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James Olchak
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James Olchak

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Okay, everybody, it's that time again. SEASON FINALE TIME. Wait, what? Didn't "Fear The Walking Dead" just start?  Yeah, but it's over, already. It's okay, there's no cliffhanger or anything. Anyway, it's Monday, so it's the time of the week where we talk about it and decide if:

A It's a bad show, or

B It's a terrible show.

So, Fear the Walking Dead, Season 1, Episode 6, The Good Man. How was it. And, the bigger question, how is the show in toto? Let's start with question one, and end with question 2, okay?

Well, compared to last week's episode, this one was pretty bad. And it was bad in the same way, like, a PG-13 remake of Robocop would be, if such a thing existed.  It cost twice as much to make a show half as good. Why? Because the people with all the scenes this week view the carnage around them as if botoxed to the rafters and given half a bar of Xanax. Look at Liza's face in the picture below. In that scene, she's seen an enormous horde of hundreds of zombies breach the fence into the compound she's in, watched as a soldier had his neck gnawed out and then staggered into a helicopter rotor (which turned his head into a malted milk, the second time in the past few days I've seen that happen), and basically been surrounded by flames and death and noise and mayhem.  How does she register that? Dull Surprise. Since all the most interesting characters (Nick, Daniel, Maddie) are playing mostly supporting roles this week, we get to watch all the least interesting characters fart away the screen time looking mildly put out by the end of human society. 

Anyway, as you all may or may not remember, by the end of episode 5, most of the characters were split up in various locations: Liza was in the military compund's medical center, Nick was in the Military compound's "disruptive people" containment area (along with Strand, the deep-voiced douchebag with a cell key), and the rest of the group had just tortured a US soldier into revealing the fate of the neighborhood (to be abandoned) and the sick and injured in the compound (to be "humanely" euthanized). And this, unfortunately, is what like, 70% of scripts for the entire "Walking Dead" franchise are about getting the characters split up into smaller groups, then reuniting them. the motion of the pieces on the board is to trick the audience into not realizing that nothing really changed, none of the characters grew at all, and the status quo has been maintained for another week. Or, in this case, another season. So, yeah, that's what this episode is about: getting all the players back in a singular location. Those are the stakes, that's where the bar is set, that's what you ordered, that's what you get. Let's begin.

LA is in darkness. Whole city blocks are in flames. The doors on the local stadium bulge outward from the force of the zombie horde trapped within. The extended Clark family are packing. They are reactivating their original plan to flee to the desert, after getting Nick, Liza and Griselda from "the compound." "How are we gonna do that?" ask's Sam, reasonably. Well Sam, by causing a lot of people who aren't us to die, horribly. Yay for us, boo for them. Ofelia is mildly put out about her father torturing the guy (Cpl. Andy Adams) that she was trying to get to steal medicine for her, using her feminine wiles. "I thought you were the victim," she says, regarding the revelation that Daniel is an experienced and skilled torturer. SO WHAT DO WE DO WITH CPL ADAMS

Daniel wants to leave him tied up in the basement of the Tran home, worried that he'll cause problems for them later if he gets free, but he tells them that they'll need him to navigate the "maze" of the compound (which is conveniently quite close to that nameless stadium where all the undead are).  "I can draw you a map." Daniel puts Travis in charge of him. As the group packs the cars, Andy pleads his case to Travis "you know that old guy's gonna kill me--there's no story here that doesn't end with me dead." The convoy moves out. An SUV they got somewhere, Maddie's car and Travis' old pickup. They pull through the neighborhood, as their surviving neighbors can be seen walking dogs, and sitting around dinner tables HAHA SUCKERS WE'RE GETTIN' OUT

With the military having pulled out earlier in the evening ("they were looting," says Alicia, because she should know), the gate is unguarded.  Daniel operates the electric switch, and they drive out of the "secure zone." But BUM BUM BUMM Travis has let Cpl. Adams go, and is actually in his Truck alone. Also, they don't shut the gate when they leave, because fuck those people. Ofelia puts a hat on that sentiment by pointing out that "none of them helped" when the army came in and took members of their family away. 

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE HALL OF JUSTICE The fearlessly bland Dr. Exener is calling for Evac, for both her staff and the twenty or so remaining patients.

An Aside: A lot of people online have complained that for a show set in Los Angeles, the overall scope of the show has remained really small, almost claustrophobic. When it turns out that the stadium has "a couple thousand" walkers in it, and the compound has twenty patients, and maybe three-dozen "disruptive" people in cages, and the streets are mostly free of either piled bodies or roaming undead, you have to wonder why the military hasn't been depicted using the mass neutron disintegrators that were clearly so effective in removing the other twelve million people/undead from the greater LA area.

Liza wants to know if they're going to evac "her family" but Dr. Exener has very few comp tickets to give out. Liza clarifies that she only wants Chris and Travis. "Fuck those other people," she doesn't say. Doesn't matter, none of you are getting evacc'ed. They say they're coming, but they aint landing.

ELSWHERE a cunning plan has been set into motion. Daniel, carrying a flashlight, breezes up to the "compound" watchtower (which is a actually a construction scissor-lift with two guys on it with assault rifles). They yell at him that he's entering a secure area, and they'll shoot if they have to. He tells them to "save their ammunition" because HEY LOOK he's led the stadium horde right up to the gates. Daniel slinks further down the fence line while the two men fire on the advancing horde. THE PERFECT DIVERSION Runiting with the rest of the group in a subterranean parking deck, Daniel tells the group that he led the walkers to the north gate, so they should be good to sneak in in any of the other myriad gates that I guess the compound has lying around. Seeing that Travis has released Cpl. adams, Daniel is pissed: "You see what 'doing the right thing' gets you!" Leaving Sam and Alicia together (With instructions to flee in the SUV if the group doesn't return before the end of the episode), Maddie, Daniel, Ofelia, and Travis head out. They are armed with a ball-peen hammer, an automatic pistol, a pair of heavy-duty bolt-cutters, and a pump-action shotgun, respectively. They cut their way past a locked gate, and heypresto, they're in.

Back at the disruptive citizen holding pens, Nick and Strand chat about Strand's plan to "get out" and "get back to Abigail." this was super-coy and cryptic, but I said, aloud "Abigail is a boat, stop it, just tell him that you're going to escape the apocalypse on your boat, you cryptic, radio-voiced douchebag." They hear the gunfire and explosions outside, and decide it's time to go, but Strand can't find the key HAHA BECAUSE NICK STOLE IT NICK'S A THIEF.  Nick hands it over and they unlock their cell and walk out. The other thirty people want to be let out, too, but Strand tells them that "one key doesn't fit all," a probable lie. He tells Nick that the real reason he's not helping them is because "helping them could hurt us, there's no value-add." They skulk through the compound, avoiding guards that are rushing everywhere in disarray, and entering a lounge, where a lone walker has killed one soldier, and is feasting on the guts of another. It turns out to be the guy Strand traded his cufflinks and watch to. 

An Aside: There's a great moment here, where Nick, seeing the Walker eating the soldier, cringes up against Strand like Shaggy from Scooby Doo. Why? because zombies are scary, and he got it in his head that maybe, just maybe, his character might be scared of them. And he decided to act. As in perform a role in an attempt to evoke a sympathetic emotional response from an audience. Which is why it's a fucking shame he gets very little to do in this episode.

Strand, of course is a deep-voiced douchebag with all the answers so he breezes up to the dying man (Because he knows that zombies "are slow.") on the ground and recovers his diamond cufflinks from the man's pocket. "Keep the watch" he says, because badasses who have all the answers don't need help from anybody, so they don't have to help anybody. "" says Strand's erstwhile ally, but Strand's got another comeback he learned in badass school: "You're well on your way." He recovers a gun from the other corpse, and he and Nick flee. "Where to?" asks Nick. "I dunno." says Strand. "He was our ride." 

Dr. Exener, who sees the invading horde making a shambles of their perimeter, blandly calls for the Evac. helicopter to hurry up and land, so her people can load up. "Our perimeter is still intact," she states, flatly. "We can still make it out, if you let us board," she relates, dully. The Evac helicopter hovers for a few seconds, assesses the situation, and flies the fuck off. Dr. Exener indifferently lets her people know they need to flee, and the Evac's not coming. "What about Chris, and Travis?" asks Liza. Dr. Exener tepidly tells her that if they haven't been evacc'ed already, they won't be, and Liza needs to flee. "What about the patients?" asks Liza. "I'll take care of them," says Dr. Exener, unemotionally. Using her key card to access the exterior doors, Liza flees outside, where she just kind of wanders through the chaos, blows off a soldier trying to load her into a truck, and comes back inside. The whole scene is just to establish that Liza has a key card, and show us some nameless people getting chomped up, like a video-game cut-scene. 

BACK IN THE PARKING DECK Alicia and Chris have a meandering, pointless conversation, before seeing movement in a nearby stairwell. They duck down and stay still, assuming that Walkers will pass them by if they don't see movement (they learned this by watching episodes of "The Walking Dead," I think), but someone smashes one of the windows. It's three soldiers, looking for wheels to get the crap out of the murderzone Daniel has turned the compound into. Chris refuses to give up the keys, which gets him punched the fuck out by one of America's heroes (These colors do not run!...from hispanic freshmen!). Alicia gives up the keys, and endures some skeevy harassment from the noble warriors, of the "hey, baby, why don't you come with us, heh, heh" type. You can tell these guys were the "good" soldiers because they didn't kidnap or rape a teenage girl after knocking her stepbrother unconscious and stealing her family's vehicle and packed belongings. They only threatened to. FIGHTING 79TH

An Aside: As a bleeding-heart liberal who hates the military-industrial complex, the mockery it's made of civil liberties in this country and the shambles it's made of the US's reputation abroad, I can say I'm mostly okay with these guys being depicted as cowardly self-interested sewer rats. In fact, I kinda said exactly that, last week. But even I feel like they're getting a little excessive with how completely the national guard turned tail on it's oath, en masse. Could we have had one national guard guy who wasn't a shitbag? No? Okay then. SHRUG

Maddie, Travis, Daniel, and Ofelia have made it to the pens where the disruptive people are being held. Yelling that they're looking for a skinny, pale kid wearing an old man's clothes, they find out that Nick just left "with a guy in a suit." Using the boltcutters, they free the disruptive people from their cells, and pursue Nick's trail, despite Daniel yelling "It's too late, there's no time!"

Liza comes in one door, just as they leave through another, as all characters are magnetically drawn together, despite the seeming chaos. 

Nick and Strand are on the run from the horde, some of which have reached the interior of the compound. fleeing down a hallway, they find themselves blocked in by security doors that require a key card to open. "That's unfortunate," says Strand, because he doesn't know that Travis, Daniel, Ofelia, and Maddie are on their way to the other side of the door. Strand fires his pistol into the horde, as the lights flicker on-and-off, while Nick tries to knock over the security doors with the strength of a 140 lb. junkie. NOTHIN' DOIN' says the door. Looking through the reinforced window, however, Nick see's Maddie's group approaching. HEY, IT'S MY MOM

Travis and Maggie try futilely to claw the doors open, making this a scene where the tension is generated by people being on the wrong side of a locked door, in two directions. Ugh. As the horde draws closer, Nick tells his Mom to "go, it's okay, just go" but LIZA ARRIVES with her key card and gets the doors open just as the horde arrives so that Nick and Strand get through but so does the horde. Naturally. They flee downstairs into an industrial kitchen, where, inexplicably Liza (who is unarmed, and has the only key-card) takes point, leading them through the kitchen that she probably has no more experience with than they do. She dies because of this stupid decision. A lurky-jumpy lunges out of a doorway and grapples her over a counter, while the rest of the group (including all three guns on the squad) plays grabass with the walkers in the back. Finally, Maddie and Ofelia pull the creature off of Liza and smash it's brains out with the bolt cutters. Then a lurky-crawly grabs Maddie's ankle (Herschel-style), and Nick grabs up Maddie's dropped hammer and smashfaces it.

It's a spazzy, blurry action sequence. It's hard to tell who's effective at all, what's really going on. It's just gunshots and shoving. They get out of the kitchen, securing the doors behind them with a mop handle. There's some pat, expository dialogue: First, Nick introduces Strand: "This is Strand. He saved my life." Then, Daniel asks Liza about his wife: "Where is my wife?" Liza tells him the truth: "The infection took her. I'm sorry. There was nothing more that could have been done." Ofelia, in true Walking Dead fashion, wants to "see." ''There's nothing left to see," says Liza, shruggathetically. Liza leads them back to the medical ward, because the "compound" was built by Minotaurs. 

Dr. Exener is still there, having bolt-gunned all of the various injured and dying people in the ward. Some of them being, like, soldiers with broken legs, so I'm not sure how she met no resistance from any of the people being "humanely" put down. Maybe she sedated everyone. Maddie immediately starts pilfering pills from the shelves, leaving Liza to give Dr. Exener a chance to bland her way through another scene. She tells Liza about another exit to the building, a secret passage, essentially, in the sub levels. "But where are you going to go?" Dr. Exener recites, blandly. Liza tries to get her to come with them (a feeble attempt, considering she's a fucking MD and maybe that's a good person to have around), but Maddie pulls her away: "We have to go, Liza, she's too bland." Dr. Exener stares at the captive bolt pistol, blandly, as the scene limps to a conclusion.

Maggie talks to strand about "the plan" to flee into the desert, and offers a counterproposal. "West. My home on the water. I prepared, I have supplies." 

An Aside: What did he need Nick for, again? Why is he suddenly inviting this whole sprawling guild to his fortified coastal home? I thought he was the guy who didn't need help from people? And didn't want excess baggage because "helping them might hurt us, later?" Where is the "value add" in splitting your supplies 9 ways instead of 2 ways? Or 1 way? This character is bullshit.

Outside, in daylight, the group exits past a pile of human ashes with bones mixed in. It's a really big pile (considering that a single human being only makes a kilo of ash if cremated), but the show still felt the need to add a completely fake looking additional pile of ashes in the long shot, with digital effects. Ofelia cries, either because she realizes that her mom is now ashes, or because the one-legged skeleton on top of the pile was meant to be Griselda's remains. I dunno if I could recognize my mom's skeleton, and the missing leg was on the side of the pile away from Ofelia, and bones don't stay together after you burn the flesh off them, and this is a dumb scene.

So, they staged their invasion about midnight (they left their neighborhood while kids were still up in nearby houses)and it's about noon, and Travis told Chris to drive off if they took more than a half-hour, but  they still have the nerve to go "Where's the car? Where's the car?" when they get back to the parking deck. Alicia and Chris come running out of a nearby stairwell, (explain that soldiers took the SUV) and the group is truly all reunited. 

And then the stupidest scene in the episode, possibly the stupidest scene in the whole first season happens. Cpl. Andy Adams, armed with a pistol he got from somewhere, but otherwise still in his torture-wear limps out from the shadows. "Salazar!" They all stare dumbfounded at this idiot. Strand, Daniel and Travis are all armed. Nobody says anything, nobody does anything. It's like the script just ran out, and they've been asked to just improve the scene.

An Aside: I can't with this scene. I just can't.  Where to begin? How did he find them? Where did he get the gun? Why was he able to get a gun, but not a new shirt or some supplies off a dead soldier? Why didn't he try to hook up with one of the groups of guys going AWOL? Why did he decide to throw his life away to get revenge on a man it is virtually assured he will never see again? Moreover, why did he think Daniel would successfully make it through an armed military compound under zombie attack without being shot, bitten, or blown up? Why was he willing to take that chance, even? WHAT IS HIS PLAN

So, Ofelia tries to talk "Andy" down, but Andy wants his revenge. So he shoots Ofelia. And he's a shitty shot, because he hits her in the arm, as Daniel goes "nooooo!" and leaps to her side. Great plan, Andy. Well, I guess shoot your way out, now except oh yeah, you can't. Because Travis has finally SNAPPED Oh I see that was the whole purpose of this scene, to show Travis snap. Travis tackles Cpl. Adams and proceeds to pummel his face into ham jam. Is he dead? Who knows.  He's gasping for air, and both eyes are swollen shut, and they drive off and leave him on the parking deck floor. Jesus, Andy, the fuck were you thinking?

So, it seems like the episode is almost over, but there's like 15 minutes of padding left, for real. They drive to Strand's beachfront house (using the LA River as a shortcut past all the stopped cars on the freeway). He lets them in. Tells them to help themselves to food. Maddie apologizes to Nick for "letting them take him," (And not for beating him about the face, tellingly). Nick talks about how he feels strange, not because he doesn't know 'where he's going,' but that now nobody knows.  "You're all catching up with me." 

Liza tells Daniel how to treat Ofelia's gunshot wound. "She'll live through this. It'll be okay." Then she has an official reunion with the son she abandoned for bland Dr. Exener. "I love you," she says, cheerily.  Then she goes outside. UH OH

Nick and Strand talk, as Strand packs up more expensive shirts and suit-jackets. Strand explains that he "has to stay in motion," (what the fuck is this bullshit character, for real) and he won't be staying long. Nick asks if they can stay in his house, and he says "No. Nobody stays." Which is, again, needlessly cryptic. Strand finally tells Nick where "Abigail" is. Oh it's that yacht anchored out there, about 100 yards from shore. Fine. 

Anyway, Maddie follows Liza outside, because I dunno why, she just does. And Liza shows Maddie that she was bit, back in the kitchen scrum. With all the emotion of someone explaining that they lost their cell phone, Liza basically repeats Maddie's entreaty from earlier in the season, that she "take care of" Liza, so Travis won't have to. She even throws in the darkly funny line "C'mon, you've never liked me, anyway." But we've entered the part of the ending where EVERYONE IGNORES ALL OF LIZA'S DYING REQUESTS

Travis arrives, because, hey, why does Maddie have a gun, and what do you mean you're infected, and we have meds, it can be treated, right? And no, Travis, it can't. Liza explains the central effect of Walker Virus "A" by which everyone who dies comes back, and Walker virus "B" by which whoever is bitten, dies. The scene finally progresses to something approximating an emotion other than glib, as Liza tears up at her impending death, and Travis is likewise put out by having to shoot his ex-wife. Because, oh yeah, Maddie passes him the gun. Maddie, you bitch, she asked for one fucking thing. Anyway, Liza asks Travis to keep this from Chris, which, how's he gonna do that, the gunshot brings everybody running. So Liza's dead, and Travis is sad, Ofelia's got a bullet in her arm, and everyone else is alive and unhurt. We pan out as Travis pounds his fists in the sand, and Chris wails over his dead mom, and there's the Abigail, and off the camera flies into the open sea. 

Roll credits.

So, look, that wasn't a good episode. Most of the episodes weren't very good. Like, one episode was good, the whole season, and they even failed to evoke any real shocks in the final episode. Liza was easily the most expendable character; she wasn't likable, she was too effective for the level of writing these shows have (even a 'sorta-nurse' negates a lot of 'X-is-hurt, what-do-we-do' plots), and she was kinda boring on screen.  No one but Chris is mourning her, and Chris is pretty boring, himself. Clearly, there was intention of killing off Ofelia, (who is both more sympathetic, has grown more, and has more interesting relationships with the other cast members), but if Ofelia dies due to Travis' decision, Daniel kills Travis, or they kill Daniel to prevent Daniel from killing Travis There's no other narrative option at that point, given these characters. And if the decision keeps Daniel (played by the hispanic Donald Sutherland and international treasure Rubén Blades) in the cast, I can't be too upset by it.

I would have LOOOVVVED to have them all get out of the compound, only to have Andy shoot Ofelia (dead), Travis beat Andy to death, then Daniel kill Travis in a grief-rage, and Maddie shoot Daniel in the back HOLY SHIT THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN AMAZING. Then we'd have had a much more interesting dynamic, with the "blended" family. Liza and Maddie have to work together without the crutchy, vaguely ineffective paterfamilias there to glue all the plotlines together. BUT NO

So we said goodbye to a character about as important as ANDREEA's sister from Walking Dead, season one. Characters pretend they loved them, but the audience barely knew them. Strand is there to act as plot ex machina, with his cryptic pronouncements, and inscrutable motivations--the kind of character a stupid writer thinks is clever. All the series regulars are placed in safety by someone who made his debut in the second-to-last episode. Weak.


#FearTheWalkingDead #FearTWD #Season1 #Episode6 #TheGoodMan
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This grinning, brightly-colored cherub smells like overripe fruit. It flits about on sticky crystalline wings, carrying an oaken honeydripper like a club.   

Rock Candy Baby CR 1 (MST3K 307)

XP 400 
CG Tiny Fey
Init +3


AC (+3 Dex, +2)  
hp 8 (2d6+2)
Fort +2 Ref +6 Will +5
DR 5/bludgeoning or cold iron


Speed 20 ft. Fly 40 ft. (good) 
Melee honeydripper +0 (1d8-2 plus stickiness)
Ranged candyfloss +5 (dirty trick)
Space 2 1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks candyfloss, stickiness

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 4th; concentration +7)

Always active— shillelagh
1/day— glitterdust, sleep (DC 12)


Str 7, Dex 16, Con 15, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 15
Base Atk +0 CMB –2 (+4 dirty trick) CMD 11 (15 vs. dirty tricks) 
Feats Ability focus (stickiness), Improved Dirty TrickB, Greater Dirty TrickB
Skills Acrobatics +8, Bluff +7, Fly +16, Stealth +8, Perception +7 
Languages Sylvan

Candyfloss (Su)

A rock candy baby can spray threads of spun sugar webbing at an opponent within 20 ft. This functions as a dirty trick maneuver, save that the rock candy baby adds its Cha bonus instead of its Str bonus to the CMB for the check. A rock candy baby can use candyfloss to blind, entangle, or sicken an opponent. 

Stickiness (Su)

A creature struck by a rock candy baby's honeydripper is covered with supernaturally sticky honey. The victim of this attack suffers a -4 penalty to Dex, as its clothes, fingers, hair and equipment become inexorably stuck together.  A DC 15 Reflex save negates the effect. A rock candy baby's honey can be washed off with soap and water (a process that takes one minute), or neutralized instantly by a grease spell. Otherwise, the effect of stickiness wears off after 10 minutes.

#MST3K #PathfinderRPG #Monsters
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Watching "Gamera vs. Gaos" right now, so I'll probably get to it, tomorrow.
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These glassy-eyed warriors can be found in every culture, from every race. But they are guided by one will.   

Tyrant Hand CR 2 (MST3K 305)

XP 600
NE Medium Aberration 
Init +2 Senses Darkvision 60 ft. Perception +7


AC 19 touch 12 flat-footed 17 (+6 armor +2 Dex, +1 shield)
hp 22 (4d8+4)
Fort +3 Ref +5 Will +6
Defensive Abilities DR 1/-, Loyalty
Immune charm, compulsion, emotion 


Speed 20 ft. (30 ft. without armor)
Melee Heavy Mace +6 (1d8+3) or dagger +6 (1d4+3)
Ranged Heavy Crank Crossbow +5 (1d10 19/20X2)


Str 16 , Dex 15, Con 10, Int 9, Wis 11, Cha 3 
Base Atk +3 CMB +6 CMD 18 
Feats Rapid Reload, Toughness 
Skills Perception +7 Racial Modifiers 
Languages mutespeech, common
SQ martial zeal

Loyalty (Ex)

Through brutal discipline and alchemical treatment, a tyrant hand's sense of self is completely subsumed into that of a group obedience, almost like a hive-mind. Tyrant hands are completely immune to charm, compulsion, and emotion effects, including morale bonuses. In addition, as long as a tyrant hand are fighting within 30 ft. of another tyrant hand, he gains a +2 resistance bonus on all saves.

Martial Zeal (Ex)

Tyrant hands are proficient with all simple weapons, one martial weapon, and one exotic weapon, as well as medium armor and shields (but not tower shields). A tyrant hand meets feat prerequisites as if he were a 3rd-level fighter, and this bonus stacks with actual fighter levels. 

Mutespeech (Ex) 

Tyrant Hands practice an expansive form of bodily sign language that they exclusively use to communicate tactics in combat, only resorting to verbal communication in conditions in which vision is obscured. To outsiders, Tyrant Hand mutespeech is often mistaken for a low form of telepathy.

#MST3K    #PathfinderRPG   #Monsters  
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This post originally ran in 2012, and then again in 2013, again in 2014, again earlier this year, again in 2015, and now again, in 2015.

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Yeah, I'm too lazy. Even the Onion has outrage fatigue:
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Okay, everybody, it's Monday Tuesday, and "Fear the Walking Dead" was on last night Sunday, and this is the time where we normally talk about it. So, "Fear the Walking Dead, season one, episode, 5, "Cobalt." How was it?

It was actually pretty good. Really, it had some very good bits, and some typically shoulder-shruggy bits, but it came together in an engaging way. Almost everyone in the main cast got to do something, either something that moved the plot or something that helped establish them as characters. So, movement in the right direction, narratively. Lets begin.

The episode begins in the heretofore undisclosed location where disruptive characters from the greater Los Angeles "secure zone" are taken by soldiers from the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

An Aside: Yeah, really.  Somebody on the internets identified their patches. That's vaguely cool, right? The 79th is out of San Diego, which comes into play later in an incredibly minor way.

Anyway, it's a bunch of "Camp X-ray"-type chain-link bulk human storage pens, set up inside some...sort of...facility? The medical area is clearly set up in a school of some kind, because there's a team logo on the wall. They may be in the same place. Soldiers patrol around the cells, and really, there aren't that many people in them. 

In this location, Doug the distraught "disruptive" guy from the secure zone is still pretty much just slumped in a heap, staring at a picture of his wife. A new character, who is apparently named "Strand," but I will be calling "Douchebag McDeepvoice" is talking Doug's ear off, subtly undermining Doug's already threadbare psyche. Douchebag McDeepvoice (Who I believe is played by the beefcakey guy from the 'Old Spice' ads) finishes up by explaining that it's "lucky" that Doug abandoned his slim, pretty wife when he did, because she now has a chance to hook up with a "real man" who could protect her. Doug freaks out in the cell, and is carried off by soldiers. Douchebag McDeepvoice then turns his attention to the only other occupant in the cell...local heroin enthusiast Nick Clark.

An Aside: I hate this character, mainly because I'm certain this is supposed to be one of those characters that you "love to hate." Well, I don't, I just hate him. "He works the angles, he always gets ahead, he's got life's number!" He evokes Terrance Howard, if Terrance Howard frequented PUA messageboards. He doesn't wear a trilby, but he fucking should. More on him, later.

Elsewhere, it's the morning after Nick and Griselda were carted away by Captain Moyer's squad, on behalf of the fearlessly bland "Dr. Exener." Ofelia, angry about her mother's abduction, and her father's assault by the soldiers, is winging bottles at them through the chain-link barricade. She tries desperately to rally some of the neighbors to her impromptu revolution, but everybody skulks in their hoses, because the soldiers, you may remember, have soldier stuff. Like guns.

Anyway, Captain (?) Moyers sends in Sgt. Whocares to collect Ofelia (disruptive), but the guy she made out with last episode, Cpl. Adams, intervenes, convincing the Sergeant to let him talk her down and walk her home.  This proves to be a bad, bad decision, on his part.

Inside the Clark house, Travis is trying to console his son, Chris, who is distraught that his Mom (Liza the med student/fake nurse) left with (fearlessly bland) Dr. Exener the previous night.  And unlike Nick or Griselda, she was not carried away by force. Anyway, Chris gets snotty with Maddie ("Please don't interrupt when my father and I are talking about our family, Madison.") It's a perfectly-written piece of snotty teenage dialogue.  Travis mildly upbraids Chris, and gives him the "You have to be strong, we'll get through this blah blah snoozer" speech. Chris fucks off outside, refusing to apologize to Maddie. Travis decides "to go get" Liza, ("And Nick," adds Maddie, unbidden, and without response from Travis). This is a ludicrously underthought plan. He leaves to speak to Captain Moyers, who I'm happy will probably not return in future episodes.

Shortly after barging outside in a snit, Chris runs across his Clark family opposite number, Maddie's daughter Alicia, riding around on a stolen bicycle. Alicia sets out to cheer Chris up, taking him to a local rich neighbor's house, to engage in an undeniably flirty afternoon of "rooting through other people's stuff, and trying on their clothes." Alicia immediately helps herself to slinky backless designer dresses to parade around in, and Chris gets into the action, putting on a too-big tuxedo jacket. They talk about how the people who lived here "were real people" and how they might've been away from home when things went bad, or they might be dead, and how they'll likely never know. Alicia finishes a bottle of champers, and the two of them wreck the joint. It's an okay scene, it's the most sympathetic Alicia's ever been, and it's funny that Alicia's clearly resentful of Travis, but is as susceptible as her mother to the charms of the nut-brown Manawa men. Calm down, hormonal teenagers, we know you're not really even step-siblings, but maybe keep the Apocalypse platonic for now.

Moyers is (as before) needlessly smug and glib at Travis, telling him that contact with the taken people is currently impossible, and the best thing he can do is help keep the populace from acting out, because it's bad for his troop's morale when they have to act as jack-booted thugs, dragging people from their homes for being "disruptive."

An Aside: It's true, there are a handful of vignettes depicting Moyer's soldiers lack of engagement in their current mission, and sneaking realization that things are completely out of control. Moyers is acting as a martinet to keep his troops too busy to mutiny or go Awol.  It is a system that breeds enough contempt in the soldiers that you don't feel bad when they abandon him, later. 

Travis, in the closest he has ever come to not completely knuckling under to authority, intimates that without some kind of contact with the (eleven) people that the soldiers have taken, the neighborhood might prove to become ...slightly...more...disruptive. Jesus, Travis, what a limp threat. Moyers caves, anyway, derisively calling Travis "Mr. Mayor," and agreeing to take him to the med/detainment/command center, to see his wife and neighbors.

Travis piles into a Humvee with a handful of soldiers, including Moyers and Sgt. Whocares (but not Cpl. Adams, who is otherwise detained). Another soldier, with a black eye tells Travis his injury was the result of a temporary "lack of patriotism." Hmm.

There's a deathless, urgency-free scene where the Humvee pulls over to take out a single spotted Walker, getting out a 50 cal sniper rifle, and setting up a spotter to aid targeting.  After watching people in the Unleaded Walking Dead poke brains out with pocketknives and screwdrivers for six years, it fails to excite.  It's mainly an excuse for Moyers to bully Travis some more.  He wants Travis to take the shot, to prove that he understands that the undead aren't "human beings," otherwise Moyers and his men would "just be murderers" in Travis' eyes. Travis can't pull the trigger on the shambling walker eighteen miles away, after seeing her donut shoppe nametag: "Kimberly." Someone else shoots her, and the rote scene ends with the sounds of gunfire on the Humvee radio.

Driving off to the new destination of "where the gunfire is coming from," the soldiers explain obvious human activity in the "evacuated" DMV by saying that some people don't "trust the military." Huh, really? They park the truck outside the new location, a building with people/undead (?) toppling from the windows, and the sounds of loud combat coming from inside.  Telling Travis to stay in the truck, the small group runs in, firing wildly at nothing in particular. PEW PEW PEW

Travis sits obediently in the truck, listening to the gunfire and screams on the radio. Shortly, Sgt. Whocares and Private Unpatriot return by themselves. "New plan, we're gonna drop you off back near home, and we're going back to San Diego." They drive off in the Humvee giving the double fingers to the memory of Moyers, who we hope is dead. Travis' plot cul-de-sac is nearly complete! Let's look at some of the not-boring shit that happened, while Travis was accomplishing nothing.

At the medical part of the military command center, fearlessly bland Dr. Exener is giving Liza a crash course in the zombie apocalypse.  She explains that anything that looks like a bite is a bite, and those people get put down immediately, because one slip "And we all get to find out how our neighbors taste." She also explains that, even at this early stage, everyone who dies will rise as an undead, regardless as to how they die. Liza, freaking out a bit in the ramshackle, lightly-staffed med center wants to see Nick and Griselda.  Dr. Exener tries to put her off, but she eventually sneaks off.

Now, I'm playing with the chronology, here, partially to iron out needless cuts, but also to save the best bits for the end of the review, and this scene actually happens nearer the end, but I kinda wish it had been before some of the other stuff. Liza finds Griselda, whose foot has been amputated. Dr. Exener immediately finds Liza, and confesses that Griselda is dying of septic shock. Liza tries to talk to the heavily-sedated Griselda, who rambles semicoherently, in Spanish. Griselda confronts unseen accusers, staring into the middle distance.  It's a great deathbed speech, in which she talks about how she promised herself to someone "with the devil's face," and spent sleepless nights waiting for "the disappeared" to break down her and her husband's door with "torches and rope," but she "loved who she loved." She resigns herself to her "penance" of her flesh being taken "piece by piece," and dies sneering at the world.

Inserted Aside: By request, I have found a transcript of Griselda's deathbed speech, in its entirety:

"I came to you as a girl, poor and stupid. I promised myself to you because I was young and did not know your nature. I saw the devil's face. It is the same as yours. He showed me his face. It's yours. All those nights... All those nights my husband and I together, waiting for them to break down the door. The faces of the disappeared waiting to curse us with their torches, their rope. I did what I did. I loved who I loved. What did you want me to do? So take my flesh piece by piece if that's my penance. Do it now. I will not ask you why. Now I know your nature. Now you know mine."

Good stuff. 

Anyway, Dr. Exener gets out a captive bolt pistol (The Anton Chigurh weapon of choice), but Liza does the spiking duty.  BCHOKK

We return to camp X-ray, where Nick is pulled from the cell he shares with Douchebag McDeepvoice (for having a fever), but Douchebag McDeepvpoice bribes the guard (whom he has already previously bribed) with a pair of diamond cufflinks to return Nick to the cell, promising to "keep an eye on him." Douchebag McDeepvoice reveals to Nick that he rescued him from a likely death "to obligate him." Knowing Nick is a heroin addict, the "gold standard of addicts," Douchebag McDeepvoice reveals that he's excited about the new, lawless libertarian world where type-A men like him can really work their douchebag magic.  He thinks Nick's junkie skillset will be useful to him in his upcoming escape. Revealing that the soldiers are being called away, he also reveals that he has a key to the cell (which I guess is what the first bribe, of a fancy watch, was for). OH MY GOD A KEEYYY AMAZING WORK

An Aside: The one thing I do like about this character is his immediate grasp of how much use watches and cufflinks are in the zombie apocalypse.

Travis has worked his way home, and finds an agitated and distraught Ofelia sitting in the street. Why is she upset? Let's back up.

Shortly after the the Chris/Travis conflict, Maddie goes hunting for the notoriously absentee Alicia (who is off somewhere stealing a dead person's bicycle). Maddie finds the framed drawing that Alicia gifted to neighbor Su Tran, then regifted to herself after Su Tran's suicide/undeadening.  She also finds the letter that Su left for her husband Patrick that Alicia appropriated. Grabbing a flickery horror movie flashlight, Maddie heads to the Tran house to look for her klepto daughter. Delving needlessly into the Jamie Gumb-style basement, Maddie finds...

Daniel Salazar, his daughter Ofelia, and Cpl. Adams. Cpl. Adams is secured to a chair and gagged with duct tape. Maddie is reflexively aghast at this turn of events, but Daniel (played by character actor and international treasure Rubén Blades) explains that they're going to trade him for the return of Griselda and Nick. Maddie is rightfully dubious at this plan, telling him flat out that "it won't work." Once Ofelia leaves, Daniel comes clean to Maddie. "We're not going to trade him. He knows things, about what's going on, where our people are." He refers again to his anecdotal evidence that "People taken away in trucks never come back." Maddie doesn't want the boy hurt, but Daniel asks her flat out: "Do you not want him hurt, or do you want your son back?" Maddie, proving to have the Apocalypse-expected ethical flexibility required for this scene, doesn't have a good answer. "Do you not want him hurt, or do you not want to know about it?" A DEAL IS STRUCK

So there's an excruciatingly successful tension-building scene where Daniel gently talks to Cpl. Adams, while removing his Guayabera and laying out a shaving kit (with straight razor) and bowl of water. Daniel talks obliquely about his past in El Salvador, about how the man in the chair and the man with the blade "aren't any different." He talks about how, at a critical moment in his youth, he was offered a choice between being the man in the chair, or the man with the blade. It's not transcendently written, but it's transcendently performed. Cpl. Adams does the traditional TV torture victim "I'll tell you whatever you want to know" bit, and Daniel gives the traditional reply.

An Aside: Torture scenes in genre media are sticky, for a lot of reasons, not the least of which that they usually take the form of Jack Bauer or Jessica Chastain working for some sort of fictional or fictionalized American special spy team who'll "go to any extreme" to "protect American interests" usually by kneecapping some suitable surrogate Muslim for the entertainment of the dipshittiest, most bigoted, poorest educated, most slackmawed hate-filled Americans. There's always a "burning fuse," and there's always extenuating circumstances. And the imagery has so successfully infiltrated the twisted, self-loathing, xenophobic American psyche, that no Americans give a shit that 

(1) America now tortures prisoners of war, or that

(2) torture has been repeatedly proven to be useless in extracting information from prisoners.

So why do I like this scene as much as I do? It punches up. By depicting, not only the American military, but a specific real-life army unit as a bunch of cowardly, lackadaisical, mutinous thugs only kept in line through rigorously applied and dehumanizing abuse, it applies a much-needed counterpoint to the tiresome myth of the American military as unimpeachable, disciplined, noble warriors for justice.

SOME TIME LATER Daniel is asking for specific information regarding a code word repeatedly uttered on Cpl. Adams radio: "Cobalt." To aid in extracting this information, Daniel has repeatedly and precisely sliced into the flesh of Cpl. Adams' arm, cutting deeper and more painfully each time. "It takes a very steady hand," he says, holding his hand up for Cpl. Adams evaluation. "What is Cobalt?" 

In a blood-speckled tank-top, Daniel emerges from the basement, after a returning Ofelia sees exactly what her dad is up to with her would-be boyfriend. Cleaning his tools, the ice-blooded Salazar relates to a shocked Maddie that Ofelia is the only pure thing he's ever known, and reiterates that he's willing to pretty much do anything to protect her, specifically. Maddie has only one question. "What did he tell us?" We find out later, but not before Cpl. Adams also reveals that, in a possibly too-soon Katrina callback, that when however many thousands of people seeking shelter from the diseased hordes people gathered in the local stadium (He's not clear about which LA stadium he's referring to), and there was an outbreak, the military just locked the doors. "Okay, never open those doors again, are we agreed?"

Travis arrives at this point to clutter the scene with his dumb face.  More concerned with whether Maddie knew Daniel was going to torture a soldier than the actual torture, Daniel commands the still-restrained man to tell Travis what "Cobalt" means. Turns out it's the bug-out command. All military personnel are leaving LA at 0900 the next day. Travis like the simp he is asks "Where're we going?" NOT YOU TRAVIS JUST US IN THE PEW PEW BULLETS CLUB

Apparently the people in the med center will be "humanely" disposed of, to deter the spread of the disease. OH WELL THEN HUMANELY, OKAY

The last scene shows Daniel (somewhat incongruously) outside the nameless stadium, as each of the chain-secured doors bulge outward, just like those doors in the Haunted Mansion. OH MAN I BET THERE ARE ZOMBIES IN THERE


#FearTheWalkingDead #FearTWD #Season1 #Episode5 #Cobalt
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Yeah, true - but Travis, Nick, and Maddie know it from first hand experience, so it stands to reason that other civilians and survivors must know it too, and not just people from LA.

Even at the time of that reveal in TWD it struck me as odd, because people must have died from causes other than zombie bites, and then turned, meaning every survivor who encountered a person who then died from non-zombie related causes would know this was the case.

It's only a small thing in the overall scheme of things, I guess, but it's annoying!
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Remember, everybody: "Blood Moon" tonight, rapture tomorrow. Don't worry about going to work, because Jesus is coming.  Tomorrow.  Someone who literally speaks to god, for real, in person said so.

#Rapture2015   #Seeyounextrapture  
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What the hell, Pastor Hagee? Where are the giant wasps? Where's my free tattoo?
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James Olchak

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This intelligent nocturnal pterosaur feeds on the blood of titanic creatures, cutting into their flesh with a bladelike ray of green force.   

Noctuxa CR 12 (MST3K 308)

XP 19200 
N Huge magical beast
Init +1 Senses Darkvision 120 ft., See in Darkness, Perception +8
Aura deeper darkness 5 ft.


AC 24 (+4 armor, +1 Dex, +1 dodge, +10 natural, –2 Size) 
hp 84 (13d10+13)
Fort +8 Ref+8 Will+4
Defensive Abilities SR 23, Regeneration 10 (light), armor of darkness 
Resist Fire 30, Acid 30
Weaknesses sunlight powerlessness


Speed 30 ft. Fly 80 ft. (poor)
Melee Bite + 19 (3d6+8), 2 wings +14 (1D8+4), 2 talons +14 (2d6+4)
Ranged cleaving ray +13 touch (4d6 force 19-20/X3 plus 4 bleed)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
Special Attacks bleed, blood drain (1d6 Con), cleaving ray 


Str 26, Dex 13, Con 17, Int 7, Wis 13, Cha 15 
Base Atk +13  *CMB* +23 CMD 34 
Feats Dodge, Improved Critical (ray), Mobility, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon focus (ray), Shot on the run, 
Skills Fly +8, Perception +8, Stealth +7 Racial Modifiers –8 Fly, +8 Stealth (dim light or darkness)
Languages Necril, Undercommon

Armor of Darkness (Sp) 

A noctuxa is surrounded by a 5 ft. aura of deeper darkness (CL 10th). Not only does this help protect the Noctuxa from light effects that would otherwise suppress its regeneration, it surrounds the noctuxa with a shadowy barrier that provides it with a +4 armor bonus. If the noctuxa's aura is dispelled, it can restore as a free action, but only in an area of dim light or darkness.

Cleaving Ray (Ex)

As a standard action, a noctuxa can fire a ray of razor-sharp green force from its mouth. This ray deals slashing force damage that bypasses hardness <20. Living creatures damaged by the ray suffer 4 points of bleed damage. A DC 18 Reflex save halves the bleed damage.

Regeneration (Su)

A noctuxa's regeneration functions continually in regions of dim light or darkness.

#MST3K   #PathfinderRPG   #Monsters  
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This imperious soldier wears a stylishly tailored uniform and carries sophisticated weapons. His shaggy face resembles that of an ape, or monkey.   

Mudasaaru CR 3 (MST3K 306)

XP 800
LN Medium monstrous humanoid
Init +3 Senses low-light vision, Perception +8


AC 17 touch flat-footed (+3 Dex, +2 natural, +2 shield)
hp 26 (4d10+4)
Fort +2 Ref +6 Will +4


Speed 30 ft. 
Melee bayonet +5 (1d6+1) or stun baton (1d6+1 plus 1d8 elec nonlethal)
Ranged rifle +7 (1d10 x4) or revolver +7 (1d8 x4)


Str 13, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 11, Wis 13, Cha 14
Base Atk +4 CMB +5 CMD +18
Feats Point Blank Shot, Precise shot
Skills Climb +12, Intimidate +13, Perception +8, Stealth +10 Racial Modifiers +4 Climb, +4 Intimidate
Languages Common, Goblin, Orc
SQ hatred, weapon familiarity

Hatred (Ex) 

Mudasaaru gain a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against humanoid creatures of the human and reptilian subtypes because of their special training against these hated foes.

Weapon Familiarity (Ex): 

Mudasaaru are proficient with advanced firearms.

#MST3K #PathfinderRPG #Monsters
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James Olchak

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This low-slung predatory reptile has a spinal crest of glowing spikes. It lashes at its prey with a whiplike tongue, slicked with freezing spittle.

Irisanax CR 7 (MST3K 304)

XP 3,200 
CN Large Magical Beast (earth, cold)
Init +2 Senses: darkvision, low light vision, gem scent; Perception +9


AC 21 touch 11, flat-footed 19 (+2 Dex, +10 natural –1 Size)

hp 93 (11d10+33)
Fort +11 Ref +9 Will +6
Immune cold Resist acid 5, fire 5, electricity 5 
Weakness Water paralysis


Speed 30 ft., Burrow 30 ft.
Melee tongue +15 (1d8+4 plus 1d6 cold), 2 claws +13 (1d4+2), bite +13 (1d6+2) 
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (15 ft. with tongue)
Special Attacks breath weapon (30-ft. line, DC 17, 6d4 cold, usable every 1d4 rounds), plasma rainbow


Str 18, Dex 15, Con 15, Int 5, Wis 13, Cha 9
Base Atk +11 CMB +16 (+18 Bull Rush) CMD 28 (32 versus trip)
Feats Great Fortitude, Improved Bull Rush, Iron Will, Multiattack, Power Attack, Toughness
Skills  Appraise (gems only) +9, Climb +12, Perception +9 Racial modifiers +8 Appraise (gems only)
Languages Draconic (can't speak)
SQ gem scent

Gem scent (Ex)

An Irisanax requires gems for its reproductive process. Larger and more valuable gems host Irisanax eggs that grow into proportionally larger and more powerful offspring. Irisanax can track gems by scent, and accurately appraise their size and clarity by smell. 

Plasma Rainbow (Su)

Three times a day, an irisanax can project an intense arc of plasma energy from the jewel-like crystals along its back. This "plasma rainbow" has a range of 80 ft., and targets an area in a 20 ft. radius, dealing 3d6 fire and 3d6 electricity damage, with a DC 14 Reflex save for half damage. An irisanax can maintain the plasma rainbow effect for a number of rounds equal to its Con modifier by remaining immobile and concentrating (concentration +10). An Irisanax can target a new area with its plasma rainbow as a move action. An Irisanax is not immune to the effects of its own plasma rainbow. When an irisanax uses its plasma rainbow, any moisture clinging to its body (including the acid created by spells like acid arrow) evaporates instantly. The save DC of plasma rainbow is Cha-based.

Water Paralysis (Ex)

An Irisanax has a severe allergy to water. Complete saturation with water, such as by rain, or spells such as hydraulic torrent cause a an Irisanax to become sickened (no save) until it dries out. Complete immersion in water causes an irisanax to become staggered (no save), and prevents it from using its breath weapon, its tongue attack, and its plasma rainbow. Each round an irisanax remains submerged, it must make a DC 20 Fortitude save or become paralyzed until it dries out (or drowns).

#MST3K   #PathfinderRPG   #Monsters  
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James Olchak

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Hey, remember "The Last Boy Scout?" That...wasn't very good, was it?

That escalated quickly
A referee pulled out a gun when a dispute over a red card during an amateur Brazilian football match esclated.
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Now that is a sport I'd watch.
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James Olchak

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Okay, everybody, it's Monday, and "Fear the Walking Dead" was on last night. Normally, I write a whole, overwrought snotty recap on Monday, but I'm not doing that today.

Hey, whoa there, seven people who'll be disappointed! I'm gonna do it tomorrow.  Because this episode was actually kinda good, and I got to it late, today. So I want to be able to unpack it in a worthwhile fashion. 

So, tomorrow. If you're on the fence about watching it, go ahead. it's the best one they've made so far.

So, tune in, tomorrow, true believers. Excelsior, or somethin'.
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"But he also shouldn't think that, because there's no evidence that it's true."

Ah, facts. Love them or climb into a volcano.

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Goddam silver spoon motherfuckers

I loathe rich people and when the glorious revolution comes I will scalp this motherfucker

- in character speech from my favorite PC
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