They decided to put huge, radioactive craters in the USA and then went on to write clever ways for the main characters to escape certain death. The only one we knew for sure would walk away was Murphy. Even if he didn’t drive away, something about his changed nature would surely save his hide. Cassandra’s too, now that she’s this mystical Other like Murphy.
What about the Roberta, 10k, and Doc? Sure, they make it to a vehicle—I’m assuming they steal Dr. Kurian’s SUV since Murphy has the van from the drug warehouse—but a car isn’t fast enough to drive beyond the 3-8 kilometer blast radius. Roberta demonstrates some fancy defensive driving techniques, magically finding a tunnel to drive into to spare them from taking the brunt of the impact once the blast catches up with them. The car flips, leaving the trio in a situation we’re all too accustomed to on this show—carless, no supplies, and hardly in any condition to wander around a desolate wasteland to find provisions which haven’t been irradiated. Especially since Doc has a hole in his shoulder. It’s not clear how long they wander around before Doc’s injury prevents him from going on. 10k stays to nurse Doc. Roberta continues wandering aimlessly. Because that’s smart. Just when she’s ready to give herself Mercy, a little girl screams and it’s time for killin’. The effects for this season are far better for the fight scenes. Like some of Roberta’s other fights, this one is done in stylized slow-motion, where each fatal strike is full speed, but everything else is nice and slow. It gives great detail for the zombie makeup and fight choreography. It also distracts one from remembering that Roberta is actually too weak to walk, let alone take out half a dozen zombies. Smart. The girl’s family takes Roberta in for a while, feeds her, and sends her back out with food and water to find the guys.
Mack and Addy are back. The band of sister-wives was decimated after one boy they sent to his certain death grew wise and returned to torch the place. Those who didn’t burn alive were eaten by the zombie bear. Only Addy and Murphy’s baby momma, Serena, survive. Mack picks up Addy on his four-wheeler and off they go. Where? Well, looks like they want to rejoin the “Get Murphy to California” parade. The pair, not a couple anymore given the angsty tension in their solo scenes, find a cell phone tower and set up a signal for the others. They aren’t alone for long. Zombies find them and decide it’s lunchtime. Luckily 10k and Doc just happen to be in the same junkyard. Most of the gang is back together again. Using information Addy gleans from a radio broadcast in Spanish, they head out, picking up Roberta on the way. It’s amazing how these people find each other so easily. I can’t even find my friends in a parking lot if we’re separated while hunting old ladies for dinner.
That just leaves Murphy and Cassandra on their own. Murphy heads to the nearest town. He promptly breaks into a vintage clothing store for a lot of therapeutic shopping. The undead locals are pretty friendly, lending a hand to carry his new wardrobe. Cassandra, on the other hand, has to claw her way out of the crater which was the lab before she tracks down the man who ensured she survived the apocalypse no matter what. She’s a tad feral by the time they meet up in the clothing store. Which is the only way to explain why Cassandra allows Murphy to dress her in gold spandex and a white mink coat. While Murphy plays dress-up, his name is being spread amongst the survivors in the US like wildfire.
Citizen Z—trapped in the NSA’s computer room after a nuke defrosted zombies in the downed airplane from the pilot episode—sends out an all-call to find Murphy and get him to California, going so far as to lie about a bounty and promising first crack at the refined cure once it’s finished. Which is exactly what Addy hears on the radio. The Spanish message she heard is a response, telling survivors to head to the speed-bump sized town where Murphy and Cassandra are holed up in a strip club. Like you expected Murphy to go anywhere else.
The gang catches up with them, and more than a few other people looking for The Murphy. There’s some witty bantering, a zombie strip show, and a gunfight with a gentleman who’s so, so certain he’ll be the one to drive away with Murphy tucked safely in his trunk. Don’t skip the fight’s conclusion. The final zombie death is . . . unique, to say the least.
With everyone in the USA looking for Murphy, the show’s cleverly turned everything on its head even more than when they decided to nuke everything. Instead of relying on internal drama and the occasional accidental run-in with unsavory survivors, the fight is coming to them. Or Murphy, rather. However, Roberta has no plans to abandon the mission now. They’re close to California. Now all they gotta do is beat everyone else to claim the prize.
Whether it’s through bad calls from the government, medical professionals, and police forces or if the mass panic in large cities like Los Angeles is the perfect breeding ground for new zombies. More often than not, I find myself watching the background action in every scene. Why continue to shove poorly written characters in our faces when the best part of the show happens without them? Numerous fans have told me they’d much rather the show follow Tobias. He seems to be the only one fully aware of the ramifications of these attacks and what it means for mankind’s future. But he’s only on screen for a few minutes total halfway through the season. It’s like the writers want to hide his intelligence after realizing how moronic the lead characters are when it comes to common sense.
Head’s up! There’s episode spoilers in the rest of this review.
Some of you surely think I’m overreacting, that there’s no way the same people who gave us Rick Grimes and company can produce such wholly flawed characters. I’m not talking flawed like Carol’s sociopathy or Daryl’s antisocial nature. We’re talking characters so poorly written, if they were actual people, they’d find it impossible to function in normal society without ending up injuring themselves or others. Madison in particular cannot operate under basic logic. In the beginning of this episode, not much time has passed since we left off in episode 2. So she should still feel the adrenaline rush—or at least the let-down from it—after bashing in Artie’s head with a fire extinguisher. You know, her friend and coworker. The man she risked her life to help despite Tobias’ warnings. At no point does reason say Madison should force her children to wait at the house for Travis and his family when she knows these infected people can and will hurt others. Not to mention, she watched an infected neighbor chow down on the birthday party crew, so she knows danger is at their door.
Does she make Captain Addict and Princess Stubborn climb into the car? No. Madison sits them down to play Monopoly. Her dingbattiness must be inherited by the kids.
When they hear a noise at the door, Nick just wanders over to open it, letting in a stray German shepherd. Hold that thought for a second. I have a bone to pick with the writers about that dog. It’s always been a big mystery on TWD: where are the animals? We’ve seen a few, either eaten later on or too feral to re-domesticate. It only makes sense that this show would attempt to show what happened to them. It doesn’t make sense to introduce a gorgeous dog, only to kill it off-screen minutes later. There’s no point in forcing fans to listen to a dog’s whimpering and yelping as its attacked. Matter of fact, that is flat out cruel. Yes, people react when animals die. It’s a lazy way to garner emotions from the audience when they aren’t connecting to the humans in the story. Make us care when people die. Quit using animals to make up for two-dimensional characters.
When the infected neighbor breaks into their house and kills the dog, Madison and the kids return the favor and break into the house next door. Nick steals their shotgun. Madison snags the shotgun shells. Alicia wanders around, wondering what’s going on because he mother refuses to tell her that zombies exist.
Across town, Travis, his family, and the Salazars are forced out of the barber shop by a fire in the strip mall. Griselda’s foot is broken when a police water cannon topples a scaffold. Luckily they just happen to be right next to Travis’ truck. Going to the hospital isn’t an option—duh. Hospitals are ground zero for all infections and viruses. We’ve always said the first institutions to fall would be anything medical. That’s one thing the writers for the show got right.
Unable to find help for the injured woman, Travis opts to bring them with him to the house. They arrive seconds after the dog dies. Madison attempts to cut them off before they find the infected neighbor inside the house. Despite hearing the munching noises, Travis strolls up to his undead buddy and almost gets the same treatment as the birthday party crew. Daniel saves Travis, despite Travis demanding no one shoot the shotgun. The makeup effects for the infected in this scene are amazing and detailed.
Back at the neighbor’s house, Alicia backtracks by herself to grab the shotgun shells Madison dropped. She’s attacked by their neighbor, Susan. Chris comes to her rescue and gets punched in the nose as thanks. With everyone together, they should be ready to head to the desert, right? Wrong. Travis demands they wait until daylight. The Salazars argue whether or not they should go with the others, considering Liza is going to school to be a nurse and may be the only medically-inclined person they can find given the scene at the hospital they passed on the way to the Clark house. Ofelia thinks that since the others are kind, it’ll mean they survive. “Good people are the first ones to die,” Daniel tells her. They’re still arguing when Travis and Madison finally get in the car and drive away in the morning. For a heart-stopping minute, I wanted them to just drive off and never be seen again. It doesn’t happen. Susan’s husband returns home. Madison rushes back to warn him. Too late. He reaches out to embrace Susan . . . splat! A soldier puts a round through Susan’s skull.
Half the National Guard suddenly appears in their little suburb, locking it down. They catalogue every living person in the neighborhood. The corpses are taken away in body bags. Now they’re stuck huddling in the middle of a crowded city where the infection rate is climbing.
They should’ve left the minute Madison got home with Artie’s brains on her jacket.