The Extended Bible Battle Halftime Show: On Longmire

I revisited Longmire. My earlier dismissal was made after viewing only one episode, and based mostly on the fact that I found it too slow, and probably aimed at an older crowd. However; armed with the recommendations of two friends I ranged further into the interior of the modern wild west of Wyoming, encountered and shot three episodes. What follows is the field-dressing.

Meet Walt Longmire. Imagine a middle-aged Charleton Heston, or Mike Rowe. Now imagine he’s a sheriff in Wyoming who is is just coming out of a year-long crippling depression brought on by the death of his wife. Picture more that he has handyman talents. You can see an in-progress bathroom remodel while we watch him shower. Single, handy, lovelorn, dangerous, and naked; just like a real cowboy in a romance novel.  I am convinced broadcast restrictions were the only thing defending me from a wide-angle shot of Walt shaming a horse.

Walt has three deputies, but only one of them is a solid helper. Big surprise: It’s a good-looking woman who acts like a man and has a man’s name. Vic has Real Big Girl Job credentials as a former big city detective. She is constantly looking out for Walt’s best interest; as evidenced by her constant low-level harping. Speaking of the musical: She strip-dances in the second episode.

I’m a big fan of cop-buddy shows, and Walt’s buddy is Henry Standing Bear. They’ve been friends for 38 years, and it is revealed that Henry is trusted with Walt’s biggest, darkest secrets. On the other hand: Walt is a white guy, so when a generic Indian is implicated in a crime Walt immediately suspects his best friend and most-trusted advisor. This way we know that at heart Walt is a racist who wouldn’t put anything past any Indian. Luckily, Tonto–I mean Henry–is in fact an Indian and, like all Indians, utterly magnanimous and understanding of how Walt, like all Whites, can’t help himself.

Before his wife died, Walt was able to reproduce..once. Luckily it was a woman so he is spared having to kill or embarrass a challenger of his own blood. An obvious superior, Cady is a spunky and single 30-something career woman who is screwing Walt’s actual challenger: Branch. Branch is good-looking, slick, cocky, and  it is shown that he stinks at simple home repairs, and we never see him anywhere near a horse.

The show is episodic (each show has a definite beginning and end) rather than serial (think of soap operas or comic books) which I prefer. While I like over-arching story lines, I can’t stand jumps back and forth between scenes that are cut to create one, long, dramatic high. Serials can run indefinitely because the meat and message of the story–having been thoroughly mutilated into pink slime–is secondary. The only easily discernible product is: Drama! It’s also a good way to hide a message that might otherwise be less palatable.

An episodic format means every episode has a distinct story with a distinct message. That message can be simply entertaining[1], or it can contain a moral message, or both. It’s usually both because writers and directors are going to be strongly influenced by their worldview because how we view the world informs how we tell others what we saw. I explain this because both common decency and Christian vigil demand that we try to understand what we are being told, and from that judge rightly. Yet what I encounter repeatedly is protestations that the message doesn’t matter; that if we are entertained, then the message is unimportant. No. Either way it is important to understand what is being said to us. It’s not necessary that we reject every show that contains an imperfect message or advocates some immorality. We should not be fools, either. Keeping that in mind…

(spoilers ahead)

The first episode is about a couple of Indians who are running a brothel out of an RV. One of the prostitutes is a missing teenage girl. Lots of easy-to-agree-with targets for the audience in this one. Who doesn’t like to hate pimps? Or racist white guys (see: Henry)? Or Her absent father tries to rescue her and gets killed in the process.  It is explained that he is a good man despite his total absence from his daughter’s life. From that I can only deduce that fathers are vestigial bits of the environment, from the producers’ points of view.

The second episode drives home the point that fathers are to be spectators of their children’s lives; especially a daughter. A teenage stripper is found dead under suspicious circumstances. The investigation reveals that she is a Mennonite on rumspringa. Her father is a heartless bastard who refuses to let his wife talk to their daughter, but also demanded the older son watch over that same daughter. The son is to either bring her back or never return. The Mennonite father also prevents Walt from talking to the Mennonite wife during the course of the investigation.

Meanwhile–back at the ranch–Walt’s daughter is sleeping with one of his deputies, Branch. Walt deduces that she’s seeing somebody because there has been some sub-Longmire-standard home repair done at her house. She lies and says she’s not seeing anybody, but you can’t fool a romance-novel sheriff. He asks around, and everyone tells him to butt out of it.

At one point during the investigation, Branch (guy cop with girl name) and Vic (girl cop with guy name) investigate the nightclub in case there are any fathers that need killing[2] to see if they can find out about the girl. No one will talk about the stripper (because they love her so much, see) until Vic proves herself as a real Big Girl City Cop with an empowering revelation of skin…she strips. This way we know that (despite the male name) she’s all woman, all business, and there is no shame in her game. It’s also a chance to show up Branch while proving that men only think with their dicks. In this one clip there’s a wave for every kind of feminist to surf.

We learn that the Mennonite stripper didn’t want to strip. She was doing it only to escape from her tyrannical father. She was killed accidentally by her brother, who was trying to return her to her father as he was directed. Walt goes back to the Mennonite home to report the conclusions of the investigation. He makes a point of ignoring the father and talking solely to the mother–because the father is a jerk who oppresses his wife and daughter. Then Walt goes home, calls his own daughter, and apologizes for being concerned about her life. The juxtaposition of the two fathers and two daughters could not have been clearer: Bad dads get involved. Good dads don’t. Daughters of protective fathers become strippers and die. Daughters of liberating fathers become lawyers and have sex with handsome men.

In the third episode… Look: What’s important in the third episode is that the antagonist is a husband and father. Predictably, he’s also a fraud, liar, wife-beater, coward, and then dead. The end.

[1] Michael Bay is the current master of stories that are simply meant to entertain. His films are religiously devoid of any worldview other than “It’s awesome when good-looking people make things go BOOM!”

[2] Sorry. I got lulled by the pattern.

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57 thoughts on “The Extended Bible Battle Halftime Show: On Longmire

  1. I barely got through your summary, I have no idea how you got through three episodes without your eyes or ears bleeding.

    I’m curious to see how empath and Chesterton reapond and if they agree with your summary or not

  2. The juxtaposition of the two fathers and two daughters could not have been clearer: Bad dads get involved. Good dads don’t. Daughters of protective fathers become strippers and die. Daughters of liberating fathers become lawyers and have sex with handsome men.

    Slight quibble. Is it so much that bad dads “get involved” or that bad dads interfere. We want involved fathers. On that every one agrees. It’s when those fathers interfere when their girls want to be “liberated” that things get all icky and abusive.

    Short version: Pay her cell phone bill. But don’t read her text messages.

  3. @Elspeth

    That is one sorry example of involved, but I do not doubt that most people would agree.

    Of course, my daughter wouldn’t care if I asked to see her phone. Those horrors have transpired in this dungeon that we call home.

  4. Of course, my daughter wouldn’t care if I asked to see her phone. Those horrors have transpired in this dungeon that we call home.

    It’s not an issue in our house either. No one hides their phones or texts here an none of the girls goes apoplectic if we look in their phone.

    Of course, none of them even had their own cell phone before the age of 18 in this house. There was a shared phone and if there was a need for an extra, the child who had need would take my phone since I was home so often I barely needed it. People thought we were terribly restrictive parents.

    I figured the cell phone example was one people would readily identified with. We know so many parents whose kids (well, whose daughters) were getting into all kinds of trouble as teens that the parents found out about because they checked the cell phone, and the kid (usually a daughter) was outraged that their parents invaded their privacy (interfered) by reading texts on a phone that Dad was paying for (because that’s what a good “involved” dad does).

  5. @Elspeth

    I figured the cell phone example was one people would readily identified with.

    Yes, I think it’s a good example of how disjointed our emotions can be. And even here I received flak…at first. Then I neutralized those defenses. Ha.

  6. I tried to watch Longmire. I got through exactly three episodes before I was entirely bored with it and stopped watching. Your observations on relationships in the show are spot on. I was immediately irritated with the show when the awesome side-kick partner was a hot chick. Sick of that.

  7. Chad/Cane

    First Cane, I cant tell where and to what degree you are coming down on the show from this review. I see you mention things that could make men in these parts cringe, some because they are “of course” situations (spunky daughter, tough hot deputy, men as ruffians in moral criminal dilemmas, etc) but I cannot suss out derision from your descriptions. So, I’m asking.

    Chad, “eyes bleed”? Really?

    I have to guard myself (and have sincerely actively started doing so as evidenced by my decrease in blogging on every little thing that contacts my button zone gender wise) to not jump on everything as such in programming that is available. One very compelling reason is, frankly I’ll ask that those who would reject Longmire or something else for reasons that involve its attempt to give people what they want and to offer a glimpse of race and gender utopia America circa 2014, Please describe programming that would meet your expectations. Not existing programming, write me a pilot synopsis.

    Then tell me if some exists, what it is, and why. When you do, it will either be 3rd rate productions with lame acting and no audience (I’m not suggesting ratings mean quality), or I could watch it and point out which other values YOU are compromising in order to get your manosphere preferences stroked.

    If you dislike the program because it bores you etc. Fine. I don’t argue matters of taste. I cannot convince someone by argument that bread pudding is awesome. But over filtering with what I perceive is the filter will make you go Howard Hughs, stock up on glass jars and toss the nail clippers. I could highlight many overt positive values reflected in the show. Plus, while I also find it silly to have butt kicking babes, that’s just fiction and as Ive said to my wife during episodes, the gal deputy actually pulls it off (the tough) in one of the least offensive ways Ive seen.

    I personally have enjoyed all but 2 or 3 episodes a lot, and those were OK. Episodic with uber themes to carry one from show to show and balanced of the two very well. I get a nice vicarious man feeling from Longmire and his commandingly gravely voice and imperfect morality. More, there have been some scenes, individual 5 minute segments with visual and music and hue that rose to my criteria for excellent. We are deep in season 2. A recent episode had a scene that if it was even a tiny bit off would have been laughably trite and silly, but was outstanding. While Lou Diamond Phillip’s character speaks with an elderly Indian woman in Denver about hiding some info from police regarding Longmire and him belong there during the fated Denver wife murder days, the two are discussing some Indian lore about a warriors chat with “the great spirit”. Flashing back and forth was Longmire in the middle of nowhere releasing a majestic horse that had come into the Sheriffs care in a crime and the mountains and sky, the music and the poignant slowing, turning of the horse after running off, and returning to Walt’s side. Cinematic excellence in that scene. The show has many. Most episodes send me to Google to get the name of a song/artist they used and Ive found outstanding music through the show.

    Another plus is that we don’t feel drawn to the show with any regularity so we can see whats happening. But when we do sit together to watch, its always short listed. Another thing. Ive only seen a handful of actors that mistakenly made the cut.

    You might watch some classics like Little House on the Praire, The Waltons, etc. and see that buried in those are insidious things we didnt catch if we are old enough to have watched them in real time. This urge to take the displeasure of Fireproof and Courageous and carry that baggage into every show works well for those who ultimately decide to toss TV altogether.

  8. Finally, forgot, there is a scene where the hot chick hauls of and punches a man , cant remember who, its out on the highway with cars stopped on the road, and its done in a better way than common chick toughs. She is not portrayed as a martial arts or fighting expert. She awkwardly hits the guy in the face defending Walt, her hand hurts and it showed it as if she had lost control of her emotions, not that she is a reliable second in a fist fight

  9. @Empath

    Cane, I cant tell where and to what degree you are coming down on the show from this review.

    Short answer: I’m not watching any more episodes.

    Long(mired) answer: My intent was to relay what I saw, rather than to recommend or deride. Having said that: Longmire is a modern take on the wild west sheriff routine. It’s Gunsmoke; which in my youth I watched (in rerun) every Saturday. I wanted to like it. But I’m offended that the producers of the show spent the first two episodes inoculating themselves from being a redneck show.

    My tolerance for the tropes of PC pandering and martial women is very low because I’m so tired of forcing myself to ignore it. It takes too much effort to suspend disbelief. Some people have the same reaction to science fiction and fantasy (Elves and dwarves and warp drives? Really?), but to me there is a comparative difference. I don’t know any elves dwarves, or FTL technology. I know many women. It’s the old saying: Don’t piss on my head and tell me it’s raining.

    You might watch some classics like Little House on the Praire, The Waltons, etc. and see that buried in those are insidious things we didnt catch if we are old enough to have watched them in real time.

    No doubt.

    It would be a mistake to read my reviews with the idea in mind that I have one qualification, or one central tenet, for what makes a story good or bad. I’ve reviewed Jesse Stone here in the negative, but I liked the shows overall and I never got the vibe that they were pandering to modern sensibilities. Downton Abbey got a lot of bad press here, but the women are written very convincingly.

    My issues with those two particular shows were to what they aspired and incited: hedonism and liberalism, respectively. Longmire does not engage in that, really. The moral intents of the show are far from the worst on television, but on the way to entertainment plaza, they make a side-trip specifically to bow to the (very) false gods of political correctness.

    You, GKC, and Velvet have all made insinuations that I’ll never find a perfect show; as if I’m looking for one that has good guys only doing good, and men and women acting only like the epitomes of men and women. That is not what I look for, and it’s not what I’m trying to say. At the same time: Certain themes can remove a show from consideration of “Good Show”, by my estimation.

    The most important thing to me is not to watch only “Good Shows”, but to understand what the tellers of stories are trying to tell me; both the story itself, and the information that the story carries within it. That has to be first and foremost. I suppose I take the view that each piece of art is a part of a cultural conversation with many people, and I agree or disagree with various things people say for various reasons.

    Let me finish up this comment by saying that I am long used to bad receptions of my point of view on TV shows, movies, books, songs, etc. Others seem to have a hard time finding the continuity, or congruence in how I judge them.

  10. Cane
    Like I said, I do not argue taste. If these things you describe are things that are part of your taste, so be it. There is some contradiction baked into the way you explain it, but again, its futile to argue taste.

    The problem is worse than you say. Where you say they were inoculating against being caled a redneck show, I say they were just doing what people, steeped in conventional wisdom due to sequestration amongst enclaves of liberals,tend to do when they write that. These people even spend time personally inoculating themselves against being perceived as homophobic. corporatist, climate change deniers, folks who don’t recycle, racists, etc. Wiring that into the show is therefore part of their core, not a separate, considered targeted intentional story line with a laser focus. I hate to say it, it is what it is.

    I say that to say that I do not emphasize the diversions into PCism as them proselytizing, rather its them describing the world as they see it. The age group of writers on that show are too young to be proselytizing about those themes. Generations just prior did all that, these are not ideas being promoted, they are existing lives being described in this fiction. This doesn’t challenge the existence of the crap in the show, and it doesn’t mitigate the wrongness. In fact its is worse. It paints normal life in America among the majority. So, we see glimpses of our culture as it IS. Not as they are trying to make it. This is a key difference, because then, for example, when I describe the female deputy punching a man and that its done differently than her being all ass kick, its actually a small sign of reversal and that they noticed the ass kick woman as mostly portrayed is just silly.

  11. I HAVE BEEN SUMMONED!

    I also seem to have free time right now so I can comment on trivialities. Joy! I will therefore fisk this in detail for the joy of it. No malice intended. Trust me, it is a lightening of my day and a rather terrible month.

    “Imagine a middle-aged Charleton Heston”

    A good comparison. He definitely has the look. And Heston was fine with being old so I don’t think he would have minded. As an aside, from my Witness days Heston was evidently the most friendly actor in Hollywood. He would frequently talk personally to the folks that came to his door with the Watchtower. The man will always have a special place for me. Few folks can reach that level of fame and not be total asshats.

    “Single, handy, lovelorn, dangerous, and naked; just like a real cowboy in a romance novel”

    Given his propensity to avoid sex for…I believe three whole seasons and reject even hardened suitors I don’t think this is a fair evaluation. He also is far less naked than say, Roger Moore or his co-Bond (?) Sean Connery.

    “Walt has three deputies, but only one of them is a solid helper. Big surprise: It’s a good-looking woman who acts like a man and has a man’s name. Vic has Real Big Girl Job credentials as a former big city detective. She is constantly looking out for Walt’s best interest; as evidenced by her constant low-level harping. Speaking of the musical: She strip-dances in the second episode.”

    First, I must, with strong words, denounce Katee Sackhoff being described as a good-looking woman. I have heard people do this and I just do not get it. She seems like a nice gal as far as Hollywood types go and has been good to her fans, but good looking? Her fan base contains a serious amount of dykes for a reason. She has a square jaw that would be the envy of many a cowboy and an unflattering build (which must be frustrating because she is not in the slightest overweight). She is not ugly, but she is hovering just above average. To say otherwise is a blatant assault on the Truth.

    I also don’t see her as the most helpful…but more on this later. She definitely is the most flashy and is designed to get attention though.

    “They’ve been friends for 38 years, and it is revealed that Henry is trusted with Walt’s biggest, darkest secrets”

    True…sort of. But you missed that hook because it is three seasons in.

    “On the other hand: Walt is a white guy, so when a generic Indian”

    Generic Injuns are the best kind. They allow us to accrete all of our positive images of the Indian in a single figure. You are right he is Tonto and that’s a good thing. He’s also far more capable a sidekick than Starbuck…er…Vic and spends much more time with Walt. We need more Tonto’s or we will forget the Indians entirely. People who remember Tonto are more likely to remember Sitting Bull and Geronimo. Redskins will be replaced by some generic animal totem and that would be sad.

    “so when a generic Indian is implicated in a crime Walt immediately suspects his best friend and most-trusted advisor”

    Overall that was a weak episode but it works with the character development. Henry actively defends his community against outside intervention with the exception of Walt who he views as an insider after which he is interested in justice. This defense of community includes active law breakers (and some pretty violent ones). Walt is more pro-law than pro-community which leads to conflict. This is perfectly acceptable character derived tension.

    “Henry–is in fact an Indian and, like all Indians, utterly magnanimous and understanding of how Walt, like all Whites, can’t help himself.”

    This should be clearly false by the third episode. Henry is mad but forgives Walt because Walt is a friend. There are more than a few indians (leading to riots in one later episode) that aren’t so keen on Walt or his crew. In fact that Indians, despite having generic elements that I _like_, are shown having political goals and being properly xenophobic.

    “Before his wife died, Walt was able to reproduce..once”

    Surprisingly common. It is very likely my sir name as propagated by my great-great grandfather will die out unless my son reverses the trend. I messed up. I can see a Lyndon B Johnson conservative democrat (how I picture Walt’s political leanings) only having one kid to save the planet in a responsible way. That she is a spoiled brat being an only child is also not shocking.

    I’m not going to defend the Mennonite stripper story…it was terrible. Almost as terrible as making the only religious figure in, say, Justified, being a racist evil mastermind that quickly dispenses of his new found faith the first time an existential crisis comes long. MY GOD MY FOLLOWERS DIED! GOD IS TEH EVILZ AND MUST NOT EXIST! SEE I’LL EVEN LET THIS SNAKE HANDLING CRETIN DIE AT HIS OWN FANG! <—fang…get it…

    Which would be unfair to Justified and is unfair here.

    Longmire is better seen as Mayberry PD done seriously. Barney Fife is there. He's bumbling. He's lovable. He also has a surprising knowledge of science and is a dedicated employee with a crush on the bosses daughter. Longmire loves his place and his people. He has a property I might kill for (the valley shots are amazing…I want that place). He's the cowboy/knight/feudal lord (and therefore a rightful and good romantic figure) that is so popular in the Western canon.

    He's got a _guy_ as his primary sidekick. That in itself is rare. Henry is the classic Indian. He's what we used to do to our opponents, ennoble them rather than beat them down. He also owns a bar which is a nice reversal of the drunken Indian trope without ignoring it.

    Vic is a tomboy but she is also a girl. Again to compare to Justified she is physically bigger than Justified's marshal. My guess is she has 20-30 lbs on the black marshal who's name I forget. She's not as prone to outlandish physical provocation like said black marshal who randomly slashes some guy in a totally disproportionate way (one would hope violent idiots of that level would be arrested and thrown away for good even in a film noir like Justified). Vic cries and is scared about the appropriate things. Something that doesn't happen in Justified with the hyper butch yet much cuter marshal (said by a man for whom black women have never held any attraction with no offense to Elsbeth or Velvet). She's also so far loyal to her fairly pathetic husband at a level that shows up say, Winowna who at times I want to see drawn and quartered while spit on by town folk holding rotten cabbage.

    We also miss the very traditional secretary who cunningly hides her boss from trouble for a year. She's intensely loyal and unattractive. In fact she's a near perfect "serious" stand in for Francis Bavier's character Aunt Bee. She's a type of matronly character that almost never sees the light of day anymore. I wish we had more like her.

    No, I'm not going to convince you. I'm not even going to try. But it was fun to talk about it anyway. Now I must go back to other things.

  12. I say that to say that I do not emphasize the diversions into PCism as them proselytizing, rather its them describing the world as they see it. The age group of writers on that show are too young to be proselytizing about those themes. Generations just prior did all that, these are not ideas being promoted

    Mad agreement with Empath here. We have to separate the “air of this world” from Satan’s more active plans. These guys grew up with A Message that is hard to shake. Yes, it infects everything. But sometimes it is just them being…them.

  13. @GKC

    Before I read the rest…

    First, I must, with strong words, denounce Katee Sackhoff being described as a good-looking woman. I have heard people do this and I just do not get it. She seems like a nice gal as far as Hollywood types go and has been good to her fans, but good looking? Her fan base contains a serious amount of dykes for a reason. She has a square jaw that would be the envy of many a cowboy and an unflattering build (which must be frustrating because she is not in the slightest overweight). She is not ugly, but she is hovering just above average. To say otherwise is a blatant assault on the Truth.

    I am LOL’ing.

  14. @Empath & GKC

    I enjoy this.

    I say that to say that I do not emphasize the diversions into PCism as them proselytizing, rather its them describing the world as they see it.

    I’d ask you to consider how the PC is presented (part of the story rather than character development) and when (right at the beginning of the series).

    If you’ve seen Firefly, then I think we can see a good comparison. Joss Whedon is a big ol’ libbie, and it shows. However; the first several episodes aren’t spent ensuring the audience that these space cowboys have modern sensibilities. They just have them. Longmire’s characters are not only informed by liberal sensibilities, but those morals are integral to the stories themselves.

    Case in point when GKC wrote:

    I’m not going to defend the Mennonite stripper story…it was terrible. Almost as terrible as making the only religious figure in, say, Justified, being a racist evil mastermind that quickly dispenses of his new found faith the first time an existential crisis comes long. MY GOD MY FOLLOWERS DIED! GOD IS TEH EVILZ AND MUST NOT EXIST! SEE I’LL EVEN LET THIS SNAKE HANDLING CRETIN DIE AT HIS OWN FANG!

    The Mennonite stripper story (way up front, second in the series) specifically contrasts evil Mennonite Dad who slaughters his daughter by his son–against Walt–who apologizes to his daughter for the “transgression” of asking his friend if he knew who she was screwing.

    To me, it is clear that within Longmire are active attempts to carrot-and-stick flyover peoples into becoming PC rednecks; into sort of Austin-tonian cowboy-hippies. Think Willie Nelson or a McMurtry.

    True…sort of. But you missed that hook because it is three seasons in.

    My reference was to a very short flashback in the stripper episode of Henry standing over Walt while he gets stitched up. During this Walt says, “Don’t tell my daughter about this.” This flashback is contrasted with Walt’s daughter telling Henry not to tell Walt who she is dating in the present.

    Off-topic, and in defense of Justified’s portrayal of Christian charlatans: As a former Baptist and a Texan, perhaps I am a little more familiar with the reality of charismatic preachers.

    I once visited a charismatic church to see for my self, and took my wife and a friend along. They had two services, and we entered the sanctuary at the end of the earlier one, to attend the second. Like a good Baptist I had my Bible. We found a seat, and then watched an altar call for healing. The preacher went down the line laying his palm on their foreheads. Some were “slain in the spirit” and fell. Some sort of crumpled. One flu-struck woman merely wobbled. The preacher asked her–

    (I don’t think I’ll ever forget this.)

    –“Are you healed, sister?”

    “I…I think so!”

    “Well either you are or you aren’t! The Lord says–” and he turned to the congregation, “Nahum 1:9 He will make a complete end. Trouble will not rise up a second time.[1] Amen?”

    The whole congregation repeated him; except myself, my wife, and my friend. So, I turned to Nahum 1. It says:

    What do you plot against the Lord?
    He will make a complete end;
    trouble will not rise up a second time.
    10 For they are like entangled thorns,
    like drunkards as they drink;
    they are consumed like stubble fully dried.
    11 From you came one
    who plotted evil against the Lord,
    a worthless counselor.

    The preacher misquoted a prophecy to wipe out Nineveh as a prophecy to heal colds. The context is dead simple to understand.

    I turned to my cohorts and said, “We have to leave right now.”

    [1] I don’t recall the translation he quoted. I used ESV here, but it probably wasn’t.

  15. I second, er….3rd, …something, about her not being a babe. She is attractive-enough, but in no way rises to the level of babe-eye-candy-cop. Her mannerisms are awkward which when an actor does that I always assume its part of their real life mannerisms, and they are not attractive, she is twitchy, she is not overly cunning, just an odd one out in the field of women buddies in shows.

    Cane, PC is presented in every single episode Ive watched. Its a big stretch to watch 3 episodes then say “see, they got the PC stuff in early”. Its not early, and its not “got in”. Its as I describe it, part of the back drop the writers live by day.

  16. Cane

    I may have told it before. I was coerced by my wife once to attend a small black charismatic church that met in a strip mall. Truth is we had two couples that are friends who attended there, and they are folks prone to jump at this kind of thing.

    We were accustomed to being the only whites as we always made the rounds to local black churches, just us and our kids. But the moment i sat the preacher yelled I needed to come up.

    I went there, he started with his “word of knowledge” telling me all the things I was worrying about. The list was akin to fortune tellers saying “there is a dark haired woman in your past”. Some of what he said was diametrically incorrect. He had a tiny bottle of olive oil, made great theater smacking his hands together rubbing the oil around and leaned forward and the heel of his palm came against my forehead and he pushed. By reflex, I shot a foot behind me and stayed up, having noticed some “catchers” moving in behind me.

    He tried harder, realized it was not happening and made a horribly awkward segue to the service. Later, a woman of the church….not one of our friends….called my wife and chastised her saying I had disrespected and resisted the pastor.

  17. @Empath,

    Yeah, her mannerisms are off. Like I said she seems like a nice gal and I think that is what has gotten her as far as she has gotten. She’s nice and got a “butch” part in Gallactica. She obviously takes care of herself and just got the short end of the genetic stick.

    @Cane,

    Like I said I’m just not going to defend that episode. Speaking of Gallactica I liked the series overall but it still had terribly stupid episodes:
    1.) The “black market” episode. Here we have a population of about 30k people in a highly stressful situation where betrayers could be in their midst…and a secret black market is running? Really? This is one of those things where the writers have never ever ever been to a small town.

    2.) I think it is in the last season there is a boxing ring in the Hanger…Adama beats the crap out of the chief engineer and gives a rousing speech about how this is a _carrier_ and we’re going to use the hanger for the right damn things and win the war. No lie, next episode it has been replaced by a bar. The amount of insubordination in the series and stupid stuff like that just boggles the mind. But I imagine the writers can not imagine a cool warehouse space _not_ being used for a bar. Tis all the rage out in my neck of the liberal woods.

    3.) Last episode….hardened survivors commit cultural suicide. Because…not sure. But humans are evilz so we have to.

    The mennonites are just an example of that. There are sizable mennonite communities in California so I can easily imagine that one of the writers had a hate on for them and worked them into the script. My guess is their aren’t really any in Longmire’s neck of the woods.

    For the most part I agree with you. But I move past it in the same way that I move past the only “good wife” in Justified being the criminals.

  18. @Empath

    Cane, PC is presented in every single episode Ive watched. Its a big stretch to watch 3 episodes then say “see, they got the PC stuff in early”. Its not early, and its not “got in”. Its as I describe it, part of the back drop the writers live by day.

    The Mennonite episode ranks last in every metric.

    I do not say it is not part of their back drop…their worldview. It certainly is.

    Are you saying that the Mennonite episode is not preaching; even if they perceive it as only being to the choir?

    If they told you that they chose to put the Mennonite episode at the front of the series, would that change your opinion?

  19. The Mennonite episode is so askew that the question of whether it is preaching is doesn’t- compute for me. Its incongruous with the rest, its silly, its bad awful, its trite and pat and stereotypical in a cartoonish way. I suppose that could be preaching. However, the writers are demonstrably quite clever. If they were to want to convey something in that episode I’m going on a limb and say they would have toned it back some.

    Their (writers) backdrop, as Ive deemed it, doesn’t include any Mennonites. That differs from the environmental, feminist, race, etc. themes where they are steeped in the PC experience full on, controlled speech at the dinner table as kids and now their own kids are plump on hummus and haven’t tasted processed sugar. But Mennonites at best were a “have you heard about those people…..whataretheycalled…….Mennonites and the Aimish (sic). They dress in Little House on the Prairie stuff and use washboards”. The show was poking fun at something they only know a parody of, turning the fun poking into something silly in how they make it sinister.

    I am not alleging they are preaching to the choir, generally (not just this episode). I’m alleging that they are using their own experiences as part of the setting. Big difference. Again, their world IS PC. Like the famous quote from Nixon’s election where the Manhattan-ite said, “how could he win, no one I know voted for him” they perceive there to be a tiny minority who would even need preaching to, therefore its simple normalcy bias for them.

    It isnt material to me that the episode is first middle or last. Obviously they did choose to put it there because it was there.

  20. Was it in the books? I haven’t read those but would like to. I’m also re-watching the X-Files and stumbled upon their evil Mennonite episode in the first season. To be a bit fair, they weren’t exactly evil so much as sex vampires working on self-control. But still…

  21. I’m very late to this game, but I just wanted to say that this post is a spot on analysis of that program. I don’t watch many programs or movies, and most of what I watch was made before I was born. Still I managed to make time for this show via Netflix. The show is PC at it’s finest. All the main talking points of the new “morality” are there, even if they try to mask it behind a facade of “righteousness”.

    I remember thinking that if I had a daughter, and she turned out like the sheriff’s, I would hang my head in shame. I understand he can’t help being a racist like me (being white and all), but even a racist hick like the sheriff should be able to teach his daughter that whoring around with your political opponent is just a no no.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with whoring around in our new enlightened society mind you (as the sheriff demonstrated with the blond bimbo in a later episode), it’s just that a “morally” superior, strong, independent woman like the sheriff’s daughter ought to know that in an enlightened egalitarian (read matriarchal) society there is a line in there somewhere that shouldn’t be crossed. And for a minute there it seemed like the sheriff thought a line had been crossed too.

    Well, it turned out that the sheriff and I were wrong about that too. After all, who are we to question the new morality, let alone one of Wyoming’s finest specimen’s of the superior sex.

  22. Would the awesome sidekick have been better cast as a frumpy homely chick? Is the “hot” or the “chick” the issue?

    For me the “chick” was the issue. She needs to get back in the kitchen and make some sammiches for those men.

  23. I don’t know if you have yet, but you NEED to see “Justified”. what a great show, and I’m on episode 7 or so. About a modern day cowboy named Raylen Givens, complete with holster and cowboy hat. He’s a U.S. Marshal.

    There’s a great bit of dialogue in an early episode with him and a black female marshal (they couldn’t help themselves, go easy on them). Raylen is apologizing to her for acting like a cocky son of a bitch around her (his default attitude):

    Raylen (apologetically): Look, I’m sorry I came in showing you up like this. I know it must have been hard for you to break into the Marshals…

    Black Woman (in a bitchy voice): Why? Because I’m black, or because I’m a woman?

    Raylen (same apologetic tone): No, ’cause you’re an idiot.

    I probably laughed too hard at that line, but it was great. Timothy Olyphant as Givens is a show-stealer.

  24. As for “Firefly” (a show I love): The very worst moments of the show (e.g. the episode “Heart of Gold” and Simon’s dumb little preach to the choir speech at the end of the otherwise good episode “Safe”) are when Whedon is actively preaching. But when the characters are just interacting and acting like themselves and dealing with the problems that come from hiding out on a smuggler ship with two fugitives, the show is brilliant, and even reveals a deceptively smart underbelly. “Jaynestown” is a silly episode with a terrific and powerful ending. Adam Baldwin can act, man.

    And, of course, “Out of Gas” and “Objects in Space” are masterpieces.

  25. @MtC

    I am a big fan of Justified. Until a couple days ago, I would have said it is my favorite show currently on TV, but there is a challenger… However; I remain perpetually a season behind as I watch them on Amazon Instant.

    Firefly’s problem child was Zoe. If she had not been a woman warrior then every character on the show would be recognizable–though that does not make them like able, or role-models. She has great poise, but it is ruined when she prances around with the Mare’s Leg. Prancing is an admirable gait for a dancer, but lousy on a soldier.

  26. I never minded Zoe, oddly enough. She is Mal’s second in command, not the leader, and is never portrayed as some supernaturally gifted fighter. Plus she gets off the best dry one-line zingers. (Looks at small cash pile: “Finally, we can retire and give up this life of crime”).

    Inara got the worst plots and was wasted the most, partially because as a whore there’s only so much you can really do with her that’s interesting besides pornography. She’s featured most in “Our Mrs. Reynolds”, “Trash”, and “Heart of Gold”, and two of those three episodes are a clear notch below the rest of the series.

  27. I do have to ask: What is the challenger?

    “Justified” pretty much immediately supplanted “Bones” to rise to the top of my “best cop show list”. “Sherlock” is still my favorite show on TV by far though.

  28. Empath:

    I was happy to see it get the respect it deserved at the Emmy’s. Cumberbatch didn’t deserve to beat Billy Bob Thornton this year for best actor, but I can’t really be disappointed about it. He was terrific and the awards shows never gave him the respect he deserved. He should have won SOMETHING already.

    Freeman, of course, is Freeman, and he is quite possibly my favorite actor right now. His portrayal of Watson is the defining screen vision of the character as far as I’m concerned.

    “His Last Vow” won Emmys for best original score, best actor, best supporting actor, and best writing, among others.

    “The Normal Heart”, a gay romance, won best overall.

    Nothing political about that, of course!

    Of course, “The Reichenbach Fall” is a near-flawless masterpiece and one of the best television episodes of all time, as great as “His Last Vow” was.

  29. No doubt. Few shows have ever held my attention as those last three episodes. The first final line about the east wind ……spectacular. though I’m not so keen on Moriarty as returned bad guy when they get round to firing it all back up.

  30. Oh, don’t count on it actually being Moriarty. There are all sorts of ways the writers could go.

    Moriarty shooting himself at the end of “The Reichenbach Fall” tops my list of all time greatest television moments. It was perfect – utterly unexpected, completely in character, and a massive, world-busting game-changer for the plot.

    Martin Freeman at Sherlock’s grave afterward is some of the best acting I’ve ever seen.

  31. @Empath,

    Longmire started off life as a book series. I have not read any.

    @JDG,

    racist hick like the sheriff should be able to teach his daughter that whoring around with your political opponent is just a no no

    While there are points that I will grant Cane I’m not willing to grant that. It is _very_ clear from the dialogue that she knows this is wrong because she _hides_ it. In fact both engage in subterfuge here. If King David, one of the most righteous kings we’ve ever had, couldn’t stop incest I think it is a bridge too far to claim that _Longmire_ a troubled drunk sheriff can keep his daughter from slutting (spell check changed that to slitting…oddly appropriate…) around.

    For me the “chick” was the issue

    She isn’t; the sidekick is the indian. She is not trusted with any top secret stuff, the indian is. She is given better work than his political opponent is, but is not the sidekick.

    @Malcolm
    I probably laughed too hard at that line, but it was great

    It does have some great lines. I think as the series goes on they stretch them a bit too far. And the Boyd/Raylen relationship obviously caused a controversy amongst the writers. You’ll notice that they _do_ become friendly towards the end of…season two? Then they force a break-up to create drama. I wasn’t a fan of that. I think overall the best _thinking_ lines go to Boyd which makes me kind of sad.

    I’m also a fan of Raylen’s boss having a hearing aid. As I get older I like seeing old guys still trying hard. And the “old man’s race” (those who have watched will know) was a great piece of film.

    …Firefly stuff…

    Great show in which the women largely acted the part and the men theirs. The exceptions were, given popular culture, ignorable. It is also why the movie wasn’t as good as the series. We finally got kick-ass-pip-squeak.

    “Bones”

    _BONES_?!?!?!!? Look, I watch it. I’m not going to lie. I’ve made it through a few seasons at a rate of about one a month. There are technical bits that I like but, Lord have mercy, an artist ditz being a top end programmer? A science department run by attractive (and not Starbuck attractive, really attractive) women? Common’.

    Castle is _much_ better if you can handle the female sidekick. The female lead is girly in all the right moments and Rick Castle is acted brilliantly. He’s also the brains of the outfit and all the other helpers are guys. And the daughter is _mostly_ a good girl. Which is very rare.

    Sherlock

    Brilliantly done, I love the subtitles to explain clues. Brilliant acting but it does suffer from a few technical problems. Moriarty being an almost comic figure was irritating. There are a couple of other points where the directing staff misses the fun of buddy comedy to try to do slapstick stupid and therefore ruins things. It also suffers from “Death of England” disease in that guns are bad, soldiers are hopelessly broken (Watson), and the like. Still a great show. I’m not caught up since we’ve been watching a bit of old X-Files stuff…so no spoilers. I’ve only (I think) seen episode one of the post “Falls” set.

    I just starting watching Blacklist, and I’m finding that I like it overall. The sidekick(co-lead?) is a chick married to a seriously Omega man. The writers realized he was a problem so he is now a possible spy. The first episode with complete wife-husband reversal was painful though. I think it rates a solid “B” if you imagine the husband getting hit by bus or being a super spy.

    Watched a little of “Under the Dome”…but it really is a soap opera so I stopped.

    Also watched a bit of “The Glades” which I’m surprised hasn’t come up here for most evil series ever. I _like_ the mystery portion but the main characters are so grating I keep hoping they will get shot. Here we have an adulteress played for sympathy. Mysteries rate a “C+/B-” characters are in “F+/D-” territory.

    For best ever cop drama though with little in the way of troublesome characters I turn you to “The Brother Cadfael Mysteries”. Well acted, leaves me wanting to read the books, little in the way of troublesome characters, knight turned monk sleuth in Crusades era England. Production value is dated now as these were shot in I think the early 90’s.

  32. @MtC

    I will be writing about the challenger in a post.

    @GKC

    -Glades-

    Accidentally watched one episode and I did not care for the smarmy lead character. I say “accidentally” because what I meant to watch was The Killing. I saw that The Killing was produced by AMC, and I thought, “Well, it’s worth a shot.” When the time came to give it a shot, I confused it with The Glades.

    -The Killing-

    The Killing was a letdown, too. The female lead was believable and resiliently stupid in the face of her own failings. Either way: I got six episodes into the first season, and they were still working on the first and only case. That is a cop-show deal-breaker for me. Fed up, I looked online, and at the end of the first season the case STILL isn’t solved. I am sorry for the 3 and a half hours invested.

    -The Blacklist-

    Pretty interesting so far. Parts of it are ridiculous, but I confess I am intrigued to find out more; which is what a good story is supposed to do.

    The most ridiculous part of the show is how the female lead’s coworkers put up with her behavior without batting an eye. They (as most of us) just have to put up with this woman refusing to get off the phone while holding up a hostage rescue operation…and they don’t say anything. She is never professional in her demeanor, but always under the sway of her emotions at the moment. It’s like real life! How people can watch that and not see how absurd it is that we have workplaces and coworkers like this is beyond me.

    -The Brother Cadfael Mysteries-

    Excellent show, and I have sentimental value for it, too. When my oldest was born in 1995 we were very poor (we made $11k combined our first year), but we were happy.* One of our few pleasures that we both remembered was catching three or four Saturday night episodes of Brother Cadfael on PBS. Then it was gone.

    A couple years ago I happened upon it on Netflix. For a couple weeks the whole family couldn’t wait to get done with dinner and watch an episode of Brother Cadfael.

    *And are today, with some dearly-bought years between.

  33. “Bones” is much better than “Castle” – I REALLY can’t stand Beckett. In the world of Strong Wymyn Officers she is probably my least favorite, though I watch the show for good humor and for Nathan Fillion. I like Booth a lot too. “Bones” handles the religion/science divide way, WAY better than SVU.

    As for the main character, she’s based on a real person who was both a brilliant forensic anthropologist and a very successful writer, so hey.

    “Bones” goes several levels inception. It’s based on a character from a book series based on a real person, and the character from the show has a book series with the main character based on her.

    Scott’s interpretation of Moriarty was divisive, but I really liked him. The scene where Moriarty shoots himself is absolutely brilliant.

    Also, I absolutely love “Serenity” and don’t care who knows it.

  34. Also, GKC,

    It also suffers from “Death of England” disease in that guns are bad, soldiers are hopelessly broken (Watson), and the like.

    I actually didn’t get that at all. Watson and Sherlock carry guns with them every where, and in two of the nine episodes so far the conflict was ultimately resolved by shooting and killing the villain (funnily enough, the first and last episodes).

    As for Watson, I absolutely loved the way they portrayed him in “A Study in Pink”. It’s an interpretation taken directly from the canon (Watson returning from the war broken and being healed by his involvement with Holmes) that I’ve never seen attempted before “Sherlock”, and they pull it off brilliantly. Martin Freeman is beyond good.

  35. A science department run by attractive (and not Starbuck attractive, really attractive) women? Common’.

    And appropriately diverse: A white woman, a black woman, and an ethnically ambiguous woman for good measure, LOL.

  36. The old expression, “the token black” was at one time a valid charge to levy. That has been replaced with the token “ethnically ambiguous”. Its ALWAYS a medium skin tone person with quasi ethnic hair and thick plastic framed glasses. Occasionally a crocheted floppy beanie in rainbow colors, and some retro paisley dress or shirt, usually working on a PC or laptop.

    Enter my newest employee I hired a year ago….I joke with him saying he could get in every TV ad. His mother is Korean, his father Greek. The dad is pure greek, born in U.S. his parents having immigrated. He met the Mom in Korea when he served in the army and brought her here. So, this 35 year old has mid tone skin, eyes that do not make Asian an immediate assumption, very black hair like most Koreans but with tightish curls so his haircut is exactly like a very conservative short version of those actors big loose Afro like loose curled hair. He is fit and lean, but with limbs that are while not bulky, more substantial than (dare I say) a “typical Korean” (please hold fire for that description)

  37. That has been replaced with the token “ethnically ambiguous”.

    The best part? There’s no way anybody can complain about them being there since they don’t represent any specific race.

  38. I’m nearly through season 2 of “Justified” and loving every minute of it (“My Brother’s Keeper” was out of this world awesome), except for one thing: What the Hell is even the POINT of the black female U.S. marshal? Literally her entire role is to be black and female. And not only that, they make a special point of saying that she’s the “best marshal he’s got”. So they not only have a token black and token female in one character, they have to make sure that not only can she cut it in the white man’s world, she’s BETTER than the white man at her job.

    Barf. Destroys believability completely, not because such people don’t exist (I’m sure there’s somebody out there like that), but because she so obviously exists just for the purpose of adding diversity. It’s transparent and cheap.

  39. @MtC

    I am (obviously) sympathetic to the assumption of PC sensibilities at play, but if I recall correctly: The measurement of the “best marshal” in that instance was who consistently carried out his or her duties without causing trouble. As someone who has been responsible for troublesome people I am sympathetic to the measure used there. They certainly don’t make her more combat-effective than Raylan or the ex-sniper-whose-name-I-forget.

  40. As someone who has been responsible for troublesome people I am sympathetic to the measure used there.

    My problem isn’t that I doubt she’s the best marshal. My problem is that they take special care to not only have a black female marshal but to MAKE SURE she’s the best one, just proving that not only can black women do well in the white man’s world, they can do BETTER so take that you bigots.

  41. Except she also seems to be as violent as Raylan as shown in later episodes. In fact _more_ violent. And I’ve got to take a few pot shots at your favorite while the shooting is good.

    I had to laugh that Elspeth noticed the problem. It is thankfully not something they dwell on too much.

    @Malcolm

    I actually didn’t get that at all. Watson and Sherlock carry guns with them every where, and in two of the nine episodes so far the conflict was ultimately resolved by shooting and killing the villain (funnily enough, the first and last episodes).

    As for Watson, I absolutely loved the way they portrayed him in “A Study in Pink”. It’s an interpretation taken directly from the canon (Watson returning from the war broken and being healed by his involvement with Holmes) that I’ve never seen attempted before “Sherlock”, and they pull it off brilliantly. Martin Freeman is beyond good.

    They do carry guns and seem to do so more as the series goes on. It was a bit spotty in the beginning but the guns are becoming (rightly) more prominent. Maybe I’m being over sensitive, which is always a problem, but there seems to in the first season be some stray comments regarding guns that reflect more modern sensibilities.

    Also Watson was mostly bored not so much broken in the original stories:
    “I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air — or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be. Under such circumstances, I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained. There I stayed for some time at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a comfortless, meaningless existence, and spending such money as I had, considerably more freely than I ought. So alarming did the state of my finances become, that I soon realized that I must either leave the metropolis and rusticate somewhere in the country, or that I must make a complete alteration in my style of living. Choosing the latter alternative, I began by making up my mind to leave the hotel, and to take up my quarters in some less pretentious and less expensive domicile.

    On the very day that I had come to this conclusion, I was standing at the Criterion Bar, when some one tapped me on the shoulder, and turning round I recognized young Stamford, who had been a dresser under me at Barts. The sight of a friendly face in the great wilderness of London is a pleasant thing indeed to a lonely man. In old days Stamford had never been a particular crony of mine, but now I hailed him with enthusiasm, and he, in his turn, appeared to be delighted to see me. In the exuberance of my joy, I asked him to lunch with me at the Holborn, and we started off together in a hansom.”

    I’ve always read that as Watson being, contrary to his later character, dealing with his frustrations by being something of a party boy. He has an interior listlessness that he’s covering up with leading, in his own words, a pretentious lifestyle. In the series though Watson is dealing with the war by not doing anything. There is no “stiff upper lip” but instead a sort of general malaise. There is no forced joy of existence and pent up energy instead he lacks energy that Holmes provides. He is lacking in vir.

    Some lines:
    (after looking at his pistol his friend ELLA says): John, you’re a soldier, and it’s gonna take you a while to adjust to civilian life; and writing a blog about everything that happens to you will honestly help you.

    I _did_ like how he was actually healed by involvement with Holmes. In fact that sort of thing is one of the single best things about the series. Buddies make you healthy! Which of course is absolutely true.

  42. @GKC & MtC

    Except she also seems to be as violent as Raylan as shown in later episodes.

    It’s been a while, and I haven’t watched the 5th season yet. I don’t remember Rachel being great. I remember Art saying to Raylan that Rachel was the best marshal. IIR, he was motivating/berating Raylan. I guess I don’t see that she’s anywhere near the best marshal; nor that the writers of the show are trying to hold that forth. In fact, the best marshal easily seems to be Art. I really don’t see that she’s a PC plant; that this is the reason that her character exists, or what she exemplifies. Contrast that with Sherlock.

    I have enjoyed Sherlock since it began, but my big gripe is how they decided that it wasn’t enough for Sherlock’s genius to be outshone by the skeletal wonder Irene Adler. They had to give the violent Watson an ugly, old ASSASSIN for a wife. Not a “I’ll-poison-you-while-you-look-at-my-boobs” assassin, but a western ninja like a SEAL or SAS. Absurd.

  43. I have enjoyed Sherlock since it began, but my big gripe is how they decided that it wasn’t enough for Sherlock’s genius to be outshone by the skeletal wonder Irene Adler.

    The first half hour or so of that episode was basically a really excellent modern update of the original classic “A Scandal in Bohemia”.. And in the second half Sherlock…outsmarts Adler, then rescues her.

    I don’t think Amanda Abbington is ugly, though she’s not a real beauty either (I honestly cannot tell if that was meant to be metaphorical), but the choice to make Mary an assassin made for a really great insight into Watson’s character I thought.

    Don’t worry anyway. She won’t last long. Mary dies at one point in the original stories.

    Anyway, I didn’t get “SEAL” out of Mary. More like “Hide, shoot, and run”.

    In the canon “Study” I vividly remember Watson being ill and weak from the war, and he definitely felt as if he wasn’t a fit person to room with.

  44. I know I’ve been posting here too much, but I just finished season two of “Justified” and have to say it: That was out of this world awesome. From “My Brother’s Keeper” to the finale the show was basically perfect. The finale was absolutely spectacular. Every moment of it was nailed, from Boyd’s arrival to save Raylan from Dickie to the Marshal service’s own “Big Damn Heroes” moment to the absolutely incredible final scene between Raylan and Mags. What a freaking show.

  45. Yeah, Longmire has gone downhill some. Hell on Wheels is better, although I missed the first couple seasons. The Bridge is good. If you can get past rooting for the Russians The American’s is good (Cane don’t even bother…the husband/wife relationship will drive you nuts in that one). The Blacklist is above average for sure and Tyrant ain’t bad.

    I guess I’ll have to find Justified from what everyone has said. Thanks-

  46. Pingback: Walking Back on Walking Dead | Things that We have Heard and Known

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