Review of “The Walking Dead” 316 – “Welcome to the Tombs”
Weeks and weeks of well-written, tension-building episodes brought us to this week’s explosive conclusion. The problem? The only explosion came from a round of unnecessary shooting and grenade launching. Emotionally the episode was a bit of a letdown. There were far too many plot lines left dangling, with no tension to carry them over into the new season. The only thing we were left to look forward to was a potential emotional downslide for Carl, of all characters. Let’s see what went down in the season three finale of “The Walking Dead.”
***Caution, there are spoilers below. If you have not watched the season finale, turn back now!***
Three weeks ago it was reported by Andrew Lincoln in an interview with Rolling Stone that the show would be killing off twenty-seven characters in the season finale. What he couldn’t say was one of the deaths would be beloved underdog and sole geek in the Zombiepocalypse, Milton. We can’t say his death came as a huge surprise. Milton did his best to do the right things in the latter half of season three, putting him at direct odds with his old friend, the sociopath Governor of Woodbury. Unfortunately, Milton’s efforts were a handful of branches trying to stop the flood of Phillip’s determination to be the biggest, scariest leader in a ten-mile radius. It takes a lot of bravery to stand up to a man like Phillip. Milton knew one miscalculation would cost him his life. In the end, he realized the only way to make an impact was to draw Phillip’s wrath and sacrifice himself in order to save the masses. By torching the walkers intended for use against the group in the prison, Milton saved a lot of lives. His death was not in vain, though his loss will be felt if/when we ever see the Governor again, this time without his glasses-wearing conscious at his side.
The person Milton wanted to save most of all wasn’t himself, or even Phillip. Somewhere along the way, Milton saw potential in Andrea to be the savior Woodbury needed in order to escape the Governor’s insanity. But their plans were constantly plagued by ill-timing and Phillip’s ability to be three steps ahead of everyone. In the end, no matter what Milton did, Andrea still paid the ultimate price. There’s a sad irony in those two being the eventual cause of each other’s deaths just when they thought they’d found the one other person left alive who understood what drove their particular brand of hero complex.
Andrea’s constant efforts to do the good and right thing only ended up costing others their lives, including Merle. Her scheming nearly landed Michonne in a torture cell. When faced with a threat like Phillip and his army of true believers, doing the right thing is suicidal. Andrea knew that in the end, but still couldn’t make herself take a human life. Her conscious (not Milton-shaped) got the best of her time and time again. How much heartache would have been spared if she did as Carol told her and stabbed Phillip after one last goodnight kiss? Possibly the hardest part of Andrea’s death wasn’t that she’d been gnawed on by a man who could have been much more to her if not for Phillip’s involvement in their lives. No, the part that truly sucked was seeing her determination to not burden anyone else with dispatching her before she turned. It brought fans back to the end of season one when a distraught Andrea wanted to stay in the CDC when it blew up and Dale emotionally blackmailed her until she gave in and made a run for it. Only now, she wasn’t taking the easy way out. Andrea faced the reality of her situation and wanted to be in control until her last breath. If given more time, she could have been a capable leader for Woodbury. Andrea just wasn’t strong enough to overthrow the Governor.
Speaking of Captain Crazypants, what the heck was up with him unloading a clip into his own people? Some people take failure poorly, but jeeze. The Governor only allowed two of his men to live, and they looked about two seconds from running into the woods to get away from him. There was nothing human left in his eyes . . . eye . . . when he gunned down the people he’d taken on the failed mission to take over the prison. How would he feel if he knew the truth? Five people total inside the prison overwhelmed and dispersed his army. Where did Phillip go to lick his wounded pride? We have no clue. It is unlikely that we’ve seen the last of him, especially if Rick and his newly expanded crew decide to stay inside the prison.
Carl is on a slippery slope to psychoville via the Shane path of surviving the Zombiepocalypse. We’ve known for a while that some vital part of Carl was broken the day he was forced to put a bullet in his mother’s head to spare her from returning as a walker. However, after he seemed to bounce back from it, he’s flipped off his emotion switch again. What happened? Was he shocked by what happened in King County when they ran into a clearly insane Morgan? Did he feel coddled when Rick told him to wait in the woods during the lack-luster battle with the Governor and his forces? It is really hard to tell what triggered this lasted spiral for Carl. What we do know is the kid is really creepy after pulling the trigger. Instantly, he rationalized a story to tell his father so he wouldn’t get in trouble. The worst part was seeing how little shock and remorse was on his face when the kid he shot crumpled to the ground. Someone needs to step in and save Carl before he becomes the next Governor. Or is this a case of too-little-too-late? Only time will tell.
Do you think we’ve seen the last of the Governor? What is in store for Rick and his crew at the prison next season? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Review of “The Walking Dead” 313 – “Arrow on the Doorpost”
Occasionally, the non-stop action of a show has to take a backseat in order to allow characters a chance to build toward something spectacular, like the epic clash on the horizon between Rick’s group and the people of Woodbury. Unfortunately, these “talking head” episodes are full of inaction, intrigue, and contests of wit and strength as characters measure each other for what will surely come in the next episode or two. With only three episodes left in the season, was it wise to allow an entire episode to be spent talking? We’ll see.
**Warning, there be spoilers ahead!**
It’s taken thirteen episodes for Rick and the Governor to share more than bullets flying past each other and angry words spread through third parties. Sadly, the encounter was predictable. Rick stood on his high moral ground and Phillip dug it out from under him. The Governor twisted Rick’s words around, trying to make him the bad guy, taking advantage of Rick’s fragile mental state in order to plant seeds of doubt in his opponent’s mind. Phillip used several tactics to get under Rick’s skin. He tried to play humble, saying he hadn’t appointed himself as governor, but the people chose him to lead them. In the next breath, he went from humble to sadistic. Before we could recover from his evil streak, Phillip flew into a story about how his late wife died before the zombie outbreak happened. But how much of the story is true? How much of his emotions were true? Phillip is a textbook sociopath. He mimics emotions he sees in others, but they never last long. He can charm the pants off everyone. He has absolutely no remorse for the death and destruction he’s caused. It was difficult to keep up with Phillip’s rapid-fire subject changes in his parlay with Rick—which was the point. He was feeling Rick out, getting a bead on his foe to see if he’s mentally capable of out-maneuvering him. Phillip’s power is smoke and mirrors, with a dash of pure intimidation thrown in the mix. Without his intelligence and taste for blood, he’d be just another guy trying to survive.
Rick, for all his mental shortcomings since Lori’s death, managed to keep up with Phillip’s ever-changing conversation. But whereas the Governor talked, bragged, and played his mental games, Rick brooded in silence. He did what so many people fail to do, he listened to the person he is at war with. And through listening, Rick realized one important thing—no matter what deal they strike, Phillip will never allow the people in the prison to live. When Rick did speak, he played right into Phillip’s hands. Only on one occasion did he gain the upper hand, when he told Phillip killing Michonne was beneath him—it wasn’t worth his time to kill one woman. Rick is way out of his depth. The wars he’s fought within his group and the emotional trauma he suffered from the death surrounding them every day, they’ve left him with little resources to deal with the current threat. It wasn’t until Rick returned to the prison that we caught a glimpse of how he planned to play out the war. Rick lied to his group about the Governor’s intentions. And despite what he said to Hershel later, I think he did it to keep a leash on the wildcards in the prison. How quickly would Merle turn around and try to give Michonne to the Governor in order to save his baby brother from the battle ahead? Sure, Rick wanted his people scared, honed for the war, but he also wanted to make sure he was the one holding all the aces so no one could surprise him later on.
Andrea’s part in the war is changing. What it is changing to, I have no clue. She had her chance to kill Phillip and she didn’t take it. Hershel invited her to come back to the prison, she got back in the car with the Woodbury folks. How long can she play monkey-in-the-middle before someone (Phillip) gets tired of her indecision and disposes of her for good? Playing both sides of the fence is dangerous. Mostly, it is stupid. Andrea’s little bubble of reality has burst. The man she’s been protecting wants the blood of the people who kept her alive. The only ally she has left is Milton. He knows most of what goes on in Woodbury, but Phillip has been keeping him ill-informed just to throw Andrea off. Yet despite everything, Andrea thinks she alone can prevent the clash between the two survivor groups. I’m not quite sure if she’s been hit on the head one too many times or has allowed the little bit of power Phillip gave her to go to her head. She does not want to be caught in the middle of this conflict. If Andrea were smart, she’d move on and get far away from Woodbury and the prison.
In better news, Glenn and Maggie kissed and made up. Every episode since they were rescued from Woodbury, they fought their own personal war. A war bred from the intensity of the emotions dredged up during their torture and interrogation. Sometimes, no matter how painful it is, a person needs to talk through what is plaguing them. Maggie did her talking, but Glenn was so wrapped up in his inability to protect her and the guilt it raised, he couldn’t let go of the control he’d blanketed himself in to cope. It is refreshing to see them together again. Love is rare in the world they live in. More often than not, it turns into betrayal that is more likely to kill a person than the undead at their doors. Just ask Shane. He thought he loved Lori and his betrayal to Rick morphed into the actions which caused his death.
Is one life worth more than many? Will Rick play the ace up his sleeve and give Michonne over to the Governor in order to save his people? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
This episode in particular had a lot of anticipation built up around it long before it aired. Heck, people were excited back before filming began and producers confirmed what the main story arc of the third season would be. Fans were anxious to meet the Governor and see Woodbury outside of the confines of paper and ink. Not to mention, watch an entire episode devoted to Michonne and Andrea. Oh and there was a certain returning character fans begged and pleaded to have back on The Walking Dead. We’ll get to them later.
For three seasons, we’ve been teased with glimpses of a helicopter. In the apocalypse, something like a helicopter builds hope that somehow, some way people are surviving and thriving. At the very least, survivors begin to think there is still some sort of government force at work to keep them safe. It is a false hope, really. But there we were again, watching a helicopter hover over the earth and wondering, “How on earth did any military personnel survive? They were on the front lines when the walkers rose.” Obviously some would make it as long as Rick and his original crew. Seeing them, though, was a little strange. Any sort of government figure is a foreign concept now. Even Rick dropped his sheriff uniform. What point is there when most of the people you swore to serve and protect are dead?
There was very little time wasted introducing the Governor. On first impression, one looks at the way he leads his men and realizes, this is the sort of leader Rick wishes he could be. Unfortunately, Rick has an overwhelming sense of guilt and morality hanging over his head at all times. The more we saw of the Governor in this episode, it became quickly apparent he had neither of Rick’s downfalls holding him back. Can Andrea and Michonne trust the Governor? The answer is a double-edged sword. He fully believes his efforts alone will be what saves humanity and made it perfectly clear he’d do anything necessary to do so. When you know someone’s game plan, you can trust them to follow through. But to rely on him for their safety when he lies about his intentions in other matters? They’d be foolish.
Michonne is more than ready to leave town and make her own path to survival. She is a woman determined to do things on her own. Trust is a huge issue with her, except when it comes to Andrea. However, trouble could be brewing in their friendship if Andrea insists on staying in Woodbury much longer. Michonne’s spidey-senses are tingling. She’s pacing like a caged tiger waiting for someone to get too close to the bars. Danai Gurira is amazing in this role. Michonne rarely speaks, unless she is alone with Andrea, but her misgivings about Woodbury and the Governor are very, very clear thanks to Danai’s stellar performance.
Caution: There may be spoilers below.
The pets. It was difficult watching Michonne dispatch them in order to keep the walkers from giving away their location. It became even more difficult to let them go after seeing her dodge around the question—the one question that’d give everyone a deeper insight into what makes Michonne tick. Who were the walkers she disfigured and kept by her side at all times? It is easy to assume she found a couple random zombies and fashioned them into her personal pack mules/cloaking device. However, once the question was asked, we knew there was a story there. Maybe one day, we’ll even figure it out.
Woodbury seems too good to be true. It has the same sort of vibe as the prison and Hershel’s farm—if the survivors get too comfortable and settle in too deeply, the place will become their grave. Who on earth would even think of utilizing solar power during the Zombiepocalypse? Yet, there it is. Along with well-manicured flowerbeds, gardens, clean sidewalks, hot water, electricity—the works. What of oneself does it cost to live in Woodbury? For the men, they’re conscripted into the Governor’s private militia. We haven’t met many of the women, yet. They simply seem happy to have a safe place to call home. Because of that, they’re not asking the questions nagging at the back of their mind before they go to sleep each night.
Helpful tip: Don’t ignore the nagging voice when your safety is on the line.
Let’s see…was there anything I forgot? Hey, stop throwing stuff! You know I couldn’t forget good ol’ (rotten ol’) Merle Dixon.
The reintroduction of Merle was perfect. Even without showing him, we knew right away who’d snuck up on Andrea and Michonne. This isn’t the same Merle we saw handcuffed to the roof of a department store. His time in Woodbury has given him a clear head. With the Governor calling the shots, directing Merle’s every move, he has no leeway to dive back into his vices. At least, that’s how it seems so far. Who knows, Merle could flip a gasket and start talking to rocks for all we know.
Lesson number one of The Walking Dead fandom, never attempt to predict what any of the characters will do.
I’ll close this out with one last note:
Fish tanks. Eww.
What do you think about the goings-on in Woodbury? Let us know in the comments below.
Sometimes—not often, but sometimes—the pacing of a show is slow enough to seem as though nothing really happened in the course of an episode. We love The Walking Dead at the ZSC. Namely, we love to yell at the screen while watching and flail in frustration when we see the characters do things we know are wrong. This week there wasn’t quite as much yelling.
Part of the pacing issue stemmed from Rick and our main crew backtracking to recap what has happened over the last ten months for a group of new characters—who’d been locked inside the cafeteria of the prison the entire time. First off, holy cabin fever, Batman! How were those guys not climbing the walls? Even as prisoners, at least they got to go outside on a regular basis. Second, in their shoes, a lot of people would have bolted for the woods beyond the prison’s fences and never looked back. It doesn’t matter that the prison is possibly one of the safest (though ickiest) places to be holed up if another herd of walkers gets the munchies. They were locked up for various legal reasons and now have the chance to leave as free men with no repercussions.
Then again, how many people are truly free when they spend their days running for their lives?
Rick hasn’t been free since he woke in the hospital. Each day, each decision he makes to keep the group safe, adds a link to the chains binding him. I wondered last week how much longer Rick could continue to push and do the necessary evils inherent in their lives. What he did in this episode easily added four links to the guilt chain, if not more. He was cold, calculating…Rick was Shane. It lasted only a moment, but it was there in the swing of his machete and the haunted look in his eyes after all was said and done. To answer my own question, Rick can’t push himself much longer before he breaks. As strong as T-Dog and Daryl are, they won’t be able to put the pieces of their stressed leader or the group back together if Rick’s mental cookie crumbles.
Caution: There may be spoilers below.
The one thing that would have sent Rick over the edge damn near happened in this episode. With each survivor they lose, bury, or are forced to put down, a little bit of Rick goes with them. The sense of relief on his face when Hershel opened his eyes after the impromptu amputation was so intense, I thought he was going to fall over. Despite the love Hershel’s daughters have for him, their relief was nothing in comparison. Rick needs these people to keep a firm grip on his humanity. One more grave to dig will be his undoing and Hershel isn’t out of the woods yet, health wise. Not to mention Lori and the baby are nearing the danger zone.
Speaking of the baby crisis, it is about time Carol came into her own and became something more than a victim of fate. She has stepped up a lot in this season, taking matters into her own hands. Carol shows a sense of foresight the others are blinded to. They live moment to moment, not really considering too far into the future. Carol looks at what is going on and knows exactly what needs to be done in order to not only take care of the short-term, but the long-term as well. Not to mention she got about five hundred macho points for taking down a walker to practice performing a C-section.
Carl did something useful. Yes, you are as shocked as the rest of us. Though, the potential for Carl to be more than a burden has been under the surface for a while now, he hasn’t really done much more than get in the way. His methods for being helpful are somewhat lacking in caution, but in the end of the day his efforts will seriously help Hershel. And once again, Lori is at a loss on how to parent her own child. He’s mentally growing up to be older than her. Carl doesn’t need her any more and Lori doesn’t know how to deal. Any time she makes an attempt to be a parent, things just get worse—like pouring water on a pile of dirt on your kitchen floor and using nothing but an old sock to clean it up. The intention is clear, but the execution leaves a bigger mess for everyone else to walk around.
Lauren Cohan gave an amazing performance in this episode. So amazing, a sense of utter dread settled over the scene and convinced fans Hershel was going to bite the big one, then take a bite out of her. Lauren, as Maggie, has really made an impression during her time on the show. It is nice to see a woman in the mix, getting her hands dirty alongside the men to do what needs to be done. Unlike Andrea, Maggie doesn’t want a round of applause any time she kills a walker. Though, to be fair, Andrea has grown out of that…but where is she?
Next week’s episode will be huge. We’re catching up with Andrea and Michonne. But they’re not alone for long. At long last we’ll meet the Governor. There may also be another highly anticipated appearance next week. Did anyone else see what I did at the end of the preview clip?
What did you think about episode 302 of The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments below.
October is finally here. For some of you, you won’t understand the huge breath of relief some of us took on Sunday night when we curled up on the couch and tuned into AMC at nine o’clock. Okay, relief may not quite be the right word, given the amount of bloodshed in the season premiere of The Walking Dead, but you get the gist. No more counting down days. No more stalking websites for behind-the-scenes interviews and pictures. The time has come to catch up with Rick, Daryl, T-Dog, Andrea, and the other survivors on the show.
Season three picks up a few months after where season two left off. The opening sequence, with its lack of dialog, spoke volumes about what has happened in their lives since Rick put his boot down and declared the beginning of the Ricktatorship. There was also an amazing pullback shot to unveil the first walker of the season. For all of those who complained there weren’t enough zombies in the last season, your wishes have been granted. There was no way to keep a body count in this episode, not even on the re-watch.
One huge difference in the group dynamic, everyone carries their own weight. Even Carl is given the task of standing guard while the others discuss where to go next on their never-ending quest to find enough supplies to keep them fed and safe. Not only does Carl stand guard, he’s handling a gun and hasn’t managed to shoot his foot or someone who is actually alive. Amazing, considering months earlier he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn and the group was nearly torn apart over the fact that he’d been given a gun at all outside of target practice. Yeah, a lot of folks will think, “Sure, put the kid in charge of dangerous things” and laugh. But, hey, at least they’re at a prison. Hopefully the place is big enough; he’ll stay inside like he’s told.
The other huge change in the group, they’re moving and thinking like a paramilitary unit now. Months of constant moving have ground down the rough edges from personalities clashing and created a fluid hive mind, lead by Rick. Daryl stands at Rick’s right hand. Glenn and T-Dog are on the left. And Maggie is seriously holding her own with the men during fight scenes. No one is superfluous…without reason. Quit yelling. We all know there’s one character fans love to hate. We’ll get to her later.
What I’m talking about is the efficiency in how the group moves into the prison. It is almost too easy. Rick got them all worked up, spoon fed them pretty stories to rile them up and get them to keep putting one exhausted foot in front of the other. He turned the prison into an oasis—a goal too good to be true in the eyes of tired and starving travelers. Will they find their oasis in the prison or is the proverbial desert stretching out in front of them with no water in sight?
Since leaving the farm, the group has technically been split. Andrea didn’t make it out in the mad dash to the cars and was left behind to fight her way through the woods. When the end seemed to be coming for her, someone stepped out of the shadows and saved her—Michonne. Michonne is ruthless in the way she kills. She doesn’t waste energy in movement. She does what is needed to ensure she isn’t bit and moves on. There is probably a lot of severed zombie heads left in her wake. Michonne also seriously cares for Andrea. They’ve bonded over the months they’ve been on their own path of survival. Well, Michonne, Andrea, and the pet zombies. There’s a band name for someone to use.
Okay, fine, we’ll discuss the Lori Problem. This is similar to the Shane Problem, but with more hair, an incoming baby, and a lot more crying. Long gone are the days when Lori could bat her eyelashes at Rick and convince him to do her bidding. He’s done buying her snake oil treatments for a better life in the Zombiepocalypse. Rick tried things her way and lost his best friend in the process. But he isn’t dwelling on it. Rick is pushing the group forward. Lori just wants to dig up the pain they left rotting in a field on the farm. Her baby is due any day and it is very apparent that Lori is not mentally prepared for it at all. She is still focused on herself and how others perceive her. Can she change her focus once the baby comes or will she spend all of her time worried over whether or not the kid looks like her husband?
The final scene of the Walking Dead premiere left a lot hanging in the balance, more than I’m comfortable with, actually. Any time this show leaves a cliffhanger, fans end up rather upset or disturbed. Despite the potential for fan-angst, what is to come in the season—the Governor, the prison and everything else—promises to be amazing.
What are you looking forward to during the third season of The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments below.
Temperamental and rash, Andrea is determined to prove herself. But she remains prone to emotional outbursts that cloud better judgment, and result in foolish half-thought actions. That Andrea does have natural strength and the gumption to use it make her missteps all the more painful to watch. And often in the case of her fellow survivors, that pain is literal.
Who is Andrea? She is a character from The Walking Dead—a series of graphic novels by Robert Kirkman turned into one of the world’s hottest cable television shows by AMC and an insanely talented production crew. They have created cast of characters I have a great deal of love for:
If you aren’t watching the show you should be. From the moment the show begins viewers are taken on the undead ride of a lifetime, watching a cast of beleaguered humans fight not only to survive, but to retain that which makes us most human.
And it is Andrea—more than any other character on the show—that has left me screaming at my television set in equal parts empathy, rage and frustration.
Andrea is The Walking Dead’s most deadly female. Unlike the other women in the main survivor group she is very able to pull the trigger—and this ability is a vital component to both individual, and group, survival. But she is struggling to develop the mental maturity to deal with the new realities of a zombie-infested world. She has the guts. Her physical reactions to danger are never brought into question. Once the proverbial mess hits the fan, she is transformed into a tough-as-nails woman who does whatever is needed of her to draw her next breath. It remains to be seen whether she will survive long enough to become the face of “female power” on the show.
[***WARNING: Spoilers ahead***]
Andrea is a survivor. Anyone who has been through a war zone, natural disaster or other catastrophic event can tell you, no individual really knows how they’ll react in a life-threatening situation until they’re staring down the barrel of an AK-47. Some people freeze, some panic. Some go into survival mode to just get through it, while others become something akin to a battled-hardened army officer—alert, organized, able to take command of the situation. Andrea is able—no doubt thanks in no small part to massive adrenaline rushes—to batten down the emotional hatches and get through jut about anything.
But Andrea’s survival methods are also somewhat dangerous.
She is willing to push herself, but may take on more than she can handle. When walkers bit, infected and killed her last surviving family member, Andrea showed the depth of her constitution. She stayed by her sister Amy’s side—wracked with fear, guilt, sorrow and rage—until the zombification process took hold. It was Andrea who pulled the trigger to end Amy’s zombie existence. It was a moment of great strength, one that most of us would hope our loved ones would have were we to fall to a zombie horde. But it cost Andrea dearly, left her flailing and lashing out….and, yes, potentially dangerous to the other survivors.
She doesn’t listen. In the rush to demonstrate her ability to do more than wash the group’s laundry, Andrea ignored the entreaties of others in the group to take a shot at a possible walker headed towards Herschel’s farm. Now if we ignore the fact that the shot she took was aimed at one of the fan favorites Daryl Dixon and set off a pretty massive outpouring of hate, it remains a stupid move, at best. One walker. A half-dozen able-bodied men with weapons moving to intercept said walker. Why on earth would anyone consider it a good idea to take the shot and risk alerting every zombie for miles? Andrea’s desire to prove herself could cost the group lives.
Andrea is out for revenge. Few of us ever have someone specific to blame when a loved one dies; a mainstay of the human condition that can cause debilitating levels of sorrow. Andrea knows who killed her sister. Walkers. And she will take out every walker she can. In order to avoid the pitfalls usually associated with revenge, Andrea has to find a way to channel her pain strategically and not take ill-advised pot shots at ear-necklace-wearing rednecks.
There is a delicate dance to the life Andrea is molding herself to fit. She must remain level-headed enough to take clean, precise shots at the walkers. However, being able to say, “Now is not the time to fight” and retreat with the people she’s now sworn to protect is a huge skill to utilize. Can Andrea continue to grow into the ultimate zombie slayer? Will she be able to look past her thirst for revenge to do what is needed for the betterment of the group? She is unpredictable at best, downright dangerous to herself at worst. If Andrea falls into the darkness, nothing Dale or the others do will pull her out of a self-destructive tailspin. It is the danger we all face when put into world-altering events.
The mid-season finale for season 2 of The Walking Dead had a lot riding on it. I’m not talking about character drama, either. This first half of the season needed to live up to audience’s expectations. We were given a grab-you-by-the-throat first season of TWD. With only six episodes to make an impact, the creators and writers drove the plot and us hard, fast, and dirty. The pacing became a huge part of the appeal. With more episodes to play with, the pacing has suffered greatly. And unfortunately, it is turning people away. Episode 7 had to snag viewers attention again before the break. Did it succeed?
They wasted no time jumping into the major issue at hand: the barn. Glenn’s loyalty is seriously tested in his budding relationship with Maggie. He is torn between keeping secrets he’s sworn to by someone he just met, but feels a deep connection with, or manning up and telling the group of people that have helped him survive this long. In the end, I think he chose correctly and I think Maggie understands he did what he had to. She’s beginning to realize Hershel’s way of coping with the changes in the world aren’t the only way to do things. It only took her nearly being turned into a walker at the pharmacy to figure it out, though. Sometimes it takes a close call that rattles your world to see clearly.
The debate between Rick and Hershel about the occupants of the barn brought up a very good question: In a situation like the zombie apocalypse, is it naive to assume that all humans should band together to protect each other? Rick clings on to the hope that despite their differences in opinion, his crew and Hershel’s family can still coexist, all in the name of being safe. But from what we’ve seen, Rick forcing the issue of banding together has caused more issues. Hershel pulls his family and supplies in closer to his chest. He flat-out refuses any help from the other survivors. There’s a line in the sand, or rather a trench that’s filled with the fires of hell. Hershel cannot bring himself to even approach the line and consider the two factions becoming one group. They question his faith, the way he’s done things since even before the walkers came into existence. For someone living on the edge, that is as dangerous as approaching a zombie unarmed. In Hershel’s world it is his way or go away. No one is allowed to question him.
In the face-off between Dale and Shane we see glimpses of the same ruthless attempt to cling to control from both of the men. Unfortunately Dale isn’t a fighter. He will protect. He will give sage advice and be there if you need someone to unload all of your issues on, but he isn’t a trigger man. He tries to stand up for what he believes is the right thing and is cowed by Shane’s overwhelming presence. Does he see logic in the way Shane is handling things? Probably not. Dale isn’t a fool, though. He knows the kind of man Shane is. He also knows he can rely on that cold inner core Shane possesses to get things done, even if it scares the heck out of him.
Someone I thought would always keep that cold core is Daryl. This season has turned my perception of the mighty squirrel hunter on ear. He’s deep. Emotional. Caring. And completely clueless on how to make any sort of relationship with others work. Each time he opens up, he instantly shuts down and reverts to the “old” Daryl. Carol is the only person to consistently see into his heart, but not even she is safe from the out lash of self-loathing Daryl dives in to. He constantly slips back into the mindset likely formed by his lack of a real family unit. Why love yourself when no one else seems to give a damn? Carol cares and makes it very clear he can’t push her away. Will this tentative step towards an actual connection with another person (one not a figment of his imagination) lead to something more?
[Caution: spoilers below. If you have not watched the episode yet, walk away.]
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the final scene of the episode. Everything in the last six episodes came to a boiling point. Shane gave all of that anger, frustration, and lack of forward movement a voice. A very loud voice. I may not be on Team Shane, but he did what he thought he had to do to keep the family he wishes were his safe. Could he have gone about it better? Totally. It still had to be taken care of. How many more walkers would the barn have held? Did Hershel honestly think he could keep going for god knows how long simply shoving the undead away under a metaphorical rug? Eventually the rug gets so lumpy you trip and crack your head open. I think Hershel would have gone on until he himself became infected. He was so set in his idea that the zombies are still living that he couldn’t see the danger staring at him.
Even with Shane being the voice of the turmoil on the farm, it ended up being Rick who took care of the most difficult part of the entire season thus far. My own frustration came to a head when Sophia emerged from the barn. They’ve been searching so hard for so long and she’d been maybe a hundred yards away the whole time. When I sat to think about the episode, I had to wonder if Hershel realized that one of the walkers he’d captured was the little girl they were all looking for. Were his protests to leave the barn alone multifaceted? We know he thought he was keeping his “sick” family safe, but had he been hiding the truth of Sophia’s condition as well?
For as many questions as the mid-season finale (finally) answered, it posed a ton of others. Will Rick move his crew off the farm? Can Hershel look past his faith to see the world for how it really is? What will Maggie and Glenn do? I could go on and on with the questions rattling around my head. Which I probably will considering it is a very long wait until February when the second half of The Walking Dead season 2 kicks off.
This week The Walking Dead seemed to be missing something. They covered a lot of ground as far as addressing each characters plot arc but there was a key something missing. Oh, I know. Action.
Don’t mistake, I do enjoy watching our survivors grow and evolve to adjust to the harsh reality of the zombie apocalypse. That being said, it is a zombie apocalypse. They are fighting every day to survive. We were spoiled by the fast pace of the first season. The writers couldn’t take an entire episode to tie up all of their loose plot strings before the mid-season finale. That’s what they did here, gave us what I refer to as a “catch up” episode to put the ducks in a row in prep for next week, which from the previews promises the action we missed this week and then some. I hope.
We finally get to see Carl back on his feet this week. Right away it is painfully obvious that being shot has affected how he views the world. Carl is beginning to mature faster than we, with our modern sensibilities, think he should. But there is nothing Lori and Rick can do to stop this natural progression. He is old enough to realize their dire situation and wants to help protect the people he loves. Carl probably sees the world with truer eyes than anyone else when he tells his mother about the missing chicken, “Maybe she got eaten. Everything’s food for something else.” That’s the reality they live in. Some of the survivors simply refuse to see it.
That friggen barn is going to give me fits. Hershel’s ideals surrounding the occupants of the barn seem utterly ridiculous when put in contrast to what we’ve seen our band of nomads go through in and around Atlanta. We know these creatures are dead. We know that the synapses, those electric keys to what makes a human a human, aren’t working. All of this was covered for Rick’s crew at the CDC. There is no cure. These people aren’t sick. They are dead. Again, you can see Hershel’s faith coming in to play. He can’t kill the people he knows and loves. The guilt of putting them down would shatter the last marble he’s got rattling around in his stubborn brain. So instead of doing what we deem humane, he keeps zombie pets. To him it is the right thing because the Bible tells him not to kill. But what does the Good Book teach us about survival? Self defense? Turn the other cheek with a zombie and you’ll get a hole in your face.
Turning a blind eye to other situations can land you in the same sort of hot water, only this time the scars are emotional. Lori tries everything she can to avoid telling Rick about her pregnancy. She talks herself in endless circles about the future and what it could hold for her family. Admittedly, what set her off was the near-death of her son, Carl. As a mother I hope to never, ever be in a similar situation. Watching Lori go through it was bad enough. But… are her fears grounded? She says, “Memories are what keep me going”, then goes on to predict her unborn child’s future of nothing but pain and an early death. Life is what you make of it. If they leave the farm, they have months to find a new home base and settle in before the baby comes. There are plenty of areas similar to Hershel’s farm, in close proximity to cities with supplies, which they could move into. One has to wonder if she is worrying about her baby or what will happen if Rick entertains the idea that the baby isn’t his. She’d lose her hero, her husband, and the only one she can actually trust to keep her and Carl safe.
Dragged into the middle of Lori’s crisis is poor Glenn. He is trying, he really is, but still has a long way to go to be the hero he wants to become. The first step? Learn how to lie better. I’d play poker against Glenn any day. That lack of being able to hide the ugly truth is, unfortunately, a key tool of a leader. Sometimes you need to keep things from others to keep them calm and manageable. Rick does this often to give his crew the sense of stability they need while recovering from injuries. What Glenn isn’t lacking, though, is nerve. When the one person he really sees as his to protect is in danger, he went all Rambo. I would like to remind everyone that severing the spine does not kill a walker. Headshots, guys. Glenn nearly forgot, but it did make for an interesting zombie effect. After his hero moment, Maggie finally acknowledges what is inside his heart. She also sees how, in his effort to become more, to rise in the pack structure, Glenn could get himself good and dead.
If you paid attention to this episode, you will notice that there is one character with his nose in everything. The writers have taken Dale’s position as the “wise old man” a tad too far. We already knew that not much escapes his attention. Dale isn’t out in the woods, cut off from the core of the action. No, he stays perched on top on the RV simply watching. But it really bugs me that they felt in order to tie up all of these story lines they needed to use Dale so blatantly. He’s there when Carl expresses his desire to grow up more. Dale is the one to confront Hershel about the barn’s occupants. Heck, he even tries to help Lori about her baby issues. And the topper, Dale goes nose to nose with Shane about his erratic behavior after Otis’s death. There are other, less obvious ways to wrap things up for the mid-season finale. We didn’t need Dale to narrate it for us. He’s far too good a character to use like that.
Next week is the last episode we’ll get in 2011. There are still a lot of questions to be answered. Is Sophia still alive? Will Lori abort the pregnancy after all? Is Shane finally at the end of his rope? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.