliate or abuse his followers, but he’s refusing to let them fight back.  Doesn’t matter that the Saviors instigate an incident, he disciplines his followers.  I get that keeping this deal a secret from the Kingdom as a whole is for their own good, but he has to know that his followers have a breaking point.

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We know how much Richard is itching to fight, Benjamin is getting better and got in a strike during this week’s encounter, and now Morgan has lost his stick.  The Kingdom members aren’t trying to start a scuffle- they’re just defending themselves.  If Ezekiel is going to continue having problems with that, then it’s only a matter of time before the simmering tensions explode.

Hell, we now know just how far Richard is willing to go to bring down the Saviors, even if it means sacrifice.  His plan is foolish.  I can’t even call it a desperation tactic because if that were the case, he’d be willing to sacrifice himself, not someone else.  But why try and lure the Saviors to Carol and assume that her death would convince Ezekiel in going to war?

As far as Ezekiel knows, Carol keeps to herself, so he’d have to be suspicious why the Saviors would target Carol in the first place.  At least Daryl realized Richard’s plans and put a stop to it.  For the time being.

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The reunion between Carol and Daryl was warm, heartfelt, and earned, given the strength of their bond.  When Daryl asked Carol why she left, that was an emotional moment for them both, made stronger by the great chemistry between McBride and Reedus.

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But then the moment goes further when Daryl refuses to tell Carol about who the Saviors killed.  He’s doing it because he sees Carol’s state of mind and doesn’t want to bring her any more suffering.  More than that, Carol mentions that if she killed again, there’d be nothing left of her.  Why add an extra level of heartache to someone who is already in pain?

At the same time, Daryl not revealing the truth makes me think that Carol is going to find out eventually.  Most of the time in television, if a character is keeping a secret, then the big revelation is going to hurt even worse because someone was kept in the dark about the news.  And I’m curious what could become of Carl and Daryl’s friendship should she find out that Daryl lied, even if to protect her.

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But let’s move onto the Garbage Pail Kids, and I know I’m not the first one to refer to them as that.  Their English seems old-fashioned, they don’t talk often despite having so many people, so recruitment must be a test of patience, and they don’t look like they can put up much of a fight in hand-to-hand combat, anyway.

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However, there’s still strength in numbers and Rick knows that these people could be of some use, even though he doesn’t know them, has little to offer, and isn’t in a position to negotiate.  There’s something humorous about Rick being so confident and optimistic that he can arrange a guaranteed deal with this community when they could be more a hindrance than help.  But crazier things have happened.

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Like that spiked walker.  That was a thing of inspiration from this show’s production team. It felt like a mini-boss you take on before reaching the final challenge of any video game. And I liked the way in which Rick had to defeat it.  He didn’t have a weapon, and despite looking pretty scared when he first saw the walker, he fought and survived a challenge that apparently some people have lost.

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That being said, can we talk about the shitty green screen effects?  I’m not an expert on green screen, CGI, or really anything in general, but when Rick stood atop that trash heap, it looked very distracting, especially when what looked like a plane flew by Rick in the background.

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But onto the character stuff, I’m glad at how far Rick and Gabriel have come.  Here’s a preacher that Rick didn’t trust from the start, but now, after all they’ve endured together, Rick never believed that Gabriel would abandon him and the others.  It really does show how Rick, despite hating Gabriel for a period of time, can come around and soon call the man his friend.

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Speaking of friends and enemies, Rosita is saying and doing anything it takes to make enemies among the group.  Between Sasha, Morgan, thinking Gabriel stole from them, and now quarrel with Tara, Rosita is going to piss off the wrong person and I would bet that the next confrontation she has could get physical.  I expect that if Rosita gets under another person’s skin, that person is going to throw a punch.

“New Best Friends” gave Rick some new allies from the reject Mad Max cosplayers and gave Daryl and Carol the reunion that they deserved.  With Daryl now headed to the Hilltop and Rick’s group now looking for weapons, the lead-up to war with the Saviors continues.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 9: “Rock in the Road”

So our main characters have had more than enough of living under the Saviors’ rule.  With the second half of the season underway, it’s time to rise up, gather resources, and prepare for war.  Let’s jump back in with “Rock in the Road.”

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The episode begins in Alexandria.  After flipping through his Bible, Gabriel abandons his post and visits the pantry.  We hear a crash and then see Gabriel loading up as many supplies and cans of food as possible.  He packs up, leaving his Bible behind in the process, gases up a car, and drives off…with someone in the passenger seat.

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Over at the Hilltop, Gregory declares his deal with Rick’s group null and void since they failed to eliminate the Saviors.  As such, they aren’t trade partners and never met. Hell, Gregory feels Rick owes him for taking in Sasha and Maggie…the same people who helped save the Hilltop while Gregory hid.

Rick insists that they can defeat the Saviors.  It’s a better alternative than living under the Saviors’ thumbs while people die.  Gregory would rather continue his arrangement with the Saviors, so Maggie steps in and asks how many people the Hilltop can spare.  Tara insists that people will step up and fight if given the chance, but Gregory doesn’t believe the Hilltop residents are untrained fighters.  They just grow things.

Even though Gregory agrees that life would be better without the Saviors, he’s unwilling to lend his assistance.  Hell, as far as he’s concerned, Rick and his group didn’t even visit the Hilltop today.

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Though Gregory’s bullshit is difficult to bear, it turns out that the survivors may not need him after all.  Enid has told a group of Hilltop residents all about Rick’s plan and if there’s a chance that they beat the Saviors, then they’re willing to fight.  It’s a start, but even if Rick’s group found more weapons, they still lack the numbers.  The distance and geography work against them since Negan has so many outposts.

More than that, the Saviors will no doubt come to Alexandria in order to find Daryl, so it’s imperative that the survivors return.  However, Jesus reveals that he has one of the Saviors’ long range two-way radios, so they can listen in on anything happening at the Sanctuary.  There’s no rush to get back to Alexandria.  Instead, Jesus says that it’s time he introduced the group to Ezekiel…King Ezekiel.

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So Jesus leads them to the outer edge of the Kingdom, where they meet Richard and Alvaro, played by Carlos Navarro.  Jesus tells Richard that he’d like an audience with Ezekiel. Richard is skeptical of these newcomers, despite Jesus’ insistence that they’re good people who want to make the world less dangerous.  Richard will allow the group entrance, but only if they surrender their guns.  All two of them.  No big deal.

Though Richard is glad that Jesus, and not Gregory, has a backbone and a brain to boot, he doesn’t believe these trades or protection pacts will matter until they start dealing with the Saviors.  In response, Jesus believes this is the day that Richard will finally smile.

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So the survivors are brought into the Kingdom, which does have adequate numbers. They reunite with Morgan, who updates Rick and Daryl on Carol’s situation after she left Alexandria.  She’s fine, but just wanted to get away from everything, so after getting patched up at the Kingdom, she left.

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So Jesus brings Rick’s group to Ezekiel and his tiger.  It’s not often you see a tiger, more so in the apocalypse.  Rick states his case- Alexandria, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom all have one thing in common: they all serve the Saviors.  Alexandria fought them once and won, but taking out one outpost didn’t eliminate the entire threat.  So…can you really call that a win, Rick?

Okay, whatever.  Ezekiel is upset that Jesus told others about his deal with the Saviors.  And that only became known after Jesus told Ezekiel about the Hilltop’s travails with the Saviors.  This arrangement isn’t known to the public for a good reason.  In Jesus’ defense, he broke the Kingdom’s confidence so Ezekiel could hear Rick’s plan.

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Ezekiel is hesitant in joining Rick’s fight against the Saviors, but the group points out that they’ve lost good people to the Saviors.  It’s here that Morgan finds out the fates of Abraham, Glenn, Spencer, and Olivia, not to mention Eugene being taken hostage.  And though Daryl escaped, he’s still a target.  Jesus thought this arrangement with the Saviors was manageable, but that’s changed.

For all the strength of Rick’s group, they lack the numbers and weapons.  If they strike first, together, they can win.  Richard likes this idea, as he doesn’t want to wait for things to get worse.  The time to strike back is now.  Ezekiel asks Morgan for his input.  Morgan admits that a lot of people on both sides will die, so he wonders if there’s another way to do this, like capturing Negan.

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Rick then tells a tale that I think he’s been itching to share for weeks: there was this road to a kingdom, and there was a rock in the road.  People would avoid it, but horses would break their legs on it and die and wagon wheels would fall off.  As such, people would lose the goods they wanted to sell.  For example, this one little girl’s family had a cask of beer that fell off.  As her family had no money, this was their last chance to get food.

The girl cried and wondered why the rock was there to hurt others.  So she dig and dug so deep and hard that her hands bled, but she after hours, she managed to remove the rock. However, just as she was prepared to fill the hole, she saw a bag of gold in that hole. The king put that rock in the road because he knew the person who dug it out deserved a reward that would change their life forever.

A bit of a shitty king, but I suppose he had a point.  Anyway, after Rick’s monologue, Ezekiel invites everyone to stay until tomorrow, when he will deliver his decree.

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Out in the woods, Benjamin runs into Carol, who heard him from a mile away because Carol has super hearing.  He explains that he didn’t run because he’s training to be a better fighter.  Carol tells Benjamin not to wander around alone at dark, but he tells her that Ezekiel will keep checking on her to make sure she’s okay since he looks out for the people he cares for, after all.

Benjamin offers her some food and water- he carries extra in case he runs into someone who needs it.  After all, there’s not a lot of people left and you have to help each other.

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That night, Benjamin tells Ezekiel that he’s getting better with the stick, as he managed to take out two walkers.  During his unaccompanied trip, he ran into Carol and said that his reason for carrying food and water is the same reason the Kingdom should work with Rick.  These visitors are willing to risk everything.  If the Kingdom doesn’t help, then Rick’s group may not win.

But on the off-chance that they do, they will have saved everyone and the Kingdom would have done nothing to assist.  And Ezekiel did say that he wants Benjamin to be ready for anything.  With this in mind, Ezekiel thanks Benjamin for his sage counsel.  The king is pleased.

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The next day, Ezekiel tells Rick and company that life at the Kingdom came at a cost, as he sent people to battle the dead when he didn’t have to.  He wanted to expand and create more places like the Kingdom.  Rick counters that the dead don’t rule them.  The world beyond the Kingdom isn’t as good and some people don’t have it good at all. Understatement of the century, Rick.

Ezekiel has to worry about his people.  He’s trying to hold onto this uneasy peace with the Saviors.  He won’t offer aid now, but he does offer Daryl asylum for as long as necessary since the Saviors don’t enter the Kingdom.  Daryl, though, wonders how long that would even last.  The group leaves unsatisfied and empty handed.

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Sasha tells Rosita that saw this coming, but she’s still upset.  Rosita doesn’t see why Sasha is telling her this, though.  Just because they both had sex with Abraham doesn’t make them friends.  Okay, does Rosita have a bug in her ass or something?

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Morgan wants Rick so he can hopefully change Ezekiel’s mind.  Richard, though, is more on board with Rick’s plan.  It doesn’t help the communities are just making the Saviors stronger by giving them food and arms.  Also, Daryl won’t be leaving.  Rick wants him to stay at the Kingdom.  That way, he can hopefully convince Ezekiel or, even better, stare him into submission.  That’s actually not a bad idea, Rick.

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On the road, the group overhears Negan’s eulogy of Fat Joey- apparently without Fat Joey, Skinny Joey is just Joey- and soon arrives at a blockade of cars in the road.  With a base not too far, they figure that the Saviors want to make it hard for people to reach this outpost.  The plan is to move the cars around and move them back so the Saviors don’t know others entered this area.

As the group gets to work moving the cars, they notice some explosives and steel cables needed for dealing with a walker herd.  The group welcomes themselves to these explosives, but they need to disarm them first.  Backing up won’t make a difference if the explosives go off.  At the same time, the group hears on the radio that Negan has ordered a search party to go find Daryl.

So now the survivors need to get the explosives and get to Alexandria before the Saviors. Good thing Rosita is an expert at disarming bombs.  Do you remember when Rosita was a pro at this?  I don’t.  Anyway, they need to unwrap the secondary explosives and make sure the casings aren’t messed up.  The explosives still need to be triggered to be set off, though there’s one in particular that Rosita doesn’t like.  She’s particular like that.

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Then, in the distance, Carl spots some approaching walkers.  There’s still time to disarm them and get the cars back on the road.  Sure, the Saviors will know that their bombs are missing, but this herd needs to stay on the highway.  The group may need it later.

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Jesus and Sasha head back to the Hilltop on foot.  As the others move the cars, Rick and Michonne cut through the wires and try to get as many weapons and explosives as possible.  They soon head to and hotwire two cars connected by the wiring and, in a set piece I’m sure most of us loved, they mow down the herd as the wire cuts through as many walkers as possible.

I guess it’s a good thing there was no rock in the road.  Rick and Michonne soon rejoin the others and head out just as the walkers are engulfed by an explosion.  Nice going, Rosita. But hey, they made it.  As Michonne tells Rick, they’re the ones who live.

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They return to Alexandria in no time.  Rick tells Tobin that everyone needs to get ready, but there’s no time for that, as Simon and a group of Saviors have arrived not for a tribute, but to find Daryl.  And Simon isn’t dumb enough to believe that Rick doesn’t know about Daryl’s disappearance.  So Simon wants everyone to partner up and search for Daryl.  That way, they can all watch him die if he’s found.

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The Saviors go through every nook and cranny of Alexandria, leaving a mess in the process, but don’t find Daryl.  In the now empty pantry, Aaron tells Simon that  but no sign of Daryl.  In the now empty pantry, Aaron tells Simon that it’s getting harder to find things for their community when they spend so much time gathering for Negan.

Again, Simon isn’t here to collect, but that day is coming.  Simon thanks Rick for his cooperation and tells him that if Daryl shows up, there’s no statute of limitations.  Well, at least Simon acknowledges that there’s still a statute of limitations in the post-apocalyptic world.  Tobin and Aaron tell Rick that Gabriel has disappeared, the pantry has been cleared out, and he stole a car.

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Aside from Rosita, no one wants to believe that Gabriel would steal from them.  Not to mention that Gabriel left his Bible, and Rick finds that curious.  He then sees the word ‘Boat’ written in a notebook.  So how would Gabriel know that Aaron and Rick were out there?

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As Aaron packs up, Eric confesses his concern, as Aaron did get the shit kicked out of him.  Eric doesn’t want Aaron to go after Gabriel, but after everything the community has endured, Gabriel is one of them and has proven his worth.  Despite the fear of what could happen if the Saviors returned while Rick and the others were out, Aaron is still set on leaving.

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After Rick and Aaron lead the group to the lake, Rick spots some footprints.  The group follows them and ends up in a clearing where, all of a sudden, they find themselves surrounded by a group of armed men and women.  And through it all, Rick eventually smiles.

So we’re back for the second half of the season and off to a good start as the main survivors get to work building an army to take down the Saviors.  Sure, they don’t make much progress since both Gregory and Ezekiel aren’t on board with this plan, but it’s only a matter of time before Rick has his united coalition to combat Negan.

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Before, when he decided to go for one of the outposts, Rick thought his plan was foolproof.  Attack the Saviors before they made the first move.  And despite doing that and more, the Saviors struck back and hard, so Rick needs to dial back his overconfidence. Rather than do it alone, he’s hoping that the Hilltop and Kingdom are just as fed up with Negan’s reign as they are.

Rick and company have proven time and time again that, when committed, they can overtake any challenge.  Hell, upon first learning about Negan, Rick said that confrontation has never been something the group has had trouble with, and then he met Negan.

So brute strength and heart alone won’t do it.  There’s strength in numbers and like the girl who dug out that rock in the road, Rick has to overcome obstacles in order to get back to some semblance of peace.

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Not just with Negan as that obstacle, but also in convincing the other communities that this is a fight they can win.  At this point, Gregory’s opinion is irrelevant since people at the Hilltop trust Maggie’s leadership and are already willing to put their lives on the line if there’s even a one percent chance that the Saviors can be defeated.

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And Ezekiel has every reason to be concerned.  He’s already kept his arrangement with the Saviors a secret and he doesn’t want to send more people to their deaths.  Why take the risk when there’s no guarantee of victory?  He’s sympathetic to Rick’s plight, yes, but not at the cost of his people.

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While Richard and Benjamin are already on board with fighting, I wager it’s going to take a major incident to push Ezekiel into joining Rick.  As Daryl asked, how long will the Saviors agree to not enter the Kingdom?  Someone is going to get hurt, killed, or the Saviors will break the peace because they can.  And that will what be what convinces Ezekiel that the Saviors must be removed from the equation if there is to be true peace.

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Also, I’m glad we got to spend a bit of time with Morgan, not just to get his reaction to who has been killed, but to see that he’s still keeping Carol’s location a secret.  And he’s still grappling with his stance on killing.  He did it to protect Carol, but despite hearing what the Saviors have done, he’s still looking for alternatives rather than going to war.  But like when he saved Carol, he may have to kill again to protect those going into battle.

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And even though Carol wants to stay out of the conflict- for now- she’s still a skilled warrior, as seen when she tells Benjamin about how to stay stealthy.  I’m unsure if she’s going to remain on the sidelines, but I imagine all that’s happened to her friends will at least get a reaction out of her.  Enough to draw her back into combat?  No idea.

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I like that we don’t spend an entire episode’s worth of Rick and company trying to recruit. It would’ve been easy to spend half the episode at the Hilltop, the other half at the Kingdom, and just end it there.  But these people have to keep moving because despite needing the numbers, they still have to contend with the Saviors, more so now that Daryl is a fugitive.

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Not to mention the fact that they’re desperate for weapons, which made the sequence on the road more hectic…even though these characters have such thick plot armor that we know they were never in any real danger, despite Rick and Michonne being surrounded.

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Plus, The Walking Dead has good set pieces when it comes to eliminating batches of walkers, but cutting through them with wire and two cars?  That’s some inspired ingenuity right there.  A bit ridiculous, but fun as hell all the same.

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Onto some character bits.  I can do without Rosita being such a prat to Sasha.  Where’s this coming from, by the way?  They seemed to be on good terms, last I checked.  If anything, I would think they’d be drawn closer since they both loved Abraham.  But no, she brings up that shared connection as a way to be cold to Sasha, who only expressed her disappointment about the situation.

More than that, she’s quick to throw Gabriel under the bus when he was the one to tell her that she didn’t need to sacrifice herself if it meant killing Negan.

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If I had to guess, maybe Rosita’s just salty that she couldn’t kill Negan from a few feet away.

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But what is Gabriel doing, anyway?  I wonder if it has to do with this new community we see at the end of the episode.  And though Rosita has turned her back on Gabriel, I’m happy that the others, especially Rick, trust that Gabriel wouldn’t just betray them.

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As for this new community, just who the hell are they?  At a first, quick glance, it’s easy to think these were Oceanside residents, but we saw men among them, so that rules them out.  But judging from Rick’s smile, he sees some advantage in this group.  Potential cannon fodder-I mean, soldiers for the war against the Saviors?  Who knows?  Here’s hoping we find out next time.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 8: “Hearts Still Beating”

From bottle episodes to multiple plots, it’s time for The Walking Dead to end the first half of its seventh season, and if anything, it solidifies in Rick’s mind by episode’s end that things need to change and fast.  This is “Hearts Still Beating.”

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The episode begins at the Hilltop with Maggie sitting at Abraham and Glenn’s graves.  She later climbs the walls when Gregory tells her that people are saying nice things about her, Sasha, and how they saved the community.

Gregory doesn’t want it going to her head, but Maggie wonders if this bothers Gregory, who is about to eat an apple.  Then another Hilltop member, Eduardo, mentions that Maggie is pregnant, so goodbye Gregory’s apple and hello Maggie’s apple.

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We then cut to Alexandria, where Negan puts the finishing touches on a clean shave while Carl and Judith watch.  He then gets to work cooking up a storm.

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Outside, Tara gives Olivia some lemonade that’s intended for Negan.  Tara offers to take over, but Olivia refuses since she promised Rick that she would watch Judith.  She tells Tara to leave.

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Over at the Sanctuary, Daryl makes his escape from his cell.

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Meanwhile, Aaron and Rick find a boat riddled with bullet holes.  Rick wants Aaron to stay back, but Aaron refuses, saying that he’s seeing this through. Instead, he gets some wood to use as paddles and the two then set out on the water.

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As Carl sets the dinner table, Negan tells him to get another setting, but he soon gets tired of waiting for Rick.  Lucille, though, is hungry, so Negan orders Carl to pass the rolls.  At least he said please.  Lucille doesn’t have a pussy, but she apparently has a mouth.

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As Eugene enters the Safe Zone, the Saviors make good of Spencer’s supplies and are glad that he got messy for them.  One of the Saviors, Laura, played by Lindsley Register, tells Spencer that if he plays his cards right, they may show him where she lives.  Laura then tells an eavesdropping Eugene to fuck off and mind his own business.

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Back by the Kingdom, Carol reads from a book when she spots a package from Morgan on her doorstep.  Carol calls out to Morgan and tells him that the package of fresh food is unnecessary because Ezekiel is keeping her well-stocked.  Morgan promises to leave Carol alone, but she did call him over in the first place to ask how he’s doing.

Morgan is good, so now he can go.  He tells Carol that she may be going soft.  Morgan won’t be going anywhere, as he and Carol receive an unexpected visit from Richard, who wants to talk to the two about something important.

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On the water, Rick and Aaron continue their trek and take out as many walkers that are drawing close to their boat, which is taking on water.  They manage to reach another boat, but a walker has already made it her territory.  And then another walker grabs Aaron and drags him into the water.  After a bit of time passes, he resurfaces unharmed.  Sorry, Bob.

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However, Aaron and Rick come up short, as they find food and tons of guns, but no ammunition. Just a less-than-pleasant note from the owner.

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Back at the Sanctuary, Daryl sneaks into another room where he feasts on peanut butter and changes into a new set of clothes.

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As the two pack, Rick tells Aaron that he didn’t mean to imply that Aaron couldn’t help out.  It’s just that people don’t agree with Rick scavenging for the Saviors, so Rick wouldn’t blame Aaron if he backed out.  Aaron reminds Rick that he was with him on the road.  What they’re doing is going to keep people alive.  It doesn’t matter what happens to them, even if Michonne doesn’t see this as living.

After Alexandria lived free, it’s hard to give up what you have, but either your heart’s beating or it isn’t.  Same for your loved ones.  You take what’s given to you so you can live.

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Michonne is still on the road with Isabelle, who is continuing her drive presumably towards the Sanctuary.  Michonne asks how long she’s been with Negan and why she was out there alone, but gets no response.  Whether Isabelle believes that talking won’t change how this ends for her remains to be seen, but for now, Michonne won’t kill Negan today. She just wants to find a way to win and change how this ends for her.

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Back at the Hilltop, Sasha and Maggie get an apple pie as a gift for their work in saving the Hilltop.  Enid asks if Maggie is President yet, but she isn’t.  Also, Jesus hasn’t returned yet.  Enid knows that Sasha is lying to Maggie about Jesus, given that he left yesterday, not today, as Sasha said.  Sasha says this is for Maggie’s own good.  Enid knows that Sasha wants to kill Negan.

If Sasha had help, she wouldn’t have to keep this from Maggie.  But Sasha doesn’t want Enid helping or talking, even though this effort to take down Negan goes well beyond Sasha.

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Richard speaks with Carol and Morgan about communities that once banded together, but are now gone.  He lost hope in people until he found the Kingdom and met Ezekiel.  But now the Kingdom is under threat by the Saviors.  A few months back, some Saviors met Ezekiel and, recognizing his capabilities, cut a deal.  In exchange for food and supplies, , the Saviors wouldn’t hurt anyone or enter the Kingdom.

And since Ezekiel both trusts Morgan and likes Carol, Richard needs them to help convince Ezekiel to fight the Saviors.  There’s peace with the Saviors now, but Richard fears that something will go wrong or the Saviors will just stop honoring the deal.  Once that happens, the Kingdom will fall.  Richard lost his family to this world and he’s afraid that if nothing happens now, more will die.

He knows what the Saviors can do and does not trust them.  In essence, Richard wants Morgan and Carol to convince Ezekiel to launch a preemptive strike against the Saviors.

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Over at Alexandria’s church, Rosita admires her handcrafted bullet when Gabriel asks if it’s for her or Negan.  She’s not worried about dying so long as Negan is killed in the process.  Gabriel agrees, but he doesn’t see why does Rosita has to die.  And there’s no need to lie if this is their last conversation.

Rosita believes that Abraham was still alive, they could fight.  If Glenn lived, Maggie’s child would have a father.  Michonne and Carl have Rick, Aaron has Eric, Eugene knows things, and Daryl is strong.  Gabriel mentions Sasha as well and tells Rosita that it shouldn’t have been her or anyone else.

He is convinced that they will win, but they need to wait for or create the right moment together.  Rosita is a part of that, so she shouldn’t do this because everyone needs her.

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Richard knows that the Saviors outnumber the Kingdom, so they need to attack first while they have the advantage and, hopefully, the element of surprise.  Though a capable fighter, Carol wants no part of this and would still prefer to be left alone.

Morgan knows people will die, and he only killed to save Carol.  In Richard’s mind, there’s no difference between that and killing other Saviors to protect everyone else.  Richard tells While Morgan would rather build on the peace that exists now, Richard tells him that he’ll have to choose to kill one day because things aren’t going to get easier. He should choose now before losing someone close to him.

But Richard knows that there’s no reasoning with the Saviors.  He believes that the Saviors will turn on the Kingdom, and when blood is shed, it will be on Morgan and Carol’s hands.  With that, he leaves.  Carol tells Morgan that she doesn’t want anyone else knowing where she is, but he never meant for anyone to see her.

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Spencer enters his home and finds it turned upside down, but it’s soon cleaned up as he gets himself nice and ready for a confrontation.

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Back in the woods, Richard enters a hidden home and collapses to the floor as he eyes his supplies.

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Rosita then asks Spencer if he’s on for a date, but he just wants to get close to Negan, as he figures that he’s got good momentum with the Saviors.  Spencer asks why Rosita ended or even started what the two of them had, given that he felt they had something good.

Truth is that Rosita was trying not to think about shit. finds Spencer sweet, sure, but she admits that she just used him.  At the very least, she does agree to dinner with Spencer, no strings attached.

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Daryl again manages to find a motorcycle when he’s confronted by Fat Joseph, who surrenders and offers to let Daryl leave right now.  He tells Daryl that he’s just trying to get by, but Daryl just beats him to death just as Jesus finds him.  Daryl retorts that it’s not about getting by, but getting it all.  Before the two leave, Jesus pockets one of the walkie-talkies.

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After being refused entry by Arat, Spencer is eventually allowed to pass and officially introduces himself to Negan.

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Michonne and Isabelle companion are still on the road when they come to a stop. Isabelle tells Michonne that Negan is up ahead.   You know, because they’re all Negan. She says that whatever Michonne is planning won’t work, but she still has some choices. As her final move, Isabelle informs Michonne that there’s a silencer in the glove compartment…

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Meanwhile, Rick and Aaron return to Alexandria, when they learn that Negan is waiting for Rick.  The Saviors then check the truck for supplies, among them the note that Rick and Aaron found on the boat.  Why the hell do they still have that?  Anyway, the Saviors think that the disparaging note is meant for them, so they start beating the shit out of Aaron and stop Rick from interfering.

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Negan is overjoyed about Spencer’s housewarming gift, but the only thing missing is a pool table.  Luckily, the house across the street has one, but Negan has a better idea.

With the pool table set, Spencer tells Negan that he understands what Negan is trying to build with this network.  It makes sense, but Rick has a history of not working well with others.  More than that, Rick wasn’t the original leader and wasn’t as good as Deanna.  Negan finds that a sad story, but lucky for him, Rick isn’t in charge.  Even still, Spencer knows that Rick’s out-of-control ego will lead to him trying to screw things up.

With the Alexandria residents now gathered at the pool table, Negan asks what Spencer is proposing, and Spencer offers to be the leader that Negan needs.

But Negan has been thinking about how Rick, despite hating him, is out gathering things to make sure no one else is hurt.  He’s swallowing his hate to get shit done, and that takes guts.  Then there’s Spencer, who waited for Rick to leave so he could get Negan to do his dirty work.  After all, if Spencer really wants to be in charge, why doesn’t he just kill Rick himself?

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Negan says it’s because Spencer has no guts.  And with that, he plunges a knife straight into Spencer’s stomach and guts spill out everywhere.  Negan is beyond embarrassed, as Spencer did have guts after all- they were inside him all along.  The residents are left shocked, but Negan orders someone to get this mess cleaned.  He asks if anyone wants to finish the pool game, but no takers.  Rosita pulls out her gun and fires.

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The other Saviors finally let up on beating Aaron and Rick is allowed to help him.  They hear a gunshot ring out and it turns out that Lucille ended up taking a hit from Rosita’s bullet.  Negan demands to know about the bullet that he correctly guesses is homemade.

Since Lucille’s beautiful surface won’t look the same, Negan figures that Rosita’s shouldn’t either…unless she tells him who made the bullet.  Arat then places a blade to Rosita’s face.

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Rosita says that she made it, but Negan figures that she’s lying.  Negan orders Arat to kill someone, so with fucking perfect aim, she turns around and kills Olivia.  And this is where Rick and Aaron arrive just in time for Negan to ask for a thank you.  Even though this relationship started off tense, he just showed how reasonable how he was.  After all, Carl gunned down two Saviors, but Negan brought him home and fed him.

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Not to mention Spencer plotting behind Rick’s back, but now he’s dead.  Again, thanks to Negan.  And Rosita shot Lucille, so now there’s one less mouth to feed in Olivia’s death.  Negan wouldn’t have killed her- that’s all Arat’s doing.  Rick tells Negan that his shit is waiting for him at the gate, so he can leave.  However, Negan still wants to know who made the bullet.

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Eugene admits that he was the one who made the bullet, and Negan believes him.  Negan orders Lucille to give him strength and Negan will now relieve Rick of Eugene.  Whatever Rick scavenged is no good because after today, he’s in deep shit. Also, Negan loves Rick’s kitchen.  With that, the Saviors depart.  Spencer soon reanimates just as Rick puts him down.

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He later sits in the cell that Morgan built as he looks over a note when Michonne joins him.  The two embrace because, let’s face it, they’ve had one hell of a day.  Michonne confirms that she found what she was looking for, as she had to go her way instead of joining Rick and Aaron.  But when she found it, she realized that she didn’t want it to be her way, but theirs.

There are more Saviors than anticipated, but that doesn’t change how Michonne how feels or how things are.  There’s so much that they’ve lived through when they should have died and they will keep standing, so now they’re left wondering how they make that mean something.  After all, Rick once said that they’re the ones who live.  That’s why they have to fight: not for themselves, but for everyone.  They can find a way to beat the Saviors.

And Rick now knows that.

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Back at the Hilltop, Maggie again climbs the walls when she calls out to Sasha and Enid.  Turns out that Rick, Michonne, Tara, Carl, and Rosita have arrived at the Hilltop.  Rick tells Maggie that she was right from the beginning, as they need to get ready to fight.  Rick couldn’t have listened back then, but now he can.

Oh, also, Daryl and Jesus are at the Hilltop and he returns Rick’s colt.  Now reunited, the group heads towards the mansion as the first half of The Walking Dead’s seventh season comes to a close.

But wait, there’s more!  In a stinger at the end, Gabriel takes his post atop the Alexandria walls while the same individual who spied on Rick and Aaron watches him from a distance.

Well, that’s it for the first half of Season Seven and the wheels are in motion with the communities heading towards taking on Negan and the Saviors.  “Hearts Still Beating” is a very good episode and finisher for the first half that balances different storylines and communities very well.  It was all well-paced.  We’re at Alexandria, the Hilltop, the Sanctuary, or the Kingdom long enough to get the gist of what’s going happening.

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While I haven’t had a big issue with the episodes dealing with one community, it makes sense, given the situation, that things are ramping up, so of course we’d head back to multiple plots and catch up not just on how the communities are doing, but how they’re planning on dealing with Negan.

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And a big part of that has to do with being unified, as Michonne concludes when on the road and as she tells Rick in a very good speech about working together.  Making the most of this situation with the Saviors doesn’t work if everyone isn’t banded together.  Hell, even Gabriel tells Rosita that creating the right moment comes from working as one as opposed to going at it alone.  Hopefully Sasha and Jesus have let Maggie in on their plan.

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But a team won’t function as well without its leader, and it looks as if Rick has finally come around to fighting back as opposed to biding his time.  And that’s through a combination of the people who have either suffered or been killed up through this point, watching Aaron be beaten, Michonne’s speech to him, and how his own son went right to Negan’s stronghold, killed a few Saviors, and could’ve gotten himself killed.  Again.

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Rick had been brought down, but he’s not out.  And while Maggie instantly wanted to fight, it took him more time to come around.  Now that he’s ready for war and has reunited with the others at the Hilltop, now it’s just a matter of formulating a successful attack that won’t lead to more deaths, impossible as that sounds.  Instead of just taking the fight to Negan ahead of time, he needs a better strategy.

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He also needs to be more trusting of his new allies, as it was unnecessary for him to suggest that Aaron sit out the boat mission, even though he didn’t mean it.  Despite the tense, first encounter, Aaron has proven himself loyal and willing to help when necessary.  He was there when Glenn and Abraham died, so he knows the cost, but damn the consequences, he’s proving to Rick why he’s a vital member of this coalition.

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Over at the Kingdom, Richard is falling into the same trap that Rick did with his plan of a preemptive strike against the Saviors.  He knows that the Saviors can’t be trusted and he wants to take the fight to them ahead of time, but if he was aware of what happened with Rick, chances are he would be more cautious about wanting to get a potential early advantage against the Saviors.

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By the way, what’s going on with Carol?  Seems like she’s still in her funk about not wanting to kill or be involved with this conflict at all.  That’s fine, but for her to say that she doesn’t want anyone to know where she is and that she’d rather be left alone isn’t helpful at this point.  I doubt this is long term.  Maybe once she learns what happened to the others, she’ll go back to killer Mama Bear Carol.

At the very least, the seed has been planted in Morgan and Carol’s minds about the Kingdom playing a part in an offensive against Negan.  And as Richard said, Morgan will have to kill again eventually to protect the people in his life.  Once Rick arrives at the Kingdom, I wager he’ll do a better job of persuading the community to fight than either Carol or Morgan.

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Now let’s get to Spencer’s death, another comic moment come to life in a beautiful, bloody way.  The moment played out, note-for-note, like you remember it from the comics and it really showed what Negan sees in Rick.  For all his hatred for Negan, Rick, as far as Negan knows, isn’t a schemer.  He’s swallowing his pride and working for Negan in order to protect Alexandria.

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By contrast, Spencer would take the coward’s way out and, like Gregory, suck up to the opposition in order to get in their good graces.  Problem is that Negan gets off on and likes when people fight against him.  What Spencer’s doing requires very little thought because there’s no guarantee that Negan would accept him with open arms.  As broken as Rick has been this season, Negan at least knows that he has a spine.

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Oh, but Spencer’s not the only one making stupid decisions.  Rosita took a prime opportunity to kill Negan and had a perfect shot, and not only did she almost get herself killed- and she seemed ready to die- but she got Olivia killed in the process.  Why now?

Daryl punched Negan in the face, which led to Glenn getting killed. Rosita took a shot and missed, but despite that, her actions got someone killed.  Clearly Rosita never watched The Wire or she would have remembered Omar’s words: you come at the king, you best not miss.

hearts-still-beating-rosita-cut-by-arat

Perhaps it was impulsive thinking, but what made her believe she could pull off what amounts to a suicide mission?  She didn’t even land her target, and now not only is Olivia dead, but Eugene has been taken captive.

hearts-still-beating-negan-asks-lucille-for-strength

That’s another thing: why does Negan decide to take Eugene?  Aside from the knowledge of how to make bullets, what could Negan get from him?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to take Rosita?  He took Daryl hostage and said that he had guts.  Take the woman who almost killed you instead of the guy whose skill is making bullets.  Or, hell, just take them both.  Rick wasn’t about to stop Negan.

hearts-still-beating-arat-about-to-kill-olivia

Credit where it’s due, that was a fantastic shot on Arat’s part.  The woman didn’t even give it much of a thought- she just spun around and killed Olivia on the first try.  It’s more impressive given how far away Olivia was when Arat could have just killed anyone in the crowd around her.  By the way, I love Arat.  Or rather, the intensity of Elizabeth Ludlow’s performance.  Like Daryl, she’s not a comic character, but is enjoyable all the same.

hearts-still-beating-rick-and-daryl-hug-it-out

The reunion at the end felt very earned, especially seeing Rick and Daryl reunite after Negan refused to let the two so much as talk or look at each other.  I would assume that Daryl and Maggie are on good terms as well.  Our group is down, but they’re not out.

And with most of our survivors back together, the time has come for the communities to combine their resources and slowly build a strong coalition capable of taking on their common enemy in Negan and the Saviors.  Will everyone answer the call? Will there be any holdouts?  And who the hell is spying on Alexandria?

“Hearts Still Beating” was a very strong outing for the first half of the season.  It balanced multiple communities very well and was both fun- mostly through Negan’s actions- and suspenseful to watch at the same time.  As we head towards war, I am very excited to see how things go in the second half of Season Seven.  See you then.

A Look at Veep- Season 4, Episode 5: “Convention”

Is the Vice President really all that important?  Not like they’re of any real value- they’re just there to make the President look good and give speeches while the Commander-in-Chief does all the hard stuff.  So why is it so bloody hard to pick a potential running mate?  I don’t know, but let’s see what the folks on Veep think.  This is “Convention.”

Convention- Catherine goes over her speech

The episode begins with Team Selina watching Roger Furlong deliver his speech at the convention.  Catherine is practicing her speech and includes a mention of her boyfriend, Jason, but Selina wants her to say it like she means it.  It doesn’t sound like she’s in love, more like she’s been kidnapped by the Taliban.  Karen agrees.  Well, she just goes along with Selina.

Convention- Amy really doesn't like Karen

Amy, though, is not a fan of Karen, as she’s yet to speak a declarative sentence.

Convention- Dan speaks about zucchinis

At Purcell’s office, Purcell brings Dan in to lobby for one of the world’s zucchini exporters.  He wants to take zucchini to the next level.  Luckily, Dan is fresh from the White House and probably has tons of contacts in Washington.  However, it’s tricky for Dan to get a meeting with anyone because everyone is out of town for the convention.  Dan throws out Jonah’s name and says that he can get a meeting with him today.

Still practicing her speech, Catherine brings on Jason for a kiss.  Selina and Karen feel a need to focus on this human emotion segment, though Amy would prefer to focus on Selina’s speech.

Convention- Sue speaks about a death row inmate in Louisiana who was given a botched and new drug cocktail

Then we get the sort of subplot here when Sue mentions that there’s a death row inmate in Louisiana who was given a botched and new drug cocktail.  Since it failed, the inmate isn’t dead.  He’s half-dead, and remember that there’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.  Selina decides to deliver a statement that can be repurposed, depending on whether the inmate lives or died.

Sue also reveals that she has a friend in the other camp who has a small brain and big mouth.  That’s not the important part.  The important thing is that Senator O’Brien’s running mate is New Mexico Senator Laura Montez.  Team Selina is enraged at this decision.  Montez is brilliant, charming, a woman, and not to mention ethnic to boot.  There’s nothing on the internet about her aside from the usual Photoshopped nudity.  Selina, meanwhile, is stuck with Steve Martin’s older brother, who she really wants off of the ticket.

Convention- Doyle tells Teddy that he plans to leave the Presidential ticket

Speaking of, Doyle learns about the data breach.  Between that and the polling, he decides that he’s leaving the ticket.  Teddy, though, thinks Doyle shouldn’t do that.  After all, Selina doesn’t have time to replace him.

Convention- Doyle tells Ben and Selina that he wants out

Doyle heads to Selina’s room and informs her that he’s leaving the ticket.  He’ll stay on as Vice President through the inauguration, but he’s gone after that.  It’s a matter of principle, but Ben tells Doyle that there’s no way on God’s green cock- how and why does Ben know the exact color?- that he can get out on matter of principle.  It has to be a health issue, like prostate problems.

That and Team Selina don’t want the data breach to go public.  So they bring up the sexual abuse allegations surrounding Jonah…as in Jonah’s been the victim.  How can he be a man of principle if he’s condoning sexual abuse?  I personally don’t see how it matters either way since Doyle is stepping down anyway.

Whatever.  Anyway, Selina shares the news that Doyle is stepping down and she could not be happier.  The team needs a backup, though, and they settle on Danny Chung.  Exactly what Karen was thinking.  Funny how that worked out.  Also, the folks in Louisiana found a pulse on the death row guy.

Convention- Dan has to get Richard and Jonah coffee

Back at PKM, Dan introduces Jonah and Richard to Purcell, but then he’s forced to get coffee for them.  You’re really making your way up in the world, Dan.  Though Dan tries to talk up Jonah as the man to find levers to make pesticides happen, but the meeting is sidetracked when everyone learns at the same time that Doyle has left the ticket.  Dan and Jonah decide to call Amy.

Convention- Amy still really doesn't like Karen

As if on cue, we then cut to Amy, who still isn’t a fan of Karen and wonders what she did to deserve it.  Maybe she gave the go-ahead for Pearl Harbor, but the point is that Karen is Selina’s best friend.  Best female friend, as Gary clarifies.  Hard to top that.

Convention- Selina offers Danny Chung the Vice Presidential slot

So Selina and Danny meet, though he focuses on the first time he spoke at the convention and how everyone called it Chung-mania.  Lovely.  Selina gets right to the chase and asks Danny if he’d serve alongside her as Vice President.  Chung is honored, but he’ll need to consult his wife and his Bible- he has two Bibles- first.

Convention- Doyle fires Teddy for fondling Jonah

While Mike speaks with a journalist about Doyle’s decision, Doyle himself confronts Teddy about twirling Jonah’s balls like they’re some kind of exotic stress reducer.  Furlong, also present, finds it all humorous and wishes that someone would assault his staff, meaning his penis.  At least he clarified.  Doyle fires Teddy, but Teddy maintains that everything he did has been to serve Doyle, and that goes double for fondling Jonah.

Convention- Danny Chung declines the Vice Presidential slot

Chung ends up declining Selina’s offer due to family issues, but more the way that Selina operates.  He has no problem with it, but it’s not the way he likes to operate.  Chung can’t stick around to see Selina’s full reaction- he has to address the convention.  But Selina reminds him that the Vice President is just one heartbeat away from the Presidency.

Now the team needs another choice to announce for the Vice President.  Amy throws out Tom James.  It makes sense.  People like him, he was wounded while serving his country, and he has a disabled son.  Everyone is on board with the choice except for Selina and, by extension, Karen.  Instead, Selina asks Mike to find George Maddox.  Oh, and the death row guy has died.

Convention- Selina offers Maddox the Vice President slot

Now it’s Maddox’s turn.  He sees himself as an ambitious person who knows how to get things done.  People say that Selina, however, does not.  Well, that didn’t work.

Convention- Team Selina go over potential running mates

So the team goes through more potential candidates.  Kent suggests an all-female ticket, but Selina thinks that voters won’t go for two women on the ticket.  Amy continues to mention Tom James, but Selina still doesn’t give it any consideration.  Instead, she settles for Owen Pierce.  He’s inept, but you can make inept work.  When Selina asks for Karen’s opinion, Karen responds that there are pros and cons to every candidate, so they just need to weigh the pros and cons.

Convention- Amy rages at Karen

And this is what sends Amy over the edge.  She first asks if Karen has been sent from the future to destroy her, because it’s working.  Bullshitting takes talent, Amy says, and Karen has none.

But Amy turns her rage on Selina, who has made it impossible to do her job.  In Amy’s mind, Selina has two settings: no decision and bad decision.  That’s Veep as a whole, really.  Amy wouldn’t let Selina run a bath without having the Coast Guard and the fire department standing by, but yet she’s running America.

Convention- Amy tells Selina that there will be no more female presidents because Selina did a terrible job

Amy is done…for a second.  As she shows herself out, she comes back and says that Selina has achieved nothing.  The fact that she is a woman means there will be no more female presidents because America tried one and she fucking sucked.

After a moment, Selina decides to speak with Tom James.  She asks for Karen’s opinion on that, and Karen just says that there’s a lot to think.

Convention- Learning that Amy has left Selina's team

At PKM, Dan and Jonah learn that Amy has left the team, which is why she’s not returning their call.  Everyone else has already learned that she walked.

Convention- Enter Tom James, played by Hugh Laurie

Back at the convention, help has arrived.  Enter Tom James, played by Dr. House himself, Hugh Laurie!  James greets Selina- who happens to be the one skeleton in his closet- and the two head to a room where they can talk on their own.

Convention- Tom James accepts the Vice Presidential slot

When Selina drops the offer, Tom, with deep regret…accepts!  Selina brings in the rest of the team and they are overjoyed that James has accepted.  In fact, Selina was so fooled by Tom appearing to reject the offer that she has him repeat the line over and over again.  Tom wants to sit down with Amy to find out where he fits in with the campaign, but Selina explains that she had to let Amy go.  As for new campaign manager?  Oh, it’s Kent.

Convention- Karen learns that she's being let go from the team

Oh, and Ben pulls Karen aside to let her know that she’s fired.  She doesn’t know how to feel, and that’s exactly the point.  Well done, Veep.

Is this what it’s like for presidential candidates when they go about selecting and vetting potential vice-president running mates?  “Convention” works because it takes a complex issue like picking the vice-president and Team Selina making it even more complex because they don’t have any good options.  And the options they do have either don’t want the position or want nothing to do with Selina and her team.

Convention- Tom retells his joke

Veep always hits home with the political satire, and this was no exception.  What does a presidential candidate need to do in order to ensure they’ll win the election?  Does the vice-presidential pick matter?  Well, if the country isn’t a fan of the presidential candidate, you want someone to counterbalance that.  Consider: Kennedy chose Lyndon Johnson in order to help him garner the Southern vote since the South wasn’t exactly Kennedy friendly.

McCain introduces Sarah Palin

Obama chose Joe Biden to help counter claims that he had little to no foreign policy experience.  McCain chose Sarah Palin because…well, I honestly don’t know, other than trying to garner the female vote or throw a wild card into the equation.  Similarly here, Selina wants either Chung or Maddox not because of their abilities, but because they could help her with the minority vote.

Convention- Chung turns down the vice presidential offer

We’ve known for quite awhile that Selina Meyer and her many sidekicks are, for the most part, pretty incompetent, but they at least somehow manage to get their jobs done.  They aren’t very good at what they do, but they accomplish something.  In the eyes of everyone else, though, they don’t know how to operate.  Both Chung and Maddox turn down the option of being Selina’s running mate because they don’t trust her judgment.  Given Selina’s history, I can’t blame them.

Convention- Selina listens to Amy rant

The problem is that Selina herself is smart, but she’s surrounded by inept idiots that, for the most part, don’t know how to function at what they do.  Selina has steadily been making moves that garnered her good press, but for every positive move, there’s been a negative.  That comes through in her reluctant decision to let Owen Pierce be her running mate.  She knows that Pierce is a bad choice, but she just wants to make a decision and get it done.

Convention- Amy rants

And that’s what sets off Amy.  As for the rant, I think Anna Chlumsky was excellent at channeling Amy’s inner rage that she’s been holding in this entire time.  I mean, watch the scene- Amy’s eyes are fierce and she’s shaking like she’s reached her breaking point, which she pretty much has.

Convention- Tom, Selina, and Karen pose for a photo

She’s slowly been phased out of the loop through Bill being brought onto the team and she’s dealt with the stress of being campaign manager and not receiving all of the details from the others.  And now Karen, who literally came out of nowhere, is a member of Selina’s inner circle only because of their past friendship.

Convention- Karen, Selina, and Gary discuss Catherine's speech

Karen’s inability to be decisive and just parroting what everyone else says may be what Selina liked to hear, but she didn’t have an original thought to produce.  This makes me wonder why Selina brought her on in the first place, but maybe she just wanted a close friend by her side.

Convention- Amy stares down Karen

But back to Amy.  It’s interesting that Amy has been holding onto so much anger towards her boss for this long, but we learn that she had good intentions.  Amy truly believes that Selina probably could be a great President, but she’s watched Selina make blunder after blunder.  She calls Selina the worst thing to happen to the country since food in buckets and possibly slavery, which is a great line, by the way.  This is more than her holding Selina accountable for all of her errors.

She doesn’t cut Selina any slack, proving that when she says that Selina hasn’t achieved anything and points out that America won’t elect any more female presidents because Selina did such a terrible job.  I hope I’m not the only person thinking of Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects right now.  In many ways, Amy says what we’ve know about Selina all along: she doesn’t know how to govern.  Any good thing she does is negated when she screws up something else.

Convention- Selina asks for Karen's opinion on Tom James

I do appreciate that Selina seemed to take what Amy said to heart.  Like Dan’s rant during Season 3’s “The Choice” about Selina’s inability to pick a stance on abortion, Amy cuts Selina to the core with her words, but she does so in order to force Selina to make a concrete decision that she feels confident about, not just pick something for the sake of deciding.  And this is made clear when she decides to cut Karen from the team, despite their friendship.

Convention- Karen calls Amy irritating

While I wish that Lennon Parham had been around longer, since she’d only been introduced at the end of the previous episode, at least Selina cut out a weaker and temporary element of the team.

I’m assuming that Amy will end up in a similar situation like Dan, as he’s struggling to stay afloat at PKM right now.  Like Amy, he ends up being one of the last to learn about something coming out of Selina’s inner circle, and his attempt to impress suffers because of that.

Convention- Jonah helps Dan

Also, I’m not sure why Jonah would agree to help Dan when he relished in Dan getting fired, but hey, he doesn’t have to deal with Teddy tapping his balls anymore…for now.  I hope this isn’t the end of that storyline because Patton Oswalt has great comedic timing and I’d like to see more of him.

Convention- Mike after Selina talks about eating pussy

For all the dramatic stuff, this episode still had plenty of funny moments, whether it’s Catherine’s speech, Sue’s elated face, and the ongoing tale of the death row inmate.  Plus, like many episodes, one thing that makes Veep so funny is the quick facial expressions we see from characters reacting, such as Mike’s face after Selina shoots down the idea of an all female ticket and everyone just eating pussy all day long.  It’s brief, but hilarious.  Speaking of Mike, by the way, I’m assuming Air Force One picked him and Gary up after they ended up stuck in Iran last week.

Convention- Sue's elated face

Oh, and Sue’s elated face?  You’re killing me, Veep.

Convention- Hugh Laurie as Tom James

Before Season Four’s premiere, we’d been told awhile ago that Hugh Laurie would be on Veep, and I’m glad he finally made his appearance.  He seems like a good fit, but now I’m interested in learning more about the history behind why Selina is the skeleton in James’ closet.  We’ll find out next time.

A Look at Veep- Season 4, Episode 4: “Tehran”

This is why foreign policy is such a pain in the ass for Presidents.  “Tehran” actually has a bit of continuity with “Data,” but it also has Selina continuing on her upswing of success in the Middle East.  And now she has a chance to be a hero by freeing a detained American hostage…sort of.

Tehran- Dan watches news of Selina's Middle East travels

The episode begins with an unemployed Dan watching the news.  President Meyer has had successful trips in Jordan and Egypt and her Middle East trip will soon take her to Israel.  Selina even decides to extend her time in Israel by one day, but the trip will end with a surprise visit to Iran.  It’s also believed that Selina will secure the release of detained American journalist Leon West, who has been held for two weeks.

Tehran- Selina and the team talk about Leon West's detention

On Air Force One, Ben loads up on Ambien while Mike and Gary discuss Leon’s detention- as he’s been held captive for two weeks.  It’s just a good thing that the team had nothing to do with him being detained.  Before Gary can receive some clarity, out comes a refreshed and energized Selina, who is so ecstatic with today that she decides to give Mike a two day weekend.  The team soon learns that Leon is being detained for one more hour.  Bad as that is, it’s imperative that Selina secure a photo with West.  Oh, and Mike has to deliver the delay news to the press.  That’ll be fun.

Tehran- Bill Ericsson addresses the press

Back in the States, Bill Ericsson briefs the press about Selina’s trip.  In her absence, Vice President Doyle will be picking up part of the President’s schedule, starting with the Rainbow Jersey event that supports all sexualities in sports and will feature NBA star Freddy Wallace.  Sue and Kent, watching this play out, aren’t a fan of Ericsson finishing everyone’s sentences and his apparent lack of people skills.

Tehran- Mike addresses the press about the delay

Mike, meanwhile, tells the folks on the press plane about the delay.  He’s soon pelted with objects.

Tehran- Teddy and Jonah come up with explanations for the acronym LGBT

As Richard and Jonah head to Doyle’s office, Sue intercepts them and asks if they can get an autograph from Freddy Wallace for Sue’s son, who is also named Sue Wilson.  Interesting.  In the Vice President’s office, Doyle goes over Selina’s speech while the others go over the acronym LGBT.  Jonah and Teddy have an interesting way of looking at it: L is for ladies who play tennis, G is for guys who do other guys, B is for bisexual- he couldn’t think of one to go for that – and T – is for tucking it in or tacking it on.  Richard ruins the joke by pointing out that it’s transgender.

Back on Air Force One, Selina is even more ecstatic at the positive polling that Kent has done.  She couldn’t be more likable if she’d given her kidneys to some sick kid.

Tehran- Freddy Wallace, played by LaMonica Garrett, speaks with Vice President Doyle at his side

It’s time for the Rainbow Jersey event.  Star Freddy Wallace, played by LaMonica Garrett, is proud to have the Vice President at his side.  Who wouldn’t?  Doyle gives the speech, though he has to alter it on the spot to avoid mentioning something that references Selina.

Tehran- Abbas, played by Navid Negahban, talks with Mike and Leon

At the hotel where West is being kept and soon released, Mike speaks with Abbas, played by Navid Negahban, mentions to both Mike and Leon that both countries had to deny the visit, but can now confirm.

Tehran- Amy learns that Kent polled the Vice President

As Kent and Amy watch the address, Kent mentions- Jonah within earshot of this- the polling that revealed Doyle is perceived as being very wooden.  Kent only did the polling against other potential running mates, but Selina apparently promised Doyle that he would be on the ticket and her team wouldn’t poll other possible running mates.  Well, no one told Kent that.  In another miscommunication snafu, Amy sums it up well: “Yet again, the left hand has no idea what the right hand is doing and the freakish middle hand is punching me repeatedly in the tits.”

Tehran- Sidney Purcell, played by Peter Grosz, shows Dan around PKM offices

At PKM, Dan catches a break as he’s shown around an office building by Sidney Purcell, played by Peter Grosz.  Purcell has a proposition for Dan that involves him taking on clients who are best served by him shitting on the Meyer agenda.

Tehran- Selina has a photo-op moment with Leon

Mike brings Leon aboard Air Force One and he has a photo-op moment with Selina.  Of course, she’s there to welcome him back from captivity, right?

Tehran- Teddy grabs Jonah's balls again

Teddy confronts those lovely legs of Jonah’s.  He’s blames the Rainbow Jersey mishaps on Jonah who, in turn, spills that Kent polled other candidates for Vice President.  So the plan from the VP’s office is to leak that Doyle is dissatisfied and considering walking.  Jonah plans to get right on it through his media contacts- starting with Liz Kerrigan.

Tehran- Leon speaks with Selina about his detention

Selina is still on her presidential high for the good she’s done.  People are even comparing her to Nixon.  Not so much for Nixon’s looks, but Selina will take the compliment anyway.  However, she needs to hear what happened with Leon, so she has Gary get some of the press clippings.  Then Selina tells Leon that the talks in Israel went so well that she was delayed by a day in getting to Iran.  Coincidentally, Leon’s release was delayed by a day.

Word gets to Mike and Ben that Liz Kerrigan ran a story about Doyle being unhappy.  More than that, Selina is worried about Leon thinking that the only reason his release was delayed because Selina’s arrival was delayed by a day.  Thus, he could figure out that they didn’t okay his release until now, meaning he could write something negative about all of this.  It’d look pretty bad if people thought that American government detained an American journalist just to secure a photo-op.  Just as Leon threatens to inform the journalists on the press plane, Selina decides to detain him on Air Force One.  Oh, Mike and Gary aren’t onboard, so this could be a problem.

Tehran- Dan meets Erica

Back at PKM, Purcell enlists Dan to get some new clothes with the help of Erica.  Tonight, Dan will be on television as a political commentator.  However, the company has started lobbying for glacé cherries, so he needs to incorporate that into his discussion.

Tehran- Gary and Mike watch Air Force One take off without them

Mike and Gary watch Air Force One take off from a distance and they’re unable to do anything about it.  Now they have to find the backup plane.

Tehran- Leon figures out why he was detained

Leon starts to piece the events together: the US Government plans a secret trip and the Iranians ask them to confirm this, but they deny a secret trip because then it wouldn’t be a secret.  The Iranians detained Leon because of this, but then he was delayed an extra day as well because the President wanted to grab headlines for freeing an America she deliberately did not de-detain.

Tehran- Jonah talks about Teddy groping him

Jonah and Richard, meanwhile, are en-route to the base with Leon’s mother, played by Mary Joy.  Bill and Kent contact Jonah to find out what’s happening in the VP’s office, and all Jonah can mention is the number of times that Teddy has patted, groped, grabbed, and overall just had his hands all over Jonah’s nuts.  Oh, Sue and Catherine are present for this call, though Catherine is just there to announce that she’s gotten engaged.  Sue’s just there to take notes.  Well, they didn’t get much out of this except a funny story.

Tehran- Mike and Gary on the backup Air Force One

Mike and Gary arrive at the backup plane, but it’s broken.  There’s actually a backup Air Force One.  They need to get on the press plane, even though the press despises Mike.  So the two decide to stock up on alcohol.  That works for bribing, right?

Tehran- Eric and Kent tell Selina about the polling

Kent and Ben call Selina to let her know that they’re worried since Doyle knows about the polling.  Only now does Selina learn what Kent had been doing, but he thought it’d be useful to see how Doyle had been performing as Vice President.  It produced some interesting results…results that he will report at a less angry moment.

Never fear, the two have a plan of action: tell Doyle about the stolen data used to target bereaved parents.  This will bind him to them, plus elements of his office were CC’d on emails mentioning the breach.  Given the sensitivity of this conversation, Selina would prefer speaking in code, like cupcake instead of data and use happy instead of bereaved.

Tehran- Amy and Dan on CNN, Dan mentions glacé cherries

By the way, Dan manages to work in glacé cherries to his political discussion, as the visit to Iran is the glacé cherry on the cake of Selina Meyer’s tour.  Afterwards, he and Amy celebrate a job well done later on at a bar, though Dan would also like some access to the White House.  Not what Amy wanted to hear.  Neither did she expect a call from Sue, who informs her that Ericsson told Doyle that the campaign used dead kids’ data to target recently bereaved parents.

Tehran- Selina talks to Ben about not being in control

That evening, still on Air Force One, Ben and Selina talk: between Leon, Kent’s polling, and dead kids baked in the cupcakes, she doesn’t feel like she’s in control anymore.  All of this confirmed that she made the right decision when she decided to bring in someone else- Karen Collins, a friend from Selina’s lawyering days.  She’s smart, capable, and organized, so she’d be a drastic change of pace from the rest of Team Selina, I’m sure.  Ben’s already asleep.

Tehran- Karen Collins, played by Lennon Parham, meets Team Selina

Everyone is set to greet Selina, Leon, and the rest when they arrive at Joint Base Andrews.  Selina isn’t on board with Catherine’s engagement, Catherine herself has no idea what Jonah is talking about when he mentions molestation, and Karen Collins, played by Lennon Parham, makes herself known to the rest of the team.  Her specialty?  Common sense.

Tehran- Mike and Gary stuck

Mike and Gary, though, are still stuck.

She almost had it.  “Tehran” continues the positive effects of Selina Meyer’s administration that we saw during the previous episode, “Data.”  She’s managed a peace agreement in the Middle East and wants to capitalize on that success by going abroad on a surprise trip that hasn’t been done since 1977.  It makes sense.  Think about how hard we hammer potential presidential candidates in real life for their lack of foreign policy experience.  Selina is already being seen as a short term President, so she’s trying to neutralize that negativity by furthering her efforts to push for peace in the Middle East.

Tehran- CNN reports on Selina's trip

Unfortunately, like everything else on Veep, it’s the actions of Selina and her team that end up leading to their undoing.  On first glance, spending an extra day in Israel doesn’t sound that bad.  If people like what she’s doing, why not stick around?  But as we learn that this extra day is what led to Leon West being detained for an extra day and that the Americans didn’t okay his release until this very moment, it stops becoming such a joyous occasion.  Not to mention that it was imperative that Selina have a photo-op with Leon.

Tehran- Selina freaks about Leon learning why his release was delayed

If you took away the humor and satire of Veep, what Selina is doing is pretty despicable since her team could have freed West sooner.  However, they wanted to grab some more positive press at the expense of withholding West’s freedom.  The team already had some good news for a change, but they wanted more.  And then trying to scramble to make sure West didn’t talk and deal with the Doyle situation in the States did show they know how to do damage control, but also how they’re still as incompetent as ever.  I swear, watching Veep is sometimes like watching a house of cards.

House of Cards

Not the actual House of Cards drama with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.  An actual house of cards-oh, never mind.

However, despite the underhanded tactics of the Meyer administration to score some more good press, there was a lot to like about this episode.  First off, I liked the immediate connection to “Data” since everyone is still reeling from the stolen government data and wondering how to deal with this.  Unlike a lot of other scandals that Team Selina has dealt with in the past, this one didn’t just go away.

Tehran- Bill and Kent talk with Jonah

But they’ve found a way to use this to their advantage by roping in Vice President Doyle, which they’re only doing because of Kent polling Doyle without anyone else’s knowledge.  It’s a huge gamble to admit everything, but Bill and Kent have a good point: telling Doyle everything there is to know could make him look guilty by association and, as a result, less likely to jump ship.

Tehran- Jonah admits that Teddy gropes him

And sticking with the Vice President and his staff for a moment, Jonah’s admission about Teddy groping him only managed to give Team Selina a funny story to remember.  It’s good that he finally got it off of his chest, but I don’t see this being the end…I also don’t want it to be.  Teddy has managed to grope Jonah at least once every episode this season so far.  It’s a running joke that I accept because I’m always wondering when or how Teddy will try to do it or if Jonah will try and defend himself.  He needs a way to get on an upswing.

Tehran- Dan and Amy talk at a bar about White House access

Speaking of, Dan managed to rebound pretty quickly, but now it looks like he’ll be using Amy as a way to get inside information about his former team.  I did like the brief conversations between the two at the bar as they dropped their defenses and actually acted normal for once.  That’s pretty hard for these people to do because they’re so consumed with their jobs and themselves, but Dan and Amy actually talked like friends.  Of course, they can’t allow that to go on for long, but I appreciate them having a regular talk.  Amy got to vent about the changing landscape at work, while Dan slowly had to crawl back into the working world.

Tehran- Amy expected Dan to say something else

I also liked how Amy expected Dan to ask something completely different than wanting White House access.  Too high of an expectation, there, Amy.

Everything that took place in the Middle East was great, whether it was Ben looking tired as hell and nodding off or Mike being overjoyed at the idea of a two day weekend.  And him and Gary getting stuck in Iran and freaking out about it was a great way to end the episode.  Now to see how in the world they get back.  Next time.

A Look at Veep- Season 4, Episode 3: “Data”

And you wonder why Americans aren’t all that worried about privacy.  In this week’s “Data,” Team Selina deals with matters of privacy in light of a government data breach.  But don’t worry.  The culprits- I mean, the scapegoats, are caught before they can flee to Russia.

Data- Selina discusses the Families First bill during an interview

The episode begins on Good Thursday with Selina discussing the Families First bill during an interview.  This bill, the President says, will help children in need, such as the young girl who contracted HIV through breast milk, but still wants to be a ballerina.  It’s always good to have examples, you know?  Makes you seem more personable.

Data- Dan, Mike, Ben, and Bill need to figure out about the data leak on Jennifer Graham

Unfortunately, Selina couldn’t have picked a worse example because the town where the previously mentioned girl, named Jennifer Graham, lives now knows her identity and word has spread.  Dan, Ben, Mike and Bill now need to figure out how the team had access to the medical records, but for the love of God, do not tell Selina because she’ll lose her shit.

Data- Catherine brings an article about her vaping to Selina

Selina, though, already has her hands full with Catherine, whose personal life is still being invaded by the press.  There’s even an article in a newspaper that includes a photo of her vaping, not smoking, but vaping.  Catherine feels that her private life should be kept just that– private.  There’s even a photoshopped image that shows what Selina and Catherine will look like when Selina has completed her term.  Selina…almost looks the same, but Catherine, well…

Data- What eight years of Presidency would do to the Meyers

…does not.

Data- Mike takes questions from the press about whether Selina will make a statement on Jennifer Graham’s private information

Mike, meanwhile, deals with the press’ questions about whether Selina will make a statement on Jennifer Graham’s private information.  Selina, not briefed on any of this, enters the room and asks the journalists to give Catherine some personal space.  However, one of the journalists asks Selina if that same privacy should be afforded an eight-year-old girl with HIV.  Where did HIV come from?  Well, Mike says that it may have started when a guy fucked a monkey.

Data- Selina learns about the data breach

Selina then learns about the data breach: medical and social security records were hacked by a member of the campaign team and used in the Families First press pack.  It would make sense to just admit that, but instead, Selina tasks the team with finding a scapegoat to fire since it’d be impossible to identify the responsible party.  After all, the press will need a culprit.

Data- Catherine and Selina have lunch

Catherine and Selina have lunch, with Catherine still reeling over the press’ invasion of her privacy.  But hey, the honeymoon period is over.  Even still, Selina isn’t spared from ridicule, as The Onion ran an article implying she’d only be president for a few months.  Given the nature of this show and Selina’s stellar track record as Vice President, I tend to agree with The Onion.

Data- Sue tells Mike to fix this situation

As Jennifer Graham’s father speaks out about the lack of privacy, Sue informs Mike that various associations and organizations slowly cut their support for the Families First bill.  Gary wonders why the press is only focusing on the negative.  After all, Selina is working to make children’s lives better.  Sue tells Mike to take care of this.

Data- Jonah and Richard speak with a salesman, played by Dakin Matthews

Over at a warehouse, Richard and Jonah meet with a pleasant salesman, played by Dakin Matthews, who doesn’t give a shit what the two pick for their fireworks display, but does want you to know that he’s got a giant grudge against Gerald Ford.  I want this guy to return.

Data- Mike tells Amy that Vice President Doyle will be walking out to “Every Breath You Take” by The Police

Next up is a Meyer campaign rally over in Towson, Maryland.  Mike pulls Amy aside to inform her that Vice President Doyle will be walking out to “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.  That, by itself, isn’t the problem.  The issue is that the song could be interpreted as being about spying since every line apparently ends with “I’ll be watching you.”  I’ve never listened to this song before, so I’ll just take Mike’s word on that.

Data- Jonah asks Richard if Doyle's music can be changed without messing with the light show

Team Selina tells Jonah to change Doyle’s music, but Jonah is reluctant since the music is timed to a lightshow.  He eventually decides to go with “Eye of the Tiger” instead, at Richard’s suggestion, but “Every Breath You Take” ends up playing anyway.  Richard just blames Windows 8 since he’s used to using a Mac.  The goof ends up trending on Twitter, with the hash tag #EveryLittleThingSheDoesIsTragic.  Given Selina’s past goofs, I can’t imagine this being the first time that Twitter has gone after her.

Data- Selina addresses the press about the Jennifer Graham situation

After the rally, Amy informs Selina that the campaign is losing microdonors and will soon be down to nanodonors who want to be removed from the database because they fear it isn’t secure.  When a journalist mentions that Jennifer Graham’s aunt said that only an unfit mother would be immune to her niece’s suffering, Selina decides to just give an on-camera statement to the press about Jennifer Graham.  She admits that she had no knowledge of the data breach, but takes full responsibility for it and vows to hold someone accountable for this.

Data- Fireworks go off while Selina addresses the press

Problem is that fireworks go off behind her. Very mixed messaging.

Dan has found a scapegoat in the random female White House staffer whose name no one knows.  After all, she was in the writers’ room for the Joint Session address and was at the campaign rally.  Side-note, Kent isn’t fully on board with this since he actually likes the staffer and even sees splashes of himself in her.  He then instantly regrets saying that.  I love the writers for this show.

Data- Dan speaks with Leigh Patterson, played by Jessie Ennis

So Dan delivers the bad news to the staffer, who we can finally identify as Leigh Patterson, played by Jessie Ennis, who can’t stay even if she cries.  She’s talking to a guy who once broke off an engagement in Applebees and then ordered dessert.

Data- Dan tells Selina that he plans to fire Jonah

However, come Easter Monday, the story still has not gone away.  Leigh wasn’t very high up the chain of command, so the press isn’t satisfied with her firing.  I doubt anyone would be, to be honest.  Anyway, Dan announces that he’s been prepping Jonah for this moment and plans to link him with every other campaign screw-up.  Plus, he has an inherently guilty face, like a surprised masturbator.  Selina is on board with this.  All Dan needs is a bus long enough to run over Jonah.

Data- Dan watched Teddy grope Jonah's balls

But when Dan tries to fire Jonah, he witnesses Teddy grope Jonah’s balls, which are apparently so big that they’re practically tits.  This, in a rare moment of human decency for Veep, prompts Dan to call this out as sexual harassment.  But this is pushed aside when Richard arrives with Jonah’s sandwich and asks if Jonah is being fired for the ‘campaign data thing.’  It’s revealed that Selina’s “I Care” mailer deliberately targeted recently bereft parents.  Someone from the campaign used child mortality data from the same federal data breach that identified Jennifer Graham.

Data- Selina tells Catherine to drop the anti-bullying campaign

Catherine wants to get involved with an anti-bullying campaign, but Selina won’t allow her.  It’s not that Selina ever bullied Catherine, it’s that Catherine was bullied because of Selina.  Catherine is adamant about doing this, prompting Selina to threaten taking away their Hawaii trip for Thanksgiving.  Who the hell visits Hawaii for Thanksgiving, by the way?

Anyway, Dan and Amy enter and deliver the news to Selina.  Using stolen government data is a federal crime and someone could go to jail.  In short, they’re fucked.  To stop the press’ onslaught, though, the team decides there needs to be a major resignation.  Oh, and Mike learns that the second breach came from a student volunteer who is no longer present.  Ben volunteers to fall onto the sword for Selina.

Data- Dan wants to know whose getting fired, leaves a gap for Ben

In the men’s room, Dan stands right next to Ben despite the whole ‘leave a gap’ rule.  There are rules in the men’s room, you know.  Ben reveals that he’s volunteering himself to be fired and makes Dan promise to not reveal this until there’s been an official statement from Selina.

Data- Dan tells the team that Ben is being fired

At the Easter Egg Roll, Dan immediately spills about Ben’s upcoming resignation, though Mike believed that Dan was referring to the man in the Easter Bunny costume at first.

Data- Dan learns that he's the one being fired

However, Kent pulls Dan aside and reveals that not only has Selina changed her mind about Ben, she’s decided that Dan will resign instead.  After all, he has a guilty look.  When Dan instead threatens to reveal the use of federal data to target bereaved families for the campaign flyers, Ben…well, let me just repost what he said:

“You listen to me you little fucking turd’s assistant, you don’t threaten this administration, because we will fucking destroy you. We’ll skin you like a squirrel, clean you out like a dirty fucking chimney, and wear you like a glove puppet with my fingers sticking out your dead, fucking eyeballs.”

Though Kent can’t endorse that message, he does acknowledge it.

Data- Aide delivers a new statement to Mike about Dan's firing

A staffer manages to reach Mike just in time as he then delivers word of the new firing of Dan Egan.

As Dan packs up his things, Jonah promises to lead him away from the press.

Data- Jonah leads Dan right to the press

Wait, never mind.

And people here thought the Edward Snowden situation wouldn’t go away from the news cycle.  “Data” is another great episode and another example of how the tiniest thing to come out of Team Selina can turn into something huge.  Granted, using federal data to target bereft parents is not small potatoes and someone should be held accountable, but the fun came out of watching the team flounder as they tried to solve this.

Watching this episode- or pretty much any episode of Veep– is like watching a snowball grow larger as it rolls down a hill.  Or, to use an example close to this episode, it’s like watching an exploding gas station in a Michael Bay movie: things are going to get worse before they get…well, worse since things rarely get better in Veep.  Selina has the best of intentions with her Families First bill, but there’s no way she could have known about the data breach.

But like posting something on the internet- which isn’t just Alta Vista and the Star Wars kid anymore- once you put it out there, it’s out there for good.  No amount of undo or backspace will save you there.

Because Veep has often been about turning politics on its head, it’s fun to watch these people struggle to nail someone to the wall, even when they don’t know where to start or who to blame.

Data- Leigh learns that she's being fired

It’s unfortunate that Leigh was the first to be fired and I do hope she reappears, as her random appearances did make me laugh.

Data- Dan is reamed out by Ben

But Dan ultimately getting the axe was a bit satisfying to me- particularly of how smug he was when getting rid of Leigh- because he’s been so busy prepping Jonah for this that he forgot to cover his own ass.  And wouldn’t you know it?  He makes Jonah and Richard promise not to reveal the truth about the data breach, but then, after Ben makes him promise not to tell that he’s resigning, he goes and blabs to the team, only to learn that he’s the one being removed.  It’s unfortunate for Dan, but he kind of deserves it.  Then again, I doubt this is the last we’ll see of him.  He may not return in the same capacity, but I’m sure he’ll return.

Data- Dan sees Teddy grope Jonah

Again, though, I do appreciate that he had a moment of human decency to him when he called out Teddy’s sexual harassment of Jonah, even though the moment evaporated when Richard arrived.

Data- Bill asks Mike if he smiled at the idea of Bill being fired

However, as Dan falls, Bill Ericsson continues to rise, as we learn that he’s the one who suggested to Selina that Dan be fired.  Ericsson is very calculated with his moves and knows about the incompetency of Team Selina.  Hell, he’s the one who suggested during his first meet with Selina that she get rid of Amy, Dan, Gary, and Mike.  I doubt she’ll dump Gary since the two look to be back on good terms- boob brush and nonfunctioning banana aside- but he had a point and he’s slowly working his way up the totem pole of Selina’s inner circle.

Like the previous episode dealing with her popularity, “Data” touched upon what the children of politicians endure when their lives are out in the open.  Catherine can’t live a normal life because she’ll be scrutinized, criticized, and analyzed by any and every news outlet out there.  That’s the nature of the business: you want news, but you want to try something more sociable, so you check in on the lives of the First Kids.

Data- Catherine doesn't want attention from the press

But Catherine doesn’t want any of that attention.  More than that, any attempts to make herself seem more relatable bring her into conflict with her own mother because Selina thinks people will think she bullied Catherine.  Catherine won’t have that privacy, though.  She was already the Vice President’s daughter, and now that Selina is the President, her private life will shrink even more.  At the very least, I give her credit for at least trying to be personable, even if Selina tries to stop her.

As with many episodes, the jokes and funny lines don’t stop coming on Veep, whether it’s Mike talking about how HIV first came about, the one kid’s reaction to Selina being the President, or the man in the Easter Bunny costume talking about how he’d seen his friend blown to pieces by an IED in Afghanistan…that sounds horrible when I say it.  Veep is funny, but it can get pretty damn dark in no time.

Data- Kent sees splashes of himself in Leigh

Though another standout had to be Kent’s defense of Leigh when he talks about seeing splashes of himself in her…until he instantly recognizes what he said before then regretting that phrase.

“Data” was another fun episode and showed how much we value our privacy.  I hope our real life politicians handled data breaches a bit better than Selina Meyer did, though.  There’s also been a major change in Team Selina’s staff with Dan’s firing and Leigh being removed.  Again, I hope these two do return.  But I learned something this week: if I come down with a disease or illness, I must do everything in my power to make sure the President never learns this.

A Look at Veep- Season 4, Episode 2: “East Wing”

Who knew a painting could cause so much controversy?

East Wing- Mike addresses the press

The episode begins with Mike delivering a press briefing.  Selina will soon be hosting her first state visit to the Prime Minister of Israel and preparation is underway.  As the Vice President’s staff watches, they can’t help but notice that Mike has dyed his moustache.  Teddy calls it vanity.  Mike calls it Tangerine Dream.  I’m personally not a fan of either.

At the conference, one journalist notes that President Meyer is serving her 33rd day in office, officially meaning she has outlived William Henry Harrison.  You know, the war hero who gave his oath of office in the cold and without much protection.  He died of pneumonia soon after that.

East Wing- Team Selina observes The Man Who Shits Triangles painting

In the Roosevelt Room, Team Selina plans to allow Selina to have time to speak on her Families First bill.  However, there’s a concern regarding some of the White House artwork, particularly a piece of art that Ben refers to as The Man Who Shits Triangles.  Now that’s a funny name.  Oh, and you know who happens to be absent from this campaign strategy session?

East Wing- Amy and Richard stuck in traffic

The campaign manager, Amy, who is stuck in traffic with Richard.  She does keep in touch with the team by texting Dan and letting him know that she’s a latté.  Easy mistake to make.  She tries virtually calling into the meeting, but the connection is shit.  Commendable effort on Amy’s part, but not the smartest of ideas.

East Wing- Amy's frozen face

However, we do get a freeze frame of her surprised face when she manages to hear that Selina is bringing in Bill Ericsson because she needs a steady hand….it’s a funny face.

East Wing- Kent shows Selina what the nation thinks of Catherine

Kent, after asking Catherine to leave the room, brings up a matter of national security: Everybody Hates Catherine.  I mean, not everybody, but Kent ran a poll and the results show that the First Daughter has a low likability index.  Selina is initially upset that Kent would run a poll on her daughter’s popularity…but then she sees the numbers.  They stink.  No one wants to break the news to Catherine, but Kent has a knack for this, so he decides to take the task.  I’d say that’s taking one for the team, but this can’t really be that difficult of a task.

East Wing- Gary sends back the cake

Then Gary enters and tells everyone that it’s a special day- Ben’s birthday.  There’s no cake, though.  I mean, there is, but Gary has the chefs move it away just when they’re close to the room.

East Wing- Teddy taps Jonah

Elsewhere, Teddy managed to do Jonah a solid.  On his advice, the Vice President will ask Jonah to be in the Families First talks with Dan.  So though Jonah is elated that Teddy made his day and possibly ruined Jonah’s, his day may have possibly been ruined when Teddy gives him another scrotum tap.  Sorry, several taps.

East Wing- Gary speaks with White House social secretary Patty, played Michaela Watkins

Gary takes it upon himself to plan for the upcoming dinner, and the cost matters not to him.  While preparing, he gets a surprise visit from his favorite White House social secretary, Patty, played by Michaela Watkins.  All these orders, though, are coming from his group, not necessarily Selina, and that includes swapping out the painting.

East Wing- Bill gives Amy a friendly hello in an unfriendly way

Amy finally arrives and is unable to have an audience with Selina at the moment, but she does have a run-in with Bill Ericsson.  He now has a very specific title, but a wide brief: eliminate weaknesses.  He’s the new Director of Communications.  Oh, and he bids Amy a friendly hello, but in an unfriendly way.  Hello.

East Wing- Selina is briefed on the crazy triangles painting

So Selina has a very brief Press Spray with the Prime Minister of Israel, Mike and Jim let Selina know about that removed crazy triangles looking piece of artwork: turns out it was the only work of an art by a Native American artist in the building.  Now what are the odds of that?  Native Americans are taking it as a slight.  Selina tells them to have Ericsson deliver a statement that the painting was removed to be cleaned.

East Wing- Random staffer, who is that

Per the random staffer who no one knows, Selina also receives some points of departure for the possible agreements on the scale-down of blockades.  This staffer technically does have a name, but she just hasn’t been identified yet.  As of now, everyone still doesn’t know who the hell she is.

East Wing- Kent breaks the news to Catherine that America doesn’t like her

Kent breaks the news to Catherine that America doesn’t like her.  Well, there’s a perception that she’s unlikable, anyway.  Kent suggests changing the narrative so Catherine’s frown can turn into the inverse of a frown.  You know, like a smile.  Customary shortcuts to public affirmation are military service or childbirth, but Catherine won’t go with either of those.

East Wing- Dan and Jonah speak with Congressman Owen Pierce, played by Paul Fitzgerald

Dan isn’t a fan of Jonah coming with him in these meetings.  The two first sit down with Congressman Owen Pierce, played by Paul Fitzgerald, to discuss the Families First bill, specifically the pre-K program for low-income families.  Pierce’s constituents just want the money to be spent wisely.  Dan agrees, which is why they’re investing in education.  Hell, don’t even think of them as kids, but little start-ups.  There’s something inherently awful about that.

Anyway, Pierce knows all about economics.  He keeps a box of coupons so he remembers to be economical, even though some of the coupons are expired.  Pierce’s time has been taken up by his sessions on the Rules’ Committee.  Jonah correctly figures that Pierce would support the bill in principle, but is worried that an escalation of cost wouldn’t go well with his House colleagues.  Dan tries to take control by inviting Pierce to bowl at the White House bowling alley tomorrow night.

East Wing- Jim says no

Mike tries to console Jim by asking him to tell the press that Bill Ericsson is taking his job.  It would sound more amicable that way.  Jim considers it for a moment, places his hand on Mike’s shoulder, and responds with a very warm no.

East Wing- Selina negotiates peace while Ben receives notes about the painting crisis

Selina, meanwhile, tries to get some actual presidential stuff done and is on the verge of brokering a peace deal, but everyone can’t help but notice that Ben is receiving note after note about the painting.  She goes to Ben and tells him to let tell Sacheen Littlefeather to get off the rag and get over it.  And she never said that.  You know how Selina has such a way with words.

East Wing- Mike briefs the press on the status of the painting

So at a press briefing, Mike explains to the journalists that the painting wasn’t removed, but taken out to be cleaned.  It was just a preemptive cleaning, much like a juice cleanse.  Holy hell, I’m just glad that Mike didn’t say something along the lines of juice cleansing.  That line went over my head the first time I heard it, but I didn’t give it some thought until the second viewing and saw Ericsson’s reaction to it.  Anyway, other paintings will be cleansed.  No, wiped.  No…cleaned.

East Wing- Gary tells Sue and Amy that he spent a lot of money on the State Dinner

A frightened Gary comes to Sue and admits to her and Amy that he’s responsible for moving the painting.  It’s worse than that.  He wanted this dinner to be nice, so he spent a lot of money.  It’s not as easy as just telling her, but Amy tells him that his inner child needs to grow an outer man.

Neither he nor anyone else is able to get a word through to an overwhelmed Selina, not even mystery staffer girl with the GDP figures.  Those go to Kent, who now wants the GDP figures.  No, Selina’s priority is that the office needs a lot more butt-ugly Native American paintings because the first butt-ugly one was removed by some jerkoff with a hair ball for a brain.

East Wing- Dan and Jonah speak with speak with Congresswoman Angstrom, played by Amy Wilson

Back to the continuing adventures of Dan and Jonah, who speak with Congresswoman Angstrom, played by Amy Wilson.  Jonah’s proposal is a minimum and a safety check on all providers.  Wilson, though, is concerned by the fact that, within the bill, Title 2, Section 3 and Title 8, Section 5, contradict each other.  And do you really think that either Dan or Jonah actually read the bill?  That’d be like asking whether all of Congress reads the bills they force through for the sake of passage.

So instead, Jonah asks if Wilson likes Martin Scorsese because there will be a private screening of his new film at the White House.  And he’ll be there, too.  Of course, Jonah just assumes that because this is Martin Scorsese, he’ll have a new film coming out this year.  It’s understandable.  It’d be like wondering whether Meryl Streep will appear in a new film this year, and I believe she is, but don’t quote me on that.

When Wilson is called away by one of her staffers, Dan tells Jonah that he can’t lie about stuff like that.  Jonah stands his ground.  After all, he has to go to about this all on his own, while Dan at least has a staff.  He wants a staff.  The confrontation almost gets physical when Jonah threatens to reveal that Dan was the one who planted the Danny Chung torture rumors.

Wilson returns.  There are a lot of Navajo in her district and this painting news is escalating.  She’ll have to postpone.

East Wing- Selina wants to see Catherine's smile

As the First Lady and her daughter get their hair done, Selina asks to see Catherine’s new smile.  It looks happy, but the trick is she just needs to pretend she is.  I feel that can apply beyond politics.

East Wing- Dan gives Richard to Jonah to help out Amy

Back at the White House, final preparations are being made for the dinner.  Dan figures out a way to get eager Richard off of Amy’s back, so he gives him to Jonah.  Richard is ecstatic about being able to work at the White House.  Amy owes Dan one.  Otherwise, he wouldn’t have done it.

East Wing- Reviewing Gary's expenses

One hour to the State Dinner, some of the team reviews the expenses on the event.  It’s as if Gary wanted to max out America, if such a thing is possible, given our national debt.  Selina doesn’t know now and she may not need to since she already has a full plate.  Nonetheless, someone has to tell her, and given that Selina actually likes Bill, he has no intention of talking.

East Wing- State Dinner

It’s finally time for the dinner in the White House State Dining Room.  Selina slowly learns from word of mouth about how much Gary spent on the dinner.  Imagine Elton John on a day he feels fat.  I assume that’s a good comparison.  The press kept sniffing after the stink about the painting, which was also Gary’s doing.  Even though Selina has achieved something as big as a peace deal with Israel, she is now sharing headline news with a painting because of Gary.

When Selina addresses the crowd, she speaks about the power of hope and how it can outlast the power of hatred.  Hope can build, but for it to grow, you first need trust.

East Wing- Selina finds Gary hiding

So Selina pursues Gary and corners him in an office.  His hiding space could have been better.  He tries to explain himself, but she goes on the offensive and calls him unimportant.  He has suckered onto her like a car window Garfield.

East Wing- Gary stands his ground, tells Selina that she's wrong

But Gary does not back down.  In fact, he tells Selina that she’s wrong.  He is her calendar, Google and Wilson the volleyball.  He’s broken his body and allowed himself to be laughed at and humiliated, but he’s happy to do it.  Most of the time, Selina doesn’t even know that he exists, but he is fucking everything to her.  She’ll never be able to find someone who did what he did.

Oh, did he mean Labor Day, which he promised to never mention?  After that heated moment, the two apologize for their choice of words, but it’s good to clear the air.  They then bond over light sponge cake.

The episode comes to a close with Selina meeting with some Native Americans and looking at their art, while Catherine tries her hand at being likable to some scouts.  Also, South Korea wants to know if Selina would like a baby elephant.  No words to that, really.

In a rare show of competence, “East Wing” actually has Selina Meyer, the President, manage to achieve something, which is virtually unheard of, especially on this show.  One of the strength of Veep’s humor, I feel, is watching these characters trying their damndest to get something done without any screw-ups or hiccups.  More often than not, that doesn’t happen, but when they do manage to accomplish something, it’s noteworthy.  Consider, brokering peace in the Middle East isn’t small potatoes.  It is, to quote our gaffe worthy Vice President, Joe Biden, it’s a big, fucking deal.

East Wing- Negotiating while notes are passed about the painting

But it’s not the biggest deal this week.  Dealing with the painting turns into a politically correct mess as Selina and her team scramble to explain and justify the removal of the painting that none of them even liked.  It’s incredible that so much focus and attention goes to this painting in the first place and that everyone, from the politicians to the press, would devote their time to that instead of peace agreements.  Such is the screwy, political world that is Veep.

East Wing- Mike misuses the word cleanse

So Team Selina has to tiptoe its way out of a mess, but they can’t help but let one or two offensive lines slip by, such as Mike trying to describe the process of cleaning the paintings without using terms like cleansed or wiped.  Much like in the real world of politics, it’s impossible to make everyone happy.

You can’t please one side without pissing off another, and Selina confronted this head-on with last season’s “The Choice.”  No one in her inner circle is fond of the painting, but it’s an uphill battle to explain why they had it removed when they learn it was done by the only Native American artist in the building.  I’m willing to bet they didn’t even know they had one up until this point.

For the sake of referencing TV Tropes, you know how people get sidetracked by analogies?  Well, here, we have people sidetracked by the painting.  The painting is not the most important thing in the world right now and chances are that the peace arrangements will be more significant in the long run, but the painting is priority because you don’t want to piss off the Native Americans when you’re technically still occupying their land.  It leads to that awkward and uncomfortably true humor that Veep excels at so well.

But this is just one part of a larger, excellent episode.  Veep has always delivered great dialogue, but this episode stood out to me because the lines were so good, but you don’t have time to process them all before another comes your way.  It’s the little things like Ben needing a shirt because this isn’t Die Hard, Kent needing to ask Selina for something before being handed GDP figures he didn’t ask for, Amy telling Gary to grow a pair, Catherine learning about how unpopular she is, each scene had a funny or memorable line to me.

East Wing- Kent discusses Catherine's low popularity

That extends to the social commentary Veep throws in whenever it can.  Kent’s polling of Catherine and her being so unlikable mirror the amount of attention and scrutiny that pundits and even everyday folks give to the First Family’s children.  Do they even need to have so much attention and be brought out like props?  Not necessarily, though politicians do like to show off their family to prove to voters that they’re just like them.  That doesn’t always work and bringing out the family can feel more like a stunt than genuine love, but I appreciate that Veep touched upon this.  And Catherine being such a blank slate made her the perfect target for such undeserved hatred and scorn.  Hopefully she has another moment to assert herself.

East Wing- Jonah after Teddy taps him

And hopefully Jonah has a moment to just assert himself at all.  His moment with Teddy this week was possibly even more uncomfortable than their first encounter, but Timothy Simons played it completely straight when Teddy gave Jonah’s sack several love taps.  I mean, this is sexual harassment, right?  But then, this is also Jonah, who is the butt of almost every joke on Veep.  These scenes are as awkward as they are fun to watch and I hope there are more of them.  Not just for the awkward stuff.  At the very least, he has an aide now with an eager to please Richard.

East Wing- Bill Ericsson's unfriendly hello

So Amy doesn’t have Richard on her back, but she will probably still have to put up with Ericsson.  The unfriendly hello was a highlight for me, made better by Diedrich Bader’s delivery.

East Wing- Selina and Gary make up over cake

And now let’s get to what is easily the episode’s most memorable scene to me.  Gary and Selina have one of the more interesting relationships of Team Selina.  He’s literally at her beck and call for any and every reason and Selina is glad to accept his aid.  He’s done more good than bad and has put himself on the front line for Selina, time and time again, without asking for much in return.  I get the feeling that their relationship had been building to this point.

East Wing- Gary is Selina's calendar, Google and Wilson the volleyball

Even if he called out his boss, Gary has a point: he’s been humiliated and marginalized by so many people, and even Selina herself, but he comes in every day to help in any way that he can.  Despite Selina becoming the President and his role being minimized, Gary remained fiercely loyal.  He wants to stay relevant in Selina’s life, even when she has 99 other problems on her hands.  He is her calendar, Google, and Wilson the volleyball, even if Selina doesn’t want to admit it.

East Wing- Selina's stunned silence

And when Gary throws out the line about Selina finding someone else to do what he did, and she doesn’t have an immediate response, she realizes that he’s right.  Gary won’t abandon Selina because he’s done so much for her already.  We don’t know what this whole Labor Day incident is, but chances are it involved another instance of Gary proving his fierce devotion to Selina.  He’s a central part of Selina’s political and personal life and may even know more intimate details about Selina than she herself does.  Hell, he knew Catherine’s birthday when Selina did not.

I’m glad that Gary didn’t hold anything back or let himself be bullied around by Selina.  This is something he’s been holding onto for a long time.  It’s a visceral scene that made me feel uncomfortable for how harsh Gary and Selina spoke to one another.

East Wing- Gary asks Selina if she can find someone else who did what he did

It’s a testament to the incredible performances and chemistry between Tony Hale and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.  It’s too soon to tell and this could be very presumptuous, but if either Hale or Dreyfus ends up being nominated again for Veep, my best guess is that their Emmy nomination clip will be from this scene.  It was a fantastic moment to wrap up another fantastic episode of Veep.