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The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs returned March 15th for a special tribute to Roger Corman. Filmed live in Las Vegas during Joe Bob’s Jamboree last October, fans who were unable to attend can finally see what they missed. The Drive-In is available on AMC+ and Shudder.

This week on The Last Drive-In, Joe Bob and Darcy return to pay tribute to Roger Corman’s first 70 years in Hollywood. Roger and Julie Corman join the hosts between films at the West Wind Drive-In for an incredible interview on stage. Legendary actor Bruce Dern is also part of the conversation. Spanning the decades, Joe Bob presents Corman’s A Bucket of Blood (1959) and Deathstalker (1983).

Live from Las Vegas

A Tribute to Roger Corman begins with a live rendition of the show’s theme song in front of the cheering audience. The stage brings the trailer park to Vegas with its familiar set-up of chairs and a cooler. John Brennan croons as Yuki Nakamura beats a colander with a stick before introducing the show’s hosts. Joe Bob gives a special shout-out to the Las Vegas Chamber of Cannabis before introducing Darcy the Mailgirl.

In place of a tangentially related rant, Joe Bob opens with focused praise of Corman. He lauds Corman’s ability to fully meld the business and art halves of producing. Bringing attention to how “cheap” Corman is, Joe Bob highlights the smart decisions that sustained Corman’s long career. He calls them “the decisions of a producer who is being an artist.” Corman’s ability to spot talent and negotiate deals connects him to the beating heart of Hollywood, and leaves Joe Bob “truly in awe” of him.

Beatnik City

Part of what makes Corman special is his fascination with new and culturally relevant ideas. A Bucket of Blood (1959), is perhaps the best example of his ability to take real life and turn it into art. Corman together with writer Charles B. Griffith spent time in beatnik coffeehouses to create what Joe Bob calls “the ultimate parody of the whole beat generation.”

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A poster for Roger Corman's A Bucket of Blood.
A poster for Roger Corman’s A Bucket of Blood

Bucket tells the story of Walter Paisley (Dick Miller), an impressionable busboy who is determined to impress the customers he serves. Jealous of the attention poet Maxwell H. Brock (Julian Burton) commands; Walter decides to become a sculptor. While attempting to sculpt the face of the coffeehouse’s hostess Carla (Barboura Morris), Walter inadvertently kills his pet cat. Seizing the opportunity, he covers the cat in clay and passes it off as original work. When the sculpture gives him a taste of the adoration he seeks, Walter continues down the dark path of melding murder with art.

The Drive-In Totals include but are not limited to: 4 dead bodies, 1 dead-cat sculpture, attempted busboy seduction with heroin, skillet fu, and gratuitous beatnik poetry. “Four stars. Joe Bob says, ‘Check it out.’”

Decisions, Decisions

Despite the film only being 67 minutes long, Joe Bob emphasizes how its length in no way limits the complete and complex story. Corman cuts down film times as a production decision. According to Corman, 78 minutes is the perfect length for a movie because it lowers distribution costs. Low run-times also make movies more likely to receive a television sale as it allows for more commercials.

Joe Bob credits Bucket with defining the acting style of Dick Miller and kicking off his career of playing oddball characters. The film also shows the strengths of Julian Burton as a character actor. Corman expected those in his films to continue in the industry, but not necessarily with him. Speaking about a conversation he had with Corman once, Joe Bob recounts him saying, “If you make a third movie for me, I tend to lose all respect for you.”

Budgeting

Bemoaning that a producer like Corman doesn’t exist for the modern age, Joe Bob asks the audience who they think could be analogous. Eric Butts gleefully shouts out “Lloyd Kaufman!” Darcy agrees with Butts, but Joe Bob doesn’t seem to think one truly exists. If one does, I agree that Kaufman is the closest thing. Joe Bob seems to think Blumhouse might be it, but concedes “they make expensive movies now.” Corman was not one to make expensive films even if it was within the budget.

Utilizing cost-saving measures, Little Shop of Horrors (1960) was filmed shortly after Bucket and utilized the same sets. Little Shop is the only Corman film in the National Film Registry. Joe Bob seems perplexed by this as Bucket and Little Shop are “identically structured movies.” Between the two, he believes Bucket to be the superior film.

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When Darcy asks Joe Bob what he would do with $10 million in production funding, he says he would make 40 movies. Bucket of Blood 2, Gatorbait 3, and Hogzilla 2 are all thrown out as options. As soon as hogzilla is mentioned, the crowd bursts out in the now-familiar “Hogzilla! Hogzilla! Hogzilla!” chant. Being there, it felt good to be able to join in on the chant live instead of yelling it at my screen.

My rating for Bucket of Blood: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Crowd Pleaser

Due to the live format, there is no mail break between movies. Instead, Joe Bob announces that Darcy will be going through the crowd to collect their letters. This appears to be news to Darcy and she responds with a startled look on her face, “Oh, I will not be moving amongst them!” She may have become more confident with her place on The Last Drive-In, but sending her out into the dark among the masses is too far. We’ll try to not take it personally, Darcy.

Joe Bob sits on stage next to Darcy the Mailgirl
Joe Bob attempts to convince Darcy

Instead of leaving the stage, she asks Joe Bob if he has his questions ready for Corman. She braces again when he replies that he is going for spontaneity tonight. Joe Bob says he’s already asked all of his questions in previous Corman interviews, so he’s left with no choice but to wing it. “Whenever you say something off the top of your head, you make everyone mad, and I defend you,” she reminds him. 

Welcome to the Stage

A sense of joy and reverence overtakes the stage as Roger and Julie Corman join the hosts. It is easy to tell from Joe Bob’s face how much love and reverence he holds for Corman. Their relationship/friendship has lasted since Joe Bob presented Corman with a lifetime achievement award 40 years ago. Of course, the award was inscribed on a Chevy hubcap. And of course, it’s presentation took place at a drive-in theater.

Joe Bob Briggs interviews Roger Corman on stage.
Joe Bob interviewing Roger Corman

Noting that a Chevy hubcap just wouldn’t cut it this time, Joe Bob gives both Roger and Julie lifetime achievement awards inscribed on Cadillac hubcaps. When Darcy hands Corman his award, he smiles in delight. “That’s great, that’s great! I love it!” The synchronicity of the moment is a beautiful thing to behold.

Always Prepared

Although Joe Bob told Darcy he did not have questions planned, he dives into the interview. “You were the man who brought Ingmar Bergman to the drive-in,” he starts. Corman reveals part of his distribution strategy and notes that drive-ins typically suffer in the fall from a lack of pictures. He says they decided to put Bergman’s film Cries and Whispers (1972) into drive-ins and see what happened. “We were delighted to find we had done average business.”

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Corman is just as endearing and affable throughout the remainder of the interview. As Joe Bob delves into his genre-spanning career, Corman’s answers are a wealth of institutional knowledge and personal stories. This is an interview that anyone and everyone planning on going into film should watch. Going through the multiple genres reveals how much of a finger Corman kept on the pulse of culture as well as his chameleon-like ability to fit himself into any situation.

What a Trip

Genres he has worked in include (but are not limited to): westerns, redneck action, film-noir, rock-and-roll musicals, historical action, ripped from the headlines exploitation, gangster, comedy, pure action, costume drama, women in prison, sword and sorcery, and motorcycle movies. Corman reveals he holds an affinity for the science-fiction genre in particular. “[It] is laid in fantastic areas, but to a large extent, it can be a comment on the present day.” Julie chimes in to reveal the first story Corman ever wrote was a science-fiction piece, and Corman looks wistful as he remembers failing to sell it.

When asked about his art-film period, Corman talks about dropping acid with the cast of The Trip (1967). Intending to draw from the experience while filming, Corman says the experience didn’t go entirely to plan. “I had such a great trip.” He remembers worrying it was “going to end up as an ad for LSD.”

Surprise Guest

Unbeknownst to everyone in the audience, Joe Bob arranged for a member of The Trip’s cast as a surprise guest. Bruce Dern enters the stage clad in a leather jacket. I’m not sure if this is his normal garb, or if he is making a nod to another Corman film he starred in – The Wild Angels (1966).

Dern is bursting with praise for Corman and his impact on the film industry. When Joe Bob asks about working with Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, Dern asserts “We went to the University of Corman.” I immediately wish I could buy merch emblazoned with that. He summarizes Corman’s career succinctly, “You do shit that’s never been done.”

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Dern acknowledges that the pay wasn’t always fantastic, but that Corman always made sure his stars received the proper billing. “He put our names above the title.” Dern recalls being offended on Corman’s behalf for the lack of proper recognition throughout the years. “It was always fun to be with him and be able to say this kind of stuff about a guy, who God damnit deserves it.”

Lifetime Achievement

The interview ends with three incredible moments. First, Corman recalls receiving a death threat from Big Otto Friedli (a former President of the Hells Angels). Friedli was suing Corman in regards to The Wild Angels. His response to the threat leaves the audience in laughter. “My advice to you is forget the momentary pleasure of killing me and go for the million dollars.”

Next, the audience learns from Corman that a remake of Little Shop is coming in conjunction with Brad Krevoy. Joe Dante is directing the film, which is called The Little Shop of Halloween Horrors.

To end, Corman reveals that not only does he still have his original Chevy hubcap given to him 40 years ago, but that he brought it with him. In an incredibly touching moment, Corman bestows the award back to Joe Bob. “It’s my pleasure to give you the lifetime achievement award.” I cannot think of a higher honor.

You’ve Been Warned

Content warning: The second film of the night contains multiple depictions of sexual violence. Consequently, Joe Bob refers to it within his discussions of the film.

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Despite there being literally hundreds of Corman films to choose from, Joe Bob selects Deathstalker (1983) as the second movie. He breaks his decision down to three factors. First, he wants to present a sword and sorcery movie. Second, he wants to highlight Corman’s use of foreign countries to “make movies that otherwise would not be made.” Third, the movie has a lot of naked women in it and is “loincloth city.”

A poster for Roger Corman's Deathstalker.
A poster for Roger Corman’s Deathstalker

Deathstalker tells the story of, well, Deathstalker (Rick Hill) and his quest to acquire three magical items in order to defeat the evil sorcerer Munkar (Bernard Erhard). As Joe Bob puts it, “There’s rape and there’s pillage and there’s magic swords and there’s castles and there’s peasant hoards…”

The drive-in totals include but are not limited to: 30 breasts, 24 buttocks, limb ripping, spears through the gizzards, heads roll, leprosy fu. “Four stars. Joe Bob says, ‘Check it out!’”

Parental Advisory

This film has an almost absurd amount of sexual violence in it. It is rare for a woman to be on screen without there being sexual violence. If you are uncomfortable with watching that take place, Joe Bob does an accurate summation at each break. If you don’t want to hear about it, skip the second film entirely. As Darcy says, “This movie is very rapey.” 

Thankfully, Joe Bob does also delve more into Corman’s history during the breaks. Corman struck a 10-picture deal with Héctor Olivera and Aries Films based out of Buenos Aires. Joe Bob credits this deal with saving Aries Film during a time of hyperinflation in Argentina. Apparently, The Argentine film industry wasn’t a fan of Deathstalker and criticized the exploitation inherent in its production.

The stunt-work in the film is impressive. While the stunts are fun to watch, it’s hard to forget that the performers were risking bodily harm at a pay-rate that was only acceptable because of Argentina’s economic situation. Joe Bob highlights the work of José Luis Arévalo as the character Pig-Face specifically as deserving praise and recognition.

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A New World Order

Moving away from the film, Joe Bob goes deeper into Corman’s film distribution history. Starting with New World Pictures in 1970, Corman went on to create and sell various distribution companies. In the process, he created numerous sub-genres and launched the careers of several successful filmmakers. Martin Scorsese and Ron Howard are included in the list.

Corman would not allow someone to direct a film for him until they had editing experience. According to Joe Bob, Corman believes “editing is the key to great movies.” This calls back to his idea that 78 minutes is the perfect length for a movie. 

Lack of Defense

The film performed well in America but was a dud in its production home of Argentina. Joe Bob notes early into the film, “I am, by the way, one of the few defenders of this movie.” Darcy agrees that she is also a defender of the film. I am not.

My rating for Deathstalker: 1.3 out of 5 stars (1.3 / 5)

Wrap it Up

Although Darcy never waded into the crowd to collect letters, fans still wrote on whatever scraps they had and threw them in the collection box. Darcy chooses four letters, but my favorite comes from Victoria from Virgina. She writes in with a topical blonde joke: “Why did the two blonds freeze to death at the drive-in? They went to see ‘closed for the winter.’”

The night can’t really end until Joe Bob tells his jokes, and that he does. As the night draws to a close, John Brennan and the Bigfeet come back out with Yuki to sing the mutant oath as a send-off. Appropriately, the night ends with the crowd lovingly chanting Joe Bob’s name.

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While I may not be a fan of Deathstalker, the special overall was incredible to experience. Sitting live in the audience (and catching glimpses of myself on TV) is something I will never be able to forget.

It’s fascinating to see how the live experience translated to the screen, but production did a fantastic job making it seamless. The energy of the crowd is really what makes this special. Chanting will never be the same again.

Darcy on stage chanting "loincloth!"
Loincloth! Loincloth!

My rating for A Tribute to Roger Corman: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Kait (she/her) haunts the cornfields of the Midwest after being raised in a small Indiana town built on sickness and death. She consumes all sorts of horror-related content and spits their remains back onto your screen. You can follow her on Twitter at @ KaitHorrorBreak, where she live tweets The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs and posts other spooky things.

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Fallout, The Head

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Episode three of Amazon Prime’s Fallout continued the themes we’ve seen so far, with an added twist. With comedy and gore already blending, the story has added an air of tragic history for one of its least cuddly characters.

Let’s discuss.

The story

Walton Goggins in Fallout.

Our story starts with a flashback to before the bombs dropped. We see Coop, filming a movie. His wife is on set as well, and their adorable daughter. Coop has a comfortable life with a family he loves.

Isn’t that just a knife in the heart?

Back in the present, Lucy is traveling through the wastelands with the head of Wilzig. And she’s doing so with the same fear and joy that we’ve seen from her so far. Until that is, she runs into a Gulper. And after eating a defenseless deer, it swallowed up the head.

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Eventually, The Ghoul catches up with Lucy and decides to capture her. After using her as bait, he decides to drag her along with him.

Meanwhile, Maximus gets a message from the Brotherhood of Steel. Rather than coming clean, he claims to be Knight Titus and is accidentally sent a new Squire. That squire is Thaddeus, one of Maximus’s bullies from the base. And Maximus wastes no time in taking some sweet, sweet revenge.

Finally, we return to Vault 33. The vault is healing from the Raider attack and the loss of Lucy. Norm and Chet are being punished for letting Lucy leave, by being fired from their jobs. This throws Chet because he had a cool job.

Norm, on the other hand, didn’t like his job. He didn’t like any job. So, since this is the only way anyone gets punishments in the vault, he’s given the task of feeding the Raiders.

And talking to the Raiders was maybe not a healthy thing for Norm to be doing. He might learn something he didn’t want to know.

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What worked

The first thing I have to talk about is the massive creature called The Gulper.

This thing was fascinating. It was voracious, fast, and horrifying to look like. It was like a giant axolotl from Hell, with human fingers lining its whole mouth and throat. Why did it need fingers lining its mouth and throat? The better to drag someone down its throat and into its stomach. And the better to drag itself into my nightmares. This creature was well done.

The Gulper from Fallout.

On the flip side of this, I love the fact that the people of Vault 33 are so kind. They’re so willing to forgive, willing to care for their fellow man even when their fellow man is trying to kill them.

I don’t trust it, to be clear. But the perceived kindness from these people is uplifting. And I’m sure it will make whatever is going to eventually happen to them all the worse.

Of course, I can’t talk about the goodness of the vault dwellers without talking about the absolute horribleness of The Ghoul. The Ghoul is not a good person. He is cruel, and selfish, and clearly dislikes Lucy for some reason we do not yet know, and is probably not her fault.

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But we kind of understand how he got that way, don’t we? During the flashbacks, we see that he’s lost his wife and daughter. We also see that he was used as a mascot for the very company that created the vaults. And, while we don’t have any concrete proof yet, we can probably guess that these are not the good guys. Even if we haven’t played the games, anyone who’s even slightly genre-savvy can already guess that.

Which is the last thing I want to bring up here.

We know something stinks with the vaults. Something beyond the obvious issues of wealth disparities and the people left outside to die while those who could afford a Vault spot were saved. Something is rotten with the vaults, we all know this. What we don’t know is what form this rot will take.

Not yet.

What didn’t work

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Now, I wish I could say this was a perfect episode. But sadly, it wasn’t. And my biggest issue with the episode is with the character Maximus.

Now, I love Maximus. He wants to do good things in the world. He’s the underdog, and who doesn’t love that? He’s honorable and believes in the organization he belongs to.

I don’t love that he cannot do anything right. It feels like he wins fights by falling over and tripping into succeeding. And this character deserves so much more than that. Can we please, just once, see him be good at something or make a sound decision?

All that being said, this was still a fun episode. It was funny and bright, with an ominous feel and a horrific finger-ridden monster. I had a great time with it.

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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American Horror Story Delicate, Little Gold Man

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Last night’s episode of American Horror Story Delicate was wild. From its star-studded start to its powerfully quiet finish, I was enthralled through every moment.

Let’s discuss.

The story

We begin this episode at the funeral of Dex’s mom. While he’s giving a eulogy, which was very nice, Ms. Preecher walks in. She shouts to the room that Virginia didn’t commit suicide, she was murdered. She also tells Dex to listen to his wife.

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What a concept!

Touched by this, or maybe just curious, Anna goes to the hospital to check on Preecher. She falls asleep at the hospital. When she wakes up, Preecher is gone. A nurse says that she was discharged to a group of women.

While at the hospital, Anna also discovers that she’s been nominated for best actress.

Kim Kardashian in American Horror Story Delicate.

At a publicity event for the awards, Anna runs into Cora. And she sees the coat she remembers from her late-night visit near the start of her pregnancy.

With the slightest amount of pressure, Cora spills it all. She and Dex have been having an affair, and Cora was trying to sabotage Anna’s pregnancy. So Anna, channeling her inner Madison Montgomery, kicks him out and heads to the awards ceremony with Siobhan.

There, Siobhan asks her if she wants an Oscar more than anything. If she’d be willing to give up anything for it.

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And Anna says yes.

The bargain is then sealed with a kiss.

Kim Kardashian and Emma Roberts in American Horror Story Delicate.

What worked

I’d like to begin, paradoxically, at the end of the episode. We’ve seen Anna have some terrible, loud, frightening hallucinations in this season. At least, we assume they’re hallucinations. But this one wasn’t loud. It was, in fact, very quiet. Anna is led off stage, without a word, leaving nothing but a puddle of blood behind.

In horror, like in all art, the notes you don’t play are as important as the ones you do. And the notes that weren’t played her rang like a bell.

I also appreciated that this episode describes why being a celebrity would be a huge pain in the ass. Imagine going to an event where the whole purpose is for people to take pictures of you while holding their product. Imagine if they invaded your personal space, sprayed things on you, put things over your eyes, and you were expected to smile and pose.

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I don’t know what it is about being a celebrity that makes others feel entitled to a person. To talk with them, take their time, and share in their moments. To touch them without consent. Yes, there are way worse things happening to people. But this isn’t a great way to live. It’s no wonder so many of them go nuts. This is most clearly shown in the scene when Anna is sitting next to Preecher’s bed. She wakes up to find the older woman gone. But all anyone wants to talk about is how she was just nominated for an Oscar. At that moment, she doesn’t give a damn. She cares about this kind woman, and where she’s gone. Just like any other person.

Finally, I appreciated that this season didn’t do what so many AHS seasons do. Which is to say that this episode didn’t feel like the last episode. It felt like the penultimate episode. It felt like there was still more story to tell, not just loose ends to be wrapped up. I appreciate that the writers have finally learned that lesson.

For this season, at least.

What didn’t work

The first thing that bothered me in this episode was Cora’s confession. I said something about this during our live-watch event on Threads. (Join us next week for the finale. Bring popcorn and wine.)

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I don’t believe Cora’s confession. I further don’t believe that she just dumped all of this incriminating info on Anna with no more prompting than a wide-eyed look. There was just no reason for it. So, Anna saw her coat? Lots of people have similar coats. This feels fake, and she brought no receipts.

Tavi Gevinson in American Horror Story Delicate.

I also found Siobhan’s behavior confusing. At times she seems genuinely concerned for Anna’s wellbeing. At other times, she is more than willing to let her suffer and risk her pregnancy.

While this has been going on all season, it was happening every few minutes in this one. Either Siobhan cares about the welfare of that fetus, or she doesn’t. But she needs to pick a lane.

All in all, I don’t know what to expect from next week’s season finale. Anna has her Oscar, but now she might lose her baby. She might also get sucked into some horrible cult and experience a bad death. We won’t know until next week.

See you then.

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Fallout, The Target

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Episode two of Amazon Prime’s Fallout was equal parts funny and bloody. This almost always leads to a good time.

The story

We begin this episode with the birth of some puppies that look like they’ve had a rough start to life. Each one is weighed, with the ones who fall short being incinerated.

One pup who is just below the correct weight gets a bit of a thumb on their scale. The scientist weighing them, Wilzig, writes down the proper weight. He later takes the puppy home to raise instead of putting them into what looks like an unforgiving training program.

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Eventually, we see Wilzig put some blue glowing thing into his neck. When a soldier comes for him, Dog attacks the soldier, and the two escape.

Ella Purnell in Fallout.

We go from there to the wilderness, where Lucy is recovering from the last episode and enjoying a campfire at night. Wilzig and Dog come out of the shadows, saving Lucy from a bug monster. Wilzig tells Lucy she should go home. And if she’s not going to go home, she needs to evolve.

The next day Lucy finds her way to a town called Filly. As a Pennsylvanian, it hurts me to spell it that way. Lucy is entranced by this town, though clearly put off by the fact that no one is very nice here.

She eventually finds her way to a shop run by a delightful woman named Ma June. Ma doesn’t seem particularly interested in helping Lucy. Or, frankly, having Lucy in her shop.

Or in her town.

Eventually, Wilzig is tracked to this same shop, being tracked by The Ghoul. This is our final primary character. Lucy defends Wilzig, being aided at the last moment by Maximus.

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Maximus, by the way, has been having a terrible time. After finally becoming a squire he’s disappointed to find that his knight, Knight Titus, is a terrible person.

Fortunately, Maximus doesn’t have to put up with Titus for long. After Titus gets the bright idea to go hunting, he’s attacked by a mutated bear. Maximus freezes, unable to save him. Then, well, he decides not to save him.

It was Titus’s idea to go hunt the bear, after all.

What worked

Walton Goggins in Fallout.

The first thing I want to draw attention to is the shootout scene at Filly. This scene checked every box a fight scene should check. It was fun to watch, with great effects. But it also gave us insight into the characters. Lucy is a decent fighter and has a strong moral compass. The Ghoul is callus and desensitized to death. And Maximus continues to be, well, sort of bad at this whole fighting thing. But with enough moral fortitude that we have a hard time blaming him.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the dog. Who’s name, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, is just Dog. Which is fine. He doesn’t need to have a name to be a very good boy. He’s sweet, loyal, and fearless.

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Also, puppies. Puppies are always great.

Finally, I’d like to shine a spotlight on Lucy’s reaction to the world at large. She is both amazed and terrified by everything. And while she certainly doesn’t want to be rude, she also doesn’t want to be taken advantage of. The best example of this is when she stops to ask for directions with a bright smile and a gun.

Once again, I don’t have anything bad to say about this episode. It was funny, dark, and fun to watch. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the season. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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