Posts Tagged undead

Review: The Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 13: “Beside the Dying Fire”

The season finale of “The Walking Dead” was, for lack of a more captivating word,  fantastic. It was beautifully photographed and choreographed packing the right amount of action with solid narrative. It was very reminiscent of the types of episodes we got to see in season 1. In fact, this was the best episode since the pilot.

Iconic Shot Into Atlanta

I couldn’t care for most of the second 2 and its soap opera/love triangle/who is the father of my baby/the jilted ex lover going psycho/Days of Our zombie Lives stagy drama about basically two Alphas being engaged in a “who has the bigger dick” debate.

Or that dumb kid Carl roaming around the farm in the zombie apocalypse unsupervised for no other reason than to move the plot along when convenient; or the trite, oftentimes idiotic and hollow dialogues apparently written by a bunch of college freshmen who still haven’t taken that “Writing 140 for Freshman” class read any literature other than comics it seems; or how the entire season was about those three above mentioned people and their petty problems while the other characters were grossly neglected and in fact were slowly moved to the background becoming mere props and scene fillers while Rick and Shane worked out the question of who exactly has ownership of Lori and Carl.

I didn’t care for any of that and most fans of the show didn’t either. Season two was mostly slow and uneventful with boring episodes interspersed sparsely with real thought and engagement.

But the finale almost made up for all those comatose episodes. This episode was intense, dark, scary, heart-breaking and terrifying – all at once. I was nailed to my seat the whole time, which I can’t say of any of the other episodes in this season really.

A few thoughts:

– Lori has got to go. She is selfish, unreasonable and ungrateful. An overall unlikable character and actress. Totally miscast. She is a terrible mother (she fucking never knows where Carl is),  disloyal wife, lousy friend and she’s always treating Rick like crap.

Even in the pilot, when Rick talks about her and what she said to him in front of their son and when she herself, in flashbacks, talks about her marriage and what she said to Rick, it is evident that she treated him like crap all the time. She slept with Shane a couple of days after her husband was murdered and when the shit hit the fan, she refused to take any responsibility for it and instead hid behind Rick to fix it.

A few episodes ago she pillow talked Rick into getting rid of Shane or doing something about him. Now that he did fix it – and that only in self defense – she is all upset and disgusted and looks at him like he was the worst human being. Urgh. This woman. I cant wait for her to turn into the zombie she really is at heart.

Daryl and Carol

– Carol is meek and annoying. I am tired of her victim, door-mat mentality. She always complains, whines and blames others for not doing stuff for her: whining to Rick, whining to Daryl. She never does anything but clean and cook and whine. Daryl was right “What do you want?” What does she want? She is stabbing Rick in the back for no apparent reason and questioning his dedication and leadership. Rick only treated her with utmost kindness and respect, he never raised his voice on her. And it wasn’t his fault Sophia got out from under the car and ran into the woods and then again moved even though he told her to stay put.

And so what he lied about the virus? That doesnt make him someone “who is capable of anything. ”

I thought Carol’s character was interesting at first but I don’t see it going anywhere except for her just instigating hate and making people turn on each other. She strikes me as one of those people from the Salem Witch Trials who just screams “witch” and everyone listens to her because she is quiet and calm otherwise.

I also don’t get what the deal is with Daryl and her. What does Daryl see in her? And what does she want out of him? Love, romance, protection? What?

– I like Maggie. I didn’t at first but she is cool and she finally grew up and she has integrity too.

– I don’t like that they are trying to make Rick sound mean or as some sort of a second Shane. They all looked at him like he was Ted Bundy when all he did was defend himself. I mean, the guy was being led to the woods to be murdered by his best friend who was after his wife and son. And people look at him like it was his fault. Rick gave everything for the group; he has character, integrity and loyalty – which is more than can be said of a lot of people here – yet the first respite they get, they blame him.

– Andrea is a trooper. I love her. She is the only woman who doesn’t act like a stereotype and like she couldn’t take a step without a man telling her or ordering her to – like Lori and Carol and those farm girls (except for Maggie). Lori is an idiot who defines herself based on the men she sleeps with it. Carol is meek, but Andrea, she risked her life to rescue Carol and she made her way out of that terrifying chaos surrounded by Walkers; on foot no less. She kept running and running and the whole time I kept thinking “how does she do that, she is amazing.” She is a fighter to the last minute and she has character and is loyal.

It strikes me as bizarre that everyone is always interested in Lori and Carol and that throughout most of season 2 Andrea’s character was neglected.

Andrea has great leadership potential  and is overall just a great and quite intriguing character. If Rick takes his head out of Lori’s ungrateful ass for once and stops being hung up on making her happy, he will see that and actually work with Andrea as opposed to ordering her around. I think they are all taking her for granted but they know that if push comes to shove, she is “the man”. Remember Rick entrusted her last episode with keeping an eye on Shane. He knew he could count on her and if you noticed, he doesn’t talk to her the way he talks to the other woman. He talks to her like she is one of the guys. She should go out there with Daryl too taking down Walkers – they’d make a great team.

– Glenn is cool. I have always liked his character. He was made to be meek halfway through season 2 but they picked up his character finally.

– Hershel is cool too. I forgive him his references to christ and the bible. He is an old man set in his ways and he views the world from that angle he was indoctrinated into, even though I think he actually has come to terms with the fact that all that christ stuff is nonsense at this juncture.

I sincerely hope the writers don’t venture out into soap territory come season 3 and are able to keep a deft balance between character development and adventure. The slow parts should built up to something like we have seen in this episode. In fact, this episode is great because they have moved away from that petty party that was the farm and the love triangle.

Where to now?

I understand that not all episodes can be about running away, but the focus of the show must shift from soap opera drama into survival and overcoming real life and death challenges as opposed to bickering internally. Confclit is good but it shouldnt hijack the show’s overarching theme.

The Walkers have to also be treated as another character as opposed to the incidental backdrop for these characters to work out their petty quarrels and for the producers to check off their list that they made an appearance for posterity in any given episode.

I also hope they actually use Daryl, Andrea and the other characters more during the next season, develop them and their friendships and roles in the group. It is a shame a lot of them were neglected so badly that the actors playing them (Jeffrey DeMunn and Jon Bernthal) felt the need to quit.

This episode introduced an important character form the comics, Michonne, who is seen in one shot here saving Andrea with two zombies in tow as pets almost. It had a very comic-y feel to it and I am afraid that this might be the direction the show will take on in season 3.

I always thought that one of the strengths of this show was that it depicted a sense of “realism”.  There weren’t any instances of magic guns with unlimited ammo, there weren’t really illogical twists, there was emotion with the death of friends and loved ones, and there was a feeling of doing whatever it takes to survive. In fact, when I was watching season 1, everything made sense and I felt like I had to suspend disbelief minimally. I was totally blown away because that is rare.

But as season 2 rolled along,  making it the disappointment it has been for the most,  I felt that I had ot suspend disbelief quite frequently, which I must says has been a contributing factor of my stark criticism of season 2 thus far.

I still love the finale but eventually all this bad writing and sloppiness has been catching on, such as stealthy zombies, or Daryl saying “I got a tip Sophia is in this direction“, as if there existed some sort of a zombie tip off hotline in the apocalypse, Rick and that horrible woman Lori letting Carl roam around without supervision in the zombie apocalypse, a zombie tearing off a man’s chest cavity with his bare hands, not having a contingency plan or meet up point in case the farm is overrun, risking Glenn getting killed in the well with the dead Walker even though the contamination had already occurred and there was fresh bottled water at the freeway jam, Hershel’s son sitting in the RV with the windows rolled down casually and the door unlocked…you name it.

For most people this is no big deal, but it gnaws at the believability of a show.

Everyone is Infected. Everyone is the Walking Dead

The most unbelievable part of The Walking Dead has been how they treat the infection issue, asserting that this was Jenner’s secret he whispered into Rick’s ear and that the child Lori is pregnant with might possess the immunity in its blood from which antigens can be created to save the survivors.

It is unclear, however, why Jenner would have lied to them about the virus having infected everyone. He had them locked up and tried to convince them to blow themselves up and die. He was having a hard time convincing them and only reluctantly opened the door. Such a revelation would have served beautifully in that capacity. So why did he not say it? And how would they even get the antibodies of that baby to vaccinate everyone. There are no labs left, no equipment, maybe even no scientists. It’s not like you are baking a cake and just need to come up with the ingredients. Making a vaccine is not something you can just do without proper facilities.

In this regard this show doesn’t make sense more often than not and it looks like season 3 will be more of the same, especially now that they will enter comic book characterizations and story lines.

I don’t know what is worse: soap opera story telling when you write about the apocalypse or comic book story telling. I do like comic book villains but not in The Walking Dead. Such fantastic depictions would really take away the show from its powerful origins and realism that has made it so enticing.

If there is one thing I have learned about what makes a great zombie movie, then it is the extent to which the story is truly believable.  The closer to real life the zombie apocalypse is depicted, the more authentic, more sinister and terrifying it appears because it allows the audience to identify with the protagonists and those in peril as opposed to just being the audience watching what happens to others with whom they do not share much. The more you share with movie you are watching, the more authentic and cerebral the experience.  That is what draws you in. Moving The Walking Dead into comic book realm might really work against this goal.

There is a great canvas to work with here and I hope the writers will see that and stop messing up or making this up as they go along. I mean don’t these people rehearse the scripts they write first, wondering whether what they have the actors say makes sense and is something real people, in real situations, would say and do? Just because this is a movie, one should not write a script with the “suspend disbelief” factor as a given or get slopping hoping the audience will either not notice or “understand” because this is a movie after all and you have to suspend disbelief.

Overall, this was a great episode paying homage to some of the best and most exciting zombie moments and greatly enriching the genre.  The best since the pilot.

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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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