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The Gut-Wrenching Season 2 of the Walking Dead

So the Misses and I finally sat down with some grub and decided to watch the first episode of the ‘second half’ of season 2 of The Walking Dead.

…and seven frustrated minutes later we shut the damn thing off.

The Walking Dead: Season 2 Episode 3 Review – Recap and Analysis

The Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 3

Save the Last One

While it wasn’t as bad as the first episode, I think this one was just “okay.” Similarly to “Bloodletting” last week; it had room for improvement.  The flow was still fairly brisk, but that was only because the setting jumped from one group to the next.  People even broke up into smaller groups this time around to aid with that, but still I think very little actually happened. And what did happen wasn’t a big deal.  I’ll get to why I think that is in a bit, but first I’ll give the busy person’s play-by-play.

Yet another shower scene of Shane.  If you include the bottled water bit at the start of this season, that makes it the third.  He is shaving his head and has a crazy look in his eye.  Oy.  Looks like they want to bring the ‘Crazy Shane’ of last season back >.> Bad way to start this off, in my opinion. To put it in polite terms, ‘Crazy Shane’ wasn’t the high-point of the first season by any means as he was about as consistent as runny egg yolk. But according to a certain red-head on the third episode of the Talking Dead, he’s hot. So who cares, right? (More on that double standard in tomorrow’s post.)

Carl is getting worse to the point of having seizures and Rick is just about out of cherry koolaid. He, Lori, Hershal and his crew are waiting on Shane and Otis, but Lori wonders if Carl would be better off dying in his sleep instead of surviving.  This monologue gets a bit long, but at least Rick is finally acting like his last season self.  Lori made him eat up a scene before it, so I guess all it takes is a sandwich to bulk up on confidence and assertiveness.  If he downs something from a glass vial labeled “Drink Me” will he shrink down, too? XD

Glenn and T-Dog appear during all this, and I was honestly not sure if they would still show up after Derle gave the ailing T-Dog some much-needed meds.  They show their support but ultimately disappear for most of the episode as the other duo’s took center stage.

"Pills here!"

Carol is still a pointless character, but this time around her wailing in the back of the RV paired with Andrea’s incessant tinkering with a loaded weapon (that nearly got her killed in episode one) drives Derle to leave under the guise of looking for the missing girl.  Good man. Andrea tags along and they happen upon a zombie hanging from a tree.  Andrea feels for the starving zombie, and pleads Derle to shoot him and end his misery.  He first nixes the idea, but Andrea answers a question of his, stating she still isn’t sure about if she wants to live or is merely doing so as a habit.  Derle still thinks it is a bad answer and a waste of an arrow, but ends the tree zombies ‘life’ anyway.

Dale sets out on his own, but they don’t really say why he opted to walk quite a distance down the road without a flashlight.  Either way, he returns to see Andrea and Derle make their way back.  While he is happy at the sight, Carol starts crying about not seeing the daughter and dives back into the van.  Because it isn’t good enough that they came back safe during an ill-thought search at night. For HER!

/facepalm

If only she had stolen two grenades from Rick so she could swallow one now.

Spoiler Warning

Shane and Otis appear in the school.  It isn’t explained how they got in, nor how zombies are less than fifteen feet behind them the entire time.  They end up momentarily parting ways and distracting zombies from one another, but in the end Shane injures his foot, falls, and gives up.  He tells Otis to leave him behind, but Otis refuses to do so.  We’ll get back to this in a sec.

Shane makes it back in time to help Carl who is now stable, but Otis has fallen.  Rick breaks the news of the post-mortem Otis with Hershal and Maggie appears to have a thing for Glenn.  Nothing physical happens, but it certainly came across to me that Maggie was a wee bit flirty with him.  During this, Lori returns to Carl who is sleeping and Shane steps in.  Lori says he can stay, and whether she ment in the room or in the group is up for debate.  Either way Shane gets clothes from a rather disgruntled Maggie, stating they might be big on him as it was Otis’s attire.  We are then once again back with Shane in the shower.  Two shower scenes in one episode. New record >.<

Team Jacob, eat your heart out.

Remember when Shane gave up and Otis forced him to carry on?  Sadly, Shane didn’t pay it forward and instead shoots Otis in the leg, using him as a distraction.  Otis does not go down without a fight and even when getting bludgeoned with a pipe (or something similar) is able to rip off a clump of Shane’s hair.  Shane manages to take the supplies Otis was carrying just before the zombies eat him alive, in gory detail.  I’m sure that bit unsettled the majority of the fans at home for better or worse ^_^  Anyway, Shane is seen shaving off his hair in an effort to hide the damage that the late Otis inflicted unto him and the credits roll.

All in all, decent episode.  Some twists, slight boring bits, some action and some dialog.  Nice over-all mix, but eh… there is one thing nagging me.  It isn’t a deal breaker, but it could be in future episodes.

The Problem

While the episode was far from bad, it wasn’t great.  There is plenty for people to claim and cite as awesome, and I can even provide a list for ‘em.  Hordes of zombies, guns that were actually fired, Derle venturing out at night and also firing off a bolt Rambo-style, a gory death scene with close-ups, some plot and character developement, an actual human finally died which was a first this season, and while it isn’t a high point by my standards I know a lotta ladies and a few guys probably enjoyed seeing Shane’s buff physique in the shower. (Again, more on that tomorrow >.>)

The problem that undermines the whole thing is that I was not emotionally invested.  I had zero attachment to anyone involved.  I didn’t care about Shane’s plight as I knew Carl was important to the story (for some still unknown reason) so he was safe.  Otis was not as he was a new addition an episode ago.  Add in the “Crazy Shane” intro and you can fill in the rest of the blanks yourself.  I do not want this to appear as if the issue is tied to a lack of surprise, as even though I knew more or less what was going to unfold, I did not yet know how.  That “How?” is where the crew should have stepped up and made the audience give a darn about people making it away safe and intact.

I’ll even give them credit that they tried to do that, but it didn’t quite work.  Carl flailing around on the bed was supposed to be a heart-tugging and raw scene.  Instead it was a child that was instructed to flop around for two long minutes in front of the camera.  It stunk of “Emmy Award Reel” too much for me to believe it was actually happening.  Instead of intrigue I was left with reality; a child actor trying really hard to look like he was spasming or just dancing very badly.  I give the kid credit, though.  If the scene was cut down to moderate levels and the emphasis and music was not so bombastic and so dominant it might have actually left room for me to care at all instead of them trying to force it on me :/

One final thing that bothered me to the point of getting me angered was during the Talking Dead preview of next week’s episode.  If you want to stay completely out of the know, feel free to divert thine eyes now.

Courtesy gap.

This has nothing to do with episode 3. It's from episode 4. For some reason they included it in the third one's gallery, so by golly I'm gonna use it and blow your minds.

So, the group is now at the farm and for some reason they are lowering Glenn down a well.  There is a bloated zombie down there, and they all know about it.  Suddenly the crank holding the line breaks and juts forward, causing Glenn to fall further than expected and closer to Jobba the Well Zombie than everyone would like.

Suddenly the footage is clipped and Mr. Dynamite is nearly falling off the couch screaming “That’s IT?!  It stops THERE?!” and immediately I was repulsed.  Why does he care that much?  I like Glenn a lot, and it would be a shame to have him go, but the show has not yet given any of us reason to care about anyone.  Let alone enough to act as over excited, shocked, and frustrated as he did.

Is he being dishonest?

To what end would that prove to benefit?  The audience?  How would over-acting help anything?  Maybe we’d tune in next week, but if it didn’t pay off or wasn’t handled properly, why would we return?  No, it seems like too much work for that scenario to pan out, plus the show has a massive following and has just been signed for a third season.  They are far from hurting for ratings.

Is he being honest, then?

Ironically this is the worst option of the two.  This provokes the question of why does he honestly care as much as he appeared to after that clip?  Has he been watching the same show as us?  Is he a long-time fan of the comic and drawing his connections to the characters from there, perhaps?  If the next episode is as ‘okay’ as the last two were, or anything near as bad as the first one was, last season was episode for episode far stronger and better off than this one.  In that case I have to wonder, if he really did care that much to literally be on the edge of his seat:

Is this how little it takes to impress those in Hollywood?  Is this why crap is so often sold to the masses?  Is this why our standards for entertainment are so disappointingly low? /coughtwilightfilms

I’ll leave those questions for you, my awesome commentors, to wax philosophic in the comments below.

Furthermore, Andrea should be destroyed ^_^

The Walking Dead: Season 2 Episode 2 Review – It Was Good!

Score this one as a small, but important victory.  The episode wasn’t over-flowing with either zombies or action, but it never felt dull and always changed things at just the right time.  It found time to expand on characters, kept the story flowing, stuck in a flashback right at the beginning and T-Dog even got some camera time.  Also, Andrea almost was a decent person that I didn’t wish harm upon.

Till she snubbed Dale again.

As she was near the RV at that point, I really hoped a zombie would blind-side her like her sister.  The one in the woods was tantalizingly close to taking a chunk out of her, but ah.  Patience…

Carol is still a pointless character.  At least this episode she gave quite an emotional blow to Andrea when she mentioned right in front of her that she prays her daughter doesn’t end up like Amy.  Ah, it was great.  Misses and I had a good laugh at that one.   I still think Carol is zombie grub on two legs, but wondering if they are going to the polar opposite or irony and going to end up making her daughter a zombie that actually takes her out in the end.  Rather Dawn of the Dead style with the girl in the basement, but if done right would still get a laugh.

More Like This, Please!

More like this episode, and none like the first episode, please!  Feel free to improve upon it, of course ^_^  Let’s hope the next episode is another actiony one and not a talky.  Break the curse of the first season!  Happily surprise us!

I have to give pointers to Rick’s actor.  He completely nailed being in shock when he was on the porch after dropping off Carl.  Seeing him jitter about, glazed eyes and staring off on auto-pilot as Shane wiped the blood of his forehead.  Seeing him nervously muck about with the soiled rag was spot on.

Hats off to the writers this season, as Shane is a completely watchable human being right now.  He usurped some of the Mary Sue out of Rick and has become a great guy and hero of his own story in his own right.  Last season I wasn’t pleased with his actions but felt he was also getting a terribly raw deal.  This time around they are showing him in a different light which is interesting to see.

Inversely, I am a bit miffed at how often Rick is crumpling this time around.  While the too human, human last season was a bit much in one direction, this time around we get the opposite.  A mess of doubt and emotions who is constantly second-guessing himself and full of questions on reality, morality, and even his own reasoning abilities.  I gather from the interviews of Talking Dead after the shows that this is temporary and is sculpting him to be ‘the great leader his is in the comics’ but right now, I’d like that to happen a bit faster.  I don’t have comics to base this on and keep saying “I know it’s bad now, but just wait, you’ll like it.”  Heck, Andrea was supposed to be an awesome character and thus far I cannot see why Dale would have stayed with her, nor how anyone with ‘gun rights’ (or crossbow for that matter) would want to save her at all, if not straight up do her in themselves.

I can envision this comic where Andrea is on the RV doing nothing productive as usual in panel one, panel two shows Dale opening the door to check up on her, and panel three is just his left arm and leg in view as the door rips off his hinges and giant crimson letters spelling out “RAAAAAGE” have knocked him out of frame as they fly out from inside the vehicle.

Just give that chick a bullet already. I don’t even mean shoot her.  Just give her a bullet and let her fall onto it from a great height.

And coat the bullet with salt.

Dale is still a cool guy.  T-dog is in a tight spot, we’ll see if the drugs kick in to save him or not. Glenn finally got some camera love and even got a joke this time around!  Yay.  Daryle is being hyped up as this uber cool tough guy, but I sorta think he was more awesome last season.  Perhaps this time around he feels… a bit stock?  Too soon to judge, but that’s my gut feeling at the moment.  It’s like every scene he’s in he just dominates and everyone else there is only there to serve him his best representation possible.

Side note:  There were two mentions of Merle this episode.  Will that amount to anything in the near future?

Anyone else flashback to Left 4 Dead when they started throwing flares?

As often is the case, a decent product following a terrible disappointment tends to shine quite brightly by dynamic comparison alone.  (Matrix 2 vs Matrix 3.  Star Wars 1+2 vs Star Wars 3.  Cataclysm vs Mists of Pandaria, though MoP would have done fine on it’s own.  I just wish Cata didn’t seem like such a waste or even a filler by comparison.)  I liked the whole episode.  I liked how commercials weren’t shoved in my face this time around, in fact instead of dreading the commercials themselves, I dreaded having to wait five minutes to get back into the episode because it hooked me this week.

This was a minor victory.  This proves you are actually adequate for television.  By many standards, being adequate is proof you are actually too good for television, but I digress.  Kudos to a good job, but keep it up.  You have plenty of room for improvement and to grow, so do not drop the ball again!  Continue to dazzle us in the coming weeks, please ^_^

Furthermore, Andrea should be destroyed.

The Walking Dead: Season 2 Premier

What did I think of “What Lies Ahead?”

In a word: “Commercials.”

In another word: “Let-down.”

And yes that is a single word. It’s hyphenated, it counts as one! XD

It wasn’t bad, but I was expecting more.  This was yet another ‘Talky’ episode that I disliked last season.  I understand a lot of stuff is going on and they are explaining a lot and setting a stage, but I also think they only made it 90 minutes to sell the insane amount of ads that we running near the end.  If they cut it down to an hour not only would the ad problem go away, but they would be forced to terse and tighten up the action and lop off the boring bits that were ever-present.

Again, it was not bad.  But it was clearly edu-tainment.  It told us stuff so they can actually act on it later.  In comical terms, it was the setup of a joke, and the punchline will be given next week.  Or two from that.  Sometime.  Just not *now*.  And I wanted payoff *now* after waiting a year to watch this.

Some good news though!  Shane and Lori are now actual, factual characters!  I’m so proud.  Last season they were just graduated foil characters.  This time Lori is actually doing something and holding her own, while Shane is apparently shedding the ‘crazy’ bits and going rogue for the good of the group.  He went from neutral villain to anti-hero.  Kudos to him.

Andrea can go stick her finger in an outlet.  I don’t care what she does in the comic, I want this chick dead.  Nothing but hate and angst.  Every scene she was in was like watching a highschool poetry class unfold.  Big words people do not normally use, let alone under threat of zombie attack, and again not when that ticked off. You just don’t have higher brain functions going on when you rage as much as she was against poor Dale. Ungrateful for his intervention she wishes nothing more to be killed off.  We here ate Encrazed Crafts truly wish that she succeeds in her goal.  Quickly and with gory detail.

Dale is still awesome.  Delaying the group from making a tough decision so coyly and seeing T-Dog willingly go along with it was great.  “Tricky hose” indeed ^_^  Sadly, Rick is still a Mary Sue.  This time with extreme comparisons to Jesus.  Well done on the subtly there, crew.

The gore this episode wasn’t over-the-top, but I did notice the rest of the group I saw it with got a bit squeamish and complained at how realistic it was.  The only thing I was thinking when I saw Andrea attack the one zombie in the Road Warrior was frustration as I had an idea to write a story were people really did resort to using a screwdriver in such a fashion against a zombie.  Now if I do it I’ll get instant comparisons and claim that I stole it from them.  Raspberries!

One final nifty thing of note, as I mentioned up top, last season I complained how every other episode seemed to be all dialog while the others were action.  The fifth episode prompted me to state the following:

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:

After they bite off your ear, they'll talk off the remaining one.

-Encrazed Crafts 11/29/2010

So imagine my surprise when I found out they were actually having a live after-party talk show titled the “Talking Dead.”  I don’t wanna say I called it, as I’d much rather prefer dividends for coining the idea XD

What did you guys think of this episode?  A little slow on the pace?  Commercials a bit much?  Also notice they still managed to squeeze in a shower scene as Shane opened water from the truck? Man, they sure do love shower bits on this show.  That’s what, three so far?  Every time the people in them are super smiling too.  Kinda creepy.  Tell us your thoughts on this Walking Dead episode below!

Furthermore, Andrea should be destroyed.

There’s a Girl in the Garden.

The sixth and final episode of the Walking Dead has come to a close.  Took some time to actually get to start typing this out today as Comcast managed to lose my internet pretty much all day, along with the rest of the midwest.  Add in decking the halls for a few hours, finishing up the tree, then cleaning up the mess in the process, the whole day was spent.  (Would have been nice to know Comcast was to blame, as I spent a good two hours cursing bitterly that I would not be able to enter the Shuffle On zombie role contest once the show started.  Luckily we got it back just before they stopped taking the code, which was NIGHTMARE today.)

But enough about us!  On with the spoilers!

The opening was great!  We got to see familiar scenes way back from the beginning of the series not so long ago, as well as seeing how the hospital ended up the way it did.  The military killing any and all in a full blown slash and burn purge of any contamination was an interesting choice, albeit cliche, but still passable.  Adding in gas masks made them jump for oppressive jar heads to full-on Umbrella Corp, but it was so brief in this scene it is of little consequence.  This scene also had some strong vibes of the original Half-Life:  harsh and dimwitted military willing to kill anything tied to a failed mission.  Which provides a funny mental image…

Warden Freeman. The 'Walker' Atlanta Ranger.

I did enjoy seeing a military person shoot up the ceiling, which explains what caused the wires to sag as Rick walked past.  (Not that I was wondering, but it was a cool detail to see.)  This ‘death hall’ that Rick passed through so long ago (to us, anyway) has a feeling of Metal Gear Solid when Cyber Ninja was fully revealed to the player and Snake.  Guards shooting randomly as they make a failed attempt not to get killed off.  A genius commenter left this message on one of my posts that I thought I should bring up here:

“One idea I like, is that when Shane said the hospital was real bad when Rick regrouped with them; how would he know? Also, Rick living that long with no nurses helping him for up to that whole month is a stretch. …Unless Lori was holed up for a week or so at her house, Shane checked up on Rick and got him new fluids etc, then left him when zombies gained the upper hand, possibly blocking his door off with that gurney that Rick had to push out of the way.

Shane, in that scenario, would have known Rick to be alive when he last saw him, making the lie he told Lori still beneficial to her well being, but damning to Rick in more ways than one.”

-Encrazed Crafts

Oh wait, that was me!  Ha-HA!  I am a mighty prognosticator of prognosticators, my friends!  Ok, ok.  Enough gloating.  While not every letter was mirrored perfectly in the scene, I do take a level of satisfaction calling out several things on the dot.  Shane was there, he did tell Lori Rick died to save her and Carl’s lives, and he put the gurney where Rick had to push it out of the way when he finally came to.  Shane didn’t know that he was still alive, but at least he saved his friend from getting gnawed on.

The way they handled Shane this episode was for the most part flawless. He was a little crazy/rowdy when he first got there, and I can see him being pissy that Rick got his way, but that’s minor.  Once alcohol and seeing him chug a bottle in the shower was shown, a confrontation with a drunken and scantily clad Lori was quite predictable.  This too was handled well, showing Shane wanting what Rick has, showing he did want to keep them safe, and showing that he really did think Rick was dead, and being wrong about that is eating him up.  Being drunk is a perfect excuse for him trying to get another shot at Lori, and allows him to be cast as the ‘poor guy’ next season.  He did right, but it was taken away from him.  I hope they leave the crazy out of him next season as it didn’t really fit and came across as forced every time it showed up.  Shane and that shotgun of his.  Oh, that rascal!

Seeing Rick drunk and candid was a surprise, and actually made me wonder if the CDC guy ran out of water to serve, turning the place into a Pirate ship. (Later we find out it was more of a last hurrah, of course.)  Hearing Rick’s inner thoughts under the influence was a nice admission on his character’s part.  He knows they will most likely die out there, but will not show any signs of weakness around his family and friends.  He takes up that burden to save them even more grief; now that is a courageous thing to do.  Again, this is how to properly show character traits without degrading them in the process (Andrea pointing a gun at Rick [twice], Shane doing the same, Rick nearly openly weeping to the surveillance camera, etc.).

Humor was present this episode, and gladly appreciated.  The sense of dead-pan (no puns, no puns!) timing was pretty tight as well, either based on lights turning off or suggestions the audience at home knows that the characters to not.  Saying the timer ticking down is when the plant is ‘decontaminated’ instantly brought back how the test chamber was explosively ‘decontaminated’ in the previous episode.  This was of course then made blatantly obvious to the viewer at home after seeing about fifty different mechanical objects covered in the explosive logo in the basement section of the CDC building.

Andrea’s ‘infection’ hinted at in the previews last week are a clear example of how editors like to swing controversy into everything possible.  (Just a minor note/gripe.)  Daryle was once again the funny yet overly-aggressive everyday man this episode, and his line about wanting to use a fire axe on the CDC worker was a gem.  Seeing him continue to beat on the door with the axe fruitlessly in the background also provoked a laugh out of me, but that could just be my sadistic tendencies surfacing.

The CDC guy was handled wonderfully, and this man has proved he has quite the acting chops.  (Acting chops being a variant of Slap Chop, I presume?)  He was scientific, but not cold.  Calculated, yet emotional.  Telling Rick everything is going to be ok was a heart-felt scene, a man that is reassuring a stranger he just met (a drunken one to boot) was a nice thing to say.   But there is at the very least a hint of darkness there, as we know later on they were all scheduled to die within 24 hours when the timer finished counting down.  I felt for him, especially after finding out it was his wife that was the person seeing get turned into a zombie, that he put her down, and that she was the source of the flesh he was testing on.  He also turned into GLaDOS at the end when he warned Rick of what was to come next. 

“Are you trying to escape? Hahaha. Things have changed since the last time you left the building. What’s going on out there will make you wish you were back in here. I have an infinite capacity for knowledge and even I’m not sure what’s going on outside. All I know is I’m the only thing standing between us and them.

Well, I was.”

-GLADoS

I think the only real negative thing, at least the most negative scene I can comment on this episode, was showing everyone showering.  I just do not find this to be that big of a draw.  We saw Rick, Morgan, and Duane all showering in the first episode.  Was it merely a throwback to that setting, as the beginning of this episode did as well?  Nothing was really revealed, other than seeing Shane booze-out, which made me both chuckle at his current state, while wag my finger at him for watering down perfectly good spirits.  Seeing people shower didn’t really show anything new, it did not reveal character details we did not already know, and I thought the idea of showering was handled enough back in the first episode.  I dunno.  Could just be me.  Gamer’s are not exactly known for our hygiene, after all…

Killing off the black chick this episode was a bit…I don’t want to say “nice,” but it was at least a sign of atonement for Jim.  Also she apparently is connected to T-dog?  Never really explained that.  (Dale wanted Andrea to come with him as well, but they aren’t dating yet, so can’t really use that a comparison.)  The Misses told me she’d probably prefer to go out that way as well in a zombie situation, but I disagree to a point.  Willingly letting yourself get blow’d up should only even be considered when there are no other alternatives.  They had plenty of ammo, hell they made their own way out.  (Though that nade should have done a lot more than just merely shatter glass, in my opinion.)  If the horde was rushing them and they had only the option of “die fast, fairly painlessly” or “die extremely painfully due to nom-age and then turn into one of them” I’d probably opt for the first one.

Hearing Mr. CDC calmly describe how fast and painless it would be was pretty neat as well.  Locking them in was a little bit forced, though.  If they could not get out up top, why arbitrarily lock them in downstairs as well?  Why not promote the idea of them going to bed and waiting?  Why lock them in at all if you *know* there is no way out?  To funnel the drama into one room and make actors say their lines, of course.  Minor gripe, though the Misses caught me by surprise again:

“If it self-destructed because it ran out of fuel…why not let them out to get more gas?”

Well, dang.  First with Merle’s rusted pipe versus his hand, now this.  You win again, superior logic!  Formidable opponent, indeed.

In terms of episodes…I’d have to say this was a close second to Vatos.  Vatos, this, first, third, second.  That’s my order.  Great show, great season (barring few annoyances/conflicting ideas in the script), and can’t wait until next.  I should probably do an over-all review of this season as a whole, but that will have to wait (till probably this Sunday).  Thanks for readin’, yall!

Oy, Who Put This On? (It’s On Random)

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?

Best Way to Solve Any Argument. Ever.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. To shoot her sister once she turned, put her to rest.
  3. 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:

After they bite off your ear, they'll talk off the remaining one.

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.)

It’s not Hip-hop… It’s Electro!

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 >.<)

Final Thoughts

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.

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