Wednesday, March 29, 2017

(TV) The Walking Dead: Extended Trailer Season 7 Episode 16 Promo/Preview HD

(TV) The Walking Dead: TWD Review: ‘Something They Need’

(Photo Credit: AMC)

The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 15
By Garrett Yoshitomi

After last week’s cliffhanger, The Walking Dead keeps the momentum going with a well-paced episode that smoothly intertwines multiple characters and storylines. It’s sad to say, but “Something They Need” is a rare example of just how good of a show The Walking Dead can be when all of its pieces are humming along. It’s a treat worth savoring for sure, although I will say that the writers have been better at crafting more enjoyable filler, during season 7B. But we’re out of the filler woods now, and there's just one more episode to go in season seven. This week’s episode succeeds in setting up next Sunday’s season finale, and manages to function as a satisfying episode on its own merits, as well. There’s a lot to unpack too, as a ton of story-telling needs to happen before things wrap up with next week’s finale.

“Something They Need” quickly gets the ball rolling, setting the table with a montage of the Rick Grimes crew marching on the all-women Oceanside community. There’s a part of me that wishes we get to see Tara spill the beans about Oceanside to Rick, but it makes sense to forego this potentially awkward interaction, in favor of getting right into the action. In a strange way, this episode actually makes the disastrous Tara-centric “Swear” better, retroactively. We get a nice sense of closure with the Oceanside community that was missing when “Swear” first aired. Plus, the growth we get from Tara is probably the strongest we’ve gotten from any of our supporting characters.

(Photo Credit: AMC)
Tara’s always been one of the show’s more peaceful characters- typically choosing to see the good in others, and resorting to violence only when necessary. However, she’s also always seemed a bit useless, due in part to how little screen time she receives. When she finally got her moment in the spotlight in “Swear,” she struggled to really make a narrative impact, and for a while, her solo episode seemed like it would exist as one of the worst filler moments in the history of The Walking Dead. But, Tara showed chops this week. She seems to spearhead the Oceanside operation- running point as the main negotiator, and setting the tone for the nonviolent approach that Rick and co. end up successfully taking.

We get to see a bit more of the Hilltop Colony this week, although it’s of tertiary importance compared to the previous episode. It would be nice to get a more in-depth look at Maggie’s time at the Hilltop; and her quick ascension up their corporate ladder, but the brief scenes we do get are solid. Her conversation with a Hilltopper (Hilltopian?) -about how to use a tarp for farming- perfectly captures the quite confidence she exudes as a leader, as well as her naturally caring persona. I’ve particularly enjoyed her juxtaposition with Gregory, who continues to be just as slimy as ever. He’s charismatic enough to garner a bit of sympathy from viewers as he fumbles his way towards an approaching walker, but he’s just so cunning that any hopes of a Gregory redemption arc are dashed just as quickly as they’re formed.

(Photo Credit: AMC)
The highlight of this week’s episode is by far, Sasha. Her entire storyline takes place within the confines of a single room, but her interactions with Negan and Eugene easily steal the show. Sasha’s come a long way since her PTSD days of season five. But, her calm sacrifice for Rosita from last episode, as well as her staged pleas to Eugene this week, both demonstrate a well-honed ability to harness her inner rage into more subtle strategic ploys. Sasha’s storyline does take a rather dark turn with the Dave scene. It’s a touchy subject for any show to broach, but it is effective in demonstrating Negan’s rigid moral code. Negan’s been strangely absent for most of season 7B. Other than this week, he’s really only appeared in one other episode, “Hostiles and Calamities.” It’s likely that the writers are saving up Negan for an explosive showing in the season finale. Surprisingly enough, though, I don’t think the show’s really been hurting for Negan during these past seven episodes, as Simon and Gavin’s group of Saviors, as well as the Scavengers, have managed to successfully occupy antagonistic roles at various points of 7B.

(Photo Credit: AMC)
At this point, I think it’s pretty fair to say that Eugene’s gone full traitor. There was some fan speculation that he might be playing the long con- getting on Negan’s good side now to infiltrate the Saviors, and help take them down later. But after this episode, that ship has clearly sailed. Sure, there’s hope for Eugene’s eventual redemption- it’s obvious that he’s hitched his ride to Negan’s wagon more out of fear than outright malevolence. But, it’s going to be hard for some viewers to forgive him; or at the very least, find any future acts of heroism to be genuine. There’s only so many times you can take a character to the cusp of true change, just to drag their development backwards in the opposite direction. I fear that the writers will take the easy way out, and turn Eugene’s wishy-washy bravery into nothing more than a plot device, when he has the potential to be one of the show’s more compelling characters.

“Something They Need” is a pretty solid episode, and it wouldn't surprise me if it ends up being better than the season finale it’s meant to lead in to. There's a lot of loose ends that need to be wrapped up by next Sunday and I'm not entirely convinced that the writers have left themselves with enough runway to do so. I feel like an entire episode could be dedicated to dealing with this week’s last minute twist, but based on the preview for the season finale, it seems like this latest revelation will get resolved rather quickly. For the most part, The Walking Dead has proven capable of delivering a compelling finale, so I think it’s fair to expect a couple of fun, action-driven moments, even if all of the various loose ends aren’t fully fleshed up and tied together by season’s end.

Friday, March 24, 2017

(The Big Disrupt) Uber: Are We Witnessing Uber's Downfall?

A lot has been happening with the rideshare giant, Uber, lately. Allegations of sexism and discrimination, lawsuits from Google, and a slew of other things. All of which are probably not helping Travis Kalanick’s self esteem. One has to wonder how far this will go. On the one hand, he recently stated that Uber’s finances are just fine according to rumor. But if you do a quick search for Uber profits 2016 you find page upon page of results reporting otherwise. Not a good sign.

As we finish out Q1 of 2017, we are seeing headlines like “Here’s everything that’s gone wrong at Uber in the last month” (CNBC) and “What Travis Kalanick Can Do Now to Dodge Another Messy Month at Uber” (Fortune). As industry changing and innovative as the company has been, it is clear that their product alone will not sustain the company unless drastic changes are made. It would seem Mr. Kalanick may be on the brink of finally answering the wake up call from the rest of the world.

“...the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.” - Travis Kalanick (Fortune)

That’s great and all, but with the frequency he has been speaking out of both sides of his mouth in recent history, it’s dubious whether that help will actually be sought.

In Susan Fowler’s post about her experience with sexual harassment during her tenure at Uber (Susan J Fowler), she highlights that the two-faced nature of management goes deeper than just the top. She did all the right things in reporting the manager that was harassing her to HR (more than once) and even changed teams (again, more than once). HR defended the manager in question and essentially gave her an ultimatum presented as a ‘choice’. The story continues onward and just lays plain the issue at hand - Uber’s chain of command has some big problems. Companies with corrupt management may enjoy big successes, but eventually the company will either die from internal rot or external pressure.

Uber is seeing plenty of both.

In the last month some of their top staff have left. Most with titles like Director, Vice President, and, last but not least, President. At least seven high level people have left, which means that their departments are suffering from a lack of whatever leadership those people provided. Even if all of those players can be replaced within a reasonable amount of time through either internal promotions or external hires so much damage has already been done that it will be difficult to recover; if recovery is even possible.

Companies like Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Intel have helped lead the charge regarding diversity in their workforces. Uber will have to learn and change very quickly if they are to have any chance of saving themselves.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

(TV) The Walking Dead: The Walking Dead 7x15 Trailer Season 7 Episode 15 Promo/Preview [HD]

(TV) The Walking Dead: The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 14 TV Review by @garrettweets

(Photo Credit: AMC)
The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 14
By Garrett Yoshitomi 

The Walking Dead enters the homestretch of its seventh season with this week’s episode, “The Other Side.” We’ve officially left behind the filler-filled fun of the past three weeks, as “The Other Side” focuses more closely on the group’s central conflict with Negan. We get to see the culmination of Rosita’s season-long quest to hitch a one-way ticket to Savior Town, as well as the current state of the Hilltop Colony, including another run-in between Simon and Gregory.

After several weeks of build-up, Rosita’s incredibly well-thought out plan to assassinate Negan, finally gets put to the test. Rosita’s been a pretty unpleasant character this season- angrily berating anyone who isn’t onboard with her mission to storm the Sanctuary and shoot Negan in the face. This “my way or the highway” attitude has quickly transformed her from a forgettable side character, into a rather unlikeable antihero. As stupid as her plan is, it’s really her selfishness that makes her storyline so hard to embrace. It’s difficult to believe that a character would willingly commit to such a flawed plan, knowing full well that when it fails, Negan will take his vengeance out on the innocent people of Alexandria.

(Photo Credit: AMC)

With all that said, I don’t particularly mind the way Rosita’s arc plays out this week. It probably helps that this is a pretty well-balanced episode, featuring an enjoyable B-plot with Maggie and Daryl. If this episode had been entirely dedicated to Rosita, the pacing would have undoubtedly dragged, especially around the character development parts. Now, the character development that we do get for Rosita, this week, is fine. It’s not particularly groundbreaking by any means, but it gets us invested enough in her storyline for the episode, and she’s been enough of an unknown for the past several seasons, that any insight into her background is more than welcome.

It’s kind of poetic that after all of Rosita’s verbal chest-puffing, it’s Sasha that ends up swooping in and stealing her long-awaited moment. Some fans might call it lazy writing, yet another example of one of The Walking Dead’s heavy-handed misdirects, but I think it kind of works, given the context of the episode. Rosita’s spent a good portion of her life (and this show) being taken for granted, but if there’s one thing she’s proved over the course of this season, it’s that the eclectic mix of skills she’s gleaned from her former flames, actually makes her one of the most valuable members of Rick’s group. Sasha understands this, and acts accordingly. It’s a quick gesture, a sacrifice that focuses less on bloodshed and bullets (as most Walking Dead sacrifices do), and more on the subtle character dynamic behind it. It’s pretty easily my favorite (and probably last) Sasha moment, though, it’s fair to say that it’s a little out of character for her.

(Photo Credit: AMC)
If this week’s Daryl and Maggie scene doesn’t stir something up deep down inside of you, then you’re probably not a fan of The Walking Dead. We’ve had very few shared scenes between characters reacting to Glenn’s death, and this moment between Daryl and Maggie beats them all. It’s short, but sweet, as Daryl is finally forced to face Maggie after indirectly causing Glenn’s death. Of course, Maggie holds no ill will towards Daryl, and the way she reassures him is everything that The Walking Dead should aim for, in terms of scenes like these. It’s a little disappointing because it shouldn’t be this hard for The Walking Dead to manufacture these types of character moments. There’s so much potential for great drama baked into this show, but it’s constantly wasted on the nth conversation about “doing what needs to be done to survive” between Rick and character X.

Rounding out the rest of this episode are some enjoyable appearances from several supporting characters, all of whom I hope we see more of in season eight and beyond. First and foremost, we get another encounter between the enigmatic Simon and the still slimy Gregory. Simon has popped up in a handful of episodes, though the only thing we really know about him is that he’s a high-ranking Savior with an ever-changing taste in alcohol. Still, he’s probably the Savior lieutenant I enjoy the most, especially when compared to the paint drying personalities of Dwight and Gavin. Enid displays her usual amount of precociousness, although it’s against a much more formidable opponent than we’re used to seeing her face. She’s certainly come a long way from the Enid who was basically willing to abandon Alexandria and take her chances on her own, and it looks like she’ll be settling into a permanent position by Maggie’s side, for the foreseeable future. Finally, Jesus continues to demonstrate that he’s right at home with our ever-growing ragtag group of survivors. He’s always been an easy character to like, but he’s also had a surprising lack of major storylines to work with. Hopefully this changes in future episodes.
(Photo Credit: AMC)

We’re just two weeks away from the season seven finale, an episode that Andrew Lincoln says will be one of the most exciting, yet. It does feel like we’re running out of time for some of these lingering storylines to come together, although based on the preview for next week, it looks like this season’s penultimate episode will see the return of the Oceanside community. It’s been made pretty clear that this year’s finale won’t end on a cliffhanger, which makes it even harder to believe that things will all come together in a satisfying way. I’m thinking we’ll see something similar to this year’s mid-season finale- a fairly standard episode, with multiple storylines all converging onto one, non-cliffhanger point that gives us a clean starting point for next season.


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