I think the title of this post fits this review of the…what is it now? Fifth episode of the Walking Dead? I don’t even know the name of it to be honest. Anyway, a fair share of this episode actually did feel like it was on random. In some cases, this was good. But the most notable ones were not so lucky. Let’s start with the good. I think all in all, this episode a cross between episode 3 and 2. Guts had action, but some terrible characterization moments, while Frogs had almost no action, but also almost no flaws. Episode 5, last night’s, was almost completely empty of action and had flaws. Kinda the worst of both worlds, that be. But it wasn’t all bad! It ended up feeling just slightly disappointing to us.
Here thar be spoilers!
The lack of action is a very limiting factor, in my opinion. Not that you *need* action, but with production and costs of a tv series at this level that they are trying to bill it, they should be able to fairly seamlessly mix in action and dialog without devolving down to “Action episode” and “Characters talk episode” and rotating their occurrences every other episode. Vatos, written by the guy who ‘only’ works on the ‘lowly’ graphic novel wrote the best episode to date, yet various other (I’m sure) famous writers and directors have difficulty with the same task? (While I’d like to jump to the conclusion that directors are highly over-glorified, I’ll settle with the guy writing comics just showed all ye’ Hollywood folk how to get the job done, for probably far less wages to boot.)
The most action in this episode was watching Beaten Wife flail away at her deceased husband, blood splattering the screen to drive home the point that she’s beating him down like he used to be her. Of all the ‘bodies’ used in the series so far, this one was probably the best looking and thus this part actually looked painful for the corpse. For any out there who dislike the amount of gore via the stunningly accurate headshots spurting around left and right, you’ll probably have to turn your head or just hope they get on with the scene when you see this part.
Other than that we are left with a pure talk episode. Not that the idea of just dialog is bad, but…well…I kinda said back in the Frogs review that while it worked for episode 3, if all we are left with is 100% character development and no action, we’ll probably get bored. While I was not this episode, the sudden pop-up of “viewer discretion is advised’ usually hints to some awesomely unliving action on it’s way. The censors or whoever require that to pop up really need to stop unless something demanding that actually happens. I could see that appear before Dead Ed’s graceful acupuncture by his wife via pickaxe, but when it actually showed up was just as they were leaving the camp and before they left Jim by another tree. I dun’ get it!
Shane is suddenly thinking about killing Rick, by the way. Very believable instant switch of character, that was. Rick says one comment that Shane takes the wrong way and next thing you know Shane has Rick locked within his iron sights. Since, you know. Saying Rick is dead without a body would be believable. (As he couldn’t show it to them due to massive gun shot wounds. How would he explain that? Zombie woodpeckers ambushed them?) Dale got a good eye on Shane during this, but kept almost hilariously silent as Shane stuttered and tried to make up an excuse. Next time go with “I was working on my Dick Chaney impersonation.”
Really, this was completely out of place unless you read the comics and started tip-toeing a dance of joy that this arc is still alive. In reality it makes no sense. Shane was never disappointed Rick came back, he was happy to have his friend near him, even if they disagree on a few things and now Shane cannot tap Lori’s covet. (Wait, is it a noun or a action verb? Either way it is quite bad. Watch the 10 Commandments for a briefer. …But you know what isn’t bad? Guns! Guns forever, right Charles?) He also, as a cop, should know never to point at something unless you intend to shoot it. Meaning he WAS intending to shoot Rick. …So now he’s bi-polar? Not once was there any sign that he disliked his buddy coming back. The only scene that displayed Shane’s explosive tendencies specifically was Lori telling him to stay away and then he juiced Ed’s face like an orange with his fist. He should want to kill Lori based on that logic, not Rick.
Speaking of Dale, I really like him now. He was a bit ornery at the start, but with more time on camera he comes across as caring, smart–nay, wise and a natural leader. Or top-notch advisor as he is currently presiding. Dale’s portrayal this episode, to quote Walken, was Fantastic. The more I see of Dale, the less I want to see everyone else. He is strong and armed (best part of Shane) cool, calm, and a good guy (best part of Rick) without being too strong or too heroic. Rick in the past, and again in this episode is on the razor’s edge of being a Mary Sue. Dale bartered a bit with Rick in Guts, and that was fine. Showed he is a good guy that will help out, but has a backbone and a few needs of his own. Is he a bad guy because of it? No. He’s human. And Shane is batcrap crazy and Rick is a goody two shoes. Oh, and was anyone else thinking this and snickering as Rick and Shane were in the forest?
Also, Jim was bitten during the attack. Poor guy. Tough couple of days he’s had. I wonder if this is the Rick that ‘could have been’ if Rick didn’t have Main Character Powers. (Every main dood has ‘em.) He tried doing the right thing, he lost his family while fighting for them, and now while defending the rest of the camp got bit. And the black chick pointed it out for everyone to see, nearly causing the camp to lynch him. (The racially-charged irony that the black girl almost got the white guy lynched was not lost on this one.) Because of this he was forced to spend the rest of his days locked up in a stuffy RV before willingly wanting to die alone and by himself. With the company that he was surrounded in, no wonder. Of course the black lady kisses his cheek at the end…that completely voids out the hell you just put this man’s final hours through. Enjoy that guilt you just racked up there, ma’am.
Rick…was off his game this episode. He was far more needy, weak, and nearly a bucket of tears at the end. Did someone on the writing staff watch Lassie one too many times during the drafting of this episode? What happened to strong Rick pointing a gun are Daryle at the start of this show, or like three times the last episode? And why did they want to sneak in past that many bodies? Why not yell out as they drew near in the first place? You know, to avoid getting surrounded when you thought you were safe in the first place? Like how they got boxed in at the end just before the Deus Ex Machina “Door to God” opened seconds before the group lost it?
Too many random bits in this episode to really get a hold of anything solid and good for my tastes. Oh! And Andrea! What happened to her? (Rant in three…two…) She went from grieving woman, to snubbing everyone caring for her, to then pointing a gun at the guy mainly responsible for saving her and everyone on the scavenger team? To protect a (un)live grenade of a zombie waiting to hatch? Why? WHY?
Because they wanted to:
- Make her say a snarky and barbed line, throwing it back into the man’s face that showed you how to use a gun properly.
- To shoot her sister once she turned, put her to rest.
- Make a dramatic reveal.
She was emotionally compromised and should have been handcuffed the second she pulled a gun on Rick (not to mention Amy should have been as well, to avoid the whole mess above) and it all, ALL could have been avoided if she just told one of the many people who stopped next to her that she planned on killing Amy off herself (More evidence that someone on staff watched Lassie during the drafting process). But since that would avoid her pointlessly telling off Rick and take away some of the impact of the dramatic reveal, we are left with a character who has just damned herself to look like a badazz.
She just pointed a gun at the living, but more specifically Rick the ‘golden one’. The last person that did that was Merle.
Think about that.
Andrea is a female version of Merle. (Just with more tact and visible weaknesses. )
She pointed a loaded and live weapon at a helpful human being. She could have told many people what her plans were, to at least give her some backup should Amy over-power her. Should could have told Rick to avoid a confrontation; to avoid “crossing a terrible threshold” (any fans Uther the Lightbringer represent, woo! Hell, any fans of Arthas shout out as well!). In another discussion on zombies, I described this as marking herself as the Short Straw. She was emotionally compromised, pointed a gun with intentions of firing it at a police officer, and from the moment she killed off her sister she should have been handcuffed until they decided where to drop her off. Hell, maybe her and Shane should soothe their violent and impulsive natures together in a forest scene. That seemed to help out all involved last time it happened.
So yeah, I’ll go with marking myself off as “disappointed” with this episode.
One final bid for longer lasting viewership: action keeps people glued to their seats. Dialog and only dialog episodes make people feel like they are sitting in glue. (Subtle change, that is.) The first is exciting and pushes the story along wisely and still finds time for character advancement. The second is slow, uncomfortable, and fairly boring. (I did like the humorous explosion in the lab, though. Nice comedic timing of the robotic voice.) The Walking Dead doesn’t need to be *filled* with gore, action, and zombies…but if all it IS filled with is speeches and heart-felt discussions…well…we are left with this:
And as far as I know zombies can’t even form words. It’ll be a slow forty minutes of guttural, garbled, and strained vocal chords belting out airy baritone vowel sounds. As Alton Brown would say, “Not Good Eats.” (And I dare say, he’d add in a “uni-tasker” or two for good measure.)