I started typing this last night, but I’m gonna re-wing it here. I’m kinda bummed I missed out on the zombie shamble-on-set contest as I didn’t put in the code soon enough. (Stupid clocks always enforcing their laws of time on us!) But, the good news that the third episode of The Walking Dead was amazing! Let me get my Critiquein’ Hat on so I can get that out of the way and carry on with the beaming undead awesome that was last night’s show!
The show starts out with a delirious Merle still handcuffed on the roof, showing signs of sun damage and a bloodied wrist from previously attempting to free himself. The make-up is fairly well used and reminiscent of Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Suddenly Merle snaps from his stupor, struggles again with his shackles and zombies start trying to tear the door open before being stomped out by the mighty title screen of the series.
[Critiquein' Hat firmly in place]
The only issue here is, well, how in the blazes did those zombies get up there in the first place? I know they are there to have the audience react to the danger of the situation, but wasn’t it a clear enough picture that Merle was going to die up there in the first place? It has only been one day and already his outer layers are looking like the crust on a fine corn pudding. (More Thanksgiving day references on the way, never fear.) He is either talking gibberish or shifting in and out of reality from lack of water at this point. As Everett might say, he’s in a tight spot.
Beware that clicking play will result in repeated utterances of the word “damn” as well a constant flurry of imagery as devilish as a hairnet remaining on screen nearly the entire clip. Ye have been warned!
So why with the zombies and such? Those zombies, while placed to keep the tension going for Merle, just so happened to make an appearance on queue. They didn’t beat on the door during his rambling, not even so much as pawing at it like a dog wanting a treat. While the argument that the zombies only presented themselves after Merle started causing a racket is valid, how did they know he was up there in the first place? They couldn’t see him until they got up there, they couldn’t smell him even though he was getting roasted like a turkey in our mighty star’s golden rays (that’s two Turkey dinner references) as the fresh air was likely to blow the scent away and not through a sealed doorway. That leaves their limited sense of hearing, and Merle only really started shouting after the zombies were banging on the door. Unless he called attention to himself in the first place, they shouldn’t be there. Not to say he isn’t dumb enough to do that, but it was still a vague thought and it stuck out a bit. Chalk it up to Popcorn Logic, I suppose.
[Critiquein' Hat deactivated]
I really am gushing about the rest of this episode that I had to go back and delete everything twice over. I don’t like stating everything that occurs, yet that is what I kept doing as I don’t feel like anything should have been left out. The characterization and interactions were great. My only minor, minor complaint was that nothing really happened in this episode, as when I glanced up at the time I saw there was only two minutes of the show remaining. The show flew by and I vanted moar!!
I suppose I should try to highlight only what I *really* liked about this episode if I intend on doing anything else today, so here goes:
Lori is finally a character for once! I mean, yeah she did spend camera time on her back again, but this time it was more of a tender moment than anything. The audience knows that she is already regretting what happened between her and Shane, but the way the series has thus far portrayed it, it was far more than a single romp in the woods. Lori later confronts Shane and blames him for telling her that Rick was dead. As other people have commented, this could either have been a scheme to lure Lori to himself, or been in line with his conservative “he’s dead, we need to go, NOW” sort of mentality that he showcased in the second episode that might have been the only way Lori got out alive. Either way I’m glad that I can finally enjoy screen time devoted to her, so a big kudos to Lori.
Merle’s brother was also a jerk, surprise surprise. Rick and Shane restrain the brother, I think it was Darrel, in such a precise way that it really shows off that the two were working together on the force for years. If only Shane was on the roof at the time Merle never would have gotten as far as he had in terms of a danger to himself and others around him. I actually liked the brother, or at least the dialog written for him. It was arrogant, crude, but still funny and believable. From the time he shoots the decapitated zombie in the eye to his anger-filled realization that his brother is chained up on a roof and left to rot, this was an excellent character added to the mix. Quite believable. And look! He actually helped others instead of posing as a threat! We can still get along even if we don’t agree after all!
Shane. Now here’s a loaded character. The writing jumped from labeling Shane as a tool and a jerk the first two episodes to where he is currently, a character rooted in some fairly solid thinking-processes that has a few flaws. (We will see if this remains to be true in the next episode, but I’m just glad I’m not cheering for zombies to eat his clavicle at every turn anymore.) No longer is he the dude we are supposed to hate, but he is now a lonely man who if full of guilt for leaving his friend to die and then promptly tapping his wife’s keg, so to speak.
He is possibly rethinking his motives and thought-process as Rick was able to do things he thought impossible, or too dangerous to even bother with. I particularly enjoyed his royal trouncing of the chauvinistic southern wife beater. It was exhilarating to see the guy get laid out, while also showed that Shane wasn’t just a pig as well. He threatened the man never to harm any women in camp ever again, before breaking some more of the now swollen man’s face. This might be a blatant symbolic act to show he is breaking down his ‘past evils’ or it could just have been due to him having balls a-blue as Lori is no longer a stress outlet (god that sounds really dirty), but at least Shane is depicted in a brighter light than in the past.
While I liked this episode a great deal more than the first two combined, I do have a worry that Rick is going to get promoted to a Mary Sue if things keep going the way they are. He trumped the ‘everyman’ the moment he was covered in Guts and ascended to Hero status. Going back into the undead lion’s den to save a jerk does make him look better than Shane, but it is also looking a wee bit dimwitted. (You cannot reason to those without. Saving him now just allows him to turn on you when the mood strikes him later on. Not to say he should have been left to die up there, but it is never wise to give a spiteful man with a gun second chances so often…) Again, a small point of contention, but something to avoid as the storytelling was rock solid and if it continues as it did here, we are in place for an excellent ride till the end of the season. (Please don’t make us hate the new group of people hinted at in the next episode. This musical chairs of bad guys is getting a bit obnoxious, too >.<)
From the very first scene the show really took off in my eyes. Everyone present had something to add (though the sisters reunited was a little bit long and loud for my taste. It came off more of a “I’m so happy you aren’t dead because the camera is on us! Oh god, we might get an award for this scene! Wail! Cry! …Are the cameras still rolling? Oh, ok. Teeeeaars! Joy!!”) and the tale just kept going. I never felt like the story stalled, and was quite curious what was going to happen next. Though, I do feel the warning of graphic content was a major let down as I was jazzed to know some zombie action was on the way, only to see one lone zombie woman slain while shopping (there was a Sale!! too, by crikey!), and Merle’s right hand free of any real signs of blood. Realistic hand, check. Realistic amounts of blood reasonably present due to evisceration at the wrist… MIA. Not that I wanted to see an olympic sized swimming pool of blood, but the sole warning for graphic content led a lot to be desired.
Excellent episode all around. The flaws were impressively small, and I am excited to see what happens next. Methinks based on the previews and dirge of action in this episode, a lot of action is on the way. Though, this is proof that not much has to happen in a story to keep it flowing and entertaining. Confused Matthew would be proud.