Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pretty Much Dead Already

Since I will be in tech rehearsals for A Christmas Carol all week, I watched this week's episode of "The Walking Dead" in real time for a change. And because of some of my friends' reactions to it (one said the show had jumped the shark), I thought I'd review it, rather than just recap it. Still, there are SPOILERS AHEAD. If you haven't seen this week's episode, come back after you have.

So, after what many have complained as being a boring season 2, last week's episode had lots of action; lots of Walkers and lots of zombie kills, not to mention the revelation that Herchel's (and why can't other bloggers/reviewers/writers get that spelling right?) barn was housing a dozen or more Walkers. This week, Glenn and Dale reveal that fact to to others, which sends the volatile Shane into a rage and sends Rick once more to appeal to Herchel to let his people stay at the farm. Dale tries to hide the guns in the swamp, but Shane tracks him down and brings them back. Glenn and Maggie make up and Carol upsets Daryl by revealing she has feelings for him (Carol and Daryl? Really?). Lori tells Shane that even if her baby is his, it will never be his. Meanwhile, Jimmy tells Herchel that "... it's happened again." and Herchel entreats Rick to help him with something. That 'something' turns out to be two Walkers trapped in the swamp, which Herchel intends to retrieve using the kind of pole Animal Control officers use on vicious dogs. Back with the guns and seeing Herchel and Rick leading two Walkers back on the poles, Shane loses it and releases the Walkers in the barn. After repeatedly shooting the Walker on Herchel's pole, Shane breaks open the barn and he; Andrea; Glenn and Tbone take out the Walkers as they stumble out. Of course, the last Walker to make its way out is the long-missing Sophia. They all stare, stunned, until Rick steps up and does what has to be done.

I have heard complaints from lots of folks that the series is changing some of the things that happen in Kirkman's graphic novel. So? What film or TV adaptation has ever stuck to the letter of its source material? Silence of the Lambs is theonly one that comes to my mind, but I know plenty of people who love Kubrick's version of The Shining. Personally, I hated it, because he changed too much. Does that make it any less a valid story? No. It just makes it different. Another friend complained that waiting 7 weeks to find out what happened to Sophia was lazy writing. Really? I thought that she might have been in the barn, but hoped she wasn't. When it turned out that she was, I wasn't disappointed... just sad.

The ending of "Pretty Much Dead Already" sets up a new power-play at the farm, and while we know Rick and company can't (and probably won't) stay much longer, it leaves us with so many more questions. Is Andrea (as Dale suggests) becoming as hard-hearted as Shane? Has Maggie become enamored with Glenn enough to leave her father? Will Beth, Jimmy and Patricia side with Herchel? Will Daryl and Carol become an item (I hope not)? And just whose baby is Lori carrying? Has the show "jumped the shark?" Many thought the same thing about "Lost" with the whole Paulo and Nicki plot, but they seemed to work that out. I think the season so far has just been suffering from  'growing pains,' as it were. Certainly the exit of Frank Daramont as showrunner has been an issue, but I don't think it's an insurmountable one. As long as Kirkwood remains on board as Executive Producer, I have hope that it will find its footing again and become the exciting and intriguing show it was in Season 1. As Glenn said, "We forgot they were dangerous." I, for one, am looking forward to where the show will go come it's February return.

"Pretty Much Dead Already" may have been a bit predictable but it set up the rest of season most effectively, proving that Shane (not the most stable of people) has been right about the need to protect themselves all along and that Rick may not be the most effective leader, despite his attempts at being the group's moral core.  I think there may be a major schism coming among the group and wonder what side I might take in such a situation. *** (Three out of Four Stars).

More, anon.


Jeff K. said...

Put me in the falling-asleep camp on this one.

Sure, Facebook provided the big "THEY FOUND SOPHIA" spoiler but I was expecting they would -- I figured they may have learned *something* from The Killing's acrid response... don't drag these things out too long.

I haven't read the comics, so I have no real comment as to how this is better/worse then the comics.

To me, it's just slow. It's been the same thing week in / week out.

"When your boy is better, you have to go."

"But, we want to stay."

How many times did we see this scene this season so far?

It was the adventure aspects of the first season that drew me in. None of these characters are particularly rich, so when we eliminate most of the adventure by keeping the group in one relatively-safe spot, we're only left with interpersonal dynamics which really isn't the show's strongest suit.

I thought some of the points brought up on The Talking Dead that followed with their attempts to humanize the zombies in the last two episodes so the massacre at the end would have larger "meaning" (i.e. "That was no zombie, that's my daughter.") didn't really land for me.

So, as long as the pace picks up a little -- or they pick up some of Lost's writing staff to flesh out these characters -- I'll be back in February, but if not... it was a good first season and another reason to embrace the BBC formula of short-run, limited season shows.

P@tr!ck said...

I've heard similar complaints and don't feel at all the show has "jumped"... sometimes it's not so zombie-heavy, but I've always figured they were really more of the backdrop and premise than, um, the meat of the story.

Also--and surely I'm not the first with this observation--the "walking dead" to me refers to the living, not the undead. It's standard drama but under circumstances so terrifying I buy into every bit of it.

My only complaint about the show is that it's always over too soon. Lucky are those who emerge from long vegetative states... they can watch 1.5 seasons as a marathon, sipping tap water from bendy straws.

There's my two cents. As always, I so enjoy your blogs!

Anonymous said...

I find "The Walking Dead" to be poorly written, poorly cast, poorly acted, and up until this mid-season closer, poorly directed. Every set-up and every edit in this episode, however, was textbook perfect, I thought. With this exception, as bad an attitude as I apparently have about the show, you may well ask why I keep watching it. Good question.
BTW, call me thick, but Sophia in the barn? I did not see that coming. Sad surprise.