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- 10/19/17--10:55: _RANKED: The 15 best...
- 10/19/17--11:07: _You have to watch t...
- 10/19/17--11:48: _Every major charact...
- 10/19/17--12:03: _Michelle Williams s...
- 10/20/17--07:03: _Pink says Christina...
- 10/20/17--13:02: _A quick guide to ev...
- 10/21/17--03:55: _Here's how much the...
- 10/21/17--09:06: _Everything we know ...
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- 10/22/17--19:01: _This one detail fro...
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- 10/22/17--20:17: _Here's the preview ...
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- 10/23/17--00:34: _There are 4 differe...
- 10/23/17--08:41: _Kit Harington expla...
- 10/23/17--11:13: _REVIEW: 'Stranger T...
- 10/19/17--10:55: RANKED: The 15 best Stephen King adaptations you need to watch
- 10/19/17--11:07: You have to watch this absurd new Netflix show, 'American Vandal'
- Michelle Williams revealed that she suffered from depression while in Destiny's Child during an interview on the CBS talk show, "The Talk."
- The 37-year-old spoke candidly about her struggles.
- "I'm in one of the top-selling female groups of all time, suffering from depression," she said. "When I disclosed it to our manager [Beyoncé's father, Matthew Knowles] at the time, bless his heart, he was like, 'Y'all just signed a multi-million dollar deal and you're about to go on tour. What do you have to be depressed about?' So I was like, 'Oh, maybe I'm just tired.'"
- She continued: "I was suicidal. I was to that place where it got so dark and heavy."
- The singer, who said that she suffered from depression since she was a teenager, added that she wanted to "normalize this mental health discussion."
- Williams also applauded Demi Lovato for being open and honest about her struggles.
- Watch her revealing interview below.
- Pink and Christina Aguilera had a feud in the early 2000s.
- During a new interview with Andy Cohen on Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live," Pink explained the story behind her and Aguilera's issues.
- "We were super young and super new at the whole thing. I'm an alpha and she's an alpha," Pink said. "I'm used to taking my altercations physical and she's used to taking them verbal."
- Pink then told Cohen that Aguilera was actually the one who tried to start a fight once.
- "Actually she swung on me in a club, which is hilarious," Pink said. "I laughed because it was just funny. But we're fine."
- The two singers made up on "The Voice," where Aguilera has served as a coach for several seasons.
- "I hadn't seen her in years and years and years, and we had become moms," Pink said. "We grew up. We hugged it out, it's that simple."
- Watch the full clip below.
- 10/20/17--13:02: A quick guide to every major character on 'Stranger Things'
- In 2016, Bette Midler mocked a nude selfie Kim Kardashian posted. Kardashian then responded with a mean comment.
- Pink then jumped in to defend Midler.
- On Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live," Pink explained why she felt she had to intervene.
- Watch the video below.
- 10/22/17--20:17: Here's the preview for the rest of 'The Walking Dead' season 8
- AMC has released a preview for the rest of the first half of "The Walking Dead" season eight.
- It teases more of Rick and Daryl together, Tara and Jesus paired up, and Carol with King Ezekiel and the people of the Kingdom community as they work together to take down Negan and his Saviors.
- Of course, the leader of the Sanctuary, is looming over everything. He's seen telling someone they "need to win it all."
- The next episode of "The Walking Dead" will air Sunday, October 29 at 9 p.m. Watch the trailer below.
- Kit Harington said in an interview that he sets days where he won't take selfies with fans.
- He also confirmed that he and Rose avoid being photographed together with people.
- "Because then it makes our relationship feel like … puppets," Harington said. "Like we're a walking show."
- Harington also reconfirmed why he doesn't talk about their relationship much.
"I strongly believe it's her relationship and mine, and anything I say here, she may not want me to say," Harington said. "So I just don't say it."
Hollywood loves adapting Stephen King stories.
He has a knack for crafting simple premises — what if you woke up and had psychic powers? What if your car had a mind of its own? — and taking them horrifying places.
Not all of them are worth watching, as Will Leitch and Tim Grierson wrote in their definitive ranking of 40 Stephen King movie adaptations for Vulture. But some of them rank among the best works Hollywood has ever produced.
This year is shaping up to be one of King's signature years. His "It" was recently adapted into an acclaimed horror movie. "The Dark Tower" was adapted into a, let's say, less-than-acclaimed one. "Mr. Mercedes" just ended a single-season run on the Audience network. Hulu will air a "Castle Rock" anthology series sometime early next year. Netflix recently released a well-reviewed adaptation of "Gerald's Game" and, on October 20, it will release an adaptation of his novella "1922."
Oh — and he writes, too! In fact, he just released a novel written with his son Owen, called "Sleeping Beauties." His other son, who writes under the pen name Joe Hill, is also a much-loved horror novelist.
With everything King has going on, it's a good time to dive into the movies and TV shows based on his work.
See below for our picks for the 15 best TV and movie adaptations based on King's work.
15. "Under the Dome" (2013-2015)
After "The Stand" (a movie adaptation is in development hell; the TV adaptation hasn't aged well) and "It," King's novel "Under the Dome" is his longest. It was adapted into a TV show over three seasons on CBS. The enthusiasm from critics waned as the season went on, but the first incredible season alone makes it worth the watch.
14. "The Mist" (2007)
When it was announced that Frank Darabont planned to direct another Stephen King adaptation, fans freaked out. His "Shawshank Redemption"ranks among the most beloved movies ever made, and "The Green Mile" has its fans as well. A movie about a creepy mist that attacks a small town would be a new challenge.
"The Mist" proved itself a love-it-or-hate-it movie. Itc split fans and critics, with a 72% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Some were miffed by an altered ending, but most people relished the terror.
13. "Christine" (1983)
Not all critics loved it in its release, but the John Carpenter-directed "Christine" has turned into a cult classic. It's a high school movie about a sentient Plymouth Fury that goes nuts and tries to kill its owner.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Netflix has a new sleeper hit that you've been missing. It's called "American Vandal," and it's outrageously good.
"American Vandal" is essentially "Making a Murderer," but about a fictional high school where a crime was committed. The crime, however, was spray-painting 27 cars in the faculty parking lot with the same repeated image: a cartoon penis.
You'd think a fake documentary about genitalia graffiti would be too ridiculous a premise. That's what I thought! I was wrong.
"American Vandal" takes its stupidity very, very seriously.
On paper, an eight-episode fake documentary series about a dumb high school vandalism sounds ridiculous. It is ridiculous, but "American Vandal" manages to make the investigation as intriguing as the very thing it mocks: Shows like "The Jinx" and "Making a Murderer," and podcasts like "S-Town" and "Serial."
The reason for that is because it treats the situation at hand — a hilarious juvenile image spray-painted identically on 27 cars — as seriously as a real murder case.
"In a way this is a four-hour d--- joke," series co-creator Dan Perrault told Vanity Fair in an interview last month. "But in a more general sense, it’s basically taking very silly things and treating them extremely seriously."
That ethos is evident right from the jump, which features a splashy intro and an interview with the main suspect: Dylan Maxwell.
Not only is "American Vandal" a fake documentary about a high school vandalism, but many of its characters — including the fake documentarians themselves — are high schoolers.
Dylan Maxwell, above, is considered the senior class clown by his fellow students. He's notorious for drawing cartoon penises all over his high school. A montage, supposedly pulled from social media videos and YouTube, shows Maxwell humping a piñata.
His first interview for the documentary opens the show, intercut with footage from the local news about the vandalism and brief interviews with other students. The news report says it could be upwards of $100,000 in damages. His fellow students think it's obvious who's responsible. He's facing expulsion, and potential criminal charges.
Maxwell, of course, claims innocence. And he doesn't know who did it. "It's super f---ing funny, so that's all chill," Maxwell says. "But letting me get expelled for something I didn't even do? It's just suuuuch a b---- move."
This is the tone of "American Vandal": deadly serious about something very dumb.
"American Vandal" is full of amazing little details that make it feel incredibly real.
The show is produced "In Association With The Hanover High School TV Department," and it's executive produced by "Mr. Baxter" (a teacher at Hanover High).
That said, the production values are just as high as any of the big name docs out there.
There are 3D re-creations of events, for instance, but the tactic is used in "American Vandal" as a means of exploring whether or not an average-looking guy hooked up with an especially pretty lady, for example.
"American Vandal" does a remarkable job of working within the boundaries it sets for itself. The documentary's production team are friends, and they're interviewing teachers who they may or may not have classes with. That might mean one of the crew members mysteriously drops out of an episode or two, for instance.
It sounds sitcom-y, but it plays out in a shockingly mundane way that's far more comparable with real high school life. Some of the "evidence" revealed throughout the course of the show results in real issues — like parents finding out how many times their teens had hooked up, for instance. The relationships aren't overdramatized or played up for dramatic effect. It's the same awkward nonsense you remember from high school, but more charming.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Warning: Spoilers if you haven't watched the first season of The CW's "Riverdale."
The "Riverdale" cast is full of characters to keep up with — from the high school students to their parents.
With new characters coming in and other characters mysteriously being killed, there are constant changes to the cast of The CW show. There's also one character, Reggie, who has been recast.
Here's who's living in Riverdale on season two and what you need to know about them.
Archie Andrews is a high school football player and aspiring musician.
The teen has had a number of romantic flings, including an affair with his music teacher Ms. Grundy, a brief relationship with Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats, and is currently dating Veronica. He turned down the position of football captain to focus more on his music and helps with his dad's construction business. The first season ended with Archie being a witness to his dad being shot.
Fred Andrews, Archie's dad, owns his own construction business.
Fred is a single parent since he and his wife separated, which helped form a close relationship between father and son. The divorce has not been finalized. He used to be best friends with Jughead's father, FP Jones, in high school, but the two now have a complicated relationship. His fate was left hanging in the balance after he was shot by a robber at Pop's diner.
Mary Andrews moved to Chicago after separating from Fred.
Mary has been gone for two years when the first season of "Riverdale" starts. Fred travels to Chicago to finalize the divorce. But after the parents receive a tearful phone call from Archie, they return to Riverdale together. She eventually returns to Chicago, but not before extending an invite for Archie to move back with her. He declines.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Warning: Spoilers ahead for all of "Stranger Things" season one.
Netflix's hit series "Stranger Things" returns for a second season on October 27. Though Eleven defeated the Demogorgon at the end of the first season, Hawkins is still in danger and Will Byers is seeing flashes of the Upside Down. In case you haven't re-binged the whole series again, we're here to remind you of every important character and their names.
From Mike's friend group to all the parents and teachers, keep reading for a review of all your favorite characters.
Eleven is a young girl with psychic and telekinetic powers.
Eleven, or El, escaped from Hawkins Lab after she spent her whole life being studied and used for government spying. El is most recognizable with her shaved head or blonde wig, but for the second season her natural brown hair has grown out into curls.
Will Byers disappeared into the Upside Down, triggering the series' events.
The opening scene of the first episode shows Will vanishing into thin air. Later we learn that he's been taken by the monstrous Demogorgon into the Upside Down, and it's up to his friends and family to save him.
Mike Wheeler is the de facto leader of his friend group.
From leading his friends in Dungeons and Dragons games to spearheading the hunt for Will, Mike spent the first season of "Stranger Things" juggling his friendships with his feelings for newcomer Eleven.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Warning: There are spoilers ahead for "The Walking Dead."
Rick, Daryl, and the "Walking Dead" gang have fought the living and the dead on the hit AMC show since its debut in 2010. From massacring cannibals to hacking away at limbs to save others from turning, most of the crew have done unspeakable things to get to where they are today.
For those who have survived, though grim, the experiences have helped shaped the group into the characters we know and love today.
With season eight upon us, INSIDER is looking back at where some fan favorites started their journeys. Keep reading to see how your favorite characters who have been on "The Walking Dead" the longest have evolved.
At the start of the show, Rick Grimes woke up from a coma to discover a world taken over by the undead. He quickly had to become desensitized to the idea of killing walkers before they could kill him.
Grimes was trying to reunite with his family. After quickly doing that, he became the leader of a small group and tried to navigate balancing right and wrong in a new world.
Rick has shed the sheriff look and traded it in for his signature beard. Rick has gone through several different leadership styles from the domineering Ricktatorship to a more laid-back democracy. As he prepares for "all out war" on season eight, expect to see a no-nonsense Rick come back to the forefront.
Though Rick was beat down and broken a bit last season after meeting Negan, the group's leader is back in action and, it appears, more relentless than ever as he goes after the Saviors.
We would be remiss if we didn't mention that Rick has grown some pretty sweet beards over the course of the show.
Rick's son Carl started out as a young, naive boy who was always finding ways to get out of the line of sight of his mother.
He had to learn how to protect himself and his family.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Mindhunter," including discussion of a possible second season plot.
Netflix's new true-crime-inspired drama "Mindhunter" is based on the real story of the FBI's 1970s research into psychopaths and the behavior of serial killers. Throughout the first season, an unnamed man who works for ADT is shown at the start of seven episodes, and he's based on a real murderer known as the "BTK Killer," though his real name is Dennis Rader.
All of the interviews of serial killers conducted by Holden Ford and Bill Tench in the show are pulled straight from the nonfiction book by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker, "Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit." You can read our breakdown to see how those fictional versions of the murderers compare to the real person.
But one real-life killer shown in "Mindhunter" went unnamed on the first season: Dennis Rader.
Dennis Rader, aka the "BTK Killer"
Rader was a serial killer active in Kansas from 1974 to 1991. Over the course of those years, he killed eight women and two men via strangulation, suffocation, stabbing, or hanging. Rader was married and had two children, and was a leader in his community through the Christ Lutheran Church and Cub Scouts.
He worked for the ADT security company from 1974 to 1988, which is why the "Mindhunter" version of Rader is shown wearing the ADT uniform and inspecting houses.
"Mindhunter" teases other real-life aspects of Rader's case, too. He mailed letters to the police in the years before his arrest. The signature on the letters was "BTK"— for "bind, torture, kill." He became known as the "BTK Killer" before his arrest in 2005. One of the cold opens on "Mindhunter" shows Rader dropping a letter into a mailbox while wearing gloves.
Another "Mindhunter" opening showed Rader watching TV and practicing tying knots over and over. This was a nod to the way he would bind his victims before killing them using rope, stockings, or belts.
"Mindhunter" teased a victim who accidentally evaded death
The show also might have cleverly shown a night when Rader intended to kill but his would-be victim was late coming home. Early on episode eight, Rader is shown sitting alone in the dark drinking water. When the clock chimes, he gets up and looks through the front window. Then cleans his glass, retores the kitchen to normal, and angrily pounds his chest before leaving.
According to a Washington Post report from 2005, Rader waited for 63-year-old Anna Williams in her home on the night of April 28, 1979.
"But she was at a square dance and stopped to visit her daughter, not returning home at her usual time. BTK left in a huff," The Post reports.
He then sent a poem titled "Oh, Anna, Why Didn't You Appear" to Williams and a Wichita, Kansas news station.
"T'was a perfect plan of deviant pleasure so bold on that Spring nite," the poem read.
After nearly three decades of intermittent killing, Rader was arrested in 2005 after a floppy disk he sent to the police revealed metadata connecting the disk to the Lutheran Church and "Dennis." The circumstantial evidence as well as familial DNA evidence was enough for an arrest and subsequent conviction.
Rader, now 72, is still alive and serving 10 consecutive life sentences. He is being held in El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas and his earliest possible release date is listed as 2180.
What Rader's appearance means for future seasons
If Rader wasn't arrested until 2005, how will he factor into future seasons of "Mindhunter"? As Vanity Fair's Joanna Robinson noted, the author of "Mindhunter" also cowrote a book in 2007 titled: "Inside the Mind of BTK: The True Story Behind the Thirty-Year Hunt for the Notorious Wichita Serial Killer."
This could mean the Netflix series plans on playing the long game and slowly moving Holden and Bill's characters through the 80s, 90s, and into the early 2000s with Rader's arrest.
Netflix's "Mindhunter" was written by Joe Penhall. In an interview with Esquire, the actor who plays Bill (Holt McCallany) said he received a "five season bible" when the role was first offered to him. But don't expect season two to be focused on Rader's murders and the hunt for the "BTK Killer."
Director David Fincher, who helmed four episodes of the first season of "Mindhunter,"told Billboard that season two will focus on the Atlanta Child Murders. This spree of killings occurred between 1979 and 1981 when 29 African-American children, teens, and young adults (most of which were boys) were kidnapped and murdered."
"Mindhunter" was already renewed for a second season by Netflix, though no release date has been announced.
For more on the real killers featured in "Mindhunter,"read our comparison of the fictional interviews and the facts.
Pink, who just released her first new album in 5 years, came for Kim hard in March 2016 after the former posted a naked pic to Twitter that caught the (negative) attention of the Hollywood legend. When she appeared on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" this week, she explained what spurred her to jump into the feud.
"When you tweeted women using their brains not their body for attention, were you trying to throw some shade at Kim Kardashian or was that people on Twitter jumping to conclusions?" one viewer asked.
"Honestly she went in on Bette Midler and if you go in on Bette Midler, you’re going to hear from me," Pink said. "Just don’t talk to Bette Midler about anything."
On the day in question, Kim posted the shocking nude pic that prompted Bette to tweet, "Kim Kardashian tweeted a nude selfie today. If Kim wants us to see a part of her we’ve never seen, she’s gonna have to swallow the camera."
Kardashian tweeted back, "Hey @BetteMidler I know it’s past your bedtime but if you’re still up and reading this send nudes #justkidding."
Pink followed that tweet up with a very powerful message to fans telling them to use their "brains" rather than their bodies to make it in life. Check out the hottest pics of Kim right here.
"Shout out to all of the women, across the world, using their brains, their strength, their work ethic, their talent, their ‘magic’ that they were born with, that only they possess," she wrote. "It may not ever bring you as much ‘attention’ or bank notes as using your body, your sex, your t**s and a***s, but women like you don’t need that kind of ‘attention.’ In the quiet moments, you will feel something deeper than the fleeting excitement resulting from attention, you will feel something called pride and self-respect. Keep on resisting the urge to cave. You’ll never have to make silly excuses for yourself."
Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the season eight premiere of "The Walking Dead," titled "Mercy."
Among the many details and references mentioned in the 100th episode [will add link] of "The Walking Dead" are many nods to the series' first episode.
An older Rick wakes up in a bed, mirroring Rick waking from his coma, and one of the episode's final shots is reminiscent of the end of the 2010 pilot with Rick trapped in a tank.
However, there's one extended scene in the premiere which may have had you feel like you were experiencing déjà vu.
Early on Sunday's episode, Carl goes on a run to a gas station. The scene plays out almost exactly like the opening scene from 2010's pilot.
Both father and son are seen driving down a highway, get out of their vehicles, and meander through a graveyard of cars.
They stumble upon abandoned trikes, the undead in cars, and take a peek under a vehicle.
Here are a few of the similarities you see between the two episodes:
What's up with the similar scenes?
At New York Comic Con, episode director Greg Nicotero said it was a near shot-for-shot recreation of the pilot episode to celebrate the 100th episode. It's a pretty cool way to both honor the past and to hint at a potential passing of the baton in leadership in the near future. After all, we know Rick will be getting older from those flash-forward scenes.
You can watch the scene with Carl mimicking his dad's movements below:
Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the season eight premiere of AMC's "The Walking Dead," titled "Mercy."
Rick raged war against Negan on the season eight premiere of "The Walking Dead," and it actually may have been one of his best-executed plans to date. Not only did Rick successfully rally together three communities on a sneak attack, but he also managed to unload a giant herd of the undead on the Sanctuary.
If you're an eagle-eyed viewer and thought that herd looked familiar, you're right.
The giant zombie horde is the same one that was teased all throughout season seven.
"We sort of played with the idea that that herd was trapped on the freeway, and it was the one that we saw in the premiere of season seven where Rick and Michonne drive the cable through all the walkers," executive producer and episode director Greg Nicotero told INSIDER. "We discussed the intent that it is the same freeway that we've seen before."
If you're not familiar, there was a minor, but important story line being told if you paid attention to the radio calls and background characters on multiple episodes during the seventh season. One of the Saviors, Joey, was in charge of setting up traps to deter a giant group of walkers from approaching the Sanctuary. On the season's seventh episode, Joey was heard telling Negan that walker redirect "got screwed up."
He said it was being taken care of, but not too long after Daryl escaped from his cell and beat Joey to death.
Without Joey around as the brains of the zombie misdirect, it wasn't clear who, if anyone, was trying to redirect the massive herd. On the seventh season's midseason premiere. Rick, Daryl, Rosita, came across the horde and stole a number of the dynamite sticks that were set up by Joey's team to redirect the walkers.
At the time, it seemed like a big mistake. Were those walkers now going to head to the Sanctuary or may they wander off to Rick's home in Alexandria or one of their neighboring allies?
Rick and Daryl probably learned more about this herd and why the traps were set for them when they started working with Dwight behind Negan's back. They may have had a sense of it before then when they first came across the explosives.
Regardless, it was brilliant of Daryl, Carol, Tara, and Morgan to lead the walkers by utilizing a similar strategy to Joey's. Daryl guided the flock of zombies effortlessly toward the Sanctuary by firing off one explosion after the next to get them to follow along.
It was much better orchestrated than the time when Daryl last tried to lead a pack of walkers along with Sasha and Abraham on the sixth season's premiere and an unfortunate truck horn ushered the dead toward their home of Alexandria.
Negan probably didn't expect that mistake from Joey's demise to literally come back and try to bite him, or at least not this soon.
You can follow along with all of our coverage from "The Walking Dead" season premiere here.
Warning: There are massive spoilers ahead for "The Walking Dead."
Sunday's eighth season premiere of "The Walking Dead" managed to bring together it's entire large cast to screen, while also finding time to introduce one more character who should become important this season.
Early on the episode, Carl comes across a man ranting about getting shot and having a microwave thrown at him. He then starts citing quotes from the Quran. If you can't recall it, AMC released the scene ahead of the season's premiere. You can watch it here.
Later on the episode, we get a good look at the man's face when Carl returns to the abandoned gas station to bring him food.
While some viewers may have been groaning over the addition of yet another character to the bloated cast, comic fans were hyped to see the character. That's Siddiq!
Who is Siddiq?
Siddiq is an Arab-American who's introduced in issue #127 of the comic.
His entry onto the show is a little surprising now because he doesn't appear in the comics until after the "All Out War" story arc occurring this season. At that time, the comic flashes forward two years and Siddiq is part of a construction crew building up Alexandria's thriving community.
In addition to being a handy man, Siddiq is a skilled fisherman in the comics. It's a chance meetup with Michonne while out at sea that lands him in Alexandria.
Will this be a different version of Siddiq?
In April, TVLine reported that "an innately likable Muslim American" would be joining the cast. The casting call referred to the character as "Abbud," but shows and films are known to put out fake names during casting. "The Walking Dead" casting directors told INSIDER when they were casting for Negan, he went by the name of Orin.
During the episode premiere, Entertainment Weekly's Dalton Ross confirmed that was indeed Siddiq.
Avi Nash ("Silicon Valley") was cast for the part, even if it is a slightly different interpretation of the character. Fan favorites including Carol and Michonne have had some big screen departures from their original comic counterparts.
According to TVLine, "Abbud" the character has been on his own for a while and it's caused him to be a bit jittery.
Why his entrance onto the TV show is interesting
In the comics, we learn Siddiq was a member of the Oceanside community. That's the very same group viewers saw on the show's seventh season.
The only difference is that the show version of Oceanside is an all-female community. Tara was told that Negan's men killed off all of the men in their group. It's not clear whether or not Siddiq will have an altered background on the show or if he'll wind up being a lone male survivor of the Oceanside community who hasn't been able to reunite with his people.
The character will almost certainly cross paths with Rick this season
If you paid close attention to the season premiere, some of Rick's final words on the episode are, "Have mercy prevail over my wrath."
Those words should sound familiar because they were uttered by Nash's character when Carl ran into him.
"That has a significant place in terms of a character that's introduced,""The Walking Dead" executive producer and episode director Greg Nicotero told INSIDER of the repetition of the quote on the season premiere.
We'll have to wait until next week to possibly see more of Siddiq. Until then, follow along with more of our coverage from the season premiere here.
Warning: There are spoilers ahead for AMC's "The Walking Dead" season eight premiere, titled "Mercy."
"The Walking Dead" finally went to war on Sunday night's season eight premiere. After losing his way on season seven, viewers were treated to a no-nonsense Rick Grimes who may have executed his best plan to date, a giant walker herd storming the Sanctuary, and a few intriguing flash-forwards.
Rightfully so, the 100th episode of the series had a lot of nods to previous episodes, teases of what's to come, and one very special dedication that may not have caught your eye on a first watch.
Keep reading to see everything you may have missed.
Let's start with an easy one. We see an older, grayer Rick wake up near the episode's start.
When this shot appeared in the season's first trailer many thought it confirmed a long-believed fan theory that the zombie apocalypse was taking place in Rick's head during a coma. That's not the case.
It's a direct callback to the show's first episode.
Everything from the way that Rick wakes up, to the focus on the flowers at his bedside could easily fool fans into considering the entire show may have been a crazy coma dream.
Episode director Greg Nicotero told INSIDER we are seeing a "great, thriving community" in Alexandria at some point in the future. You can read more on what the mysterious flash-forward in the episode means here.
The truck Carl drives has a familiar logo on it.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Warning: There are massive spoilers ahead for "The Walking Dead."
The season eight premiere of "The Walking Dead" was one of the show's largest episodes to date.
Not only did it bring together just about everyone on the show's large cast for its 100th episode, but it was a fast-paced, action-packed hour which may have left fans with more questions than answers. What was up with those flash-forwards? Why didn't Rick kill Negan when he clearly had the chance? And are we ever going to see Heath again?
INSIDER spoke with the show's executive producer and episode director Greg Nicotero about the biggest questions from the season premiere, a big moment you may have overlooked in plain sight, and his favorite Easter eggs on the episode.
Kirsten Acuna: I was surprised to see Old Man Rick on this episode. Why was it important to show him in the premiere? I thought we may see that a little bit later.
Greg Nicotero: Well, I think what we love to do on the show sometimes is give our audience some clues to a puzzle and allow them to start interpreting what it all means. I think the idea that we're going into war, the opportunity to get a glimpse of what life could be after the war is pretty great. That's what they're fighting for. They're fighting for this life, so I think it's important always to be able to give the audience little pieces of information and allow them to start working out what the details are. It's pretty great.
Acuna: Yes. Is that really supposed to be two years, like in the comics? Rick looks kind of old with the gray hair. And Judith looks quite a bit older.
Nicotero: Yeah. I think it's probably a little more than that, because Judith does look older and Rick looks ... He's just a little grayer with his crew cut and such. I don't know if we've ever really sort of worked out the exact timeline in terms of exactly how many years in the future it is, but Alexandria's a pretty exciting, great, thriving community.
Acuna: It looks that way. Well, it's good to know that that's Alexandria we see. It seems like we have a few timelines playing out on the episode. We have the regular one of them going to war. We see future Rick. Then there's this other Rick with the rainbow light shining on his face. It's a little confusing, but it seems like it will make sense as the season plays out. Is there anything you can say about that? I've seen some comparing it to the flash sideways scenes from "Lost."
Nicotero: Yeah. I mean, that will unfold as the series continues. I'm sad to say that I've never seen "Lost."
Nicotero: I know. I know. Simon Pegg has basically said, "When you have time, that's what you need to sit down and watch."
Nicotero: It gives me something to look forward to. But I know [showrunner] Scott [Gimple] is a big fan, so it's very possible that Scott has weaved some of those bits and pieces in there. I just might not be aware of it, because I'm not familiar, as familiar, with it.
Acuna: OK. Well, when you get a chance, it did feel like there was some of that influence there. Can we talk a bit about the role that time plays on the episode? I know I mentioned the timelines, but there's a lot of focus on watches and time. Why is that?
Nicotero: I think it's always a situation where we're dealing with a finite amount of time to actually accomplish what they need to do. The Saviors have numbers and strength behind them, so now the fact that our groups, our worlds, or our communities, have finally banded together, Maggie mentions, "Oh, we've all trained for this." They've spent several days working out what their plan is going to be, but there always is ... In any sort of orchestrated scenario like this, it has to be choreographed. We see a lot of bits and pieces of leading the herd towards the Sanctuary, and Carol and Tara are timing out how long the walkers are taking to get to certain road maps, so they know when to detonate the bomb, when to lead the herd off of the freeway and towards the Sanctuary. Everything is very elegantly choreographed for exactly that reason.
Acuna: I'm glad you mentioned the horde of walkers. You said at New York Comic Con there were a lot of Easter eggs on this episode. I was wondering if the herd Daryl helps direct towards the Sanctuary, may that be the same herd Joey was trying to misdirect on season seven before he was killed?
Nicotero: Yes. I think that's safe to say. We sort of played with the idea that that herd was trapped on the freeway, and it was the one that we saw in the midseason premiere of season seven where Rick and Michonne drive the cable through all the walkers. We discussed the intent that it is the same freeway that we've seen before.
Acuna: That's awesome to know. I've been keeping tabs on all the little mentions you guys have been throwing in along season seven. I think one of the biggest questions of the episode that fans will have is, "Why doesn't Rick just go and kill Negan?" I know that Gabriel stops him. He says it's not about him, it's about a larger world, but doesn't it end with killing Negan?
Nicotero: It does. But, I think what he's trying to say is it's not just about killing Negan, but it's about how and what they do after, which is ... It's a very important theme.
I think the fact that Gabriel and Negan end up together when Gabriel was the one that was saying, "This is not just about one person," I think he's also just trying to keep Rick focused and realize that he is their leader and they're following him into this battle where people could die.
Acuna: Also, I love that Rick takes that little Polaroid. I know the Saviors are into taking photos of people, but why does Rick take that specific one of Negan?
Nicotero: I think it's just like they did with Glenn and just like they did with all the other people that Negan killed with the bat. I think that was Negan's way of having some proof as to like, "Oh, this is what we're capable of doing." As sort of not necessarily a deterrent, but an opportunity to go, "Listen, if you go with us, you can live. If you don't, you go against us, this is what the result will be."
I think there's a little bit of glee from Rick when he takes that picture, because he's got a little smirk on his face.
Acuna: Oh, certainly.
Nicotero: I think we'll get a chance to see a little bit more of that as we continue.
Acuna: Interesting. One of the other big things people will be talking about is Rick's quote near the end of the episode. "My mercy prevails over my wrath." Why use that quote? I noticed it's from Islam, maybe a nod to a character we may see on the premiere.
Nicotero: Well, there is a character at the beginning [of the episode] who said that, the character that Carl hears in the gas station. He says that.
Acuna: Huh. I'm going to have to go back and listen. I missed that.
Nicotero: Yeah, unless it got cut out and I don't know about it, but I think it was ... I know it was in there when I shot it.
Acuna: OK. [For the record, we went back and watched the review episode after our interview and the line is in there when Carl is at the gas station. You have to listen carefully, or you may miss it.]
Nicotero: But yes, that has a significant place in terms of a character that's introduced.
For more on that mysterious character, you can read our full breakdown on him here.
Acuna: There are a lot of little Easter eggs and throwbacks to other episodes, as you mentioned at Comic Con. Some are obvious, like the shot-for-shot re-creation of the pilot opening. What is your favorite that people may overlook?
Nicotero: Oh, let me think. Well, we had Rick waking up in the bed with the flowers. We had the gas station sequence. Of course, there's that last shot of Gabriel and Negan in the trailer, and that high pull-up shot which is very reminiscent to the last shot in the pilot as well. There's several of those little pieces in there.
Acuna: Yeah. Negan asks Rick if he thinks he has the numbers for their war on the episode. Do we know how many men Negan has? I feel like this is something I've been wondering since the end of season six. Rick's group has taken out a lot of Saviors, but they always seem to keep popping up.
Nicotero: I don't think we've ever honestly defined that, because there are outposts. As we've seen in the show, every once in a while they will turn around and attack an outpost or come upon groups of people, but I don't know if we know exactly how many satellite outposts there are. It's hard to say. You have the people living in the Sanctuary, some of them that are workers and then some of them that are soldiers. I don't think we've really ever indicated an exact number of people.
Acuna: Right. OK. The start of "All Out War" in the show, it's very different from the comics. In the comics, there's a second lineup [of Rick's group that Negan does which mirrors the season seven premiere]. Were there ever plans to do that, or is that something that was maybe changed up after how the reception to season seven premiere was? I feel like you guys kind of hit on that on the season seven finale instead, when you just had Rick and Carl down on their knees.
Nicotero: Yeah. I think that's an accurate assessment, which was that, yeah, there was no reason to do it again, because Negan basically re-created that lineup again with Carl and Rick in the finale last year.
Acuna: OK, that was my sense watching the episode. That was the sense I got. I know Scott Gimple said something about this, but what is going on with Heath? I know Corey Hawkins is doing his own thing, but are we ever going to hear anything more of him? It just seems a little weird that no one has asked about where he is, unless that happened off-screen.
Nicotero: You know, I don't know. I love Corey. I think he's a fantastic actor. I think we were lucky enough to grab him right at the moment where he sort of exploded onto the scene, so to speak. We can always hope that he can pop up every once in a while, or we leave it a little mysterious. We haven't really addressed much of that as of late.
Acuna: Well, there's always time down the line. You guys brought back Lennie James [as Morgan] years later, and that has been wonderful to see. Greg, is there anything else that you want to share about working on the premiere episode? I know you've directed so many episodes. I believe we see your face in the premiere. You're one of the walkers, one of the disembodied heads.
Nicotero: Yeah, that was a little tribute to "Day of the Dead," which was my first movie. In the movie, my character gets killed, and then my head is reanimated as a zombie. We made a radio-controlled head of me as a tribute to that moment from "Day of the Dead."
We had built it long before we had ever even knew that George [Romero] was ill. Then of course, he passed away in July, so I'm even more honored that that's in there, because it's yet another opportunity for me and for all of those people that just love and respect what George has done for us to pay tribute to him in the episode.
Acuna: Certainly. Thank you for sharing that. Well, I really enjoyed the episode. I hope you're happy with how it turned out. I think the fans will be too.
Nicotero: Thank you for saying that. We're in it so much. We're just down there, and it's kind of our own little bubble. Then we get to come up for air and go to San Diego, and then come up for air and go to New York, and then we go right back down to our little place down there. It feels like this has been the longest season in terms of really the anticipation of the show coming back on the air. It feels like it gets longer and longer. It's not, but it just feels that way.
I'm really proud. I'm really excited. When I watched the episode, when it was over, I was like, "Oh my God, I can't wait to see what happens next." I'm like, "Wait a minute. I already know what happens next." If I had that reaction, I'm really excited to see how other people will react.
Acuna: I think one of the only problems I had was that I thought it was going to be like an extra-long episode like some of the other ones. I wanted there to be more.
Nicotero: You know what, this was such a complicated episode to shoot, because we had every single character in the whole show and all these locations, and setting the stage for the rest of the series. I would have loved it to have been a longer episode, but I honestly don't know how we would have made it longer, because it was just ... It's a dense episode. There's not one wasted frame of film.
This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC. You can follow along with our coverage all season long here.
Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the season eight premiere of "The Walking Dead," titled "Mercy."
When the trailer for the eighth season of "The Walking Dead" was released in July, there was one scene that stuck out immediately to fans.
Rick was shown waking up in a bed with graying hair and flowers by his side. The scene mimicked the opening shot of the show's 2010 premiere leading some fans to immediately think Rick may be waking out of a coma.
Fans definitely know that wasn't the case now. Sunday's season eight premiere wasted little time showing more of Old Man Rick waking up from his bed, moving around slowly with a cane(!), and interacting with Michonne and his much-older daughter, Judith, throughout the episode.
Fans were thoroughly excited the show wasn't dragging the trailer tease out for later in the season and were overwhelmed by the appearance of Judith.
But others had some confusion wondering if we were witnessing Rick's real future play out. After all, the scene mimicked the extended dream sequence from the seventh season's Blu-ray with Glenn and his child around a dinner table in Alexandria.
Is it safe to say we're seeing Rick living out some sort of happily ever after?
Yes. Episode director Greg Nicotero confirmed to INSIDER we're seeing Alexandria in the future. "The Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman also assured fans on the aftershow Sunday that we're definitely not seeing Rick in a coma in those scenes.
But how far into the future are we seeing Rick? Comic issue #127 jumps forward an entire two years after Rick's war with Negan's Saviors.
"I think it's probably a little more than that, because Judith does look older and Rick looks ... He's just a little grayer with his crew cut and such," Nicotero told INSIDER of the timeline of the flash-forward scenes in Sunday's premiere. "I don't know if we've ever really sort of worked out the exact timeline in terms of exactly how many years in the future it is, but Alexandria's a pretty exciting, great, thriving community."
Rick actor Andrew Lincoln told ComicBook.com he believes Judith to be four to five years old in the time jump.
It's not clear how Rick got to this point, but it looks like the current war with Negan may turn out in his favor, minus that whole cane situation. Nicotero didn't say much more, but he did say it's not the last we'll see of Old Man Rick in season eight.
"That will unfold as the series continues," he added.
"These characters will be forever changed by this conflict, and hopefully it will end in certain ways that will surprise all of you," said showrunner Scott M. Gimple on the series' aftershow "Talking Dead" Sunday night.
If you paid close attention to Rick in the season premiere, you get a few hints at some of those changes. Rick appears to be hobbling with that cane and it looks like the stress of leading a group of people has aged him years.
One thing that hasn't changed for Rick is that he still has both of his hands. It looks like actor Andrew Lincoln may not get his wish of losing one of them like his comic counterpart on the show.
Follow along with all of our "Walking Dead" coverage from the premiere here.
Warning: There are spoilers ahead if you have not watched "The Walking Dead" season 8 premiere.
One of the main players in this "All Out War" is Dwight (Austin Amelio), one of Negan's high-ranking Saviors, who appeared to switch sides at the end of season seven. Right now, he's working undercover for Rick, Daryl, and the gang to give them the inside scoop on the Sanctuary.
INSIDER spoke with Amelio about his allegiances in the war this season, what he thinks of Rick as a leader, and how his relationship with frenemy Eugene may fare this season now that Dwight's working for the other side.
Kirsten Acuna: There are so many great little interactions in the episode. One of the moments that got to me was seeing you and Daryl interacting via arrow notes. You guys were like pen pals.
Austin Amelio: [Laughing] Yeah, old classic pen pals relationship.
Acuna: It seems like Daryl doesn’t totally trust Dwight. After Daryl grabbed the arrow from you he didn’t give a little nod, like the ones he’ll give to Rick or an ally. It seems like you guys maybe still have a little ways to go.
Amelio: Yeah, I’d say we do.
Acuna: Maybe for those dog food sandwiches that Dwight was feeding him in season seven.
Amelio: Yeah, I mean that’s the thing with his relationship. In season seven, [Daryl] comes in and he gets a little bit of an understanding of my world and [sees] kind of what I’m fighting for and what I'm going through. But we’re also on two different sides of the spectrum and it's going to take a while to bridge that gap. It’s not going to happen right off the bat.
Acuna: Of course. I want to go back to the season seven finale real quick. Dwight left Daryl a little note on a sculpture. How did Dwight know someone would find that chess piece he left behind? And, of all people to find it, it was Daryl. Was he banking on that?
Amelio: I think Daryl got a glimpse into his room in season seven or actually when I came on in season six [Daryl] knows that’s like one of the first things we introduce — the little chess piece.
He was banking on that. I think it was a very smart move on Dwight’s part. I don’t know how Daryl ended up finding that. You know, some movie magic involved there. That’s kind of the beauty of that.
Acuna: Their relationship, as you said, it goes back to those chess pieces. One of their first interactions, I think Daryl says to Dwight, "What is that thing there? Give it to me." And you explained that you carved those with your grandfather. It totally made sense why you left that behind. At the end of the day, I guess it’s Dwight hoping that Daryl would be the one to find it.
Amelio: No one else would catch on to that. If it came across to Rick or anyone else, they’d just f---ing toss it. There's got to be some sort of chance that Daryl walks past that and notices it.
Acuna: Yeah, it was a sweet moment in the season seven finale to see. Going back to the season eight premiere, it seems pretty safe to say that Dwight is Team Rick or at least team Daryl at this point. From my understanding in the episode, you gave Daryl a note with the locations of Negan’s men to take out. Or am I wrong?
Amelio: It’s a good assumption. I like that.
Acuna: OK. So when Rick show’s up at the Sanctuary and Negan asks what he can do for Rick, he immediately yells out Dwight’s name. For a split second while watching the episode, I thought Rick was going to sell you out. Did you have that feeling at all either while reading the script or …
Amelio: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. For that split second, my heart sank. And that's how, I think, they wanted it to play, where it’s like, 'DWIGHT!' And then it’s like, 'Oh, f---.' But then all of a sudden [Rick] moves on. I love that part.
Acuna: And Rick, he's very aggressive in this episode when it comes to the Saviors. He’s not taking any crap. He’s interrupting Negan. Dwight’s really never seen Rick in full-on Ricktatorship mode — ripping people’s throats out and stuff — what is it like for Dwight to see Rick in action here as opposed to him pretty much being the opposite in the season seven premiere?
Amelio: Dwight’s sort of assessing the whole situation out. Where we left off in season seven, he’s going back and forth. He’s really wearing his heart on his sleeve and he’s … I don't want to give anything away, but he has to make some high-stake decisions.
It’s definitely weighing on Dwight to see this sort of leader take charge and stand up for his group. It’s definitely something Dwight is putting on the backburner in his mind and considering. I think it's going to help him further his decision-making process, if that makes any sense.
Acuna: Yeah. Also, you’re seeing two different leadership styles. Is Dwight questioning at all whether or not Rick may be a little crazy or as crazy as Negan?
Amelio: Crazy in this world ... There are so many things involved. I don’t even know where to start off. [Dwight’s] taking everything in. He has some really, really interesting decision-making that he has to do to figure out what he’s going to do.
Dwight, he said at the end of season seven that he hates Negan. He hates him. So, it's good to see another leader and see what they’re about.
Acuna: Well, when we last spoke you said Dwight was kind of putting — to mention the chess pieces again — he was putting his chess pieces in place to come up with some bigger plan to help take Negan out at some point.
Acuna: Now, Rick’s plan doesn’t totally go according to plan. Negan gets away or Rick let’s him get away. I have to imagine Dwight isn’t too pleased because Negan’s still alive. Isn’t Dwight at all concerned that Negan may suspect him of spying or double-crossing? Dwight’s not looking for that iron to the other half of his face.
Amelio: [Laughter] No, no. I mean, yeah, in this season you see him [Dwight] put everything on the line. He’s fighting out of love for his wife and hate for Negan. When you put those two together, you’re going to make some seriously crazy decisions and hope that he [Dwight] goes for the best.
Acuna: I was thinking, even if Negan does find out Dwight is working with Rick, or if Negan suspects him at all, would Dwight throw someone else under the bus to save his own skin?
Amelio: He’s got a backup plan. No doubt about that.
Acuna: Dwight did feel bad about getting Dr. Carson getting tossed into the oven though last season.
Amelio: Yeah, I mean of course. None of that stuff goes without some sort of human emotion. You’re not just completely numb to it even though you’re in that world unless you’re an absolute monster and I don’t think Dwight is.
Acuna: I don't think so either. You’re helping Rick and the group try to take out Negan.
Amelio: Considering who’s sticking to their values and their morals and trying to be honest? Dwight kind of covers all of that. He really wants to do well. He's just stuck in a sh---y spot.
Acuna: Exactly. The decisions everyone has made on the show has brought them to the points they're at now. I want to ask a little bit about Eugene. Does Dwight know or suspect that Eugene had anything to do with Sasha becoming a walker? Or does he even care?
Amelio: No, I don’t think he knows that. That was it’s own circumstance and situation. There’s so much going on, but I think he definitely suspects … Their whole relationship is sort of walking on eggshells around each other. Suspect? Sure. They do suspect each other of something, for sure.
Can we be advantageous for each other for something? That’s really Dwight and Eugene's relationship wrapped up. What the f--- can I use this guy for? Dwight knows he’s smart. He’s coming in, he’s already making moves. He’s calling shots. I’ve been through a lot of sh-- in order to get where I’m at — climbing the ladder. Here he is just already up there with me. I think Dwight has a problem with that, you know?
Acuna: Yeah. Eugene seems super comfortable listening to the song Easy Street. In contrast, Daryl’s like, get that away from me.
Amelio: Right, right. I loved how they used it. It's kind of a double meaning. [Eugene] kind of uses it to get pumped up or amped. To me, that song is just absolutely tortuous. It was part of something [Dwight] didn’t want to do. Daryl had to listen to that song. I love the way they use it. It’s really interesting.
Acuna: And now everyone knows that song. On the flip side, does Eugene know you’re helping out Rick? You mentioned that he’s smart. Maybe that’s something down the line we’ll see play out in the season.
Amelio: Yeah, I can’t answer any of that, but he would be the first one to sniff it out. I think.
Acuna: I absolutely agree.
Amelio: He definitely puts things together really quickly and he is around me a bunch. We’re in the same vicinity a lot so, yeah, we’ll see what happens.
Acuna: We see a few new characters interact for the first time in this episode like Enid and Jerry. Are there any characters Dwight hasn’t met yet that he would like to interact with?
Amelio: It would be nice to interact with Carol.
Acuna: Why’s that?
Amelio: Just because I haven’t yet and I like Melissa [McBride] as a person. I want to act with her. She’s kind of a lone wolf as well. I feel like they may have something to say to each other.
Acuna: I think that they definitely have some stuff in common with losing people they love, but I don’t know how Daryl would feel about that.
Amelio: Yeah, he’d probably get a little mad. But that’s all right.
This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.
You can follow along with all of our coverage of "The Walking Dead" here.
Warning: There are spoilers ahead for "The Walking Dead" season eight premiere.
Season eight of "The Walking Dead" kicked off with Rick and his army unleashing war against Negan, but it also offered a few separate glimpses of other timelines which left some viewers puzzled.
If you thought there were three timelines going on in the episode, executive producer Greg Nicotero says there was actually one more.
"I counted four," Nicotero told Comicbook.com. "They aren't just one-off visuals. The way that [showrunner] Scott [Gimple] and the writers like to unfold these stories is really to give the audience an opportunity to put the clues together for themselves."
Nicotero says you'll continue to see them play out over the course of the season. Some are simpler to spot than others. Keep reading to see each timeline you need to keep straight this season.
1. The current timeline: Rick marches to war.
This is the most obvious timeline to pluck out of the episode. The majority of the season eight story line will follow Rick and his army as they face off with Negan and his Saviors.
2. The far-off future timeline: Old Man Rick
This is the other most obvious timeline to notice from the series' 100th episode. Throughout the episode, viewers received flashes of Rick at some point in the future.
But is it all a dream? Nicotero told INSIDER that isn't the case, something that was insisted by "The Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman and showrunner Scott M. Gimple on the series' aftershow Sunday when they said Rick's not in a coma.
Expect to see more of this to play out during the season. You can read more on the flash-forward scenes here.
3. Some time in the future: Carl and Rick at the gas station
This may have been less obvious, but the sequence from early in the episode with Carl stumbling onto a popular comic character, Siddiq, played by Avi Nash appears to take place at some undetermined time in the future, too.
Fans of the comic know Siddiq doesn't show up until after Rick's with war with Negan. Is that the case here as well? We'll have to wait to find out.
For more on who Siddiq is and how he may factor into the new season head here.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Kit Harington and Rose Leslie may be "Game of Thrones" fans favorite actors-turned-couple pairing, but there's a reason why the newly engaged stars don't turn up in fan photos together.
In an interview with The Guardian, Harington revealed that his fame has made him "moody" sometimes, especially when it comes to fans requesting photos or selfies. The Guardian reports that Harington sets days where he won't take photos with anybody.
"Especially me and Rose, we never do a photo together," Harington said. "Because then it makes our relationship feel like … puppets ... like we're a walking show."
Harington and Leslie began dating in 2012 after they met on the "Game of Thrones" set and played on screen couple Jon Snow and Ygritte. Their relationship was unconfirmed until four years later when they appeared on the red carpet together for the first time.
Even after going public, Harington and Leslie have kept details of their relationship private. In May of this year, Harington told Esquire they planned to move in together but didn't elaborate, saying "it's as much her relationship as it is mine and I can't speak for both of us."
On September 27, 2017, Harington and Leslie's engagement was formally announced afters several months of speculation through unconfirmed reports. For a full history of the "Game of Thrones" couple's real-life love story, read our timeline of everything we know about their romance.
Warning: Minor spoilers ahead for "Stranger Things" season two.
The long-awaited follow up to Netflix's smash hit original series "Stranger Things" arrives on the streaming platform Friday, October 27. While superfans of the original will still find joy in the '80s nostalgia and stellar cast, cocreators The Duffer Brothers may have bit off more than they can chew when it comes to new characters and the way their storylines thread together.
Why should you care:
After viewing all nine new episodes, I believe "Stranger Things 2" (as The Duffer Brothers dubbed it) is still a worthy viewing experience that hits the right notes and expands on the compelling story of Eleven, the Upside Down, and Hawkins, Indiana.
As you probably know by now, "Stranger Things" is arguably one of Netflix's most popular original shows of all time (though precise viewing numbers aren't currently available). The first season debuted in June 2016, and dominated the pop culture conversation for much of the year.
As with its first season, the standout performances of "Stranger Things 2" come from the young cast. Noah Schnapp plays Will Byers, a character who was offscreen or unconscious for nearly all of season one. Schnapp gives a fantastic performance that ranges from endearingly vulnerable and understandably frustrated by the constant coddling of his friends and family, to a convincingly frightened and terrifying centerpiece of the season's spookiest plotline.
We won't spoil Will's journey here, but know that Schnapp blends seamlessly in with the core cast from season one and holds his own as a leading character. While there was never going to be a way for The Duffer Brothers to recapture the unexpected blockbuster success of season one, "Stranger Things 2" delivers enough magic to keep the hype going.
Another standout from the kids is Finn Wolfhard's portrayal of a more angsty Mike Wheeler. Believing Eleven is gone forever, Mike has strayed into rebellious preteen territory for the second season. The coarseness and cynicism embedded in Mike's evolving new personality is a compelling turn for his once eager and optimistic character. The heartache you feel for both Mike and Eleven is an emotional keystone throughout the season.
Millie Bobby Brown is also stellar as the resident superhero Eleven, though parts of her season two journey are too meandering and begin to veer off track before coming back for a solid finale episode.
The score remains impeccable, and if the numerous references to existing pop culture sat well with you in season one then you'll love how The Duffer Brothers and their team double down for "Stranger Things 2." They also seem to be accutely aware of criticism lobbed at them for pulling too much from Spielberg and other titans of kid-centric genre movies. At one point a veteran character recounts the season one events to a newcomer, who dismisses the tale as fiction and says it's "derivative" and unoriginal.
Also, Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) once again emerges as my favorite character I didn't see coming. Who knew the surprise baseball bat beatdown of a Demogorgon could be improved upon?
The biggest problems with "Stranger Things 2" stem from the expansion of the world. While it's great to have new faces and characters to explore, the pacing goes a bit off the rails midway through the nine episodes. I found myself impatient with meeting new characters who didn't seem to fit into the main arc.
The first season of "Stranger Things" was successful in its ability to sit with a scene or moment and let the emotional impact gently build. "Stranger Things 2" felt over-manufactured during certain episodes, and the result was hollow moments I knew were meant to tug at my heartstrings but ultimately fell flat. New characters are only as good as the additional impact they bring to a scene, and for a couple new faces I found myself wondering why they were added.
As I already mentioned, "Stranger Things 2" doubles down on its inner-referencing to '80s pop culture. From Sean Astin's clear purpose of being a "Goonies" reminder to notes taken from "Gremlins" and "The Exorcist" or other familiar thriller/horror tropes. If you didn't like those homages during the first season, things will only get worse for you.
The season also relies more on unnecessary attempts at jump-scares or quick cuts and flashbacks that don't add to the mood but instead felt inserted just for the sake of it.
If you love "Stranger Things," season two will deliver on core ingredients that made the first season so delightful to millions of fans. The final two episodes alone are worth sitting through some of the mishaps along the way. The pitfalls of any second season — retreading familiar ground and overplaying your hand when it comes to going "bigger"— are there, but in the end it's still recognizable as our beloved "Stranger Things."
For me, the first season of "Stranger Things" was an A+ debut that could have stood alone as a one-off miniseries. So with the bar set high, a B+ sophomore season is about as good as it gets.