Review: The Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 12: “Better Angels”

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.

Here son, keep the gun you stole.

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.

Daryl, the only meaningful character left in the show

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.

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