Monday, October 24, 2016

Preparedness Review of The Walking Dead Episode 701: The Day Will Come When You Won't Be

Episode 701: The Day Will Come When You Won't Be

Abraham: Suck my nuts.

Synopsis:  Negan kills Abraham, and when Daryl tries to intervene and punches him, Negan turns and kills Glenn. When Rick threatens to kill him one day in retaliation, Negan takes him in the camper and forces him to wade through a crowd of walkers to retrieve his own hatchet to display his power over the group.   When Rick still displays defiance, Negan orders him to cut of Carl's hand, but relents at the last minute when Rick begs him not to make him do such a horrific thing. Negan tells the group that he will be at Alexandria in one week to receive his tribute, takes Daryl hostage, and leaves the group, who load the bodies of their friends onto the camper and proceed to the Hilltop to get care for Maggie.  

The Day Will Come When You Won't Be is a solid hour of new bad guy Negan, who loves playing power games, breaking Rick's will and forcing him to comply with the "New World Order."  It opens with Rick threatening to kill Negan in retribution, but Negan, not impressed drags Rick to the camper with Rick's hatchet and goes on a short road trip to the log barricade built by the Saviors.   There, he forces Rick to wade into a crowd of walkers to retrieve his hand ax from the top of the RV.  During this scene, there are flashbacks to the events at the end of the last season, and while resting in relative safety on top of the RV, he relives in flashback the events from a few minutes before. 

He's just getting started. Or Something.
Negan chooses Abraham as his victim, and pummels the man once with his bat, Lucille.   Abraham, who might be dead, but was never defeated, utters "Suck my nuts," to his killer's face before Negan beats him to death.  He then orders Rosita, whom he has correctly surmised had some sort of previous relationship with Abraham, to look at his blood-soaked "vampire bat."  When she cannot, Daryl leaps up and punches Negan.  Once Daryl is subdued, Dwight asks to kill the man with his own crossbow.  Negan tells him know, but then immediately pivots and brains Glenn twice.   Glen manages to mutter a goodbye to Maggie, then collapses as Negan beats him to death.   

Back in the present, on top of the RV, Rick hears Negan losing his patience, and explains to Rick that he should imagine what could happen if Rick does not toe the line.   Rick, picturing the other members of the group falling to Lucille, makes it back inside, but it is clear he is still seething.   Negan tells him it must be "rough" for him, having been in charge so long.   He cleans the hatchet with alcohol and gives it back to Rick, telling him he can still live a long and productive life.

They drive back to the murder site, where the other hostages are waiting.  Negan orders Carl to come forward and he is held to the ground.   The head Savior then orders Rick to chop off his son's left hand to show loyalty.   As Rick lifts the hatchet after begging Negan to not make him do this (and Carl telling him to get it over with), Negan relents now that he sees Rick is truly broken.

Negan tells him that the Saviors will be in Alexandria in one week for the first tribute, and then the bigger group withdraws, taking Daryl as a hostage.   Negan sees potential in the man, who Negan says "isn't a bitch like someone else we know."  

The rest of the group is left weaponless and grieving.   Maggie is inconsolable, but stands unsteadily and announces she is marching to Hilltop alone while the rest of them go back and prepare to fight the Saviors.  Rick tells her it's useless;  they will kill Daryl if they resist. The group slowly pulls itself together and load the bodies onto the RV and depart.  As they leave, a lone walker wanders onto the scene and begins eating the scraps of flesh left on the ground from Glenn.

All in all, it is a solid, well-acted episode, but I was bothered with the amount of gore and the and the gratuitous violence on display.   This is an episode I will never re-watch because it is just too disturbing.  We have had deaths and gore on The Walking Dead before, but the gory deaths of walkers can be disconnected.  These are monsters, things, that are out to devour our heroes.   The deaths of two characters so central to the story of this series in such a shocking way just seemed way over the top.

At the center of it all is Negan, played by the excellent Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who delivers his "lessons" without a trace of the Governor's underlying malevolence.   He is a true sociopath.

Preparedness Discussion

This was a hard episode to derive preparedness advice from for me (always have alcohol on hand to sterilize your hatchet, though;  I wrote this in my show notes).  The biggest lesson derived is the need for developing as full of an intelligence picture as possible during a crisis situation.   Rick didn't understand the true nature of the threat he faced, and his friends paid the price.

Since presumably none of us are privy to classified government threat analyses, we should do what we can to develop local intelligence:

  • Start with our immediate neighborhood.  If you take walks around the area, use the time not just to enhance physical fitness. Look around.  Note the general condition of the homes and yards -- are they well kept and tidy?  Is there a home or homes that don't fit that mold?   Why?  Is it a senior citizen that can't perform the labor anymore?  You now have a chance to get to know a neighbor and build community by helping them.  Do you notice strange traffic patterns, like strange cars coming to a particular house and then departing after only a few minutes? If so, there is a decent chance that a drug dealer has taken up residence.  Check local police blotter reports that are published in newspapers and scan for incidents close to you.
  • Buy a handheld scanner and start listening to police radio reports.  While a growing number of cities are now encrypting communications, many still do not.   
  • Enlist friends and family to help develop an intelligence picture.   In The Rabbit Hole has a really interesting podcast on how to accomplish this. 
Finally, you have to consider how Negan came to power.  Imagine the damage someone like him could do to a preparedness group.  Negan feigns concern for his people, but his real desire is to be the top dog of the food chain, and he could probably sacrifice the entire group if it suited his purposes.  You need to carefully consider who you decide to work with.  Natural News has a neat little article on recognizing sociopathic characteristics.  Only a trained mental health professional can correctly diagnose sociopaths, but if you notice any of those traits, you might want to steer clear.  Bottom line:  listen to your inner voice, and if something doesn't feel quite right about the person, distance yourself.

Preparedness Lessons for Episode 701:

  • Work on improving your personal intelligence picture.
  • Learn to critically evaluate people and steer clear of potential hostiles by knowing some simple warning traits for sociopaths.
Next week:  The full impact of Negan's assault is felt as Rick has to tell Alexandria as whole he is no longer in charge.  Oh, and Glen and Abraham are still dead.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Hope You Are Having A Great Summer!

Hi everyone:

I hope you are all having a great summer prepping and enjoying life, because I sure have!  I have been traveling,  carrying out various home improvement projects, and re-working some of my prepping goals  -- basically just taking stock of where I am and what I want to do.  Some of my activities include:

Home Maintenance.  I made sure my furnace filters were clean and clear (my HVAC system uses a pair of permanent filters that must be cleaned every few months) and scheduled a yearly service on my HVAC system.  I purchased a new pressure washer and pressure washed all the concrete patios, porches, walks, and driveways on my property.  I still need to repaint the wood on my sun porch.  More one why in a minute. 

Personal Maintenance.  Continued working out when I could to build strength.  Personal achievements were making it 5K on a treadmill.   I also had routine doctor's appointments to check blood work, etc.  as diabetes runs in my family and I wanted to monitor that as I am approaching a certain age. 

Skills Maintenance.   Increased my practice with firearms and researched more on shooting fundamentals.   I am happy to say that my work with rifle platforms and handgun platforms has improved markedly.

Supply Maintenance.  Inventoried supplies I have accumulated and rotated out old stock.   I had been a little lax in this department.
This is a house on fire, floating down the river.

Spiritual Maintenance.  My home state of West Virginia was subjected to massive flash flooding in late June, and as part of my church relief team I spent time in the town of Clendenin, West Virginia handing out relief supplies as part of the volunteer effort. There is still a massive amount of cleaning up to do. Some parts of the state received two months of rain in 24 hours.

The biggest challenge I faced this summer was a physical condition that hampered my mobility.  I was diagnosed with psoas tendonitis of the left hip.   This inflammation of the tendons of the hip is painful and takes up to three to four weeks to recover from.  The psoas muscle, for the uninitiated, is used in virtually every movement of the hip.  As soon as my hip was feeling better I came down with a pretty bad upper respiratory infection as well, so I was out of commission for four weeks or so.  This slowed me down, but I am back up to full speed now.

I could have used my down time to review Fear The Walking Dead,  but honestly, the second season has not grabbed me like the first season did.  Much of the characterization that was developed during the first season was jettisoned and the show meandered through the first seven episodes.  I may go back and do a "best of" preparedness lessons learned during the first part of the season, but at this point I simply don't feel like writing seven reviews on disappointing episodes.

Alternatively, I would recommend Containment, a limited series on the CW network that follows an inner city area of Atlanta after a disease outbreak forces it to be walled off in a cordon to stop the disease from spreading.  It has some of the usual Hollywood tropes (people with guns are either gang bangers or racist rednecks, government conspiracies, etc.) but watching a quarantine area slowly devolve into chaos is an eye opener.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Some More Random Thoughts on The Walking Dead Episode 616

Here are some more random thoughts and items that I omitted from my review:

Negan has basically set up a feudal system. He is the lord, and the Saviors are his vassals. The peasants, or other colonies of survivors, work the land and feed the vassals and the lord. His New World Order is really the Old World Order. It's what Europe defaulted to after the fall of Roman civilization.

Like I said in my review, Rick is probably the biggest threat Negan has faced. Team Rick is well-armed, combat-proven, and utterly ruthless when confronted. The Saviors were totally unaware of Alexandria, and were taken by surprise when Rick attacked and wiped out an outpost of 30-40 people, plus hunted and killed the survivors, plus the recon team sent to retrieve the survivors. Add to that their motorcycle recon team was turned into a bloody smear on the pavement, and that even when they killed Denise they lost 4-5 guys and yet another road recon team to Carol, and you can see why Negan is concerned.

So he put his own recon teams out, and I am sure they have seen Alexandrian vehicles driving to Hilltop, so he knows they are working together. They have also done a close recon on Alexandria's perimeter (the Saviors in the truck identified Carol as being from there because the car and knew exactly where it was located). Negan put together this major effort to get Alexandria under his thumb because they are a threat. Right now Negan has numbers and organization, but if Rick can find other settlements being coerced by Negan and get them to work together ... then the game is up for him. His own people have to be whispering about the boogeymen from Alexandria. That speech he gave in the final episode was as much for the Saviors as it was for Team Rick.

It's not just about getting Alexandria's stuff. It's about stopping an insurgency before it begins.

That being said, I wonder where all the walkers are during his confrontation with the Alexandria gang.  My guess is that they had outward facing perimeter security to deal with walkers, and since the quarry has been emptied the walker concentration seems a lot lower in the area.

Armor:  Use it or not?
Finally, it was interesting to see the two survivors Morgan met are wearing makeshift body armor made out of sports equipment and motocross protective garments.   I am surprised no one  thought of that before.   Cut resistant Kevlar gloves are standard wear in industrial settings like sheet metal shops and machine shops.  Kevlar clothes have been on the market for a while now for motorcycle enthusiasts.  You'd think at least the bikers like Daryl would be privy to such information.

For that matter, from a survival standpoint, how advisable would it be for preppers to invest in cut-resistant clothes for post-disaster clean-up, or even body armor in case of armed encounters?  Many preppers already use plate carriers as load bearing vests for tactical gear. Ballistic plates are available commercially from vendors liker Infidel Body Armor  and AR500.  The question that we must ask is, does the cost and weight of body armor get outweighed by our perception of the likelihood we might need it?  Would we rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it?

My Fear the Walking Dead review will be posted later this week.   Until then ...