FTWD – S3E4 “100”

Indeed, Fear The Walking Dead did, in fact, bring back my favorite character. Salazar, as played by Ruben Blades.

fear-the-walking-dead-episode-304-daniel-blades-4-935This episode was nothing but character development which is exactly what I wanted for the haunted and ruthless Salvadoran death squad member.

What I find so compelling is that Salazar, while a wildly ruthless killer, operates according to an extremely predictable moral code. He kills to protect those he loves, or to enable him to do so. And he warns people of the consequences of their actions and when they ignore him and those actions put him at odds with them, he has the moral absolution of knowing he warned them and then he does what needs doing.

Contrast with Strand, who is equally as ruthless but operates exclusively out of self-interest. Strand deceives because he loves Strand, Salazar kills because he loves  others.

Of course, we now get more backstory on Salazar…he’s killed almost a hundred people, he’s feeling haunted and ashamed by his actions, and without those he loves…either driven from him by his actions or by zombies…he’s without a cause. He’s much like Abraham from The Walking Dead – without a mission, he has no idea who he is.

And his matter of fact approach is a welcome change. The head bad guy is about to kill his friends and Salazar kills the bad guys and holds the boss at gun point. In any other series, there’d be dialog as the boss would try to deal with Salazar or get into one of those “you’re no better than me” sort of moral arguments. Salazar regards him for a moment, kills him, and moves on to other things. He hates what he does, but he knows it needs to be done. He really is quite a pragmatist.

Blades does a wonderful job of portraying a simple, immigrant barber who wants nothing more that to love and be with his family…and then bringing the vulpine dispassionate killer to the surface….and then showing the hurt and shame he feels when he does torture or kill people. Thats the kinds of depth and character development that will make me watch this show.

This is, from a character development standpoint, easily my favorite episode..it shows the deconstruction and reconstruction of a man who wants only the simplest thing – to be with those he loves and to protect them. Who can’t get behind that?

TV bugout bags

Every so often I watch “Parks and Recreation” simply because I really like the character of Ron Swanson. Another reason I like him: he has a bugout bag hidden in city hall so he can leave his office in a hurry if he has to.

While I admire the creativity, I’m not a huge fan of that sort of “hiding in plain sight”. But, sometimes there’s just no other way.

After 9/11 there were more than a few people in NYC who realized that once the bridges and tunnels are closed for security reasons you pretty much are on foot if you wanna get off that island. I know people who stashed mountain bikes (especially the folding variety) in the storage closet of their law firm’s office and that sort of thing. And more than a few office drones have a small daypack with comfortable shoes, water, and other necessities.

Anyway, I always enjoy it when certain preparedness standbys make an appearance on shows I enjoy. Case in point:

Movie – The Survivalist

Mags, mags, mags………
Someone brought this to my attention in email. Apparently yet another movie with the name “The Survivalist”. It seemes to harken more to a Cormac McCarthy sort of apocalypse rather than a jerry Ahern type. I am always amused by UK end-of-the-world films…mostly because their version of the apocalypse has the double-barreled shotgun as the pinnacle of firepower. American end-of-the-world dramas usually carry a tad more firepower.

These sorts of movies come and go pretty quickly…fortunately, Wikipedia, as it turns out, has a category “List of apocalyptic films“. hows that for convenience? As I was reading the synopsis for many of them I noticed a couple interesting trends – in a large percentage of these sorts of thing, the savvy survivalist type invariably gets killed and the unprepared noob winds up living happily ever after, the women often are rescued at the expense of the men’s lives, and no one *ever* gives credit to the survivalist dude for planning ahead. instead, the survivalist is always portrayed as ‘out there’ or ‘crazy’.

But, if you’re bored some evening this week, and Netflix or Amazon Prime isn’t down because of a ransomware attack, you’ve now got some viewing to look forward to.

Video – Target practice

Found this elsewhere in the blogosphere and it really was too good to not share:

Reminds me…at some point I need to go shooting. The weather is getting nice and it might not be a bad idea to get in some range time.

As an aside, theres a gun show here in town this weekend so that’ll be interesting.


ETA: No one seems to notice that at the end of the ad, he’s getting ready to shoot from his hotel window. The implication is that he’s an assassin or hitman.

The Walking Dead, getting back into it

I’ve been trying to get back into The Walking Dead. I stepped away from it last season when it devolved into hostage-of-the-week storylines. But, I’ve read the comics so I have a general idea how things go. I’ve been catching up and things are moving back towards layered stories that suggest the writers have decided to make some effort.

If you recall, when the show first started there wasn’t an M4 to be had. It was all pump shotguns and bolt rifles. Then the AR’s and Ak’s started making gradual appearances. Now we have awesome high-end suppressed rifles and pistols (and one white trash dude with a crossbow). I like that. I think that’s fairly representative of how things would go. Like a first person shooter video game….you upgrade your weapons as you come across them. The Internet Movie Firearms Database (IMFDB) covers the guns of the show season by season, so if you’re really curious about what exactly that was someone used to remove the head of that other guy….there you go.

While much of the acting on the show is pretty one-dimensional, I think Melissa McBride is way overdue for some professional awards. For the first few seasons her character was background filler and not very compelling. In the last several seasons she has easily become the most nuanced and deep character on the show. A lot of the time I watch the episodes just to see how her character will react to a situation, but it’s also entertaining to see how McBride conveys that characters turmoil and pathos.

Of course, the backdrop of the end of the world has a tremendous appeal to me as well. I can think of no television drama that has portrayed an apocalypse as stark as this. ‘Jericho’ had to work within the constraints of network television, but still managed to eke out a winning episode or two (and, hey, Lennie James is still killing people after the apocalypse!) There’s no mincing words – the end of the world is going to be all sorts of ugly rolled up into a big ball of suckage….all-Somalia, all-the-time. But, it is, for me, loads of fun to war game. “What would I do in that situation?” or “what if I had this piece of gear?”…I like the intellectual challenge of imagining alternative courses of action.

I won’t tell you to go watch TWD because at this point you either are, or you have no interest in it. But, as a survivalist, I do find it a fascinating thought experiment. Interestingly, the companion show, Fear The Walking Dead, seems a tad more ‘realistic’ since it takes place in the early days of the zombie apocalypse when normalcy bias is still strong.

So..yup, I’m back to watching.
10/22 mags are still available. Don’t go into the zombie apocalypse without.

Movie – The Accountant

I’ll keep the spoilage to a minimum. Ben Affleck plays an autistic/Asperger-y accountant whose upbringing by his military dad included lots of hand-to-hand to keep dad’s son from being a victim. Fast forward twenty years and the obsessive-compulsive kid is now an accountant to the mob, terrorists, and other undersireables.

The gunplay in this movie was pretty good, and there’s some Barrett lovin’. This movie also features Jon Bernthal, last seen in “Sicario”, as basically the same character he played on The Walking Dead. There’s some nice pistol work, a little bit of small-unit stuff, and a whole lot of CQB-gun-to-the-head action.

The rest of the story you can go see. And, actually, it’s not bad.. sort of “Rain Man” meets “Bourne Identity”. But, what I found interesting was the the level of preparedness the main character engaged in. Hidden away at a storage unit was his Airstream trailer, loaded with cash, gold, rare paintings, weapons, and everything he’d need to pull up roots and GTFO before the heat landed on him. As he tells another character, he can abandon his life and be on he road “in twelve minutes”.

If you’ve ever wondered what a decent ‘bug out trailer’ would be like, this is a nice example. It sits in his stroage unit, loaded up and ready to go, just waiting for the twelve minutes he needs to grab it and it’s life-altering cargo.

Anyway, enjoyable movie, some really nice plot twists, good action, and not a drop of useless romance or love interest. Oh, and local lad JK Simmons does a really nice job as the multi-layered treasury agent.




Fear The Walking Dead – Season Finale

You know, I’ll be the first to admit that the major character that killed off was definitely one that I’m happy is gone. The bad news it isn’t either one of the insanely annoying chicks.

And as the election season approaches with politcal rhetoric about illegal immigration (and remember kids, there’s a difference between immigration and illegal immigration) we have what appears to be a Texas border militia group making an appearance.

I’m still having mixed feelings about this show, but it is satisfying to watch the character start to turn into pragmatists and lose the we-have-to-save-everybody attitude. It’s also interesting, and I think this was a brilliant move, to set the majority of the series in a non-US venue. It allowed for plenty of different characters, lifestyles, and scenarios that were fresh and interesting.

Anything worth observing? Well, seriously, everyone needs a damn bugout bag packed so that when you have to beat feet out of your refuge you can leave with more than a Beretta 84 and a couple gallons of water. Binoculars are worth the weight. Wear your seatbelt. Don’t believe in people selling miracles. Always check your six. Two-man rule. Static positions aren’t going to last forever.

The regular Walking Dead series has been losing my interest lately, at least this series has a few fresh ideas. So, yeah, I’ll tune in but until they kill off those annoying women I’m gonna root for the zombies.


But keep this one. I like her…..


Video – After Armageddon

Remember when [insert name of animal] Flu was the big apocalypse du jour? I was down the YouTube rabbit hole and got sucked into this video.

Man, if this doesn’t make you want to redouble your efforts, nothing will.

This is one of the reasons I think it isn’t a waste of time to watch/read surivivalist fiction (or non-fiction). It gives motivation and makes you think about things you may not have thought about. And wargaming these sorts of things is always an interesting exercise.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go check my stocks of bleach and AA batteries………