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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.)

10 responses »

  1. Did you hear that the entire writing staff was fired? I’ll link it below, but that’s pretty interesting. I took note that the dialogue at times felt awkward and tense (IE: Shane and Rick sitting in the car during the Pilot). Warming Glow commented on the clunky lines and some plot holes, and also made a note about serious plot hole involving the Winnebago that I didn’t catch from yesterday’s episode, probably because I was writing a small obit for Leslie Nielsen. Anyways, hopefully the next batch of writers will make Season 2 much better all around.

    • Yeah, surprising but hopefully a change for the better. The dialog really didn’t bother me much, but the up and down “action” “talk” “action” “talk” flip-flopping was annoying at best. (Dialog can be bad, but still delivered well by the actors. I think they kept up their end this season, but the first two episodes I hated Shane and Lori, only with Vatos did either of them find reprieve my my deadly Stick of Inquisition. But, I will agree Shane suddenly pointing the loud part of his shotgun at Rick was completely random based on what we have see so far in the series. In the comic it would have made sense, but not in this TV series’ universe.)

      They stopped the RV because the tube they needed finally gave out. Shane and…someone else I can’t recall, I’m assuming Daryle left to check out what looked to be a gas station up ahead. As the RV was working after that bit, I’m assuming they found the part they needed, or at least some duct tape as Dale said he was all out of that as well. Biggest plot hole was Daryle shooting the Vato in the butt with no mention of the infection spreading.

      Still crossing my fingers they all die for threatening to throw Glenn of the roof though :D

      Thank you for your comment, Mr. Matt!

  2. I didn’t catch the black woman setting Joe up for the kill. Nice catch.

    Unlike you, I enjoyed this episode. I was expecting more action but I felt it was pretty good. Joe’s storyline is particularly depressing and presents a person actually dying from a bite. This episode reveals a great deal of the series’ mythology – showing how people die and how they come back (which is like being born). My only complaint is the Truman Show CDC scientist hinting at the epidemic as possibly viral. This isn’t a trait I usually enjoy in zombie stories. The comics are ambiguous about this, treating the outbreak as a natural phenomenon; I’m concerned the show will go the other direction, providing a cause for the zombies. Considering our world – especially our society – is one of multiple beliefs, firmly deciding on one limit the show’s possibilities.

    I can understand your frustration with this slow episode and in comparison to the comics (which can dawdle); the show is not as good. I still like it but feel the print version is far superior. I don’t think Shane’s going anywhere and will appear for at least another season or so. I do believe a confrontation between Rick and Shane is forthcoming, but I think they’re going to draw this out for a while.

    I also heard Darabont fired his writing staff, which will probably delay the next season a little bit. I think the six episode season is pretty awful (I want more!) and a year wait for season two is obnoxious. Thankfully there’s a comic every month to keep me satiated. =)

    • Yeah, Jim/Joe’s story was pretty messed up and I feel for the guy. (Just wished a little more happened in this episode, and darn to the censors that [I’ll go with] ‘jock’ -blocked when they flashed up the conent warning for nothing. Bah to them I says.)

      This episode wasn’t exactly terrible, but in comparison to Vatos and the complete dirge of action…I disliked it. I suppose it evens out in the long run and I know they had a lot to deal with opening and closing the season so quickly, I just wish it was done with a bit more fluidity. I’m sure they plan on having a lot of action in the ending of the season…so why didn’t they have *any* in this episode? Not to sound like a roid-monkey that has to feed on aggressive scenes to feel sated, but the ‘every other’ episodes with no action feel a lot like when you have a conversation and someone cuts your story off with a question of a minor detail. You answer the question, pause, then start to slide back into your story before they interrupt you again.

      I’z just wants to tell muh story! Stop nagging me with pointless details!

      Better yet, re-write the story so not as many of those details exist in the first place so more action can be seamlessly added without disrupting your precious dialogz! That way the ‘I like that it focuses on people’ camp can be happy, and the ‘this is kinda dull’ camp can see some action to keep their attention span going.

      Next episode will tap the zombie vein, my friend. Thinking of making the video game music ‘segment’ an every Thursday affair. Had to restart the post twice now as friggin Kingdom Hearts LIES. I’ll make a comment on it in the post, don’t you worry…

  3. I can understand the irritation with a slow episode. I personally think I have a long attention span and can sit through long and boring movies waiting for a pay-off. One of my favorite movies is Lawrence of Arabia, which is well over three hours long. However, it’s also a great story and a great movie, containing long scenes of the desert. I find them mesmerizing while others think it’s slow and boring. I think it subjective. I just hope they tie up the season nicely. I’m not concerned with a cliffhanger (which I’m sure is forthcoming) but I want them to give us something to remember that will keep us excited for the second season. After introducing the Truman Show CDC scientist I’m not so sure anymore.

    I’ve never played Kingdom Heart or its sequel but I know they feature Tron, which is pretty awesome. There’s a large part of me that wants to try them, but there’s also another part that wants to avoid them, knowing they’re video game crack. =)

    I’m looking forward to your next posts. Take care.

  4. EC, I had a much different feeling about this episode than you did; I really enjoyed it and didn’t feel that it dragged. Still, you make a solid case for the things you didn’t like about it. I like the way they’ve handled Rick, and personally I think that his willingness to point his gun but not use it is going to turn into an itchy trigger finger going forward. But I think you’re right to call out the Main Character Powers at play in Rick’s character. And I agree that Shane is definitely more interested in leading the group, and generally has been more pragmatic in his thinking than Rick.

    Speaking of Shane, I disagree with you about his irritation level with Rick. I actually think it’s been there from the moment Rick returned, playing out in a kind of push/pull. The way I’ve been reading it, yeah, he’s glad his friend and partner found them. Still, based on Lori’s story in “Frogs,” Shane told her that Rick was dead when they left. If that’s so, then he either a) flat out lied to Lori about her husband or b) presumed that Rick was likely to die and thought he’d try to make it easier for Lori to flee with him. Either way, he moved into her bed awfully quick, and I think there’ve been lots of little moments, looks from Shane to Rick and Lori, that suggest he’s not all that happy to have Rick back. Still, I’ll concede that this is my interpretation, and I could absolutely be reading it wrong.

    Also, and this is just a guess, I think we’re going to discover that Shane and Lori were hooking up BEFORE the zombie apocalypse…

    • Shane is quite a curious bugger. This could very well be me just hoping to see the best in people, but my current take on the data at hand is Lori was willing to hole up in her house, waiting for Rick or to go and check on him herself with Carl. Shane, who seemed to only have a girlfriend in ep 1, went to check on her to get her out, and noticed she was staying put. His demeanor has been mixed between decisive action and conservative/cowardly, but I think in that situation he was willing to lie to get Lori to leave and go to what he figured as safety, or at least safer than a lone house in the middle of a neighborhood.

      That’s the button and bows rendition of possibilities, mostly influenced in Frogs by seeing personable he can actually be around people (unlike 1 and 2 where he was a blunt blowhard at best). If his character remained as a pain in the rear as he was at the very beginning of the show, and Lori retained her initial repulsive personality, I could easily see the two of them cheating before the outbreak.

      The story has not been very consistent, but at least the recent episodes have been interesting to watch, as the first two I wanted Shane and Lori off screen the moment they appeared. I’m glad their characters miraculously changed, but the sudden switch from jerks to actual characters was too quick and botched. (Still like the end result, just the path to it was heavy handed at best)

      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.

      Shane’s sudden outburst of pointing a gun at Rick hints at his decline back into ‘jerk’ which I dislike, and was hoping to avoid. I liked seeing him and Rick tag-team Daryle. It’s kinda like The Incredibles. I liked the movie, but some found it hard to watch as all they wanted to see was the family get along, which only happens a minute or two before the credits. I would have really liked to see them all group up before that, but still enjoyed the movie. Kinda fits this show as well. I’ll still like it if Shane goes rogue, but would have preferred him to be more even-kilter and be a great partner with Rick.

      Also wondering if Rick driving his squad car solo when he was looking for gas in the very beginning of Episode 1 was more of a ‘get used to this setting’ thing, or a precursor as Rick was completely alone in that car. He also had his hat on, which Glenn just rescued for him in Vatos. Makes you wonder if that was an early glimpse of the future or what’s gonna happen. If it was a hint, where’s Lori and Carl?

      /foreboding music blasts

      Dun dun duuunnn!

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