Jeffrey Kopp

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Jeffrey Kopp is the Community Editor of the Niner Times. He is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead."

TV REVIEW: ‘The 100’ – ‘Stealing Fire’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”

The 100 -- Marie Avgeropoulos as Octavia -- Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW
The 100 — Marie Avgeropoulos as Octavia — Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW

After a short hiatus, “The 100” is back along with the heartbreak and betrayal that is all too familiar to the characters and viewers alike. With incredibly high stakes, the war between the Grounders and Sky People continues to brew. This episode is a thrilling return to the world of “The 100,” however, there are problems present.

Following the tragic death of Lexa in “Thirteen,” the conclave for the next Commander officially begins. Grounders believe that when a Commander dies, the spirit chooses the successor. During the conclave, the Nightbloods (Grounders with rare black blood that are descendants of Becca, the original Commander) battle to be selected by the Commander’s spirit. In the Polis tower, Clarke tells Murphy that they must assure that Aden be chosen as the next Commander; Aden was Lexa’s mentor. Titus brings Clarke and Murphy to where Lexa’s body is being prepared for her funeral. Aden’s loyalty towards Clarke and Skaikru is displayed as Aden and the Nightbloods bow down to Clarke. Ontari (Rhiannon Fish) of the Ice Nation bursts into the room and attempts to kill Clarke, but is stopped by King Roan. Ontari declares that when she becomes Heda, she will assure that Skaikru is eliminated. The exploration of the Grounder mythology is interesting and helps to further develop the story.

Over in Arkadia, Lincoln tries to bring hope to his fellow Grounders in the jail cell. Kane takes note of Lincoln’s positivity and tells him that he inspires the Grounders to not give up. Pike and several guards arrive at the jail cell to alert Kane, Lincoln and Sinclair that they have been sentenced to death for organizing the coup. He declares that the executions will take place in the morning. This shows Pike’s ruthlessness as a leader; he is willing to execute two of the Sky People’s most critical members. Bellamy and Monty visit with Miller and Harper to alert them of the upcoming executions. Bellamy reveals the listening device on Miller’s clothing. Miller and Harper clearly show their mistrust of the two, which Monty questions. Regardless of their lack of trust, they arrange a meeting between Octavia and Bellamy. Octavia knocks Bellamy unconscious and takes him to a cave where Indra waits. Indra and Bellamy share a few great scenes that demonstrate both characters’ love towards Octavia.

Back in Polis, Clarke questions Titus about Ontari’s right to participate in the conclave. Titus explains that Ontari is one of the Nightbloods and therefore may be selected as the next Commander. The sound of a horn interrupts their argument and draws their attention to the Throne Room. Ontari sits on the throne covered in blood, proudly holding the head of Aden. Titus and Clarke watch in horror as they realize what Ontari has done; she has also killed the other Nightbloods. Roan manages to smuggle Clarke and Murphy to the outskirts of Polis to protect them from Ontari. Clarke concludes that Roan must be against Ontari, but he explains that he supports her because of his allegiance to the Ice Nation. Roan references Clarke’s actions at Mount Weather as an example of how far Clarke is willing to go in order to protect her people, similar to how Ontari defends her people. Rather than leaving, Clarke formulates a plan to steal “the flame,” which is essentially the spirit of the Commander.

Clarke and Murphy make their way back into Polis and discover where the flame is being held. Titus arrives and begins discussing the flame with Clarke. The flame will be rejected by anyone that is not a Nightblood. Clarke is able to deduce that Ontari is not the only remaining Nightblood based on Lexa’s descriptions of her own conclave. Titus explains that a girl named Luna survived Lexa’s conclave, but fled from Polis. Clarke decides to take the flame to Luna and Titus declares Clarke the new Flamekeeper. He also sends Murphy to distract Ontari in order to give Clarke time to get away. Roan brings Titus before Ontari and explains that he has lost the flame. Titus calls Ontari out for her crimes and declares that she will never become the Commander. He slyly uses Roan’s knife to slit his own throat; before Titus dies, he utters a chilling message to Ontari: “for Lexa.” This creates a problem for Ontari as Titus was the only flamekeeper, at least as far as she knows.

The chaos continues in Arkadia as the rebel group’s prison break plan is underway. Pike allows Kane a few moments to say goodbye to Abby. Kane and Abby embrace and he tells her to stay away from the rebel group. The day of the execution arrives and Octavia concocts a plot to stop everything. Being that she was forced to hide from authorities for most of her life on the Ark, Octavia is able to hide Sinclair, Lincoln and Kane under a panel in the floor. Miller and his boyfriend Bryan, along with Abby, Harper and Monty all aid in an escape attempt from Arkadia and Pike’s leadership. Pike makes an announcement over the intercom that Lincoln and the others must turn themselves in or he will execute the remaining Grounder prisoners. Lincoln refuses to leave and makes a difficult decision to turn himself in. He and Octavia share a final goodbye; Lincoln drugs Octavia to prevent her from following him. Kane and the other prisoners make their way out of Arkadia as Octavia wakes up. She sees Lincoln being led by Pike to the center of Arkadia. Pike tells Lincoln that he won’t free the Grounder prisoners, but he also won’t kill them. Lincoln kneels on the muddy ground as Pike pulls out his gun. Pike shoots Lincoln in the head and his body collapses into a puddle as Octavia watches on in absolute devastation. The loss of Lincoln is a substantial emotional jab to both the characters and viewers. This will surely be a large splintering point in Bellamy and Octavia’s relationship as Bellamy contributed to the rise of Pike. Ricky Whittle gave a commendable performance as Lincoln during his run on the show.

“Stealing Fire” is a tragic returning episode of “The 100” and helps to establish the dreary and hopeless tone. Few minor problems exist, such as Raven’s complete absence and Murphy’s awkward role in the events of the episode. The death of Lincoln is not entirely shocking as it demonstrates just how far Pike is willing to go to maintain his power; losing the character is major as Lincoln has been in the series since the first season and has contributed to the relationship between the Sky People and the Grounders. Will Clarke be able to find Luna? Will Ontari be able to assume the role as Commander? Be sure to tune in to “The 100” next Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

TV REVIEW: ‘The Walking Dead’ – ‘East’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC)
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC)

The blood is flowing in the latest episode of “The Walking Dead.” With the threat of The Saviors at an all-time high, characters are pushed to their absolute limits in order to survive. While a few problems are present, this episode is yet another intense and jarring chapter of the story.

A large focus of this half season has been on Carol’s internal struggle of having to kill people in order to survive and protect her group. The beginning of this episode shows Carol preparing a bag of supplies, which she hides under the bed from Tobin. He shares with Carol his sadness over the death of Denise, but Carol zones out. Later, Carol is shown sneaking away with her supply bag as Tobin sleeps. A sequence follows that shows several characters going about their daily tasks as Johnny Cash’s “It’s All Over” plays; if that isn’t foreshadowing I don’t know what is. Glenn and Maggie shower together while Abraham takes over Sasha’s post at the gate lookout post. Rosita awkwardly watches Abraham and Sasha have a brief moment of flirtation. Michonne and Rick are shown cuddling in bed where they discuss the threat of the Saviors. This scene displays just one example of religious imagery that this series frequently incorporates. Michonne and Rick snack on an apple; possibly symbolic of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Later, Michonne meets up with Glenn and Maggie to establish security plans. Maggie proposes that they hide caches of guns and ammunition throughout Alexandria to assure that weapons are available in the event of an attack. At the main gate, Daryl drives up in his motorcycle and hurriedly leaves, amidst protests from Abraham and Rosita. Glenn and Michonne rush over and leave with Rosita to try to catch up with Daryl. Tobin arrives at Rick’s house, where he delivers Carol’s goodbye note. They meet up with Abraham, Sasha and Morgan at the front gate and conclude that Carol snuck out when Sasha and Abraham were changing shifts. Morgan and Rick take a car and leave Alexandria in search of Carol. This is a problem that I have with this episode. Some of the group’s strongest fighters leave Alexandria in midst of a major crisis. The search efforts for Carol and Daryl were not well organized and feel amateur for our group.

On the road, Carol drives past a group of Saviors in a pickup truck who shoot out her tires. Carol steps out of her car and pleads for the Saviors to leave her alone. They demand information about her camp, but Carol tells them that she has no home. The Saviors are able to deduce that Carol came from Alexandria based on the spikes on her car; several cars with spikes are outside of Alexandria’s gate as a way to trap walkers. Carol tearfully begs for the Saviors to leave, but they maniacally joke about her weak nature. This proves to be a deadly mistake as Carol uses a hidden gun in her sleeve to shoot nearly all of the men. After the shootout, a lone Savior chases after Carol, but she uses a one of the spikes to impale him. Carol’s run in with the group of Saviors is incredibly ironic as Carol originally left Alexandria because she didn’t want to kill anyone else. However, the harshness and danger of the world places Carol in the position where she must kill. Once again, Melissa McBride delivers a stellar and award-worthy performance; Carol is truly one of television’s finest and most complex characters.

Morgan and Rick follow Carol’s tire tracks and eventually arrive at the scene of the shootout. Before they arrive, however, a surviving Savior staggers away from the scene and into the forest. Rick proclaims how proud he is of Carol for eliminating the threat; he also refers to her as “a force of nature.” Rick and Morgan follow a trail of blood into a field, which they presume is from Carol. Morgan shares with Rick that he learned about Carol’s banishment from the Prison after she killed Karen and David in order to prevent a virus from spreading. Rick explains that she made the right decision, even if he didn’t agree with her at the moment. Rick’s decision to banish Carol rather than kill her allowed for her to save the group at Terminus. Morgan and Rick come across a farm where they encounter a man armed with a Hilltop Colony spear who claims he is looking for his horse. Walkers arrive and the man flees, but Rick tries to shoot him; Morgan intervenes claiming that the man is possibly innocent. Morgan decides to tell Rick about the altercation with the Wolf in “Start to Finish” and “No Way Out.” He explains that because the Wolf saved Denise, she was able to save Carl in turn. Morgan’s justification of himself keeping the Wolf as a prisoner is incredibly flawed. Denise never would have been taken hostage by the Wolf if Morgan would have killed him the first chance he had. Also, it’s unclear how Morgan knew that the Wolf saved Denise as Carol was the only witness. I understand where Morgan is coming from, however, his logic is questionable. Morgan sends Rick back to Alexandria while he continues searching.

The other search party of Rosita, Michonne and Glenn return to the train tracks where Denise was killed by Dwight. Michonne discovers Daryl’s motorcycle and Rosita infers that Daryl is hunting Dwight. Rosita leads Glenn and Michonne in the direction that Dwight fled and they eventually catch up to Daryl. Glenn and Michonne plead for Daryl to return home, but he refuses, citing his role in Denise’s murder; in “Always Accountable,” Daryl naively chose not to kill Dwight, who later escaped with his crossbow. Rosita decides to join Daryl, clearly as a result of her shared guilt about Denise. Michonne and Glenn begin making their way back, but are ambushed by Dwight and Saviors. Daryl’s quest for vengeance is completely understandable and truly develops his character.

Dwight holds Daryl at gunpoint. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC.)
Dwight holds Daryl at gunpoint. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC.)

Rick returns to Alexandria and meets up with Abraham. These two characters parallel each other as they share their similar fears of becoming romantically involved with someone new; Rick with Michonne and Abraham with Sasha. Enid and Maggie share a few scenes together in this episode. Maggie arrives at the pantry to take a break and eat lunch before resuming her lookout shift. Enid decides to take over her shift and orders Maggie to rest and relax. Later Enid arrives at Maggie’s house where she gives her a haircut; Maggie comments “I have to keep going and I don’t want anything getting in my way.” This haircut likely represents a shift in Maggie’s character, similar to when Shane cut his hair and when Rick shaved his beard. Suddenly, Maggie collapses to the floor in a fit of pain. She screams as Enid watches in horror. Did Maggie lose the baby? The danger of pregnancy is only heightened by the fact that Alexandria no longer has a doctor; the Hilltop luckily does have Dr. Carson, who is an obstetrician. My fears about Maggie’s pregnancy are linked to a theory proposed by Lori during her pregnancy in Season 3; if a baby dies in the womb, will it turn and devour the mother from the inside? Hopefully, Maggie’s baby is safe, but this disturbing theory is a definite possibility. The episode ends with Daryl and Rosita locating Michonne and Glenn bound and gagged next to a campfire. Glenn tries to warn them, but Dwight and a Savior ambush Daryl and Rosita at gunpoint. Dwight fires his gun at Daryl and a massive amount of blood splatters on the camera. The screen cuts to black and Dwight chillingly says “you’ll be alright.” This massive cliffhanger creates multiple questions; was Daryl actually shot and will he survive?

“East” proves that Rick and the group severely underestimated the capabilities of the Saviors. This penultimate episode is truly amazing and nicely sets up the finale.  As the season comes to an end, the various individual storylines are beginning to merge together. Few problems exist with the actions of the characters, however, these problems are nothing new to this series. With multiple cliffhangers, next week’s season finale is sure to be action packed. The previews promise that “the price will be paid” and tease the arrival of Negan. What madness awaits our characters? Be sure to tune in to the Season Finale of “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

2016 Sanskrit gallery exhibition review


Photos by Pooja Pasupula .

If you’re at the Student Union, be sure to take a stroll through the Art Gallery to view some of the phenomenal work featured in this year’s edition of the Sanskrit Literary-Arts Magazine. Sanskrit is UNC Charlotte’s nationally recognized and award-winning literary-arts magazine. Featuring submissions from artists around the world, Sanskrit Magazine features handpicked poetry, short stories and artwork. The impressive team behind Sanskrit truly creates an impressive and inspiring gallery that will undoubtedly spark creativity in anyone that visits.

The gallery, on display now through March 28, showcases several select pieces of artwork from the magazine. Those that visit the gallery will notice a wide variety of different art mediums from photography and canvas print to photolithography and digital media. Some of the standout artwork includes “Galaxy” by Alaina Chapman and “Slow Hello” by Jayne Dinh, as well as “Heart” and “Spine” by Meghan Clemm. Two of the digital media pieces, “Bird Man” and “Duckface and Ula,” both by Anthony Lopez, are other highlights of the gallery. Some of the other pieces featured in the gallery include “One World” by Alaina Chapman and “Lion” by Caroline Kerrigan, both of which are oil on canvas paintings. This gallery truly offers something unique for everyone to enjoy and appreciate.

There isn’t much to be said about the gallery in words, as the work truly speaks for itself. The pieces are stunning concoctions that are simply meant to be seen in person, beyond your computer screen. The gallery has been open since March 8 and closes on March 28. This gallery is definitely worth your time, whether you spend a few minutes or several. The gallery is located on the main floor of the Student Union and is open to the public. Copies of the Sanskrit Literary-Arts Magazine are available at the gallery. More information about Sanskrit Literary-Arts Magazine can be found at sanskritmagazine.com.

TV REVIEW: ‘The Walking Dead’ – ‘Twice as Far’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

Abraham Ford and Eugene Porter. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC.)
Michael Cudlitz as Abraham Ford and Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC.)

Tragedy strikes the characters of “The Walking Dead” in a completely shocking and devastating, yet problematic episode. As the season finale nears, certain characters are put in the spotlight to develop the story. While it does have problems, this episode stands strong with the others of this half-season.

The opening sequence shows several days passing in Alexandria through the activities of several characters. Olivia opens the fully stocked pantry, while Eugene and Sasha stand guard at the gate. Morgan finishes building a jail cell, which Rick curiously inspects. Morgan explains to Rick that this jail cell provides the group a place to put enemies rather than killing them. Rosita and Spencer are shown to be having a romantic fling that Rosita appears to immediately regret. Carol asks Daryl about his newly returned motorcycle and his encounter with the mysterious couple that he met in “Always Accountable.” Daryl tells Carol “I should’ve killed them.” This opening sequence fully displays what life is like during times of peace; each character has their own task.

The primary focus of this episode is on two separate groups that leave Alexandria on very specific missions. The first group consists of Abraham and Eugene, who head out in search of an industrial workshop. While walking to the workshop, Abraham humorously jokes about Eugene’s mullet, which has been refashioned into a ponytail. Eugene then begins listing off his various contributions to the community before telling Abraham “I’m a survivor.” They find the workshop and Eugene explains that he plans on using the machinery to produce bullets. This is an incredibly important development and task for Eugene’s character as ammunition will surely be running low on supply soon. As the two talk, a walker coated in dried liquid metal approaches and Eugene decides to prove his survival skills by attempting to kill the walker himself. Unfortunately, the liquid metal on the walker makes it incredibly difficult for Eugene to kill. Abraham steps in and stabs the walker with a piece of rebar, prompting Eugene to lash out in anger. Eugene furiously tells Abraham that he can survive on his own and doesn’t need Abraham’s assistance anymore. Abraham tells Eugene to find his own way home and exits the building. This conflict is one of the problems with this episode. Eugene understandably wants to prove his strength as a survivor, but his anger towards Abraham feels very unusual coming his character. The relationship between these two has always been rocky, but they have recently been on very good terms. Regardless, the humorous dynamic between Michael Cudlitz and Josh McDermitt provides some of the greatest lines dialogue in the series.

The other group consists of Daryl, Denise and Rosita, who head out in search of medicine from a local apothecary that Denise believes may be fully stocked. Before leaving, Daryl and Rosita attempt to persuade Denise to stay in Alexandria for the simple fact that Denise is the community’s only doctor. Denise refuses to stay behind and the three leave in an old pickup truck. These three characters have only interacted briefly, so this supply run creates another interesting dynamic. While driving, Daryl struggles with the gear shift as Denise provides some truly humorous commentary. They are forced to stop at a fallen tree blocking the road, which Rosita and Daryl decide to investigate and discover a few bottles of liquor. Rosita proposes that the group take a shortcut by walking down nearby railroad tracks, but Daryl refuses and leads Denise down a different path while Rosita heads down the tracks alone. This moment is incredibly poignant for Daryl’s character due to the horrific circumstances surrounding his journey to Terminus on train tracks in Season 4.

Later, Rosita is shown waiting for Daryl and Denise after taking her shortcut. Denise asks Rosita about her weapons training and Rosita explains that a long list of people helped get her to where she is now. The group arrives at apothecary and begin searching for supplies. They discover a fully-stocked pharmacy that Daryl and Rosita immediately begin clearing out. Denise hears a noise from another room and walks over, armed with her machete, to inspect. She finds a trapped walker, as well as a child’s shoe in a blood-filled sink. The scene absolutely horrifies Denise, who rushes out of the building in disgust. Her reaction is completely understandable as Denise has very limited experience being outside of Alexandria. They leave the apothecary and Daryl strikes up a conversation with Denise. They discuss Denise’s twin brother, Dennis, who was both brave and angry. Daryl responds by telling Denise “sounds like we had the same brother.” referring to his late brother, Merle. They take the railroad tracks back and Denise notices a cooler in a nearby car. She opens the car door and is quickly caught in an intense struggle with a hidden walker; she manages to kill the walker herself. She opens the cooler and discovers a can of orange soda, which she proudly keeps for Tara. This scene displays Denise’s potential to become strong survivor. That is until, the next few moments dramatically change everything.

Dwight and the Saviors in a standoff with Rosita and Daryl. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC.)
Dwight and the Saviors in a standoff with Rosita and Daryl. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC.)

Rosita and Daryl scold Denise for risking her life over something so unimportant. Denise explains that she wanted to go on the supply run to confront her fears. This greatly parallels Eugene and his reasoning for leaving Alexandria this episode. Denise tells Daryl that she asked him to come along because he makes her feel safe; she asked Rosita to join to help her get over the breakup with Abraham; Denise fully pours her heart out to Rosita and Daryl. Suddenly, in mid-sentence, a bolt from a crossbow passes through Denise’s head and out her eye, killing her, but not before she is able to utter a few final words. Rosita watches in complete horror as Daryl catches Denise’s falling body. The camera turns revealing a large group of Saviors, including Dwight (The man who stole Daryl’s crossbow and motorcycle in “Always Accountable”) and Eugene as a hostage. Half of Dwight’s face has been burned; this will likely be explained later. Dwight orders Daryl and Rosita to turn over their weapons and lead him to Alexandria. Eugene spots Abraham hiding nearby and alerts Dwight. Eugene takes advantage of Dwight’s momentary lack of attention and bites him on the crotch. Abraham begins shooting at the Saviors, allowing Rosita and Daryl to recollect their weapons and kill a handful of the aggressors. Eugene is hit by a stray bullet and Dwight flees with his men, leaving behind Daryl’s crossbow. This entire fight sequence was frightening and fast-paced.

The death of Denise is the major problem that I have with this episode. Denise is a character that was introduced at the beginning of this season, but has gone through an extensive arc in her short time. This episode proved her potential strength, not only physically, but also mentally. The death itself feels like its sole purpose was to shock the audience and further other characters rather than Denise herself. Tara, who is currently on an extended supply run with Heath, will feel the full brunt of this loss, however, we will likely not see Tara’s reaction until next season, because Alanna Masterson was nine months pregnant during filming for the final episodes of this season. Daryl will also likely feel guilty as his crossbow was used to kill Denise. Yes, characters need to die in this series, but Denise’s death feels like a waste one of the most promising characters. Death is sometimes handled extremely well as seen with Hershel and Deanna, but also poorly as seen with Andrea, Beth and now Denise. The show also loses Merritt Wever, who gave remarkable performances throughout her run on the show as Denise.

The episode continues in Alexandria as Rosita tends to Eugene in the infirmary. Abraham arrives as Eugene wakes up. Rosita explains that the bullet simply grazed Eugene and that he will be okay. Abraham apologizes for questioning Eugene’s ability to survive and adapt. Abraham leaves and visits with Sasha, who invites him inside; this solidifies the fact that Abraham and Sasha will have a romantic relationship. Daryl and Carol bury Denise in Alexandria’s cemetery and Carol affirms Daryl’s regret about not killing Dwight the first chance he had. Tobin discovers a note from Carol, which is read to viewers by Carol as daily life is once again shown in Alexandria. Carol’s letter reveals that she has left Alexandria, citing her fear of killing to protect the people that she loves. She also references the time that Rick banished her from the Prison. She ends the letter by telling everyone to not come after her. With the looming threat of Dwight and the Saviors, as well as Negan, Carol’s departure from Alexandria comes at the worst time. Where did Carol go? Who will go looking for her?

“Twice as Far” is far from a bad episode, however, the death of Denise brings to light the recurring problem that this show has of killing off characters at odd times. Now that Alexandria has lost their doctor, how will the community treat those that are injured and sick? This episode does positively develop several characters and further the plot. The perfect pacing of this half season is present in this episode. With Alexandria now vulnerable to an attack, will the survivors be able to join together once again to protect their home? Be sure to tune in to “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

‘Hamletmachine’ – A unique take on a Shakespeare classic

Photo courtesy of the UNCC official website
Photo courtesy of the UNCC official website

Upon entering Belk Theatre, I didn’t exactly know what to expect from this production. My foggy memory of reading “Hamlet” in high school provided some expectations, however, “Hamletmachine” is truly unique. Originally written by German playwright Heiner Müller and loosely based on the work of William Shakespeare, this play is both thought-provoking and disturbing.

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Photo by Danny Tulledge

The major highlight of this UNC Charlotte production are the performances from the student actors. Across the board, the acting is profoundly spectacular and captivating. The truly stunning performances bring the audience into the world of the play with enchanting monologues and rapid body movements. Each actor utilizes the stage and fellow performers to create a series of chaotic and dramatic scenes that deliver the intended message. Whether one or many actors are present, the stage feels full and alive. From Hamlet and Gertrude to Ophelia and Horatio, as well as several other famous characters from the original play, are all present in many different forms to explore society and the human condition. The various musical performances within the play are also worth mentioning as major high points. The passionate and engrossing performances by the entire cast are just one of many reasons why this production of “Hamletmachine” is worth your time.

Something that I noticed throughout the duration of the play was the constant and eye-catching use of lighting and props. Not a minute goes by without something on stage drawing your attention. Whether it be movement in the background or flickering television sets, the team behind the scenes fully helped to present the audience with extensive imagery. With the openly interpretive nature of this play, the use of imagery definitely presents viewers with material to provoke contemplation. Another takeaway from the show is the distinctive costumes for each of the characters. The wardrobe team expertly provides a possibly overlooked component of the overall production that also contributes to the extensive use of imagery. Lastly, the set design is yet another fantastic piece of the large puzzle of this production.

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Photo by Danny Tulledge

Explaining the plot of this performance would simply be impossible, as it is far from standard in structure. This is truly something that must be witnessed firsthand to fully appreciate. With gripping drama and sensational work behind the scenes, UNC Charlotte’s production of “Hamletmachine” is a true gem that is worth your time.

Performances run March 19, 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. and March 20 at 2:00 p.m. at Belk Theatre in Robinson Hall. More information can be found at the following link: http://coaa.uncc.edu/news/theatre-department-presents-hamletmachine.

TV REVIEW: ‘The Walking Dead’ – ‘The Same Boat’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene and Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene and Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)

Without any doubt, Season 6 of “The Walking Dead” will go down as one of the most intense seasons of the series. This episode continues the dark and disturbing tone as it focuses on two of the more hardened characters. With high stakes and emotional character development, this episode is a true gem in the chaotic undead world of “The Walking Dead.”

“The Same Boat” opens up with several scenes from last week’s episode, but from a different viewpoint. Maggie and Carol argue as the alarms ring at the Savior compound. A Savior, later named Donnie (Rus Blackwell), tries to sneak up on the two, but Carol manages to shoot him in the arm. Suddenly, three Saviors ambush Carol and Maggie, holding them at gunpoint. After the sun comes up, the group of Saviors notice Rick holding a lone survivor at gunpoint after their attack in the compound. Paula (Alicia Witt) communicates with Rick through walkie-talkie to discuss a possible exchange, however, Paula realizes that the exchange would not be totally fair; she tells Rick that she needs to think and will get back to him later. Paula’s group blindfold Carol and Maggie and drive them to an abandoned slaughterhouse. This slaughterhouse is a frightening setting that is eerily reminiscent of Woodbury and Terminus from previous seasons.

Carol and Maggie are left bound and gagged in a room alone for a few moments while Paula and her group check out the rest of the building. Carol begins hyperventilating as Maggie watches on in both worry and confusion. Viewers are well aware that Carol tends to act weak around strangers to disguise her deadly strength, but in this episode, it is not totally clear if Carol is putting on an act or not. Maggie pleads for someone to remove Carol’s gag and Paula’s group maniacally joke about Carol’s “weakness.” A member of Paula’s group named Molly (Jill Jane Clements) begins smoking and Carol asks her to stop, citing Maggie’s pregnancy and the dangers of secondhand smoke. Donnie begins threatening to kill Carol, but Maggie trips him and Paula knocks him unconscious.

Alicia Witt as Paula, Jeananne Goossen as Chelle and Rus Blackwell as Donnie. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Alicia Witt as Paula, Jeananne Goossen as Chelle and Rus Blackwell as Donnie. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)

Chelle (Jeananne Goossen), another member of the Savior group, takes Maggie into a separate room to interrogate her. Chelle parallels Maggie in this scene as she explains her pregnancy that presumably ended prematurely. Maggie’s strength is displayed here as she refuses to give up any information about Alexandria or her group. Meanwhile, Carol explains why her group attacked the Savior compound. She tells Paula and Molly that it was simply a retaliation for Daryl, Sasha and Abraham’s run in with the group of Saviors in “No Way Out.” She also mentions Negan as reasoning behind the attack to which Molly declares “we are all Negan.” Paula also shares her story of being trapped in Washington DC at the beginning of the outbreak; she was not able to be with her husband or children. Paula eventually contacts Rick again and tells him that she is willing to make the trade and directs him to a nearby field. She notices a lack of static over the walkie-talkie and infers that Rick and the group must be near the slaughterhouse. She then radios another group of Saviors that are on their way as reinforcements. Carol, Paula and Molly demonstrated an interesting dynamic between three strong survivors. Carol is left alone in the room where she uses a crucifix she found to escape. The use of the crucifix is incredibly symbolic as it represents Carol’s struggle with faith and the recurring role of religion in the series.

Carol locates Maggie and recommends that they quickly leave, but Maggie declares that they must kill Paula’s group first. Maggie and Carol return to the holding room to discover that Donnie has died and is beginning to turn. Maggie uses rope to tether him to a pipe as a trap. Molly returns to the room and is attacked by a turned Donnie, who bites her on the arm. Maggie steals Molly’s gun and uses it to repeatedly bash her head in as Carol watches in horror. Maggie and Carol flee down a hallway, but are stopped by a large group of impaled walkers; the walkers were most likely positioned to prevent anyone from entering or leaving the building. Paula arrives and begins firing her gun, but misses both Carol and Maggie. Carol points her gun at Paula and tells her to leave, but Maggie repeatedly urges Carol to kill her. A walker frees itself and lunges for Carol causing her to shoot Paula in the shoulder. Chelle arrives and Maggie rushes to kill her, but Chelle puts up a strong fight and manages to slash Maggie’s abdomen with her knife. Carol arrives and immediately shoots Chelle in the head without any hesitation. Paula makes one final attempt at Carol’s life, but is thrown onto a spear and brutally devoured by a walker. Alicia Witt delivered an incredible performance as the wicked Paula.

After their intense altercation, Carol and Maggie receive a call on Paula’s radio from a Savior sharing that the reinforcements have arrived. They quickly create a plan to kill the Saviors. While waiting, Carol tells Maggie that she has killed nearly 20 people; this is beginning to weigh heavily on Carol. The group of Saviors arrive and Carol manages to trap them in a room doused with gasoline which she swiftly sets on fire. The group of Saviors are burned alive as Carol watches on in horror. Rick and the rest of the group arrive and reunite with Carol and Maggie. Glenn comforts Maggie, while Daryl consoles an emotional Carol. Rick demands information from his Savior hostage, Primo (Jimmy Gonzales), who declares “I’m Negan.” Without any hesitation, Rick pulls his gun out and shoots the man in the head. Now that the group believes the threat of Negan and the Saviors to be over, how will they react when Negan is officially introduced?

“The Same Boat” is rich with character development, specifically for Maggie and Carol. This episode marks a major turning point for Carol, who seems to be less eager to kill. Maggie’s pregnancy contributed to the overall intensity of the episode. Will Maggie lose the baby or will she finally have good luck? Both Lauren Cohan and Melissa McBride delivered some of their best performances to date this episode. Maggie and Carol have rarely interacted on-screen in the past, so it is interesting to see them working together. The larger world that our characters are discovering is filled with both good and bad. With even more blood on their hands, how will the group react when they discover that more threats lie on the horizon? Be sure to tune in to “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘The 100’ – ‘Terms and Conditions’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”

Ricky Whittle as Lincoln. (Photo courtesy of The CW)
Ricky Whittle as Lincoln. (Photo courtesy of The CW)

Conflicts come to a head in one of the most intense episodes of “The 100” to date. While intense, this episode suffers from a wide variety of problems, many of which are present in other episodes this season. Many of the problems surround the characters and their actions, or lack thereof. However, numerous engrossing developments are made in regards to the various storylines.

Following the controversial ending last week, this episode focuses on life in Arkadia under Pike’s dictatorship. Two Grounder warriors arrive at the main gate to announce the blockade army surrounding the camp. They also tell Pike to turn himself in to the Grounders or else harsh consequences will be placed on the Skaikru. Bellamy refuses to acknowledge the threat and immediately shoots the two warriors, leaving everyone, including Pike, surprised. Pike rallies his corrupted followers into spying on the citizens of Arkadia to find out who is part of the underground rebellion. Monty is put in charge of the surveillance efforts; this is one of the major problems of the episode. Why is Monty betraying his friends and putting everyone he cares about in danger? Monty and Pike are both from the Farm Station, but there has been almost no development of his character that would explain his sudden turn against his friends, whom he has been surviving with since landing on the ground. Monty does show some guilt, but proceeds anyway. This is one of many cases where the characters act vastly different than normal.

Arkadia’s insurgent group is led by Kane and includes Miller and Harper. Abby is completely absent from this episode without any explanation whatsoever; considering she was a vocal voice against Pike’s leadership, her absence is strange. Kane, Miller and Harper discuss what can be done to stop Pike. Harper proposes a violent approach, but Kane opposes. Kane and Pike meet and the two discuss the Grounder’s demand; Kane attempts to persuade Pike into turning himself in, but Pike mentions Finn as an example of how negotiating with the Grounders leads nowhere. Later, Pike shares a fake plan with his close allies to trick the insurgents. This fake plan involves planting mines in a field to kill a large number of Grounders. Kane unknowingly falls into the trap by enlisting Sinclair into sabotaging one of Pike’s rovers. Sinclair is immediately caught by Bellamy, who arrests him and charges him with treason. Sinclair is taken to the ever-growing prison where he meets with Lincoln, who he tells to prepare for an escape. The underground rebellion aspect of the episode is truly fascinating. Seeing Kane in a very different leadership position creates a compelling dynamic.

Kane and Bellamy secretly meet where they both try to persuade each other to join the “right side.” Kane pleads for Bellamy to understand that the real threat is inside Arkadia with Pike rather than outside with the Grounders. At the prison, Lincoln pretends to attack Sinclair to set in motion a large plan. Guards rush into the prison cell and chaos erupts as the prisoners brutally attack the guards. Meanwhile, Pike confronts Kane about his involvement in the rebel group. Kane shock lashes Pike and throws him in the back of a rover to leave Arkadia and deliver him to the Grounders. Monty overhears Kane’s plan and alerts Bellamy that the prison riot is simply a distraction to allow Kane to escape. Bellamy makes his way to the front gate and manages to stop Kane before he can escape. The execution of the rebel plan was intense and action-packed. Unfortunately, Bellamy’s actions only further my increasing dislike of his character; Bellamy began the season as one of my favorites. Kane is instantly arrested and sentenced to death under the far outdated rules of the Ark’s Exodus Charter. Bellamy finally shows some sense of his true character as he asks Pike if they are going too far. Will Kane be able to escape his death sentence?

While the chaos of Pike’s leadership consumes much of the story, Raven and her relationship with the City of Light is also explored. Jaha tells Raven that more people need to be brought over to the City to help find the second version of A.L.I.E. Unfortunately for Jaha, the machine used to make the pills has been confiscated and stored in Pike’s office. Raven recruits Jasper to help retrieve the machine; being that Monty is the head of security, Raven believes Jasper’s friendship with Monty will be beneficial to their efforts. Jasper uses his knowledge of Monty’s interests to crack his passcode to Pike’s office. In the office, Jasper shares that the current situation reminds him of the predicament with Finn. Raven appears puzzled at the mention of her former boyfriend, similar to Jaha’s confusion at the mention of his deceased son. This development establishes memory loss as a side-effect of the City of Light. Thankfully, Raven is able to resist pleas from A.L.I.E. to focus on the mission at hand; Raven realizes that the City of Light is not the utopia that she initially thought it was. Raven’s aspect of the episode is a major highlight, as her strength is put on full display. Now that Raven has broken free, how will she fight against A.L.I.E. and Jaha?

“Terms and Conditions” is much weaker than its predecessors this season. Raven’s storyline, along with the action sequences and underground rebel aspect are definite highlights. However, the inconsistencies with numerous characters is frustrating. The absence of Clarke, especially after the shocking death of Lexa, is rather odd, but allows for developments in other storylines. As Pike continues to grow more unhinged, will anyone be able to save our characters from a costly war with the Grounders? Tune in to “The 100” when it returns on March 31 at 9 p.m. on The CW.

TV REVIEW: ‘The Walking Dead’ – ‘Not Tomorrow Yet’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

Jason Douglas as Tobin and Melissa McBride as Carol. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Jason Douglas as Tobin and Melissa McBride as Carol. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)

The balance between one’s humanity and the need to survive is the central focus in this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead.” Just how far are people willing to go to insure the safety of their loved ones? “Not Tomorrow Yet” takes the time to explore this question for each of the characters. Some problems exist, but this episode is yet another strong chapter in the intense and captivating saga of our beloved survivors.

After being absent from the previous two episodes, Carol is finally back in action, but in an unexpected way. The episode begins with a montage of Carol’s daily life in Alexandria. Collecting ingredients, baking cookies and distributing to the various citizens of Alexandria shows viewers that Carol still maintains her friendly neighbor persona. Morgan confronts Carol at the cemetery and asks her why she hasn’t said anything to Rick about the Wolf that Morgan was holding prisoner. She pretty much ignores his question, highlighting the fact that Carol feels guilty about killing the Wolf in “No Way Out.” Before leaving the cemetery, Carol places a cookie on Sam’s grave. This was a small, yet touching moment that brings closure to the difficult relationship that Carol had with Sam. In the middle of the night, Carol wakes up and writes a list of all the people she has killed, totaling 18. She walks over to Tobin’s house where an unexpected romance begins to take shape. Tobin tells Carol that she is essentially a motherly figure to the people of Alexandria, but not to him. Tobin and Carol have shared only a few scenes together, so a romantic relationship between the two feels somewhat forced and awkward. Is this just a short fling or will their relationship last?

At the church, Rick holds a meeting to discuss the deal established with the Hilltop. He explains that striking the Saviors preemptively will create peace and allow for Alexandria and Hilltop to exist without fears of being attacked later down the road. Morgan insists that Rick try to speak with the Saviors to avoid unnecessary killing. Later, Maggie tells Glenn that she will be joining the group on their assault, but will be taking on a safer role due to her pregnancy. Rosita checks in on Abraham, who is packing his bags. He cruelly breaks up with her as a peeping Eugene watches on. While the brewing love triangle between Abraham, Sasha and Rosita was my major complaint about last week’s episode, it was handled much better here. Rick seeks help from Hilltop’s Andy to figure out the best way to storm the Savior compound. Andy draws a map and Rick declares that they will attack at night when most of the Saviors are asleep. The scenes in Alexandria represent soldiers preparing for war while saying their goodbyes, knowing that they may never return home.

The next day, Rick leads a caravan to the Savior compound. They stop near the compound to search for a walker that resembles Gregory. The purpose of this can be explained by a deal mentioned last episode to deliver Gregory’s head to the Saviors in exchange for a Hilltop resident being held hostage. Rosita shares with Carol her anger about hiding Morgan’s secret from the rest of the group, but Carol surprisingly defends Morgan. In the forest, Heath and Glenn disclose to each other their shared nervousness about killing the Saviors as neither have killed another human before. Back on the road, Carol worriedly questions as to why Maggie was allowed to come along on the mission; she then decides to stay behind to stand guard with Maggie. This is a major problem that I have with this episode. Although Maggie is an extremely skilled fighter, her pregnancy presents a perfect reason for her to stay behind in Alexandria. There was no real reason for her to join the mission that promised to be exceptionally dangerous. Rick walks over to Jesus and Andy where he selects a walker head to be used in the ploy. The preparation scenes on the road are eerie and fill with character development.

Andy arrives at the Savior compound. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Andy arrives at the Savior compound. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)

Night falls and Andy drives up to the compound where he meets with two guards. He presents “Gregory’s head” to which they inspect and sadistically joke about before sharing that they are satisfied. The Hilltop hostage, Craig, is returned to Andy. Rick’s group ambush and kill the two guards giving the team clearance into the building. The group enters in military formation and begin searching room by room. Glenn and Heath find a room with two sleeping Saviors. After managing to go nearly six full seasons without killing another human being, Glenn is finally forced to murder. Glenn notices a collection of Polaroid photos depicting the bodies of victims of the Saviors. Meanwhile, Gabriel, Tara, Jesus, Andy and Craig wait outside where they discuss Tara’s recent declaration of love to Denise; Jesus tells her “you know what you’re fighting for.” With the imminent danger of the mission, this quote perfectly represents the motives of the characters.

Inside the compound, Abraham and Sasha work their way through a hallway, checking behind each door. A lone Savior appears and attacks Abraham with a knife. Sasha lunges and repeatedly stabs the man, but not before he is able to pull a fire alarm. Outside, Maggie and Carol hear the alarm sounds; Maggie demands that they go in to help, but Carol sternly tells her to stay put. Tara sends Andy and Craig back to the Hilltop to fulfill the deal. Back inside, an intense firefight erupts between Rick’s group and the now awake Saviors. Each character makes their way through the maze of hallways killing Saviors left and right. A few Saviors manage to flee the compound, but Tara immediately shoots them; this is also the first time that Tara has had to kill other humans. Gabriel approaches an injured Savior and begins reciting a prayer, before shooting him; this is Gabriel’s first human kill as well. Glenn and Heath find themselves being chased by a large group of Saviors. They take refuge in the armory where they quickly arm themselves and unload a torrent of bullets on their assailants. Jesus arrives and kills a lone survivor. Greg Nicotero’s expert skills as a director are put on full display in this sequence. Nicotero once again proves himself to potentially be this series greatest director.

The dust settles and the sun comes up as the group exits the building, relieved that the threat has been eliminated. Heath and Tara head off on their two-week scavenging run. A single Savior barges out of the building on a motorcycle, but Rosita immediately shoots him. Rick rushes over and holds the injured man at gunpoint, but a woman’s voice comes over the man’s walkie-talkie. The woman orders Rick’s group to lower their weapons, but Rick quickly refuses. Ominously, the woman utters “we’ve got a Carol and a Maggie. We’re thinking that’s something you want to chat about.” Who is this unknown woman? It is now clear that Rick severely underestimated the abilities of the Saviors. With only one hostage of their own, will Rick be able to get both Carol and Maggie back?

“Not Tomorrow Yet” is a thrilling ride showcasing the cohesive unit that Rick’s group is when they work together. The desire for safety pushes our characters to commit dark and grim actions. The inclusion of Maggie in the mission is a major problem of the episode, along with the sudden romance between Carol and Tobin. Another prominent problem exists with Morgan, whose story is becoming increasingly stale and repetitive. This episode, however, stands strong and sets up the rest of the season nicely. With two of the group’s integral members being held hostage, how will the group dynamic change? Don’t miss “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘The 100’ – ‘Thirteen’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”

The 100 -- Eliza Taylor as Clarke, Neil Sandilands as Titus, and Alycia Debnam-Carey as Lexa -- Credit: Liane Hentscher/The CW --
The 100 — Eliza Taylor as Clarke, Neil Sandilands as Titus, and Alycia Debnam-Carey as Lexa — Credit: Liane Hentscher/The CW

A perfect mixture of high emotion and science fiction creates one of the greatest episodes of “The 100” to date. “Thirteen” marks a major turning point for this series. Nothing will ever be the same after this shocking and devastating episode of television’s most underrated show.

Following last week’s surprising revelation about the Ark’s history, viewers are given even more information. The narrative shifts to 97 years in the past aboard the space station, Polaris. A.L.I.E’s creator, Becca, is informed by an associate on the ground that A.L.I.E. has begun cracking nuclear launch codes. Becca, her assistant and Polaris’ commander watch in horror as numerous missiles launch across the globe. Sometime later, Becca works hard in her laboratory on a second version of A.L.I.E., but this version will be more compassionate to the needs of humanity, according to Becca. The commander and assistant alert Becca that her actions are dangerous, especially considering the first version is responsible for the nuclear apocalypse on Earth. They also alert Becca that Unity Day is quickly approaching; Unity Day is when the space stations remaining in orbit joined together to create the Ark. Becca shares her plan of installing the second version into the Ark’s network, which would greatly increase the chances of survival for everyone on board. The assistant and commander disagree with the plan, prompting Becca to take control of the station and delay its docking with the rest of the Ark. The flashbacks were nicely done and help to establish a necessary timeline of events.

Back on the ground in present time, Lexa hosts the Grounder holy celebration of Ascension Day. The celebrations are interrupted by a Grounder warrior who delivers Octavia to Lexa as a prisoner of war for the attack on Rendon. Rather than calling for a retaliation attack, Lexa orders for the 12 clans to establish a blockade around Arkadia until the Skaikru put Pike out of power. She also orders that any Sky Person who attempts to cross the blockade shall be killed. The warrior disagrees with Lexa’s proposition and attempts to kill her, but is immediately stopped by Titus. This act demonstrates the loyalty of Titus to Lexa, although, he does question her throughout the episode. Most of Titus’ worries stem from Lexa’s relationship with Clarke.

Titus also remains busy as he continues interrogating Murphy in a Polis temple. Titus leaves and Murphy is able to free himself and begins investigating art on the temple walls. The walls detail an important figure leading people after the nuclear war. Titus returns and Murphy begins explaining everything he knows about Polaris. Titus listens initially, but then proceeds to knock Murphy unconscious. Meanwhile, while waiting for Clarke, Octavia seeks out Indra, who is still recovering from her injuries sustained in “Hakeldama.” Octavia tells Indra to get back on her feet and to get back to work. Indra calls Octavia weak and the two separate; they later reconnect and join hands in unity at the end of the episode. The relationship between Indra and Octavia has always been strained, but this episode seems to mark a turning point between the two.

With the blockade going into effect soon, Clarke realizes that she must head back to Arkadia. This represents an important shift in Clarke’s character. As much as she wants to remain in Polis with Lexa, she realizes that she needs to be with her people if they are going to take Pike out. Before leaving, Clarke visits Lexa in her room to say goodbye. A simple embrace turns into a kiss which leads to sex. This scene highlights the fact that Lexa and Clarke are much more than just friends; they truly care about each other on a deep emotional level. Amidst all of the death and darkness, this scene is lighthearted and cheerful. This happiness is temporary as Clarke leaves to collect her belongings before heading to Arkadia; she discovers Murphy tied up and Titus armed with a gun. He begins shooting at Clarke, who is able to dodge his bullets. Unfortunately, Lexa enters the room and is struck in the stomach by a rogue bullet. Clarke rushes to her aid and tearfully tries to save her, but both Lexa and Titus realize nothing can be done. Titus begins the commander death ritual while asking Lexa for forgiveness; she responds by demanding that he never attack Clarke again. Lexa tries to comfort Clarke by sharing that her spirit will live on through the next commander. In her final breaths, a peaceful Lexa declares “my fight is over.” This incredibly powerful scene highlights the acting talents of Alycia Debnam-Carey.

With the death of Commander Lexa, Titus continues the death ritual. What happens during this ritual links the flashback story to the present. Titus roll’s Lexa’s body over revealing an infinity symbol tattoo on her neck. He makes an incision on the tattoo and a small chip crawls out. Titus claims that the chip is the spirit of the Commander, but Murphy recognizes it as an Artificial Intelligence, similar to A.L.I.E. The final set of flashbacks also reveals a shocking connection to the Grounders. Becca’s delay in the docking with the Ark prompts the main station to fire on Polaris in order to make an example for the other stations. Before Polaris is destroyed, Becca escapes in a drop-ship that eventually lands on the radiation-soaked Earth. She lands in Polis and discovers a large group of survivors to which she tells “I’m here to help.” The camera focuses in on her space suit with the title “Commander.” This is a major story development that serves to explain the origin of the Grounders and link their history to that of the Sky People.

With the heartbreaking death of Lexa, Clarke is sure to radically change. How will this death affect the relations between the Grounders and the Sky People? Chancellor Pike will likely lead to even further problems between the two groups. The clever science fiction aspect of this show is put on full display this episode. Now that A.L.I.E. is known to be the cause of the nuclear apocalypse, what will her next move be? Be sure to tune in to the mid-season finale of “The 100” next Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

TV REVIEW: ‘The Walking Dead’ – ‘Knots Untie’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

The group arrives at the Hilltop Colony. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
The group arrives at the Hilltop Colony. Photo courtesy of AMC

How can the already large world of “The Walking Dead” get even bigger? “Knots Unite” serves to expand the scope by introducing a new community, new characters and a frightening threat. This episode stands strong next to the incredible first two episodes of this half of the season. There are a few slight problems, but the story is headed in the right direction overall.

The episode begins with Abraham and Sasha walking into Alexandria joking about Abraham’s time in the military. Sasha alerts Abraham that they will no longer be working together as she has traded patrol shifts with Eugene, who wants to contribute more. This creates awkward tension as Abraham is visibly disappointed about this change. Back in “Always Accountable,” a possible romantic relationship between Sasha and Abraham was heavily hinted at. The only problem is that Abraham is currently dating Rosita. He is shown in bed with Rosita, where she gives him a necklace made from a cracked piece of the fuel truck’s brake light. Rosita heads off to shower, but Abraham lies in bed thinking about Sasha. This is my major problem of the episode. Love triangles are nothing new to “The Walking Dead,” as seen during the first two seasons with Rick, Lori and Shane. Both Sasha and Rosita have demonstrated their individual strengths as characters, but this new storyline seems to lessen their importance for the purpose of furthering Abraham’s. The love triangle is only seen from the perspective of Abraham, while Rosita is completely in the dark about the situation. Hopefully, this aspect of the story is resolved sooner rather than later and develops each of the three characters equally.

At night, Maggie is shown to be discouraged about the lack of growth by the crops in Alexandria’s new garden. Glenn arrives and tries to reassure her that everything will be fine. Lack of food is a troubling and growing threat that Alexandria faces; Maggie mentions that the current set of rations will only last so long. This problem only makes the arrival of Jesus more important. Following his embarrassing run in with Rick and Michonne last episode, Jesus takes the time to explain himself to the group. He first explains how he managed to escape his holding cell and guards. He also shares that he was able to get a good look at the supplies in Alexandria’s inventory. Jesus then tells Rick and the others about his community and its trading system. He offers to subdue their uncertainties by leading them to his community. Before leaving, Rick talks to Carl about his new relationship with Michonne to which Carl immediately approves of. Rick, Michonne, Daryl, Abraham, Glenn, Maggie and Jesus pile into the RV and head off.

While on the road to the community, Abraham worriedly asks Glenn about Maggie’s pregnancy and the dangers of bringing a child into such a dangerous world. Glenn positively shares that he and Maggie are “trying to build something.” Abraham raises an important point about the situation that everyone surely has on their mind. Maggie, more than anyone, knows that pregnancy can be fatal. She delivered Judith via emergency C-section back in season three, which ended up costing the life of Judith’s mother, Lori. The road trip continues, but Rick notices a recently overturned car. Jesus recognizes this car from his community and exits the RV to investigate. Daryl leads the group to a nearby building that everyone enters, while Maggie watches Jesus outside. They find four of Jesus’ people inside, one of whom is injured. After loading back into the RV, Maggie and Glenn introduce themselves to one of the survivors, a man named Harlan Carson (R. Keith Harris). Harlan shares that before the apocalypse, he was an obstetrician. The RV gets stuck in a patch of mud, but Jesus announces that they have arrived at his community, the Hilltop Colony. The camera pans to show a massive wall made of wooden posts. This scene sets an exhilarating, yet suspicious tone that is reminiscent of the group’s arrival at Alexandria.

Jesus leads the group to the front gates where a brief, but heated conflict erupts between Rick’s group and the spear-wielding guards. Jesus contains the situation and orders the guards to open the gates, revealing to the characters and viewers the quaint community. The Hilltop Colony has an old-time medieval feel with its gardens, livestock pens and blacksmith stations. At the top of a hill, a large mansion rests, which Jesus shares was once a living history museum. He also points out a series of trailers that originated from a FEMA camp. He then leads everyone into the mansion where he introduces them to Hilltop’s leader, Gregory (Xander Berkeley). After noticing the brash nature of Gregory, Rick appoints Maggie to speak on behalf of Alexandria. This moment represents a much-needed turning point for Maggie’s character. After spending the past few seasons in a more limited role, Maggie finally emerges as a leader among the group. Her leadership skills can be attributed to many different factors, including influence from Hershel and Deanna.

Xander Berkeley as Gregory and Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Xander Berkeley as Gregory and Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)

Maggie meets with Gregory in his office to discuss possible options for trading between the two communities. After condescendingly arguing about Alexandria’s low provisions, Gregory offers a deal that would allow Alexandria residents to work at Hilltop in exchange for supplies. Maggie mentions the weakened position that Hilltop is in due to their lack of guns and ammunition. Both Xander Berkeley and Lauren Cohan delivered their scenes expertly to create an interesting dynamic between their two characters. A commotion outside pauses the trade discussions as everyone heads out to investigate; a team of Hilltop residents has returned from a meeting with Negan. The group alerts Gregory that Negan has killed two of their people and is currently holding another hostage. A member of the returning group, Ethan (Justin Kucsulain), approaches Gregory and stabs him in the abdomen, a direct message from Negan. Rick attacks Ethan, who he ultimately stabs in the throat. Abraham, Daryl and Michonne also fight with Hilltop residents, but Jesus manages to put a stop to everything. A highly symbolic moment is shown as Daryl helps Abraham off the ground, and Abraham leaves behind the necklace that Rosita made him. Dr. Carson tends to Gregory, while Jesus calls a meeting with Rick’s group. The fight sequence was very tense and demonstrates the difficulties of getting along with new people.

Inside the mansion, Jesus explains Hilltop’s situation with Negan. He explains that Negan leads a group called The Saviors, this is the same group that Daryl, Sasha and Abraham ran into back in “No Way Out.” Upon finding the Hilltop Colony, Negan and his men immediately killed one of the residents, a 16-year old boy. Since that time, half of Hilltop’s supplies are given to Negan in an agreement that The Saviors will not attack. Daryl and Rick, angry and worried at the situation, offer to kill Negan and his group and to rescue the Hilltop resident being held hostage. Maggie presents the proposition to a bedridden Gregory. After a few minutes of discussion, he accepts her offer. Maggie, however, decides to negotiate further and demands that Hilltop give half of their supplies to Alexandria in exchange for help with Negan and The Saviors. Gregory reluctantly agrees and the group begins loading supplies into the RV. Before leaving, Glenn and Maggie visit the medical trailer where Dr. Carson performs an ultrasound, giving the first look at Glenn and Maggie’s healthy baby. Jesus and a Hilltop resident named Andy (Jeremy Palko) accompany the group in the RV. The episode ends with Glenn passing around the ultrasound picture to Michonne, Daryl and Abraham. This show always perfectly places moments of levity in times of intensity and fear. Now that Hilltop and Alexandria have joined forces, how will Negan and The Saviors come into the picture?

“Knots Untie” continues with the great pacing of this half season. The introduction of the Hilltop Colony and its characters pushes the story in a refreshing and compelling direction. Terror is right on the horizon as the introduction of the infamous Negan approaches. Is war imminent or can the conflict be settled peacefully? My guess is that we are about to enter very deadly territory. Don’t miss “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘The 100’ – ‘Bitter Harvest’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”

The 100 -- Devon Bostick as Jasper, Paige Turco as Abby, and Isaiah Washington as Jaha -- Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
The 100 — Devon Bostick as Jasper, Paige Turco as Abby, and Isaiah Washington as Jaha — Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

Violence, betrayal and mystery are three words to describe the latest episode of “The 100.” As the major conflicts intensify, some relationships are put to the ultimate test. “Bitter Harvest” suffers from some of the problems of previous episodes, but maintains the intriguing and mysterious tone that this season has going for it.

The shocking declaration from Lexa in last week’s episode that “blood must not have blood” is truly put to the test this episode. With the horrific slaughter of nearly 300 Grounder warriors, Lexa’s leadership is constantly brought into question. The leadership skills of Clarke are also brought into question, specifically by Lexa’s advisor, Titus (Neil Sandilands). Clarke receives a special delivery from King Roan of the Ice Nation, the last of the Mountain Men, Emerson (Toby Levins). Rather than deciding the fate of the prisoner herself, Lexa allows for Clarke to pick the sentence for Emerson, either banishment or death. This creates an interesting dilemma for Clarke; killing Emerson would be the opposite of her new non-violent way of leadership, yet the atrocities committed by Emerson at Mount Weather definitely warrant extreme punishment. Throughout the episode, Clarke is left to deliberate on the choice in front of her. This also represents the moral dilemmas that the characters face on this show.

The path of war that Pike is leading the Sky People down escalates further this episode as his plans are revealed. Under the guidance of Pike, several residents from the Farm Station come to the realization that a long term solution is needed for food shortage problems. While outside scouting for soil and water samples, a group including Monty’s mom, Hannah, come across a child from a local Grounder village. They realize that the child is somehow a threat that needs to be eliminated. This scene demonstrates the warped mentality that Pike and his militia have. Thankfully, Octavia is nearby and manages to rescue the child while avoiding being captured herself. At Arkadia, Kane and Miller team up to spy on Pike in order to relay information to Octavia on the outside. Miller places a listening device in Pike’s office which allows for his plan to be brought out in the open. According to the samples taken, the best place to grow crops lies in the location of a Grounder village called Rendon. Pike announces that the residents of Rendon will be wiped out so that Arkadia can expand. The entire underground revolution aspect lead by Kane is a major highlight of the episode. Kane attempts to stop Bellamy, but soon realizes that Pike’s influence has clouded Bellamy’s judgment. He seeks advice from Abby, who gives him a kiss on the cheek, which she claims is a sign of hope; the dynamic between Abby and Kane is always incredibly rich.

With an attack imminent, Octavia rushes to Rendon to warn the residents. They quickly realize that she is Skaikru and ignore her calls for an evacuation. Fortunately, the young boy that Octavia saved earlier appears and vouches for her. The villagers decide that they will set a trap using poison sap; Octavia tries to stop them and is abruptly knocked unconscious. Night falls and Pike’s team marches into the seemingly abandoned village. Octavia wakes up and begins screaming at Bellamy to alert him of the trap. Her warning comes too late as the villagers set the sap on fire creating a poisonous smoke. Monroe becomes surrounded by the smoke prompting Monty to rescue her. Unfortunately, he is too late and Monroe succumbs to the effects of the smoke. This is a major problem of the episode. The character of Monroe was originally introduced back in the first season and although she is relatively minor, her death feels empty, lackluster and forced for the sake of shock value. Even her close friend, Bellamy doesn’t appear to be exceedingly moved by her death. Hannah places blame on Octavia for the death of Monroe. What problems will this create for Octavia? Surely Pike will want revenge for what happened.

After being given until sundown to make her decision, Clarke chooses to visit Emerson. This scene brings to light the harshness of what Clarke did to save her people at Mount Weather. Emerson shares that 26 children, along with many more adults, were killed because of Clarke’s actions. Emerson’s two children were among the many that were murdered at the hands of Clarke in order to save her people. Clarke is most definitely haunted by what she did, but if she had not done it, nearly everyone she cares about would be dead. The cinematography of this scene is stunning and both Eliza Taylor and Toby Levins deliver outstanding performances. Clarke then meets with Titus, who further questions her intentions. Clarke proclaims that all of Skaikru should not be punished for the acts of a few rogue agents. Titus counters her argument, using her actions at Mount Weather as an example of her complete hypocrisy. Later that night, a death ceremony for Emerson is held in the throne room. Clarke is unable to go through with killing Emerson and realizes that the “blood must not have blood” motto has to apply to all situations, not just those that benefit her. Titus is angry, but Lexa gives an impassioned speech about her vision of a new world that does not use violence as a means to create peace; Lexa then banishes Emerson.

The other major storyline revolves around Jaha, A.L.I.E. and the City of Light. The previous episode ends with Raven taking the pill which freed her of her pain. After this, she becomes an advocate for everyone to cross over to the “city.” Jaha essentially begins handing out “keys” like they are candy. Abby becomes suspicious of what these mysterious “keys” really are and questions Jaha, who shows signs of slight memory loss. He explains that the pills he is distributing link up with pain receptors in the brain stem. Jasper is tempted by the promise of no pain in the City of Light, but Abby slyly stops him. Meanwhile, Raven assists A.L.I.E. in locating the second version of her Artificial Intelligence system, named Becca. Raven is unable to find the system anywhere in the Ark’s network. Jaha then reveals that Becca may have been on the Ark’s lesser known thirteenth station that was blown out of the sky long ago. He shares that few people knew about the station, named Polaris. Before the episode ends, Titus is shown to be torturing Murphy for information about the City of Light pill. The camera then pans to a piece of deteriorated metal with the name “Polaris” on it. Are you confused? I most definitely am, but this story is also much more interesting than it was at the beginning of the season. This storyline is a true rejuvenation to the science fiction aspect of this series. Are the Grounders somehow connected to Polaris? What is the real meaning behind the City of Light?

So far, this season of “The 100” has delivered some of the show’s best storytelling and acting. “Bitter Harvest” is yet another compelling chapter in this incredibly underrated series. With almost constant threats the severity of the character’s situations makes for profound intensity. The merging of the various storylines is also nicely done. The problems are recurring and relate to inconsistencies in certain characters. Overall, however, this season is most certainly headed in the right direction. Be sure to tune in to “The 100” next Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

TV REVIEW: ‘The Walking Dead’ – ‘The Next World’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

Tom Payne as Paul "Jesus" Rovia and Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes (Photo courtesy of AMC)
Tom Payne as Paul “Jesus” Rovia and Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes (Photo courtesy of AMC)

The world of “The Walking Dead” is truly growing and the newest episode clearly demonstrates it. Following the devastating and climactic mid-season premiere episode last week, “The Next World” slows things down a bit to develop and flesh out a handful of the characters. A true sense of calm is felt within the walls of Alexandria, but viewers soon discover a larger world exists outside.

The episode picks up about two months after the events of “No Way Out” and life in Alexandria is returning to some sense of normalcy. Rick gets dressed to head out on a supply run with Daryl, but not before playing with Judith and joking with Michonne about a shortage of toothpaste. We also get our first look at a still recovering Carl, who wears a bandage over his eye-gunshot wound. Meanwhile, Denise and Daryl go over a list of needed supplies, including medicine and food. She also asks him to bring back soda as a surprise for Tara, who is about to leave with Heath on an extended supply run. Maggie checks in on Enid and encourages her to get more involved in the community. Before they leave, Eugene presents Rick and Daryl with a map and instructions to find sorghum, which Eugene deems necessary for solving their food shortage. These scenes were extremely enjoyable to watch, especially after all of the death and despair in the previous episode. Alexandria is shown to be expanding and growing similarly to how Deanna planned.

While standing guard on a lookout post, Michonne notices Spencer walking into the forest with a shovel strapped to his shoulder; she leaves her post and follows him. Being that Spencer is the sole survivor of his family, he shares with Michonne that Alexandria is no longer his home, rather it’s just the place that he lives. He also tells Michonne that he just wants to be alone, but she refuses to leave him, referencing her friendship and appreciation of Deanna as the reason why. Michonne also shares the discussion she and Deanna had in “Start to Finish” about Michonne needing to find out what she truly wants in life. Elsewhere in the woods, Carl and Enid spend time snacking and reading comic books. Enid questions Carl about why they spend so much time outside of Alexandria to which Carl responds by saying “because we’re kids.” They hear a noise, but quickly realize that it’s only Michonne and Spencer. Moments later they are spooked by another noise; this time, however, it’s a walker. Enid tells Carl to leave it alone, but Carl has plans for the walker and tells Enid to go home.

On the road, Rick and Daryl discuss their positions on bringing new people into Alexandria. Rick believes that new people should be allowed in, while Daryl is understandably hesitant. His worry may stem from the encounter he had in “Always Accountable” that led to his motorcycle and crossbow being stolen, as well as, the explosive run in with the group of Saviors. They discover a sorghum barn with a truck inside packed full with supplies, a rare and exciting find. Before heading back to Alexandria, they stop at a gas station where Daryl finds a soda machine filled with a few cans of orange Crush. Out of nowhere, a mysterious masked man with long hair crashes into Rick. At gunpoint, the man explains that he was running away from walkers. Rick and Daryl introduce themselves to the man who reveals his name to be Paul Rovia (Tom Payne), although he also goes by the name, Jesus. Rick begins asking the famous “recruiting questions,” but Daryl cuts him off and Jesus leaves. Rick then decides that they will follow and watch Jesus to see where he goes. However, a loud noise from behind the gas station prompts the two to investigate. They discover the noise was a distraction set by Jesus so he could steal the truck full of supplies.

Back with Michonne and Spencer, they notice Carl leading a walker through the woods. The walker is revealed to be Deanna, who must have wandered outside of Alexandria in the chaos of “No Way Out.” Spencer pulls out his knife and approaches his undead mother before tearfully stabbing her in the back of the head. Seeing Deanna as a walker was a major highlight as Tovah Feldshuh always gives a remarkable performance. Spencer and Michonne dig a grave for Deanna in the forest with an appropriately placed “D” carved into a tree. Michonne assures Spencer that he still has a family in the survivors in Alexandria. This was an incredibly touching and emotional scene that provides necessary closure to Spencer. Both Austin Nichols and Danai Gurira gave exceptional performances, as well.

Spencer and Michonne encounter Deanna as a walker. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Spencer and Michonne encounter Deanna as a walker. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)

Back on the road, Daryl and Rick run after their stolen truck. They manage to catch up after the truck breaks down, allowing for Rick and Daryl to catch Jesus and hold him at gunpoint. Jesus is able to put up a strong fight, however. They tie him up and drive off, but not before Daryl flips the middle finger at the stranger. While driving, they notice another farm and Rick begins driving through a field to explore. A thumping sound is heard by Daryl from the roof of the truck; he quickly realizes the sound is Jesus. Rick slams on the brakes, causing Jesus to fly off the truck and land on the ground. He stands up and runs, but Daryl jumps out of the truck and chases after him. Being that Jesus is unarmed, Daryl sees no reason to harm him and instead chases him around the field. Rick parks the truck to kill some nearby walkers. Jesus tries to steal the truck once again while Daryl hurriedly tries to stop him. A walker nearly takes a bite out of Daryl, but Jesus saves him. While fighting, they accidentally hit the gear shift causing the truck to reverse into a pond. They jump out, but Jesus is knocked unconscious. Daryl and Rick decide to tie him up and make their way back to Alexandria. The entire sequence of Rick and Daryl trying to capture Jesus was well done and humorous to watch as Daryl always throws a joke into hectic situations.

Back in Alexandria, Carl and Judith sit on their porch and stargaze. Michonne appears and scolds Carl for leading Deanna through the woods. Carl explains that he knew Spencer needed to be the one to put her down claiming “it should be someone who loved her.” This scene highlights the sheer amount of care and love that Michonne has for Carl. Rick and Daryl arrive at the gates of Alexandria with Jesus still unconscious. The camera focuses in on a new sign outside that reads “Welcome to the Alexandria Safe Zone. Mercy for the lost. Vengeance for the plunderers.” They bring Jesus to Denise for a quick check up before locking him in a townhouse basement with water and a note. Over at Rick’s house, Michonne and Rick plop on the couch and chat about their day. Rick hands Michonne a pack of mints and their fingers interlock. They passionately kiss on the couch; they are later shown sleeping together in a bedroom. Before the episode ends, Jesus appears in the room as Rick and Michonne leap out of bed naked and armed with their weapons; Jesus then tells Rick “we need to talk.” For many fans like myself, a romantic relationship between Rick and Michonne has been long awaited. Will their relationship last or is this just a one-time thing?

“The Next World” is a much needed slower paced episode that serves to further develop the characters. The introduction of Jesus is an interesting turn in the overall story. Where does he come from and can he be trusted? Fans of the comic-series will know these answers. The growth and expansion of Alexandria also represents a shift in the story as each character helps in rebuilding the community. Be sure to tune in to “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘The 100’ – ‘Hakeldama’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The 100”

Bellamy and Pike. (Photo courtesy of The CW)
Bob Morley as Bellamy and Michael Beach as Pike. (Photo courtesy of The CW)

After last week’s problematic episode, “The 100” gets back on track with an exciting and emotional hour of television. There are still some problems, but the story seems to have shifted into a new direction that may resolve these problems. With the threat of war in the air, the loyalties of each character are truly tested. The new villain starts to fully take shape as another potential peril presents itself to the community.

The title of this week’s episode, “Hakeldama”, translates to “field of blood” in the language of Aramaic. This word holds a very vivid and literal meaning in the world of “The 100.” Very soon after Pike’s election as Chancellor of the Sky People, he leads a militia of soldiers to the field where Indra has her army camped. Pike and his militia use the cover of night to mercilessly slaughter the entire army of nearly 300 warriors. Bellamy, who has essentially become Pike’s second in command, convinces Pike to allow Indra to be kept alive. Pike and his team return to Arkadia where they declare to the rest of the Sky People that war with the Grounders is coming.

Following the death of Queen Nia, Lexa and Clarke make their way to Indra’s camp where they discover the horrifying sight of hundreds of dead grounders. Lexa immediately orders for an army to be sent to attack Arkadia, but Clarke demands that Lexa wait for more information about what has happened; Lexa decides to hold Clarke as a prisoner. This moment represents a massive shift in Clarke and Lexa’s relationship. They have had a strained and difficult friendship, but lately they have been on solid terms. Friendship comes secondary to Lexa after her people, however. Clarke is able to convince Indra to contact Kane via radio to better explain the situation.

Over in Arkadia, Kane realizes that he cannot leave without arousing suspicion, so he enlists Octavia in relaying information to the Grounders. Kane, Abby and Lincoln all voice their concerns about Pike’s leadership and the dangers of a war with the Grounders. Throughout the episode, Pike becomes more and more unhinged. He shares a plan to eliminate a local Grounder village to secure a clear perimeter around Arkadia. Bellamy shares that he believes that killing the 300 warriors was going too far, but Pike shuts him down. Pike also decides that the sick and injured Grounders under Abby’s care are no longer to be treated, citing them as a waste of resources. Lincoln vocally and physically objects to the heinous plot of Pike. Abby’s patients, along with Lincoln, are interned indefinitely by Pike. This act clearly shows the pure hatred that Pike has for Grounders, even though the viewers and characters both know that many Grounders (Lincoln included) are friendly and peaceful toward the Sky People. The storyline with Pike creates a very interesting dynamic and sets an exceptionally dark tone.

Octavia finally makes her way to the field where Pike’s team massacred Indra’s army. She explains the situation with Pike and offers to sneak Clarke into Arkadia where she can speak to Bellamy. At the Arkadia prison, Octavia grabs the attention of Bellamy by lashing out at him for allowing Lincoln to be arrested; she then leads him to a room where Clarke waits. The relationship between Clarke and Bellamy is truly tested in this scene like never before. Clarke places much of the blame on Bellamy, claiming that everything would have worked out considering the Ice Nation Queen was killed. Bellamy wonders how Clarke can trust Lexa after her betrayal at Mount Weather. I can understand where Bellamy is coming from as Lexa is far from trustworthy, but he still should realize that a war with the Grounders will not end well for anyone. Bob Morley gave a remarkable performance as Bellamy this episode, specifically in his scene with Eliza Taylor as Clarke. Bellamy takes Clarke prisoner, but Octavia arrives and manages to free her and the two escape with the help of Abby and Kane. Clarke reunites with Lexa and pleads for her to reconsider fighting against Skaikru by offering an alternative. Rather than going to war, Clarke tells Lexa to end the constant cycle of violence and to establish a new and peaceful way of dealing with problems. Lexa immediately agrees and declares “blood must not have blood.” This is a rather odd declaration from Lexa, who has been shown to be ruthless when it comes to defending her people. Is Lexa hiding something or is she actually willing to forgive Skaikru for the genocide of her people?

This episode also features the return of Jaha and A.L.I.E., who arrive at Arkadia with their visions of the future. For some unknown reason, A.L.I.E. is not visible to anyone other than Jaha. Throughout the episode, she guides him while voicing her opinions. Jaha reunites with Abby and Kane, who instantly recognize a change in his character and demeanor. The City of Light becomes the topic of discussion between Abby, Kane and Jaha. He also preaches about the city to several other residents, including Raven, who voices complete distrust and anger over his claims of “no pain.” This is personal to Raven more than anyone due to her worsening leg injury. Jaha gives Raven a chip to gain access to the city, which she quickly rejects, but later swallows. Almost instantly, Raven is healed of her injury, allowing her to walk without leg braces. A.L.I.E. appears to her and shares that it is time to get back to work. The entire concept of the City of Light is excruciatingly confusing, but also intriguing. Is Raven really healed of her injuries or is it simply an illusion? Will Jaha be able to convince others to join him in the city? Does A.L.I.E. have sinister ulterior motives? Hopefully these questions will be answered sooner rather than later.

Overall, “Hakeldama” is a strong episode. Much of the problems stem from inconsistencies that certain characters, Bellamy included, are portraying. The introduction of Pike allows for numerous internal conflicts within Arkadia. These conflicts lead to tension between the Sky People and the Grounders that will surely develop further as the season progresses. The return of Jaha also creates a refreshing shift in the story. Is war still a possibility? Who will be the next to cross over to the City of Light? Be sure to tune in to “The 100” next Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

TV REVIEW: ‘The Walking Dead’ – ‘No Way Out’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

Jessie screams as Sam is devoured by walkers. (Photo courtesy of AMC)
Jessie screams as Sam is devoured by walkers. (Photo courtesy of AMC)

For nearly two months, fans of “The Walking Dead” have been eagerly waiting to find out the fates of our beloved characters. The return to a walker-filled Alexandria delivered on every single level imaginable. Without any doubts, this episode is one of the series’ greatest, possibly the best ever. With threats around every single corner, there is truly no way out.

Beginning the episode with Daryl, Sasha and Abraham creates one of the most epic cold opens that I have seen on television. With the nefarious band of gun-wielding, motorcyclists known as the Saviors in their way, the trio are stopped dead in their tracks. One of the men (Christopher Berry) declares that everything, including their weapons, now belongs to a man named Negan. After manically teasing about killing Sasha and Abraham, the group of Saviors meet their explosive end by way of Daryl armed with an RPG. What consequences will Daryl and the group face after the murder of this group of Saviors? My guess is that Negan (to be played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) will not be happy about the deaths of his men.

Picking up right where the mid-season finale left off, this episode continues as Rick, Carl, Judith, Jessie, Sam, Ron, Gabriel and Michonne make their way through the streets of Alexandria, hand-to-hand and covered in walker guts. After reaching a relatively safe spot to catch their breath, Rick quietly shares a new plan of heading to the quarry to gather weapons and vehicles to lead the herd away. Gabriel, however, offers to take Judith to Alexandria’s church where he can better protect her. Jessie asks Gabriel to take Sam with him, but Sam refuses, telling her, “I can keep going.” Rick accepts his offer and Gabriel begins making his way through the herd with Judith under his walker poncho. This scene greatly develops the character of Gabriel, who has long been seen as selfish and cowardly; the offer to protect Judith also demonstrates the role of community in raising and protecting children.

Elsewhere in Alexandria, Tara, Rosita and Eugene tend to Carol and Morgan as they regain consciousness following their impassioned fight in the mid-season finale. Carol takes a gun and begins sweeping the townhouse for threats. Glenn and Enid make their way into the church where they come up with a plan to save Maggie, who is trapped on a rickety platform surrounded by walkers. Glenn gives an impassioned speech to Enid about the importance of living for the people that have died and lists his deceased friends as examples as to why he keeps fighting. Outside, the Wolf has Denise at gunpoint as he formulates an escape plan from Alexandria. Denise attempts to talk the Wolf into letting her go, but he declines. A gap in the walker herd opens allowing for the Wolf and Denise to run for the exit. Walkers swarm around them and the Wolf protects Denise, but a lone walker manages to bite the Wolf on the arm. Denise tells him that she will save his life if he will take her to the infirmary. They find a temporary safe spot where Denise points out that the Wolf saved her life. They begin running, but before they can make it to the infirmary, Carol appears and shoots the Wolf. Before he is devoured by walkers, he yells at Denise, “Go!” Did she actually have an impact on the Wolf? It appears that the “all life is precious” way of life that Morgan promotes may have actually worked. During his time on the show, Benedict Samuel gave an incredible performance as the terrifying Alpha Wolf.

Daryl fires an RPG. (Photo courtesy of AMC)
Daryl fires an RPG. (Photo courtesy of AMC)

Night has fallen as Rick leads his small group through the herd. Sam notices a young boy that has turned into a walker and immediately freezes in place. Rick, Jessie and Ron fearfully plead for Sam to keep moving as he cries out in terror. The next 60 seconds are some of the most disturbing and unsettling moments I have ever seen on television. Walkers, drawn by the sound of Sam’s wails, begin tearing into his face as he calls out for his mother. Yes, “The Walking Dead” actually went there.

Jessie begins screaming as she watches her young son being torn apart in front of her. Her screams bring on more walkers that devour Jessie as a horrified Rick watches on. Jessie and Carl are still holding hands and Carl is unable to break away from her grip. Rick steps forward and uses his hatchet to chop Jessie’s arm off as flashes of her character’s time on the series flash on the screen; an abrupt end to Rick and Jessie’s short-lived romance (this is even more tragic considering this episode first aired on Valentine’s Day). Ron witnesses the bloody ordeal and arms himself with a gun, which he points directly at Rick. Before he can shoot Rick, however, Michonne uses her katana to impale Ron through the chest. The gun goes off as Ron falls to the ground and is consumed by walkers. The camera turns to Carl who was caught in the way of Ron’s bullet; a clear gunshot wound is present right on Carl’s eye socket; blood drips down his face. He utters a simple “Dad?” before collapsing to the ground. Rick picks him up and starts running toward the infirmary as Michonne clears the path ahead.

At the infirmary, Denise, Aaron, Spencer and Heath scramble after seeing Rick carrying Carl. Rick rushes in and places Carl in the care of Denise; he tearfully begs for her to save Carl’s life. Michonne stands by Carl and assists Denise as Rick looks out the window at the enormous herd of walkers. Much like after the death of his wife, Lori, Rick redirects his energy into killing walkers. He bursts out of the infirmary with his hatchet in hand and begins slaughtering anything that moves. Michonne kisses Carl on the forehead and rushes outside to join Rick. The survivors remaining in their homes take notice and begin arming themselves with weapons before heading out onto the streets. The next several minutes are an epic montage of walker-killing action. Each character (including the various background Alexandrians) use their arsenal of weapons to eliminate walkers. Self-confessed coward, Eugene, steps up and shares that “This is a story people are going to tell.”

As the walker bloodbath is happening, Glenn and Enid fight their way to the platform that Maggie is on. Enid climbs up to help Maggie while Glenn becomes surrounded by walkers; Maggie ferociously screams as she watches Glenn’s struggle. Right before Glenn is devoured, Abraham and Sasha appear with their machine guns blazing. After the near-death of Glenn in “Thank You,” this scene was incredibly tense and frightening. Daryl drives the fuel truck inside Alexandria, where he unloads the fuel into the pond. He then uses the RPG to create a gigantic explosion that draws the attention of numerous walkers. This distraction allows for the survivors to kill the rest of the walkers. Clearing Alexandria of the walker herd is shown to be a true community effort. Rick’s group and the Alexandrians come together to fight not just for their own lives, but for the lives of their fellow survivors. The episode continues the next morning as thousands of bodies litter the streets. Rick sits with an unconscious Carl in the infirmary where he shares his vision for the future, a future that he wants to show Carl. After all of the death and despair of this episode, Carl slowly wakes up as the screen cuts to black. This injury will surely change the character of Carl forever.

“No Way Out” is truly a masterpiece in every sense of the word. The deaths of Jessie, Ron and Sam are emotionally taxing and devastating. Their deaths will surely affect Rick and the rest of the characters. The sense of community was put on full display; Alexandria will rebuild and come back stronger than ever. Every single character is given their moment to shine and let out their inner badass. The threat of Negan still looms as the world of “The Walking Dead” expands. Be sure to tune in to “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.