The one we all want to see is the story of the Zombie Apocalypse. This story follows the collapse of society in the face of the realization that zombies are real, and the plague is spreading. This story follows a group of people as they try to escape and survive, encountering difficulty and adversity along the way, characters getting killed and zombies being stomped.
Then there is the story of a group of people sitting on a farm living their lives after the collapse has happened and looking for a stupid little girl.
Sadly, The Walking Dead mostly focuses on the latter of the two stories. It doles out the story we want to see in interesting and brief snippets of flashback and narrative. It teases us with quick preview shots of Chinook choppers flying towards Atlanta to drop the hammer on the zombie scum. It dangles it's most interesting character like Merl in front of our noses. And it disappoints us with weird illogical behavior, stupid decisions and a recurring theme of a network dropping the ball.
This episode has three flashpoints. The two headed monster of The Walking Dead, the dumb, dumb blonde, and the illogical behavior of every one on the screen.
The Two Headed Monster of The Walking Dead:
First of all, the opening of the episode drags us in with the gripping, interesting and almost exciting story we want to see. Then you see Shane has hair again, and come crashing back to reality. TWD is using flashback to tell the story that we all want to see. I have already griped about TWD being a zombie show with no zombies, well how bout a Zombie Apocalypse show with no Zombie Apocalypse? An important part of the genre is the survivors trying to get some place. I spoke about this before. Part of what drags us in is the survivors coming up with a plan, a goal, and trying to accomplish the goal. For five episodes now, the group has been squatting on a farm. The show continues to bog down to dangerous levels.
But more importantly, we want to see the actual fall. We loved Rick waking up in zombie hell and having to get a crash course in the new world. But we were robbed of seeing the fall! That was why I was so happy to see the opening of this episode. I got to see some of what happened before or during the fall. Yes, the refugee train of cars would have been bogged down, and people would be hanging out in the street, just like what happens when 300 thousand people try to get to a major concert or sporting event. The line becomes a tail gate party! People bust out the camp chairs and start tossing frisbees. I loved that they showed this. Now add some zombies and we are good to go. The show dropped the ball here. They could have made an entire exciting episode out of Shane and company getting away from that traffic snarl. What happened after they saw the choppers fire bombing Atlanta? Did zombies hit the line of traffic? That is the stuff we want! They could have mercifully taken a break from the farm/sophia plot and showed us some classic zombie mayhem. They introduced how Shane and Lori got involved with Sophia and her mom, now show us the rest!
And definitely show us the military side of it.
I get it that budget restraints prohibit this. Big crowds of people require extras, and that costs money. Also, big scenes like the choppers hitting Atlanta require CGI and that costs money.
Instead of the head that we want to see, we get the other head. The stupid other head sitting on the dumb monster's shoulder, filling the scene with silly banter. The farmhouse/sophia plot that is our TWD reality. It has become very clear that AMC is satisfied with turning our genre series into a cheap to produce plot drama focusing on characters. AMC prides itself on producing gripping television that jumps the boundries, but I think that in this case, they are coping out.
Please please show me more zombie apocalypse, and less characters doing laundry and making dinner.
The Dumb, Dumb Blonde:
For the love of god I challenge you to show me an example of a television chick that more deserves a good solid backhand. First of all, she has spent the entire season moping about like a spoiled teenager who did not get a BMW for her sweet 16. The minute she spit out the line "I'm tired of doing laundry, I want to help defend the camp." I would have been up on top of that camper and giving her mouth something to do other than jabber on.
This is not a sexist thing. It is not a sexual thing. It is a common sense thing. The woman has shown nothing but inept failure. All she has done is put her friends in danger, whine, and nearly kill herself. Why should she now be trusted to mount the crow's nest with the 30/30 and snipe zombies? Why does she think she should now be shooting a rifle? It is not like weeks, days or even hours have been spent practicing with the damn thing. It has only been a couple days since they got there, and even if Shane had managed to start training her, she would have started with her own gun, and maybe his shotgun. That rifle spent the whole time in Dale's hands. She has not had a chance to fire it. Now she is up on the camper landing a head shot from 200 yards?
Why the hell did Dale not get up on the camper and snatch the rifle away from her with a good final backhand?. He must have seen that she was about to fire OVER THE SHOULDER of Rick and company who went out to meet the threat hand to hand. They were standing 8 feet away from Daryl, in her line of fire! Wasting the round would have been reason enough to back hand some sense into her, but shooting through her friends, in opposition to the rules that the owner of the farm laid out and Rick agreed to follow, is inexcusable. If I were Rick, I would be putting her unstable ass out to pasture and dropping her in that well with the zombie guts. That stupid blonde is gona get some one killed.
We all have our zombie apocalypse survival plan. We all can watch a show like this and say how WE would have done it and make fun of the stupid decisions made by the characters based on their limited point of view compared to our all knowing angle. That is the fun of it! But there is a difference between bad decisions and illogical behavior.
Daryl trying to climb out of a ravine with an arrow through his gutt. Daryl, of all people, would have known immediately that it was better to pull the bolt through his body, rather than leave it there and try to function with it sticking out. Causing further damage to his insides is a secondary issue to the incredible pain that would have happened every time that bolt snagged on a bit of grass as he tried to climb out. It is easy for me to say that I would have pulled the arrow out. But christ, I would have. Daryl definitely would have. Instead, he wrapped it with his sleeve and tried to climb out the river.
Then he fell 30 feet back to the river bed, with the arrow inside him, and paid the price. No wonder he saw visions! Illogical.
Then there is the old dude, we will call him Farmer Scowl. Or just Scowl. All he has done for two episodes is scowl at people. Scowl at Rick because Rick is angry with god. Scowl at Glen for banging his daughter. Scowl at daughter for being hot. Scowl scowl grumble scowl.
Well, is he really illogical? Is there even any room for traditional logic in the drama apocalypse? Perhaps the dude is holding out that things will get better. Perhaps his beliefs pigeon hole him into certain actions. But that does not allow for certain things. Making every one hand over their guns for example. "I don't want guns being used on my property." Dude, it is zombieland! You want these people to run around defenseless? Plus your own buddy was using one. You have to see the need to be packing heat, even if you don't believe in it.
How about Glen having a heart to heart with Dale about women. "I don't understand, sometimes she likes me, some times she doesn't." Dale just needs to keep his hand in a constant state of readiness for all these idiots who need backhands. It seems they come to him the most. Glen looks like a college kid, so I am guessing he is 20 or so. But dude, chick 101 dictates that all women behave hot and cold at best. Especially when they are having slut remorse, and probably even more especially in the weeks following the death of all that she knew. The conversation was out of place, and yes, illogical.
I did love that he brought up the biological fact that women, when sharing the same company long enough, tend to sync their cycles. I love even more Dale's advice. While the conversation was illogical, it was good writing.
Then there are other leaps of illogic.
Scowl dictating relationships to his 22 year old hot daughter.
And yes, she is hot. I would take her over a dozen chicks like Kim Kardashian any day. Her simple farm girl becky looks are far prettier than plastic overdone barbie doll super model looks. Plus she is functional. Glen scored big. If I came across a Kardashian I would shoot her in the leg Shane style and leave her as I get away.
Scowl being angry at the group for making dinner. Illogical.
Scowl insisting that they leave. Hmm... two officers with a butt load of guns. I think I would rather have them around, than force them away. Sure he can have concerns about his property and his faith. But it is illogical that he would hold onto such things. At some point you need to realize that god ain't gona do a thing for you as far as the millions of flesh eating zombies are concerned and hand over the reigns to some one else.
That last bit is up in the air, you can't really discuss logic and religion in the same sentence. But forcing the people away, for whatever reason, is illogical. There is safety in numbers. Even if the newest numbers are a bunch of bumbling idiots.
I enjoyed the interplay between Shane and Rick and I think Rick is being a whiny bitch. Shane, in this case, has a solid head on his shoulders and Rick is too obsessed with his own failure to make a proper decision. Shane is right, in the real world, after three days they are pretty much done looking for a rescue, and are shifting towards body recovery. Add millions of zombies to the equation and things get worse. Would I want to quit searching for my son? No. I would not. I have to believe that at some point these guys would say look Sophia's mom, she is gone, we need to move on. You can come with us, or you can stay and look for your daughter. We tried. She would leave, they would go. I know I would stay and look. But I'm pretty sure the group would not. At any rate, I loved Shane's cold steel stance here and I agree with him. I think that the two of them provide the perfect leadership and I hope that they play this relationship out.
What the hell is with the barn full of zombies? All I can think is that the AMC writers went all George Romero on us from Survival of the Dead. In one of his later movies people have a moral issue with shooting zombies, calling into question zombies rights to live blah blah blah. Scowl some how managed to get all of his loved one zombies locked in the barn and is hoping that the cure he mentioned comes around. Maybe the zombies are why he is dead set on Rick's crew moving on asap. His wife is probably in there. He knows Rick would not understand and would burn the barn or something.
Merl! Some one pointed out last time that he did not think Merl was real in the preview. Nice call! I might not have been right with Merl not actually coming back to instigate trouble, and after this episode I doubt he will, but I was still sorta right with my prediction that Daryl was going to have to make a choice. The hallucination planted a seed, and Daryl is going to still have to choose. So whether or not Merl is real, the end result exists. Blood is thicker than water. Rick is responsible for the loss of Merl. There is a debt owed, and at some point it is going to be called in.
So aside from the two ridiculous falls that he survived, the arrow through the gutt, waking up to zombies gnawing on his boot instead of his ankle, and him never missing with his crossbow, Daryl is my favorite character. I think he is the most well written and I like him as an actor. I love how his world has actually changed for the better. He is valued and a leader. Hell, without knowing any thing real about his life before, the zombie apocalypse was probably the bet thing that ever happened to him! I love this element of the show and it shows great writing on the part of AMC.
What else? I don't even recall seeing T-Dog. I think he was there, but played no roll in this episode. Dale and the girls mom did their secondary character things. Dale looking at more behavior from others in the group with disbelief, and mom whimpering. Lori continued with her baby drama, and Shane pointed out that Sophia was not even worth looking for because she just slowed the group down any way. Glen and "becky" are gona knock boots whenever she feels like it, and Scowl is going to continue to scowl. Meanwhile, no progress towards Fort Benning is going to be made at all before mid season break and hopefully when they find Sophia she is a zombie.
No progression, quagmire like character development and a 5 episode long side plot based around finding a girl have derailed the show. As it stands now, I have decided to just DVR it and watch it later. We all know what happens next... before long we start asking ourselves if it is even worth watching on DVR at all.
I can say that the show brings up some good moral discussion. What would YOU do if you were a survivor, you hook up with a couple other useful guys like Daryl and Shane, and you come across a useless mother and child like Sophia. (Useless as far as zombie survival are concerned.) What is standard protocol? Cut em loose and tell yourself the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? Or stand strong on Picard like morals and defy the needs of the many if it comes at the sacrifice of the few. I have to say that in this case, I doubt I would stand much stronger than Shane. Especially if my own wife and kid were gone. We all want to say we would do the right thing, but I wonder if I would be looking the other way if I came across people who would "slow me down". Know what I mean? I love that AMC is pushing this boundry.
So, the show is good. The fact that it provokes discussion is good. There are definitely parts that make me crazy, but I am coming to realize that once I accept that my preconceived notions of what the show should be are not going to work, I can enjoy the show for what it is.
Now, how bout Hell on Wheels?
I like the show. Once again, it skirts the line of the surreal, as it should. I wish they would do it more. The creepy security guy was a perfect opportunity. I would like to see them use more interesting camera angles and lenses. They could really take a "Twililght Zone" approach with this show and make it something worth watching. It was an enjoyable twist that the protagonist was almost in the hangmans noose, but ended up the foreman. Though, I have beef with his inability to pull that nail out of the floor using the chain, but magically a spoon was able to get the job done. If you have not seen the first two episodes, take a look, I think it is worth your time!