Posts Tagged AMC
After watching the entire first five seasons of Mad Men in two weeks I realized that I fucking hate Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and that despite all the talk about how cool and suave he is, I have found him to be nothing but a philandering, obnoxious, selfish, disloyal, sexist, unpleasant asshole incapable of love.
He is handsome. He is sexy. He is a panty creamer. Absolutely. But that is were the fascination ends.
Let’s recap Draper: he cheated on his first wife Betty (January Jones) at every opportunity and when he got caught he only apologized because he did not want to mess up his perfect little white picket-fence life with the good, gorgeous and dutiful wife and the model kids by his side (and not because he really regretted what he had done). As a matter of fact, he kept cheating on her while he was temporarily moved out and supposedly regretting what he did and he continued to sleep around when she forgave him.
After she eventually found out about him and his secret past and his affairs, he threatened her and called her a whore. When she had gained weight due to emotional problems and a health condition, he called her a fat whore.
He uses people and treats them, especially women, with the same care as the cum stained tissues amidst his luxury satin sheets. For years he took advantage of and disrespected Peggy (Elizabeth Moss), talking down on her and letting her do all the work while taking the credit for it, including awards. Despite her stellar work he pays her a fraction of what he pays his other, mostly untalented, male copy writers; she landed them account after account and when she asked for a raise or at least recognition he reached for his pocket, threw a handful of dollar bills in her face, literally, and patronizingly told her that she would go to Paris after all. He never apologized to her and on the same day he threw a wad of money at her face like she was a whore, he made Joan (Christina Hendricks) partner after having her sleep with the head of the Jaguar account
He is a lousy father to his three children whom he treats like puppys in a pound he occasionally agrees to take for a walk and he is never there while their mother dearest goes psycho on them.
After all the quality women he has met so far, he chooses to make his sweet-brained secretary Megan (Jessica Pare) his wife whom he pretends he is totally in love with (as if he could) and who of course gets billing before Peggy at his firm for the sole reason that she is pretty and fucking him.
Yes, the 50s Sucked for Everyone Who Wasn’t a White, Straight, Male
This is what the culture was like in the 50s and 60s. I understand. However, it seems as if the admiration for the magnetic, charming sexist, straight, white, racist homophobe Playboy was not just confined to that era.
Don Draper today is a source of fascination and admiration in our pop culture. Ask Men asked why people want to be like Draper. The answer was evident: he is, after all, a real “man” because he is so unlike the chronically unmotivated, sexually clumsy, socially inept, economically immobile, and childish boys in most of today’s movies such as Knocked up and The 40 Year Old Virgin; movies filled with “men” who are really boys and obsessed with fast food, video games and bodily functions.
As if there were only two kinds of men: the chic, suave, handsome selfish assholes like Draper who treat getting married or being a father like it’s doing someone else a favor, or the Seth Rogen, stoned-all-day slacker with no motivation or checking account. Uh-huh.
A Man’s Man
AskMen praises Draper’s “masterful manhood” and most importantly his professional and upward mobility above all, because god knows upward mobility and “the accumulation of wealth” as someone once told me after I asked them what they wanted out of life, are the things that truly matter in this country and define one’s manhood.
It doesn’t surprise me that despite all his other very serious character flaws such as his infidelity, his disloyalty, his lack of compassion, his misogyny and cowardice the one thing people know him and admire him the most for is the fact that he is good with hot women and upwardly mobile. Nevermind that he regularly fires people for things that are his fault or things that he does himself but judges others for. Or that he fired a gay employee because he did not want to sleep with a client, or when he made his secretary and long term friend sleep with a client to get the account, and when he drove a business partner and close friend to suicide by refusing to give him a break after that friend had a temporary laps in judgment. Nope, that is no big deal. As long as he is sexy and rich doing it, it’s endearing.
The only things he is criticized for are his chain smoking, his alcoholism and generally unhealthy vices. He is rarely, if ever, criticized for his deep misogyny and just the shitty way he treats people in life. Ironically, his wife Betty is considered the least popular character on the show while Don the most popular, even though he is the philandering asshole.
A Woman’s Man
As AskMen put it ”even those who consider themselves died-in-the-wool feminists — admitted that Don Draper represents just about everything they want in a man: not only is he tall, dark and handsome, but he is commanding, enterprising and always — always — in control. When we have, on occasion, pointed out to these same women that he is inwardly unavailable, hopelessly uncommunicative and serially unfaithful, many of them have conceded that, as one friend put it, “he would probably make a lousy husband and a bad dad in real life.”
It appears that according to AskMen women then – especially feminists – are nothing but a bunch of superficial bitches who may say they want one thing while in reality they all just want a handsome, assertive, in control asshole with a 10 inch dick.
Great. Looks like they agree with one of the male copywriters who once told Draper that women basically just want a man and that they’ll buy anything that’ll help.
Seems like men today fully concur and so does our culture.
Of course AskMen portrays Draper as the kind of guy not only all women want, whether they know it or not, but also as the kind of man most men wish they could be. You know, being “able to drink and smoke with abandon, womanize with impunity, [...] rule over everyone while being ruled by no one [despite being] an alcoholic, a chain-smoker and a depressive introvert.”
Note again, that nowhere are Draper’s misogyny, lack of compassion and bigotry mentioned as character flaws. Apparently in the world of Men, that is a non-issue.
So Why Does Everyone Want to Be Don Draper?
Because in essence not much has changed from the 1950s/60s with respect to the patriarchy and how our culture sees the two genders. I bet a lot of men watch this wishing things were that way again.
It is not surprising. After all, we live in a culture that considers “men” who are self-reliant, shrewdly ambitious, emotionally inaccessible and
philandering misogynists to be the ultimate hallmark of masculinity. As if the equal rights movements of the 60s and 70s had castrated men leaving them to be these supposedly non-masculine saps we see today – forced to operate and co-exist in a world full of women, negros, gays, jews and other ethnic minorities, as their equals.
The article laments manhood and white, male privilege of the 50s as a lost opportunity; a fall from greatness that still somehow appears to linger in the hearts and minds of men today who look at it fondly exclaiming that “if only things hadn’t changed…a man could still be a man“.
Ah, the 50s and 60s – the decades where men could be men instead of human beings who are no better, or less, than any other human being around them, male or female, black or white, straight or queer, thin or fact, handsome or fugly.
That is, of course, a very outdated and primitive notion of what constitutes masculinity. Or is it?
The patriarchy teaches young men, even today, that anger is safe and manly. Hurt equals weakness. If anyone questions your masculinity you must fight. Be assertive, be in control. Only a sissy pussy is not in control and so forth.
Don Draper is the opposite of that and according to AskMen, those are the hallmarks of not only real masculinity but also success, attractiveness and sex appeal. And a woman just wants to be part of that. Not do it herself, but be part of it.
The brilliance of the show is that no matter how redeemable Don Draper is made out to be and no matter how much sensitivity and vulnerability he is shown to possess, at heart he is a sexist and bigot and overall terrible human being who does not believe that women (and gays and blacks) are deserving of and entitled to the same rights as men. He does not see them as equals, no matter how much he may ultimately care for one of them on the personal level – such as Peggy or even his own daughter Sally.
His misogyny is so rooted in him, such a fundamental part of his chore, that he cannot part from it. And the writers don’t try to. They do not try to all of a sudden make him an advocate for equal rights or an enlightened man who really stops to check his immense white, male, straight privilege.
For Draper, women being nothing but child bearers, sexual conquests, housewives and neat accessories at parties to show off are a given that will never change.
The fact that our pop culture of today looks at someone like Draper and laments his greatness and masculinity that somehow seems to be amiss today amidst all the equal rights mumbo jumbo, says a lot more about how far we have come (or not come) in that area rather than how bad things used to be.
When people look at a black man like Obama running this country and yell “we want our country back“, Don Draper and the world of Leave it to Beaver and housewives like June Cleaver are what they are referring to. That’s the America they want back. The America that was great for no one but straight, white men.
The truth is that the masculinity of men in the 50s and 60s and thus of Don Draper - much like the masculinity of men today – is a mask; a facade hiding a person deeply out of touch with who he is on the inside. It is also a mask that allows them to navigate the world unhindered and thus without ever having to question the status quo. After all, why would you question a world that is so perfectly suited to and tailored towards your needs as a straight, white man?
On a personal level, feelings and emotions are tools that help you deal with life and when you constrict them the results are people like Don Draper in the 60s and a culture that considers everything Draper stands for, some 5o years after he stood for them, as the gold standard of masculinity and success ultimately.
Mad Men is a brilliant show and I thoroughly enjoy it, but the hype about Don Draper is just that. He is nothing but a pretty face in a nice suit attached to a big dick.
I enjoy following his journey but boy, I can’t stand the guy. Especially after he got married to his office bimbo and penile-equivalent Megan – whom they are trying to pass up as a really interesting person – I lost whatever little hope I had that there may be a worthwhile human being behind that spineless, quivering soul of his.
In Mad Men, Draper is portrayed as a complicated man. Even Hamm, in his recent Rolling Stone interview, admits that Draper is a “complicated man”. Someone lost in the woods, halfway through the journey of his life, who ends up exploring hell. Only that Draper is not that complicated man going through hell. Unlike Dante, Draper is part “The Inferno” – including, and especially, his fucked up sense of masculinity which – more than anything – is the source of his ruin and distorted sense of self, rather than its consequence.
I have not written any reviews of any of the third season episodes of The Walking Dead because most of it has been pretty bad. Badly written with terrible, fifth-grader level dialogues and comatosely boring content lacking real meaningful dramatic tension and forward momentum.
Everytime I was going to write a review I realized that my review was going to be nothing but one huge rant criticizing all the things that were just wrong and pissing me off with the show and which ultimately diminished its quality and the phenomenally amazing tone set forward by Frank Darabont during the first season. And as much as I sometimes love to hate this show, mainly because of the abysmally bad and incoherent writing and ridiculous plot outcomes, I just did not want to spend my time basically saying the same thing one episode after another.
Alas the latest episode titled “Clear” has departed from that abysmally bad note and was definitely worth a review But before I get to that let me summarize the things I have taken an issue with during this entire season:
1) Despite the success of the show just numbers wise, AMC seems to be either on a tight budget or just cheap. The entire second season took place on the Farm of Our Discontent and this entire third season has taken place in one facility (prison) and a set (Woodbury village). People are getting bored with the lack of forward momentum and diversity. There is only so many exciting episodes you can shoot in the same one or two locations.
I mean, how many more times do we wanna show Walkers breaking into the prison? How many more times do we want to show these people sitting in prison cells bickering over something? How many more ghost images and knotholes can Rick make out with? How many more times can we watch Carol and Daryl give each other longing, awkward looks without it going anywhere? How many more times can we watch long, drawn-out shots of the Governor bullshitting his way into Andrea’s panties? I mean really. You would think this land and the prison on it were the last patch of land left.
2) This show has gone from phenomenally good to ok to bad to abysmally bad. Jumbled together story lines, non existent character development, soapy, stagey phony struggles, half-assed dialogues apparently written by contest winners, too many characters – none of whom are properly explorers and developed – much like a soap opera – bickering and arguing and blaming, lack of continuity, gaping plot holes and just overall implausible plot developments and outcomes.
A few examples:
–> Andrea’s deep loyalty to the townsfolk whom she just met two or three weeks ago and her dispassionate, half-assed speech a few episodes ago about how they must hold on was painful to watch. Especially since these are townsfolk who, may I add, are nothing but bloodthirsty sheep cheering at gladiator torture games and who have nothing worth saving.
–> Andrea’s loyalty to the Governor and acting like she and him had been in a close, personal relationship for years, when all they have been doing since she moved in two weeks ago is fuck. That scene at the beginning of the mid season premiere where she tells the Governor to not “pull away” from her now and “close off” was phenomenally cringeworthy and completely unrealistic. Bitch just met the guy two weeks ago. Seems to be fucked in the head, literally, for being so dick-whipped that she apparently - despite all evidence to the contrary – just does not seem to get how bad he is.
This is a character who was so observant that she knew that Shane and Lori had a thing going on, someone who confronted Dale who wanted her to be thankful for having saved life by telling him that she saved his and that what he really did was take away her choice to end her life as she wished. And suddenly she is too stupid to recognize what a terrible sociopath the Governor is? Even after Michonne tells her? Even after the death match he set up between Daryl and Merle and the myriad of other pieces of evidence? She was supposed to have been an attorney in her life pre zombie apocalypse. How come she be so immensely dense and unobservant?
Speaking of: her allegiance to people she doesn’t know is totally unreal, especially when in the loyalty department she is lacking as she, just a few weeks ago, abandoned Michonne, her friend of 10 months for the governor’s stick. Her loyalty to people she met five minutes ago doesn’t make sense. Not to the point where she is willing to betray Rick.
3) As to the Governor, it is unclear what his agenda is. What is inspiring him. What is informing him. He is just an uninspired, boring, dispassionate villain on autopilot. He is just doing all things you expect villains to do, but he is one dimensional. There is no passion behind his villainary, so to speak. He is just an archetype. Not a real person. He might as well be the Joker in Gotham city hating Batman. That is how (un) real he is.
People, at least I, don’t like characters that are unreal. Not in a show like this which is explicitly not supposed to be fantasy. Now if this show was supposed to be Batman, it would be cool. But it is not, so why create real characters with real issues and then throw in this archetypal, comic book villain? That seems fake.
The Governor and his character, if one call that incoherent, dispassionate jumble that is his person a character, sounds made up and is evil and bad because it says so in the script and fits in nicely with the story, not because he has an agenda, a goal, a passion.
4) Grimes gang’s artificial holding on to the damn prison as if it was the last patch left on Earth that they had to defend until the bitter end not only makes little sense it pissed me off. I mean shit, just about anything is better than this toilet they live in that has been compromised a dozen times anyway with the psycho Governor on the other side having it in for them for no good reason. Just get the fuck out. You have cars and after this episode an arsenal, so just get out. At least with Walkers, bottomless pits of hunger as they may be, you know exactly what you get.
5) Merle. Oh boy. Bringing back that backwoods degenerate who does not possess any redeeming qualities, whatsoever, is still beyond me. And then that fake, stagy made up attempt at trying to redeem him out of the blue without any evidence to a shred of humanity within him in the entire previous seasons. It is called building up a character.
If you wanna show that the character you are portraying is misunderstood and does have redeeming qualities hidden deep within, then freaking show it. Shows us glimpses of his humanity hidden deep within, like they did with Daryl, so that when he does change, it is believable Otherwise it just seems like pulled out of your ass to fit the story line.
I mean how did Merle go from being a violent, angry racist thug to a remorseful good guy feeling sorry for all he did in just as few hours? Not even weeks or days, but literally within hours? I am all for people changing and making amends but not within hours. That is not how it works.
Okay, so Hershel is established as a religious sort who very reasonably might have Bible quotes memorized. I buy that. But then Merle cuts him off and completes the Bible verse? I didn’t even know Merle could read, let alone memorize complicated sentence structures.
Then he follows it up by saying that Woodbury has a good library which he misses. Hahahahahaha….yeah right. I mean no. Merle did not spend the last 10 months hanging out in the Woodbury library memorizing the fucking Bible or reading shit.
That is not plausible any way you look at it. It is also very inconsistent with his character as Assistant Grand High Oppressor of Shitburry. I desperately hope that the intent is that Merle is lying to Hershel in order to gain his trust, because anything less is a laughably transparent attempt to retcon a lazy-minded bigot monster into some kind of conflicted warrior-poet. I am so sick of the writers trying to tell us Merle is interesting or trying to artificially create character development where there is nothing to create anything from.
Merle is not sorry, as he claimed, about what he did before or after the ZA. I mean it’s been only been, what, two days since he has fallen out of the Governor’s grace? He did not change and for the writers trying to tell us that he has by making that scene is terrible writing at best and insulting to our intelligence at worst.
Maybe Merle is just bullshitting his way through Hershel and Michonne knowing he has no way out and has to stick with these people or else be on his own. But Michael Rooker played the part convincingly. There was no guile in his tone or expression, so unless he is a terrible actor, which he is not, it is doubtful that he was just playing. In other words, when he said he misses the library, he meant it. And the writers meant it too.
I could go in with the inconsistencies and lack of forward momentum and the myriad of other issues with TWD since Darabont’s departure and the pooh-pooh platter of characters that are barely fleshed out always bickering, arguing, deceiving, backstabbing and conning one another soap opera style, but suffice it so say that the third season has left much to be desired and I consider the episode Clear to be an outline rather than the rule.
The great thing about the Walking Dead has always been the extent to which the story of its protagonists has been rooted in reality. The challenges facing these people – from basic survival to the emotional and philosophical ones – aren’t stereotypical caricature type of struggles you see in most zombie movies. The problems of our protagonists feel real as these people suffer the way one would expect real people to suffer if the world had come to an end. The end of the world feels real and is palpable rather than being some fantasy scenario we can detach ourselves from.
The great thing about TWD, therefore, has been how real it felt and how authentically it portrayed the end of the world.
Zombies stopped being zombies but instead became Walkers and the apocalypse and the tragic end of human kind stopped being fantasy scenarios and instead became real – with survivors facing real problems and real dilemmas. Talking to Jenner at the CDC you could say “yeah, I can imagine this taking place.” Not that zombies make scientific sense, but the end of the world and peoples’ reactions to it as depicted in TWD do.
This isn’t Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. These are real people, having real lives like you and I suddenly seeing the world as they know it end. These are people who have to start questioning not only their own humanity but humanity in general and all the beliefs they grew up knowing and holding on to so dearly, such as Hershel who suddenly found himself questioning his lifelong beliefs in his Bible and Christ, suddenly not really being sure anymore if any of it was true.
Questions human beings have been asking themselves ever since they have been intelligent enough to ask such questions, are being posited again and in a way forced into the foreground given the dire, end-of-days, apocalyptic reality these people are facing. Before the Apocalypse, these people never had to ask such questions so fundamentally and direly. But now they have to and with them we, as the audience, have to as well.
What has made The Walking Dead such an epic and compelling tale, therefore, is that it feels real and close to home. There is something deep within the tragedy of its protagonists that resonates with us and which we all can identify with as the themes of loss, tragedy, pain, desperation and survival are real for all of us.
Being able to identify with the characters and story is very important. If nothing you see here could possibly involve you, the viewer, and you could not possibly identify with the emotions, struggles and tribulations of the characters, then you also have no stake in this. Then you might as well just read a fairy tale/fantasy book.
There is no destiny, no archetypes in TWD (except the Governor, which is what makes it so problematic). Just real people who want all the things you and I want in a world were everything has gone to shit. Real people with flaws, hopes, dreams, setbacks, and strengths.
I’ve never been a chosen one, or a mystical monk, or collected aquariums with heads in them etc. I have, however, been someone who holds a job, has coworkers, skills, and dreams and people I care about and lost. And I want to see that in the characters I watch and follow. Therefore, TWD always speaks to me more than just any old zombie flick out there.
The Third Season
In the third season, the dead or death, the Apocalypse, the disaster that has brought these people down, is just not as important anymore. It is about the interpersonal issues and rivalries of the protagonists and villains with the Walkers as the incidental backdrop. It’s been all about the Governor and his gang vs Grimes and his gang. Like Boys in the Hood but with zombies.
In season one and even two the zombies, or Walkers as they are called here, were almost like this third character and their presence directly affected every action and move by the characters. In this season, however, the show has shifted from being about survival to being about war and gang rivalry. How the Apocalypse has been touching the people – our characters – in a personal as well as practical matter, is what makes the show and story enticing and interesting, however. Something the writers of the show have been forgetting increasingly in favor of prime time soap opera story telling schemes.
What are the philosophical struggles these people face? What demons are they fighting? What real challenges are they facing day to day? Battles and wars and just having to fight a specific enemy while you are traversing the apocalyptic landscape is ok, but there has got to be substance, and episodes filled with questions about survival, humanity and science, describing the Apocalypse and its fall outs. I don’t care to see people bickering and arguing over the same garbage over and over again.
How is the fate of the world affecting people and society without spending a whole season showing a lame villain who is uninspired, dispassionate and apparently without an agenda?
In this Season 3 we have not found out anything about these people, their inner torment trying to reconcile their new world order with their humanity. There is no questions of survival and the why. Instead, it’s all about the Governor, who is a caricature, and the townsfolk – who are also caricatures
That is why Andrea’s allegiance and loyalty to the people in the village of the damned seems so unreal. She is essentially rooting for one dimensional caricatures which most of us cannot identify with.
Last night’s episode Clear took us back to that. It took us back to Darabont’s original vision. It was beautifully written and the characters fleshed out and developed in a way the show had failed to do all season long – or in fact, for a very long time since the end of season one. Their tragedy was palpable and their humanity raw and exposed. We finally got to the psychological toll this has taken on people because aside from physical survival the most important part of survival is psychological survival. Something often glossed over in such apocalyptic movies where people seem to be taking death for granted.
No Woodbury and its terrible caricature of citizens no prison, no stupid baby, no Lori, no Lori the unfriendly ghost, no Hershel speaking in sermons, no arguing about Rick being the leader or not, no arguing about Merle, no arguing about trusting strangers, not much arguing at all in fact, no Carol rubbing up on the nearest man, no spontaneous Beth songs, no frumpy Michonne moping in the background, and none of Andrea’s hands-on-the-hips head-bobbing. Instead, the focus of “Clear” was sharper than Michonne’s katana because the episode isolated its story. And it was just the kick in the pants the season needed.
The episode wasn’t action-slammed and it didn’t feature a river of zombie brains and intestinal tracts. But it was one of the most thought-provoking, enlightening, and well-written episodes of the series. The writing was solid and beautiful at times, with depth and nuances. And a great amount of Walker and Zombie Apocalypse moments reminiscent of the powerful and amazing work of Darabont in the first season.
It was great to see how the ZA has affected the world outside of the prison and outside of Rick’s immediate group. It was heart breaking and tragic to see him return back to his own old town haunted by memories of days gone by only to see it in devastation and ruins. The connection they drew to his and Carl’s respective pasts was beautifully done, ultimately putting a human face on the tragedy and preserving the continuity.
No comic book villains to fight, no gang rivalries, no bickering and arguing, just three people trying to make sense of a world in ruins. When Carl held the picture of his mom and dad and said he wanted it so he and Judy could remember how she looked like, the humanity that has been elusive for so long came back. And with it the extent of their tragedy.
I loved the continuity and the connection to the first season. What happened to Morgan and his kid has always been on the minds and hearts of the audience and Rick and with this episode the tragedy laid out so beautifully in the first season has come full circle.
It was also a pivotal plot moment because Morgan, who apparently lost his sanity after his Walker wife attacked his son, was sort of the mirror for Rick.
In the past few episodes we have seen Rick gradually lose it, talking to ghosts and having visions and here we saw Morgan, having apparently gone down the same tragic path. When Rick saw Morgan, he saw himself or his future. His potential future.
In the brilliant first episode of this show, Days Gone Bye, Morgan was a strong man showing cracks and mourning the recent loss of his wife, but he still had something to fight for in his son Duane. In “Clear,” that man no longer was and in his place we saw a deeply troubled and emotionally troubled man talking to himself and writing gibberish on the walls, tormented by isolation, fear and guilt; we saw a broken man who had lost everything, being merely a shadow of himself today.
Seeing his old buddy in such a state was bad times for Rick, but it was also an eye-opener as Rick saw a potential future for himself in Morgan, realizing that if he continued on the same path, he could one day become Morgan. As Rick said to Morgan, they both started out the ZA together. Rick realized, in a final moment of epiphany when he left Morgan after having tried everything to help him get back on track but in vain, that Morgan was a goner and that if he wasn’t careful, he would soon be too.
When Rick was telling Morgan, “You have to be able to come back from this,” he was also delivering that advice to himself. An advice he got just a few days ago from Hershel.
At the end of the episode, when Rick was staring off into the distance and Michonne told him that she knows he sees “things,” the “thing” Rick was staring at could’ve easily been Lori waving goodbye because Rick rocketed back into reality after seeing Morgan’s tumble and disintegration into insanity.
Just brilliant and beautiful.
This episode also showed just how apocalyptic their situation is. - which is something the show loses sight of while it’s busy writing the next soapy segment.
In this episode we finally saw what it was all about all along, namely the zombie Apocalypse. Everyone they loved is dead and the landscape marred by the apocalypse. This was really in tune with the tone and spirit of the first season. The best episode in the whole season in my opinion.
Toward the end I was thinking that Michonne, Rick and Carl really make a good team and that I wouldn’t mind if they carried the show from now on. I mean, just go off by themselves and never return back to that group of dysfunctional losers.
I also realized that I would, in fact, be able to enjoy the show if all the other characters were dead, from Carol to Daryl to Maggie, Glenn, Hershel and Beth. Even Andrea. Who knows, maybe they can just have Rick, Michonne and Carl go their own way and give the other characters a show of their own which they can call Days of Our Zombie Lives or some shit.
The Walking Dead is back with a vengeance for its third season and unlike the comatose second season of the Days of Our Zombie Lives style that was thrown our way – the new season – up until now at least – has been quintessential zombie apocalypse.
Instead of cluttering our from stupid TV shows already half dead brains with prime time soap opera junk - which was the entire second season – debating Lori’s rate of sexual intercourse and trying to find the answer to the number one question burning on everyone’s mind after the world has come to an end, namely who the father of Lori’s child is – the first two episodes of the third season (Episode 1 titled ”Seed‘), have finally picked up in speed and intensity taking the show away from the bore that was season 2.
This season starts off great by taking us back to all the things that originally made this show great: the chase, the herds, survival, thrill, making life and death decisions in the face of absolute dread. In a way it is great Shane is out of the question so that we can finally move away from the love triangle bullshit drama that was degrading this show into comatose depths.
The strength of The Walking Dead has always been the realism with which it portrayed the journey of its protagonists through the barren apocalypse of a world run over by the flesh eating undead. Whereas Season 2 had abandoned all those questions in favor of dealing with the domestic problems of Rick, Lori and Shane with zombies thrown in for show, this season starts off by once again placing the zombie apocalypse, its aftermath and the drive for pure survival at the forefront.
Flashback to season 2: the group had narrowly escaped Hershel’s farm after a massive herd had swept through there, killing half of Hershel’s family. Rick, who had been led into the woods by Shane to be killed, finally realized what was going on and shot Shane. Andrea got separated from the group. The others believe her dea and meet up at the freeway trying to figure out what to do.
Fast forward through the winter and it is summer again; it appears to be going by the lushness of the vegetation and the sweat everyone seems to be breaking. People look worn out and even though around 10 months have passed, Lori is still something like 7 months pregnant holding her belly like it was a bowling ball she was afraid might roll out from underneath her at any second. Don’t ask why, but we will get back to internal consistency later.
A transformation has taken place within Rick as well. Optimism has given way the shadow inhabiting all of us. Unlike Shane where this transformation seemed forced and became off-puttish, the change we see in Rick is subtle and more believable It makes sense. And it is also very revealing of the inner struggle he is facing; the inward battle to try to accept that the world as he knew it is over and with it every bit of morality that existed within that world.
At the beginning of their journey. Rick went back to save Merle from the roof of the mall after he had been handcuffed there for his threatening behavior. He risked himself and the group in order to do the right thing telling Lori “I don’t care what he [Merle] would do. I cannot let a man die like this.”
This past year seems to have taken a heavy toll on Rick’s ability to cope with the new order of things. In a world having fallen apart at the seams – where good and bad and morality and ethics no longer have the meaning they used to have pre apocalypse – Rick’s priorities as a leader - but also human being - have changed. And in a way, they have to.
In the absence of government and law enforcement or really any of kind of structure of governance in place and thus the things that keep society functioning as we know it, humans degrade to savagery, committing unspeakable crimes against one another. In such a world, holding on to grand principles established in a world with government and the rule of law would be futile.
As the leader of the group, Rick is facing a daunting challenge on many fronts. And much like any leader, he is forced to make the tough choices. in light of those challenges. Diplomacy just does not work with entities that operate under no code of conduct.
I don’t think people – even Lori or Herschel – realize how truly alone Rick is in this and the immense weight on his shoulders.
Unlike Shane who seemed to have been in his element in the world post apocalypse, willing to kill people in cold blood under the guise of “saving everyone”, Rick really does have a hard time pulling this off. Everytime he makes a decision in that direction, he seems to struggle deep inside, even if he doesn’t talk about it.
Rick may have unwillingly become the leader of this of group of people that look up to him for guidance and leadership, but it appears as if this role has also given him something to live for; to strive for, to fight for. It is what keeps Rick going in light of absolute devastation in the remnants of days gone by. Rick’s allegiance to this group is unequivocal. Giving up on the group would mean giving up on hope and a future and Rick cannot go there if he wants to make it through this in one piece.
I think the writers have done a great job portraying Rick’s struggle and how he is divided and conflicted. Leadership is ultimately about making the tough calls and actually realizing that the call you are making is tough. It it weren’t, it wouldn’t be leadership. And Rick is a leader, flawed as he may be in other aspects.
Having said that, there are still some inconsistencies which puzzle the astute observer – in no particular order:
1) When we left off at the end of season 2, Lori was upset with Rick having killed Shane and that Carl had to put Shane down after he had turned. Halfway through the first episode of the 3rd season, that resentment is still apparent. But suddenly that changes and Lori complains that after everything she put Rick through, it is no wonder he hates her. But hello…where did that come from? Just five minutes ago Rick was the one trying to making amends with Lori but now suddenly Lori is the one having to make amends with Rick? It seems like the writers decided half-way through to change this around hoping we won’t notice.
2) Why does Carl hate mommy dearest so much? If something happened in the winter months we didn’t get to see, then the writers should have made it clear somehow. Without having done so, however, it just seems a bit odd.
3) When we left off, fall had begun and the group was trying to figure out a way to survive winter. Let’s say it was October. Now it is summer again (going by vegetation sometime around July) - so something like 9 months have passed. Yet Lori is still pregnant (looks like 7 or 8 months). How is that possible? Lori must have been at least a month or two pregnant by the time she found out. If something like 8 months have passed, how can she still be only around 7 months pregnant?
4) If everyone is infected anyway and they “turn” after they die, then why does it matter whether they are bitten or not? You only worry about such things when you worry about viral or parasitic transmission. But if everyone is infected anyway, why do they care? And for that matter, why do people who get bitten die sooner than those not bitten – even though both are infected?
I think that, by far, this is the biggest disconnect and disappointment in terms of internal consistency. Maybe there is an explanation for it but they are not telling us what that is, so we are left with speculating - which is always a sign of bad story telling.
5) How the hell is Hershel alive? How did the infection not kill him? He first had his leg hacked off by a dirty ax lying around in the decay of the prison. Then they used a bunch of unsanitary towels and everything they could find in the stench to dress the wound. How did he not get an infection or die from blood loss? He is an older man who has been probably malnourished with a weakened immune system. How could his heart and brain have survived the lack of oxygen from all the blood loss, not to mention the immense infection? I mean this was a leg being hacked off for crying out loud.
6) Finally, exactly who is brain dead may I ask? For 10 months these prisoners are stuck in there with everyone dead and zombies walking outside and it never occurred to them to break out? Or go figure out what has happened. They just stayed there hoping the National Guard would show up? Really? For ten months? Since when do prisoners not look for opportunities to break out, especially in light of complete chaos.
Such inconsistencies gnaw at the believability of the show and the writers are well advised to avoid them. It remains to be seen how far down the rabbit hole the writers want to take us; just hope that that particular hole isn’t something we can find easily in prime time soap.
It is unbelievable what they have done to this show. It really seems like AMC and its set of unsophisticated, juvenile writers have their heart set on ruining this show by process of elimination of one important character at a time. Last week we saw Dale, a relatively major and regular cast member who provided an important dynamic to the group, be killed off in the most outlandish way (a zombie opening up his chest cavity with his bare hands, yeah right), and this week Shane, a principal cast member, was also booted off the show.
AMC should just cancel the show. They ruined it. Killing off Shane was an even more epic mistake than killing off Dale. Shows rarely recover from such major cast changes. Yes I know, in the comics, Shane dies pretty early on. But
1) the show has already deviated quite substantially from the comics anyway and
2) Shane was a regular cast member and the audience had established a connection to him. He was a major player. Killing off major characters like that is demoralizing.
I don’t think people realize how much his absence will be felt as the show continues. It will change everything.
Personally, I dont care much for following this past season 2. I might take a peek out of curiosity every now and then but this show is done for me. Shane was a central figure – controversial or not- and the writers just turned his character into a caricature.
Word has it that Jeffrey DeMunn (Dale) left the show because AMC fired Darabont and he just didn’t want anything to do with the show anymore and that Jon Bernthal (Shane) left for the same reason. In fact, Bernthal has been cast in Darabont’s next TV project, “L.A. Noir“. So it seems like the writers messed it up for everyone so badly by firing the head creative mind followed by lousy writing and the direction they took the show in general, that now half the cast are leaving voluntarily. Next week more will be killed off; personally I am betting on T-Dog, Hershel and Carol but it wouldn’t surprise me if they offed Glenn too.
This show should have been about the adventure and this disease and trying to find answers as well as surviving, traversing the landscape marred by the apocalypse. Darabont set it up masterfully: dark, and sad and sinister. When Amy died and turned, the transformation was tragic and sad and it had resonance. It was filmed beautifully, humanizing the character in a world ravaged by disease.
They didn’t even do that with Shane, it was just rushed and he turned almost instantly. It’s like they couldn’t get it over with fast enough to finish up in the time allotted.
The narrative fail on the show since Darabont’s departure is palpable. One can clearly see the shift upon his departure. Looking at season 1, of course, and also parts of season 2, which Darabont still had an influence on, it is obvious that character layout and development is diminishing in the episodes following Darabont’s departure. With lines like “I have a tip that Sophia might be here in these woods” or “stop acting like the queen bee” and other stupid, incoherent dialogue between the characters, you seriously have to question the writer’s not only maturity but also writing skills.
That is because writing is an art, especially when writing a script and a dialogue within. The writing on this show was college freshman 101 level. I mean, a tip? I didn’t know they had a 24 hour zombie missing persons hotline in the apocalypse. Or the entire conversation Lori and Andrea had in the kitchen, which seemed to have been written by adolescent boys, not to mention the ridiculous internal inconsistencies such as mistaking the morning after pill with the “abortion pill” RU-486 (the latter of which you wouldn’t find lying around in a pharmacy) and a box that actually reads “morning after pill” are just a couple of examples to the point. I mean these writers apparently don’t know how a woman’s anatomy and reproductive cycle works when they suggest that Lori take the morning after pill, weeks after intercourse.
Most actors were also not given anything meaningful to do and because the story did not move on essentially from one week to the other, it felt like we were rehashing the same garbage episode after episode:
- Shane wants to kill everyone in sight
-Rick thinks they should talk it through and keep their humanity
- Lori avoids Shane in embarrassment and gives him weird looks
- Darryl hunts squirrels and gives Carol stolen glances from the side when she is not looking
- Carol, who after her daughter’s death is still doing exactly what she used to do before: clean and cook and laundry without one meaningful sentence or dialogue.
- Dale sits on his RV with is sun hat, throwing wise cracks into the vacuum since no one ever listened to him
- Andrea, who was also a complex character, now mostly walks around with a dumb grin on her face always getting to gear up (we never know what and where but it apparently isn’t relevant becasue the main story arc is the love triangle) and
- Glenn tip toeing around Maggie all meek, as if he was about to burst into tears but wasn’t quite sure if it would be appropriate at the moment. I mean Glenn actually had a great part in season 1. He was the smart kid who got them out of the mall in the city twice. Look what they did to him. He has become Rick’s handyman and Maggie’s bitch.
The writers, after Darabont’s departure, have degraded this show to soap opera level with lousy writing. Some drama and tragedy is good (like in season one) as it humanizes the show, but this show has become just that, a drama. Zombies and the zombie apocalypse have become the mere incidental backdrop you could exchange with any kind of other disaster.
Rick saw a helicopter in season one, but we dont know what happened and he never mentioned it again and no one ever asked again. If the world had come to an end and I saw a helicopter in the sky I would have hope that there is something left and ask questions and pursue, instead of hanging out on Little House on the Prairie bickering with my best friend over some woman.
And while we ar talking about inconsistencies and narrative fail:
1) Why is that kid unsupervised? Over and over again, he just pops up in a scene from nowhere. I mean since Lori gave Andrea a lecture on how to be a good doormat of a woman, she just got the award for the worst fucking mother ever for letting this little asshole Carl wander around the zombie-overrun world unsupervised. Is this a joke?
2) I “liked” how no one was phased about Dale’s death. Maybe with the exception of Glenn, everyone just sort of went about their business like nothing of proportions happened. Andrea, from what I gather in the comics, was shattered about Dale’s death, whom she was close to since Amy died. But here she just had this dumb grin on her face like “oh well, things happen”.
3) Very stealthy of both the readers and Shane to drag Rick into the open field where everyone can see them to kill Rick.
4) This episode, much like the last and half a dozen before it, is not about zombies and the end of the world. It is about two Alphas stuck in a “who has the bigger dick” contest and the entire show since season 2 has been just about that, which has contributed to the complete and utter destruction of Shane’s character into nothing but a caricature and stereotype of the psycho Alpha.
The Living are the Walking Dead
Apparently the title The Walking Dead refers to the living, not to the dead. In this episode it is somehow established, in the finest tradition of vague and incoherent story telling these writers are accustomed to, that whatever that virus is that turns you, has apparently infected everyone, the living, so that now everyone turns after they die, even if they were were not bit.
If that is true, then why didn’t we see that anywhere in the show (except for 2 episodes ago)? They spent the whole first season showing how people who get bit, and bit only, develop the symptoms such as getting a fever and dying. Not ONCE did they ever show an incidence that it was otherwise to somehow foreshadow what is to come.
We saw dead bodies on the highway that had not turned and had no head trauma. Now suddenly the dead turn without a bite. That doesn’t make sense and it’s called continuity or lack thereof.
The assumption is that the virus mutated and that this is what Jenner told Rick. But that also doesn’t make sense. Why would Jenner withhold that info from everyone except for Rick. Why wouldn’t he just tell everyone that they are infected? He told them everything else; in fact, he had them under lock up and tried to convince them to die. This information would have served beautifully in that capacity. What was in it for him to lie anyway? That just doesn’t makes sense and the only way it makes sense is that the writers are in fact just making this shit up as they go along – which evidently is what has been happening since they fired Darabont.
With regard to Shane: instead of keeping the differences in opinion between Rick and Shane to a manageable level and expanding on it, so as to keep the antagonism between the two with regard to how to approach the post apocalypse, they turned this show into this stagy, melodramatic love triangle and Shane into American Psycho, ruining his character.
The thing is, Shane’s character provided an important aspect and tension to the story. He was the guy who seemed headstrong, having gotten a little carried away given the totally desperate situation they are in (this is the Zombie Apocalypse after all, we’d all lose it), but he was also strong and made sense and the audience was split: some agreed with him and some didn’t, reflecting exactly the kinds of dilemmas these people were facing as a group: make an attempt to keep our humanity or stay strong and adhere to the no nonsense attitude Shane was advocating to survive.
When Shane insisted they give up searching for the girl, audiences agreed. He was believable, he made sense. Remember Shane was shocked seeing Sophia come out of the barn, he consoled Carol after Sophia’s demise, he did feel bad when he shot Otis to get away. And instead of continuing to keep his character complicated like that, they went overboard and turned him into a psycho who was about to murder his childhood and best friend over a stupid woman.
There is such a thing called consistency within a plot dear AMC writers. You can’t just make characters, in a span of 10 days, act out of character without any prior evidence in the plot, thus making a 180 degree turn. Shane’s character was not a sociopath, which is exactly what they made him into even though there is no evidence for it based on his history and life prior to the end of the world. That is just lousy writing folks.
I am gravely disappointed with how this show has turned out. AMC should continue on its path of crappy cheapness, as they did with this show by keeping the cast in the same place for the whole season doing the same crap over and over again, and just cancel the show.
There is a lot of serious narrative fail in not only this episode but throughout the second season and I think people are starting to feel the void of Frank Darabont and his masterful storytelling. The network and the crappy, cheap writing has literally driven away most of the actors and most likely also a chunk of the audience.