The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 5

This season has become a two headed monster of sorts.  There are two stories going on. The one we all want to see, and the one we are treated to every episode.

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.

Illogical Behavior:

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.

So much hotter than...

On the bright side, zombies don't like fake flesh... 
These damn chicks have nothing to fear!

Ugh Angelina Jolie was the zombie in the well.

She was one step away from zombie when she was living.

This is fun!  

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.

Other Stuff:

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!



Will Wright said...

I would take the slow and weak with me for a while because like said in Zombieland in the wild The Strong wait for the slow and weak because when the Lion comes calling guess who gets eaten :)
They will surely explain the Zombie barn next week and I think you hit the nail on the head,it is his infected farmhands,I was wondering where this cattle was that was drinking from well two.

Black Matt said...

The chain surfaces are curved with no edge. The spoon is angled, with lip and can be used to pry. I would challenge people to try to remove the nail with a chain

Jawaballs said...

I hear you, but there are a few things I noticed with the nail.

First, he had about an inch of clearance.

Second, the exposed part of the nail was tapered, meaning, it was fatter at the top.

He spent a night trying to pry that nail out of the floor, and it would not budge, then he finally got a spoon and used it as a lever to pry out the nail. But what did he use as a fulcrum that enabled the lever to function? His thumb? Based on how it looked in the show, he used it to sort of drag the nail out of the hole, not really as a lever at all! The chain could have served the same purpose.

Now, the chain links do have rounded edges, but it was also on the rustier side. It was at the least oxidized. These issues make it have rougher texture.

The links could wrap around the tapered part of the nail, and it would get wedged between where the links meet thus allowing him to pull it out of the board.

TheRhino said...

You'll have to forgive me if I missed anything you mentioned after the spoiler alert for Epi 5, but I DVR'd it and haven't had a chance to watch that one yet.

That being said, I think one of the things you're struuggling with is that you're after the "action" of the Zombie Apocalypse (ZA). We all love that part. The thinking behind survival, dispatch of zombies, and all the "tactics." I know I daydream about how I'd fortify my home, acquire additional supplies, or even get home from work during an outbreak.

The problem is, that's not what WD is about. It's about the people, not the zombies. Zombies, aside from the details of the injuries that created them, are identical. There's no differentiation there. They're a plot device. George Romero knew that well, and his original Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead focused on the interactions between survivors (aside from the god-awful part in Day where they teach a zombie to think).
Against an unthinking enemy, a group is far better than a solo venture. You have to sleep sometime. The trembling, irrational wreck of a character is at least useful for taking a shift on watch. The lone survivor trying to hole up someplace and catch a respite is quickly surrounded and dies (either from starvation/dehydration, injuries suffered trying to escape, or just plain eaten).

The brainstorming is fun and all, but it doesn't make for a very long movie or TV series. If the show is all action, action, action with characters dying left and right, you suffer burnout in your audience. One can only see the same butchery so many times before they become desensitized to it and move on to something more engaging. The various characters keep people on the couch.
You might hate Shane and want him to get what he deserves, so you keep watching.
You might hate Andrea, but her internal angst is what you hate, so you keep watching to see her die.
If you love Glenn, you keep watching to see what he does because you've got something invested in the character.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that The Walking Dead isn't "Dead Rising: The TV Show". It's not a horror series, or a splatterhouse. It's a human drama about life after the end. Without the living characters, there's nothing to watch.

Khornatedemon said...

I have to agree with therhino. Your looking for something in walking dead that its not. I'm current with the comics and have read them from the beginning and its always been about the people more than the zombies. Shit most of the terrible stuff that happens is the result of living humans and not zombies. Thats the side its trying to show, the human aspect. there are a million movies and whatnot that show a zombie apocalypse happen, how many actually show what happens after? This is where WD comes in.

I will admit that I think the comics are way better than the show so far, but if they at least try to mimic the basic plot points there should be a lot of crazy stuff coming up as soon as they leave the farm.

Hi is this thing on? said...

Just a quick snippet about Daryl, leaving the arrow in was actually the smarter idea. In first aid I remember they said leave the object in and wrap it just like how Daryl did it. This allows the object to "plug" the wound and reduce the bleeding rather than pulling out the object and increase blood loss.

Jawaballs said...

Sorry I didn't do a spoiler alert this time, figured you all knew by now what these were about!

You guys are definitely right about the character being important. I agree with you. My point is not that it is bad, but that there has to be balance. I fear that the show runs the risk of becoming stuck and losing it's audience. You have to admit, 5 straight episodes on a little side plot is a bit much!

As for Daryl, yes, leaving the arrow in would have been smart for a guy who had to sit there and wait for paramedics to arrive. Not for a guy facing a 30 foot climb out of a ravine!

Chad said...

I still think if/when Merl makes it back into the show, there will be confrontation, but I still don't think Daryl will turn on the group even for his brother, he's going to stand up to Merl and make him realize that they're better off with the group. Mostly because I think he's starting to feel something he didn't have before the fall, he's feeling he belongs and is needed, which is why he's so hell bent on finding Sophia.

As for Andrea "The Dumb Blonde", I agree, the group has put up with her crap too long. Rick's wife lost it on her while they were walking through the woods just after her son was shot(before she knew), and basically put Andrea in her place (along with a couple others), and since then she's fallen back into her self entitled ways. Somebody or everybody has to knock her down a peg, her decisions are ALL horrible, if it weren't for the group she'd have died ages ago.

As for the barn full of Walkers, I agree that it's most likely friends and family of Mr.Scowly, and that his religious beliefs have him believing that God will make it right. I also think this is genius, it puts a bunch of Walkers right in the middle of the unsuspecting group, hopefully resulting in the farm being over run and the group (and a few additions thanks to the farm being unsafe) having to move on back into the Walker Apocalypse (perhaps moving the Fort Benning story along, and revealing what the doctor at the CDC told Rick).

Again, love these posts!!

Njal the Weatherman said...

Hey just saying that i love reading these. I didn't really watch it but i caught up on it and love reading these afterwards. I really agree about what you said backhanding her. The one thing that really gets me thinking is that after Daryl's accident, i thought they really need some walkie talkies or radios or something! In the second season alone there has been at least 2 or 3 situations that would have been a lot easier with them.
And i think next weeks set up for some action

Will Wright said...

Why was the first season so much better? Budget.
Season one had 6 episodes,two has 13 like you said you can tell they are cutting back.
The problem is Mad Men get the lions share of AMC's budget.
If they can hold on for two more seasons,Breaking Bad finishes up next year and if Dead stays hot,they will get a much needed boost in funds

TheRhino said...

I'm not sure how budget affects the story here. the ZA as depicted in the show is a lot like combat. Brief periods of intensity broken by long periods of downtime.
What would you spend additional money on? I've now watched Epi 5 from my DVR, and can't see anywhere I'd add things. There was mention of wanting to see more of the "fall". Great, I'd like to see it too, but not all at once. Entire flashback episodes are annoying because they break the plot immersion. It's a basic rule of writing that you never throw your reader/viewer out of the timeline for more time than is necessary to make a point.
Why didn't we see the zombies attack the line of cars? Probably because they didn't. It wasn't the same line of cars from the highway that the group encounters at the beginning of the season. The group members appearing in that flashback scene were packed right in the middle of the jam, and if zombies had attacked then, it's unlikely they'd have survived or gotten out in the vehicles they were in.

Next episode looksl ike a ramp-up episode. One of the periods of intense conflict, which will lead to more downtime that will be used for exposition and character building. If Maggie hadn't been so sweet, and Herschel so cranky, would you really care what happened to them when the Walkers broke out of the barn?

I do have to say it's nice to be able to discuss the show with someone. The wife isn't interested, and my firends don't watch it. lol.

Jawaballs said...

Rhino, all of your points are valid. I think that the entire season is a victim of budget cut necessity. I imagine the writers coming up with the 13 episode story board at the end of last season, and saying "Crap, we have less money than last year, but need to do twice as many episodes."

Trying to zoom in on any one episode and say "they shoulda done this" is difficult (Even though I do it.) because each of the episodes feeds off the same constraint. The writers wrote the season based on a budget, and as such, the season has taken place mostly in a field/woods near a house.

So you are right, based on what they have done so far, there is little they could have done with this episode. You are right about the flashback too of course. The problem is not the flashback or it's length, but the fact that there needs to be one!

TWD is starved for back story that covers those few months before the series began. That is content screaming to be shown! You are right about the lul between the action, but this season is almost entirely one big lul! The couple of tidbits of action do not balance out the over dramatic character development and lack of advancement in story line.

I love the show, but I fear that the majority of the audience won't last through these issues. It won't take much of a drop in ratings to see this show get cancelled. I don't want that!

I think that the next two episodes will see a lot of action leading up to the mid season break. I looked ahead in the AMC schedule and yes, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the last episode to air this fall. That will be Episode 7, leaving six more to broadcast in the spring. So I think we will see a lot of progression in the next two weeks culminating in a big cliff hanger.

Jawaballs said...

Oh, and Lost made a series out of jumping all over the place, and finished as one of the most successful TV series of all time. They would jump away from the major plot for two or three episodes at a time, just to jump back and tie it all together. I see no reason why TWD could not spend a third of the 14+ hours of episodes this season doing back story rather than being bogged down at a farm house for the last 5 shows. (Other than budget constraints.) Know what I mean?

TheRhino said...

Don't get me started on Lost. let's just say I was not a fan. That'll be putting it mildly.

I can understand your need for backstory, but the fault actually lies in the source material. There actually isn't a ton of backstory provided in the books (I know, I know). I think the show writing staff struggles with breaking the canon of a rabid fanbase. Of course, they've already veered off-plot, but to veer off-character might be too much for some to bear.

Jawaballs said...

Thats just it, I'm gona say that the majority of viewers of the show didn't even know it was based on a graphic novel. I sure didn't!

Tordeck said...

I have to agree with TheRhino on all points.

And thanks again for the reveiws Jawa, I enjoy reading your POV on each episode.

PsychoSquire said...

All are fine points and arguments. Especially everything about this being a human drama. One of the main goals of the story is to show the slow delcine of their own humanity as they struggle to survive.
Angela is one of these characters. I feel she is over-acted, and that she has indeed been a whiny asshole, however, it is necessary to show her dramatic change.. if she is to fall into her story arc in the graphic novel, she must harden and do it quickly, the reason for the shot at 200 yards, is because she is to the comic what daryl has been to the group thus far, a bad ass. Especially with a sniper rifle.

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