Posts Tagged Hershel

Review: The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 2: “Sick”

Securing the prison

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.

Shelter in prison

This season starts off great by taking us back to all the things that originally made this show great: the chase, the herds, survival, thrill, making life and death decisions in the face of absolute dread.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.

Maggie getting into the spirit of things

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.

Big tiny indeed has a tiny brain

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.

“Aim for the brain guys. No more of that prison riot bullshit”

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?

Rick is not kidding around

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.

Tight formation

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.

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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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Review: The Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 11: “Judge, Jury, Executioner”

Dale is facing his demise

Poor Dale, he was such a humanitarian; a real Mensch and likable character. I think the group really took him for granted and killing off his character was an epic fail on part of the writers as he was not only a likable character but also represented a balancing force in the dynamic of the group. Now they are left with the trigger happy hanging judges that run the group and it’s going to be hard to water down the intensity of their polar opposite points of view. And if rumors of serious cast changes are true, more deaths are to come as we approach the season finale.

I noticed that in this show most of the characters are beginning to behave in a way designed to service a desired plot outcome (like Carl attracting the Walker to get Dale killed) instead of the plot responding to the characters.

Carl playing with fire

For example, Lori and Rick must be just about the dumbest parents ever. Who lets their kid (that was just recently shot), wander around unsupervised in a world run over by the flesh eating undead? Especially after what happened to Sophia. I mean that stupid kid was wandering the woods, climbing into the barn with Randall yelling “I am a man, I can take care of myself”, was almost eaten by a Walker and not once did his dumb parents wonder where he is. That is not very believable and was obviously put in there to service the desired plot outcome.

And then that kid Randall: they all act like there was no alternative to execution, just so the writers can put the characters in a situation where they have to contemplate his execution. But there were several other options besides murdering the kid and the writers didn’t do a good job at showing us that they really exhausted all options and really had to now consider execution. It wasn’t believable and again put in there to service the desired plot outcome.

The logically incoherent rules and reversals of elements according to whether they need them in an episode is also annoying. The Walker that attacks Carl is not strong enough to pull his feet out of the mud and is barely able to wrap its paws around him, but just a few hours later tears a man’s chest cavity open with his bare hands? I didn’t think that was even possible. A wild animal with claws needs to put more work in that but in this case the Walker just went through Dale like a hot knife through butter. And where did that stealth zombie come from anyway? One moment we see Dale walk in an open field with no one is sight for miles, next minute a clumsy Walker is standing behind him.

Hershel goes from “No guns and violence on my farm” to “meh, kill whoever you want, I dont care”. And for Rick, the decisive reason not to cold-bloodedly murder someone is not what Dale said, but that his kid is watching, whom he just five minutes ago asked to never ask any questions or disagree with anyone, no matter what. Are they kidding me?

The dialogue in this show must have been written by juvenile boys. It is completely devoid of any kind of substance, wit and insight. The writers have gone from quoting William Faulkner in season 1 to last week Lori giving Andrea a hard time for not being a good submissive woman who knits and does laundry for the big strong men and Rick telling his kid, whom he never even asked what he actually said to Carol, to just summarily shut up and never ever ask any questions or question anyone. Great values to instill on your kids. This show should seriously be called The Assholes on the Zombie Farm, because that is what most of the characters are.

It is also insulting that T-Dog, who did have somewhat of an interesting role in season 1 (and even beginning season 2) and actually had meaningful conversations with other people, barely ever appears anymore and when he does, he is standing in the corner quietly. I think his “what do we do with the body” single line was the most he has said since episode 3 of this season, which just points to the overall crappy cheapness of this show (dont have to pay actors that dont talk much or are seen, same location…). T-Dog’s role in the show and group has been reduced to that of doing the grunt work. Sure, let the token black guy take orders from king Rick and queen bee Lori. What’s gonna be next? let him be eaten by zombies?

They should bring the focus back on the apocalypse and what caused it and survival and leave the farm and they should use zombies as another character in the show – as Jenner did – instead of as just props that pop up every now and then so that the producers and writers can check it off their list of things to do. Didn’t Rick see a helicopter when he was in Atlanta? Whatever happened ot that? Seriously, it seems like the writers are making this up as they go.

The previews are unfortunately showing that we are going to go back to that Rick/Lori/Shane triangle and I just don’t care about these peoples’ personal issues. No one does. The world has come to end, get over yourselves and your petty affairs you selfish dolts. Why couldn’t they have gotten rid of Lori? Everyone’s problem would be solved if Lori was gone, because let’s face it, as the Alpha, Rick is acting like the judge, jury and executioner to prove to the other Alpha, Shane, that he can take care of the water hole and his mate.

I hear something about the comic’s nemesis The Governor making his way through season 3. So then it will be this group vs. the Governor’s gang. Like  Boyz n the Hood but in a zombie setting. Yawwwn. Been there, done that. Not very original.

Darryl takes over, doing what Rick could not do anymore

And hey, if you run into a group that looks like they wanna hurt you, go somewhere else. No reason to waste 16 episodes on it and artificially build the story around it. It is not like there is only one patch of land left for all of humanity and these people had to fight for it. Again, the writers are artificially extending these peoples’ struggles by creating directions and “issues” that don’t make sense. This isn’t South Central LA. You don’t like, move on.

This group’s murder lust (it was like they were taking all their anger out on this kid) is becoming disturbing and I love it. You lose your principals and humanity, you lose your essence as a decent human  being with a conscience, which is what Dale desperately tried to  explain to the group. In a way, these people are pushing the bounds of their humanity and entering dangerous territory. There is a huge difference between leaving someone on the run to save your skin (as Shane did with Otis) or planning the execution of someone you perceive as dangerous to the group.

So,  maybe it is better Dale died. He wasn’t going to make it in this world. He pretty much lost out on the execution debate as no one had his back and thought he was some naive and delusional old man. And he said that he didn’t want to live in this kind of a world anymore. When he left the group for the last after his failed attempt trying to convince the lynch mob,he knew that things were only going to get worse from now on. His demise, while tragic, was maybe his peace.

However, if they do kill off too many characters, I suspect alienation by fans. People are drawn to not only the story but also to characters and historically, shows that have gotten rid of major characters ended up alienating the fan base, eventually facing cancellation. Dale’s death is demoralizing and it seems like AMC is hard set to kill this show, one character a time.

I conclude this by wishing Jeffrey DeMunn, a warm goodbye. I loved his character.

Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn): Final show

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