Jeremy Likes TV

I like TV. Probably more than any human should.

Posts Tagged ‘The Walking Dead

Morning Links: 3/19/12

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Welcome to the Morning Links. Each weekday, I’ll provide you with some interesting television-related news items culled from the various TV websites I frequent on a regular basis with a slight bit of commentary attached. Pretty straightforward – no fuss, no muss. Hopefully your St. Patrick’s Day hangovers have cleared up by now but just in case… here’s a little hair of the links:

*Want some intel on last night’s finale of The Walking Dead? Click here. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*And here’s some spoiler-riffic casting news coming out of that above item. Again… don’t click if you haven’t seen last night’s Walking Dead yet. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*HBO has an interesting way of promoting the upcoming second season of Game Of Thrones in a new poster. It’s pretty badass but, a word of warning – do not click if you haven’t made it through season one yet. (Via EW)

*In other Game Of Thrones news, the release of the show’s first season on DVD set records for HBO in moving 350,000 units in its first week on shelves. I think people might like this show a little bit. (Via EW)

*Interesting essay by Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall on how the social media age has impacted mysteries on television. Well worth a read.

*Everyone who watched the return of Community on Thursday… you are awesome. The show hit a season-high in both total viewers (4.89 million) and the 18-49 demo (2.2), improving upon what 30 Rock had done in the same timeslot all season. This is a great, great sign for Community’s chances of getting a fourth season this fall. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*Speaking of… The AV Club’s got a great interview with Oscar-winner and Community co-star Jim Rash. (Via The AV Club)

*TNT has set the premieres of both the second season of Falling Skies (June 17) and the reboot of Dallas (June 13) that I’m way too excited for. Oh… and also a bunch of other shows that I don’t care about at all. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

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TV Diary | The Walking Dead: “Better Angels”

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TV Diary | The Walking Dead – Episode 2.12 – “Better Angels” – Original Airdate: 3/11/12

Episode Grade: A

OK, Walking Dead. You’ve got me. I’m fully on board. I surrender. “Better Angels” was possibly one of the best episodes the show’s ever done and it moved the season’s narrative forward full throttle thanks both to the simultaneously unsurprising yet shocking death of Shane and the revelation that being bitten by a walker isn’t the only way to be turned into one of the undead. After slogging through much of the first half of the season, The Walking Dead has found another gear since returning from its midseason break and this increase in urgency is something the show wears very well. The oft-heard criticism from the masses of The Walking Dead was that nothing of consequence ever really happened, that the show was too content to keep with the status quo. I don’t know that I necessarily subscribed to that belief myself but neither was I on board with the hardcore fans who believed that the show was one of television’s best. I’m rapidly changing my mind, thanks in part to the seismic changes that the past two episodes have brought to the show. Dale’s dead. Rick’s struggling more than ever with being the leader of the group. Carl is hardening to the point where his parents have every right to worry about what he could turn into. And now, after “Better Angels,” Shane is dead at Rick’s hand after attempting to kill Rick and co-opt his family as his own, only to turn into a walker himself and then ultimately being shot in the head by Carl. Whew. Almost the entirety of the episode was based around Shane finally reaching his boiling point with Rick and putting his plan to kill his former best friend in cold blood into place. While Rick was preoccupied with the logistics of how Randall was going to be released, Shane skulked into the barn unbeknownst to anyone and spirited Randall away under the pretense of telling Randall that he was fed up with the group and wanted to join Randall’s collective. Eventually [1], after making their way deeper into the woods, Shane snuck up behind Randall and snapped his neck and followed that by bashing his own head into a tree to create the appearance of a struggle. After making his way back to the camp, he spun a story of Randall escaping with his gun after getting the drop on Shane knowing full well that everyone would spring into action to track the fugitive down. And, indeed, Rick immediately orders search tandems (Rick and Shane; Daryl and Glenn) to go into the woods as darkness has fallen to attempt to find Randall. As soon as this happened, I said to my wife, “Oh, shit… Shane’s gonna try to kill Rick,” and as the sequence played out and Daryl and Glenn discovered that the tracks they’d located were in tandem – indicating that Randall wasn’t alone only to encounter a walker-ized Randall later on – it was clear that one of either Rick or Shane wasn’t making it back to camp alive. And after Rick and Shane each laid their cards on the table – Rick needling Shane about what he was about to do; Shane trying to force Rick’s hand – Rick plunged a knife into Shane’s midsection, dispatching the show’s ostensible villain and a man that Rick once claimed as a brother. High tension and drama there, but that wasn’t the end – Carl happened upon the scene to see his biological father killing the man who served as a surrogate father, leading him to raise his gun to Rick until, suddenly, Shane sprung back to life as a walker forcing Carl to deliver the killshot himself. And just then… an army of walkers off in the woods began making their way over the horizon to the farm suggesting that next week’s finale is going to be crazybananasinsane. I’m exhausted just writing that recap, let alone watching the episode itself. Again, for everyone who criticized the languid pace of the show for much of its first year and a half, the patience that the show utlilized served to make the events of the last two episodes all the more impactful. It’s in large part because of those choices that I’m as invested in the show as I’ve ever been. This Sunday’s finale can’t get here soon enough.

[1] After mentioning that he wanted to throw his lot in with Randall’s people, Randall seemed to finally drop the façade he’d been employing with Rick and everyone else when telling Shane that he’d fit right in and that things could get “crazy” at times. Seems to suggest that he was complicit in everything he said he had no part of, which seemed (for the moment) to make it appear that Shane was actually doing the right thing in killing him.

Miscellany:
*So beyond Shane’s death and the void it creates as Rick’s second-in-command (Daryl, anyone?), “Better Angels” showed us definitively that being bitten by a walker isn’t the only way to end up as an undead flesh eater. The screen fading to black as Shane died, only to flash back with quick-cut scenes of violent walker activity was a deft touch that showed that the process of transforming into a walker can occur as soon as someone dies, provided that they haven’t suffered major head trauma. The question is, has the virus or whatever caused the zombie apocalypse in the first place mutated to the point where it’s airborne, or is it something that’s latent in all survivors’ bodies that’s only triggered upon death? Maybe we’ll be clued in a little more next week during the finale. Either way, it’s a game-changing development that’s sure to have massive repercussions going forward.
*As will the insanely gigantic swarm of walkers on the horizon as Rick and Carl attempt to flee the field. Hoo boy.
*I really loved the way that the final showdown between Rick and Shane was shot with their silhouetted bodies standing with the backdrop of the field and the full moon behind them. Absolutely gorgeous image.
*My incredibly eloquent words in my notes as Shane rose again as a walker: “What in the fucking fuck?!”
*Was it just me or did it seem like (outside of Carol, of course) Dale’s death had much more of an impact than Sophia’s did on everyone? That’s not to be taken as a criticism because Dale was an such an integral part of the show for a time so it was very nice to see how affected everyone was by his sudden and shocking demise. His spirit was present for much of the episode, from the intercutting of his memorial with the shots of Shane, Andrea, T-Dog, and Daryl annihilating a group of walkers, to the symbolic scene with Glenn and Andrea reminiscing about Dale in his Winnebago. It almost seemed to suggest that Glenn could be the one to fill Dale’s role as the show’s moral barometer. But that could just be me.
*Lori’s apology to Shane for her actions of late seem to have been the final straw that lead to his decision to permanently dispense with Rick. Some have said that her apology ran counter to the fact that she pulled a Lady MacBeth at the end of “Triggerfinger” by trying to convince Rick to kill Shane before he got too out of hand, but I think that it had more to do with the fact that Dale dying caused everyone to reassess their priorities and ultimately that’s why Lori did what she did here. Obviously, she didn’t realize that it would have the consequences that it would but that makes for great drama, no?
*Or maybe it could have been that Rick seemed more preoccupied with Randall’s fate after Shane came to him with concerns about Carl after Carl confided in him about his part in Dale’s death that finally forced Shane’s hand. “Freeing that prisoner… more important to you than Carl,” he spits at Rick. Again, there’s been criticism of the Shane character this year but while he has devolved into cartoon villainy at times, The Walking Dead’s writing staff has also made sure to humanize Shane to the point where there have been numerous occasions this season where he’s been in the right. Definitely a smart choice by the writers to paint their characters in shades of grey instead of as simple black and white caricatures.
*”Better Angels” really telegraphed the Rick/Shane development in many ways, one of which was that when Rick/Shane and Daryl/Glenn were on their search for Randall, Rick and Shane hardly said a word to one another while Daryl and Glenn were chatty. Well… as chatty as Daryl can be, anyway.
*Despite being given the fatherly stamp of approval by Hershel last week, Glenn is still reluctant to resume his romance with Maggie, here turning her down after she invites him to put his stuff in her room after everyone decides that the safest plan is for Rick’s group to move out of their tents in Hershel’s field and into the house proper.
*Meanwhile, Hershel being the class guy that he is, gives up his room to Rick and the family. This selfless act – coupled with last week’s acceptance of Glenn – means that I think Hershel’s biting it next week.
*Michael Zegen’s accent as Randall was really terrible. That needed to be said.
*This T-Dog line of dialogue sure stood out, based on the casting news of a few weeks ago: “The Governor called. You’re off the hook.”
*This week’s Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment: Andrea taking a rake to a walker’s head.
*This week’s Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment #2: Shane cutting the top of a walker’s head off with a shovel.
*I’ve been avoiding most knowledge about the comic series but this interview done with comic creator/series co-creator Robert Kirkman sheds some interesting light on the developments in “Better Angels.”
*As does this exit interview with Jon Bernthal, better known as Shane.
*”Dale could sure get under your skin. He got under mine.”
*”I couldn’t always read him, but he could read us.”
*”He said this group was broken. The best way to honor him is to un-break it.”
*”Every time I leave the farm all hell tends to break loose.” “Then maybe you should stop leaving.”
*”I’m never touching another gun.”
*”Ain’t no reason you should do all the heavy lifting.”
*”So this is where you planned to do it?” “It’s as good a place as any.”
*”Come on, raise your gun.” “No, I will not.”
*”You got a broken woman. You got a weak son.”
*This was you, not me!!”

Written by jeremylikestv

March 13, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Morning Links: 3/13/12

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Welcome to the Morning Links. Each weekday, I’ll provide you with some interesting television-related news items culled from the various TV websites I frequent on a regular basis with a slight bit of commentary attached. Pretty straightforward – no fuss, no muss. Let’s get to the links:

*Breaking Bad. July. Start the countdown… now. (Via The AV Club)

*A new Game Of Thrones trailer hit the interwebz yesterday. I’m hyped and all… but I think this might be trailer #147 that HBO’s released in the past few weeks. Just debut already. (Ed. Note: I fully realize that I’ve probably linked all of these. I’m human.) (Via EW)

*Showtime announced on Monday that the new seasons of Dexter and Homeland will premiere on Sunday, September 30. Not really the biggest fan of Dexter as I think it’s one of the more overhyped shows on television but I’m all in on Homeland, a show that I had in my top five in 2011. Really anxious to see how they follow up a dynamite debut season. Dexter will air at 9PM and be followed by Homeland at 10PM. Mark your calendars. (Via Hitfix)

*You know that humongous beeg (tm – Ilya Bryzgalov) spoiler from Sunday’s The Walking Dead? Get some really insightful scoop from series co-creator Robert Kirkman. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*Not at all unrelated to the above item, former Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont now has the lead for his new project with TNT, L.A. Noir. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*BREAKING: Jon Hamm is awesome. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*On the other hand, Greta Van Susteren is a spiteful, hateful person. (Via Warming Glow)

*Producer Carlton Cuse seems to have found his first post-Lost project and it’s a Psycho prequel for A&E called The Bates Motel. Frankly, this could be a really interesting idea if they pull it off well. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*Matt Saracen is coming back to TV. Clear eyes, full hearts. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*This certainly puts a different spin on the Leslie/Ben relationship on Parks And Recreation, doesn’t it? (Via The AV Club)

*Sorry… not buying Will Forte – an acquired taste’s acquired taste – as a basketball player. And Modern Family’s Steven Levitan being behind Forte’s new Fox sitcom ain’t helping matters either. (Via EW)

*This is why Warming Glow’s Danger Guerrero is one of my favorite television bloggers. Plus, dude’s also a Phillies fan so he’s doubly awesome. (Via Warming Glow)

TV Diary | The Walking Dead: “Judge, Jury, Executioner”

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TV Diary | The Walking Dead – Episode 2.11 – “Judge, Jury, Executioner” – Original Airdate: 3/4/12

Episode Grade: A-

That… was hard to watch. “Judge, Jury, Executioner” continued The Walking Dead’s powerful run of episodes since returning from its midseason break, ending in shocking fashion with the death of a major character for the first time this season [1]. Much of this second year has focused on how the central group of main characters is fracturing and perhaps no one person had put themselves on an island as much as Dale. From alienating Andrea (his closest ally) at the end of season one to emerging as the moral polar opposite of Shane this season, Dale has moved from being the fatherly moral center of the group in season one to an increasingly marginalized character this year. Personally speaking, he went from my favorite character to one who was more of, “Oh, yeah… this guy’s still on the show.” That’s not to take anything away from Jeffrey DeMunn’s performance – which has always been nothing less than sublime – but the Dale character had become rudderless so it probably was about time for the show to dispatch him into the ether, but not before giving DeMunn a final showcase in one of the better Walking Dead episodes of late. Much of the focus of “Judge, Jury, Executioner” was based around the group’s decision on how to handle the Randall problem. Do they let him free and thus raise the possibility that his own violent group [2] could happen upon the farm – especially since Randall claims to know Maggie personally and thus would be able to suss out the farm’s location at a future date – or do they execute him despite his professed innocence in the more sordid activities of his group at large in order to eliminate any chance of future harm coming to those now residing at Hershel’s farm? This question afforded The Walking Dead the chance to examine the place of moral ethics in a post-apocalyptic world as Dale played the role of the crusader most strongly opposed to Randall’s execution while trying to convince all of the other camp members to join his side. The backdrop allowed the show to go a little deeper than it normally does into big picture issues, painting both sides of the debate with equal validity. In the end, Dale essentially remained on his island as he was unable to sway enough of a majority to his side, leaving Rick to carry out the death sentence [3]. Unable to stomach the thought of seeing the possibly innocent Randall put to death, Dale refuses to take part in the proceedings and instead wanders out into the farmland on his own only to come upon a horse that had been mutilated by a walker. As Dale turns backward – presumably to head back to the farmhouse to warn the others of the imminent danger – a walker [4] is there to meet him causing him to stumble to the ground with the walker on top of him. After putting up as much of a fight as he can muster, Dale is eventually overwhelmed by the strength of his undead enemy who reaches into his midsection and essentially disembowels him in graphic fashion. Hearing his screams, the rest of the camp members frantically rush to his side only to ultimately realize that it’s too late for Dale to be saved, leaving Rick the unenviable task of putting Dale out of his misery though Daryl – sensing that Rick’s too distraught to do it – steps in, solemnly utters a “Sorry, brother,” and pulls the trigger himself. The last ten minutes of “Judge, Jury, Executioner” were as powerful and impactful as any sequence that the show’s ever done – from Rick’s inability to pull the trigger on Randall after hearing his own son urge him on to an (arguably) beloved character taking his last breaths and dying in brutal fashion [5]. As Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall points out, the show’s moral compass is now gone [6], making the possibility that Rick can now be more easily swayed by Shane without Dale’s morality around to balance things out. Should be really interesting to see how the new dynamic plays out going forward. With just two episodes left this season, episodes like “Judge, Jury, Executioner” are making it clear that The Walking Dead is doing its best to force its way into the discussion as one of television’s best shows.

[1] Though her death was definitely impactful, Sophia was far from a major character so I’m not counting her. I’m talking specifically about the core group of characters that have spanned the entirety of the series thus far.
[2] He tells Daryl while being interrogated and beaten that other members of the group happened upon other survivors in the past and proceeded to rape a couple of teenage girls while forcing their father to watch. Definitely not guys who you want hanging around if you can avoid it.
[3] He ultimately backs out because of Carl, who we’ll get into a little later.
[4] A walker who was there because of, again, Carl.
[5] Not to mention the irony that Dale was the one arguing against killing Randall for the entirety of the episode yet he was the one who died after all was said and done.
[6] Which definitely fits with the growing nihilism of the show. You know that guy who best represents hope and humanity from the way things were before? DEAD.

Miscellany:
*Uh… did I miss the moment that Carl turned into a Grade-A little shit or was this episode itself that moment? From sneaking into the barn and getting too close to the potentially dangerous Randall, to approaching the lone walker in the woods and sadistically chucking rocks at it for his own amusement (and dislodging it and nearly getting himself killed in the process), to egging his own father on to execute another human person, to ultimately being the cause of Dale’s death, Carl was a little dick for most of “Judge, Jury, Executioner.” I think we’ve officially reached the point where he’s gone “cold” as Lori feared he would after increased exposure to the new world back in season one. Carl’s story ran concurrent to the Dale story for much of the episode’s run, demonstrating the new approach that The Walking Dead’s writers have taken to their storytelling. Which brings me to…
*The narrower focus of the last two episodes has been a very effective way for The Walking Dead to approach its storytelling. Speaking as something of a writer myself, it takes a while to find the style that suits your work best so hopefully the show’s writing staff has found that style because although I felt that “18 Miles Out” wasn’t as strong of an episode as “Judge, Jury, Executioner” was, the streamlining of the narrative in each episode is something that the show should most definitely stick with from now on.
*POTENTIALLY SPOILERISH: You may have missed it but it was announced a few weeks back that David Morrissey has been cast for the upcoming third season as a character known as “The Governor” who, according to the network is “the leader of Woodbury, a small settlement of survivors, and becomes the chief antagonist for Rick Grimes and his group.” Hmm… the character shows up in season three as a villain who heads another group. Certainly sounds like letting Randall live is going to come back to bite everyone in the ass, doesn’t it?
*So… Hershel giving Glenn a family heirloom pocketwatch and symbolically granting his approval of Glenn as someone worthy of dating his daughter means that Hershel’s the next to go, right? I mean, you don’t get to do that kind of thing and live on a show like this usually.
*Was it just me or did Daryl’s interrogation of Randall in the barn in the episode’s opening scene remind anyone of Sayid interrogating Ben Linus during his first appearance in season two of Lost? The same moral issues were there – do you take the seeming innocent at his word or do you take a more pragmatic and defensive approach? That Ben ultimately ended up being a threat also helped the suspense created here: The precedent had already been set by Lost that, in this type of situation, always expect the unexpected.
*In trying to secure Andrea’s support for his cause – and ultimately failing to do so – Dale mentions Andrea’s past as a civil rights lawyer. Is this the first time that’s been mentioned or has it just been so long since the show bothered to paint its characters in anything resembling a three-dimensional manner that I forgot about it?
*Shane seems to be coming closer and closer to the edge each episode, here suggesting the idea of a palace coup to Andrea after saying that they’re all screwed under Rick and Hershel’s leadership. That Rick was unable to finish the job on both Randall and Dale could be the final straw, especially with just two episodes left in the season.
*In retrospect, Daryl knowing what Shane did makes a lot of sense, particularly because he noticed that Shane said in his story that Otis covered him yet Shane came back with Otis’s gun. Daryl knowing yet not really doing anything about it speaks to the moral decay setting in amongst everyone on the show.
*While I’ve always really been a Dale fan, I love (loved?) the tone that Shane uses with Dale, showing that he’s just barely tolerating him.
*This week’s Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment: Without question, it’s Dale’s death.
*”We reconvene at sunset. Then what happens, happens.”
*”The world we know is gone, but keeping our humanity? That’s a choice.”
*”They gonna pussy out and if they do we gonna have a big problem on our hands.”
*”Whole point of me coming up here is to get away from you people.”
*”Heaven is just another lie. And if you believe it, you’re an idiot.”
*”You’re not going anywhere. And I’m not going anywhere. So let’s talk about this like men.”
*”This is a young man’s life and that’s worth more than a five-minute conversation.”
*”If we do this, the world that we lived in is dead.”
*”This group is broken.

Written by jeremylikestv

March 11, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Morning Links: 3/9/12

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Welcome to the Morning Links. Each weekday, I’ll provide you with some interesting television-related news items culled from the various TV websites I frequent on a regular basis with a slight bit of commentary attached. Pretty straightforward – no fuss, no muss. Personal note – a very happy birthday to day to my incredibly awesome sister. Let’s get to the links:

*Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner admitted in an interview with The New York Times that he almost quit the show during contentious negotiations with AMC for the upcoming fifth season, which premieres Sunday March 25. Surely the dispute was over money, right? Actually, it was over Weiner’s adamant insistence that content not be cut back to make room for more advertising on one of the network’s flagship shows. This smells a little of PR BS but if it’s true, good on Weiner for fighting the good fight. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

*Sons Of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter shared a little info on the fifth season of the show, likely set to bow this fall on FX, at PaleyFest on Wednesday night. According to Sutter, much of the season’s focus will be based around Jax’s ascension to head of SAMCRO as well as Tara trying to balance her career as a doctor with now being a full fledged club presence a la Gemma’s role for the entirety of the series. Sutter also says that we’ll see some of the fallout from Tig’s rash decision to retaliate against those he thought responsible for Clay’s shooting at the end of the fourth season via the introduction of scary gangbanger Damon Pope. I’m on record as not being thrilled with how this past season ended but there are enough interesting teases in that information to pique my interest for season five. (Via TVLine)

*Community trailer for the rest of the season. You had to know this was coming. I’m so in the tank for this show that it’s not even funny. (Via Warming Glow)

*BOOM. Neal McDonough – currently tearing shit up as Robert Quarles on Justifiedhas landed the lead role in Walking Dead creator Frank Darabont’s new period crime drama L.A. Noir. Frankly, I was already beyond anxious for this project and, suffice it to say, I’m considerably more excited with this news. (Via TVLine)

*Hulu’s Best In Show competition to randomly determine which television show people like more than the other indiscriminate choices is back for its third year. The winner gets nothing of consequence, so go vote. I did! (Via Hitfix)

*This has to be a first – a spoiler alert as a result of a courtroom testimony? Desperate Housewives fans (all eight of you still left) click with caution. (Via The Hollywood Reporter)

TV Diary | The Walking Dead: “18 Miles Out”

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TV Diary | The Walking Dead – Episode 2.10 – “18 Miles Out” – Original Airdate: 2/26/12

Episode Grade: B

Unquestionably, the main focus of The Walking Dead since it returned from its midseason hiatus [1] has been the Rick/Lori/Shane triangle. We’ve seen the continuing devolution of Shane to the point where I speculated in my review of “Triggerfinger” that he’s unlikely to emerge from this season still alive. What “18 Miles Out” did – in uneven fashion – was have both Rick and Shane lay their cards out on the table and get all of their issues out in the open. Shane tells Rick that he can’t expect to be able to simultaneously play the good guy and survive the new world order while Rick informs Shane that he needs to forget any feelings he’s still harboring for Lori and rein in his destructive streak if he wants to remain a part of the camp. Two men who were once as close as brothers have been put into a situation where it’s becoming increasingly evident that one or the other isn’t going to survive and, most likely, the one who doesn’t is going to die at the other’s hands. It’s yet another example of The Walking Dead proving that life in the middle of a zombie apocalypse is pretty damn bleak and hopeless. But, while it accomplished that, it did so in uneven fashion, hearkening back somewhat to the up-and-down episodes that pockmarked the middle of the first half of this season. While the narrow focus of the episode has been praised by some critics [2], I didn’t feel that the set piece in the parking lot following Rick and Shane’s argument was as effectively tense as other similar sequences this season have been. Granted, the in media res opening of the episode is possibly my most despised narrative device [3] so things got off to an inauspicious start, but once “18 Miles Out” headed into linear territory the discussion between Rick and Shane that I referenced earlier got things back on track as did yet another example of Rick’s decent-hearted nature [4] flying in the face of the group’s safety. Rick also brings up the need to move away from using firearms as much as possible when subduing walkers both from a ammo scarcity-standpoint as well as from a need to be quieter tact as well. So, of course, he and Shane later get into a knockdown, drag-out fight that leads to Shane chucking a wrench at Rick that ends up going through a window in an abandoned building housing a shitton of walkers, all of whom awake and set Rick, Shane, and Randall in their sights. In the midst of the chaos of struggling to survive yet another walker overrun, Randall blurts out that he actually knows Maggie which causes Rick and Shane to reconsider whether keeping him alive is still possible since the chance that he could draw his own camp back to the farm is now in play and, indeed, in the end Rick did seem to come to the realization that Randall has to die for the betterment of everyone else. It also raised some interesting new questions that I’ll address in the Miscellany section, so at the very least a longer view was served. Still, their escape from the walkers was strangely devoid of much suspense and took the air out of the episode more than a little but the forward movement in the Rick/Shane conflict was still presented well enough as to not drag the episode as a whole down too much. The narrower scope of the episode was a welcome one and, so long as the show’s writing staff learns from some of the mistakes “18 Miles Out” made, future attempts in this vein should prove to be very effective.

[1] If not the entire season, for that matter.
[2] And while I don’t necessarily have a problem with this approach, The Walking Dead’s writers are kind of new to this kind of storytelling as the regular characters that we saw in this episode were Rick, Shane, Lori, Andrea, and Maggie. Randall – the dude with the metal peg through his leg – and whatever the hell Maggie’s sister’s name is were literally the only other tertiary characters besides the walkers who were seen in “18 Miles Out.” Less is definitely more sometimes and I wouldn’t warn The Walking Dead’s writing staff off of episodes like this in the future, but they’re going to have to be more effective in doing so.
[3] Because it’s incredibly, incredibly lazy and overdone. Find a smarter way to hook your audience, writers.
[4] The plan was initially to drive Randall 18 miles out – hence, the episode’s title – from the farm and leave him on his own but, after reaching the 18-mile mark, Rick decides spontaneously to try to find a more agreeable spot to drop Randall. Shane, unsurprisingly, wasn’t pleased.

Miscellany:
*Meanwhile, “18 Miles Out’s” B-story unfolded back at the farm and much of it was forgettable. The problem was that it wanted us to invest in Maggie’s sister Beth – whose name I only know because I just looked it up – and the fact that she’s now apparently suicidal. If any attention whatsoever had been given to this character in the past other than her just collapsing all of a sudden back in “Nebraska” maybe the storyline would have landed but – and not to sound like a harsh asshole – I really didn’t care if she killed herself or not. It would just be, “Goodbye, tertiary character whose name I had to look up on Wikipedia. I really hardly knew you.” When Andrea tells Lori, “This could have been handled better,” that assessment clearly applies to this entire plot thread. The only real item of consequence to come out of it was that someone finally called Lori on the carpet as Andrea pushes back when Lori basically tells her that she should be hanging with the rest of the women doing laundry and kitchen work instead of being out hunting with the menfolk. So… did I miss that The Walking Dead turned into Mad Men somewhere along the line? Again, the less that’s said about all of this, the better.
*Back to Shane – what’s the purpose of the foreshadowing looks at the lone walker out in the woods? There were two separate instances where this happened. The first time, Rick is laying out the plan for the coming winter as Shane, barely paying attention, is looking out the car window wistfully at a lone walker and making it clear that he wants nothing to do with that type of future. Then, as the episode concludes, he seems to be looking out again at the same walker in the woods while possibly weighing the merits of staying with the larger group versus going out on his own. Not to beat a dead horse, but I see no chance that Shane’s back in season three. None.
*The other very intriguing thought to come out of the Rick/Shane storyline is Shane’s observation that the walker-ized security guards at the building where he, Rick, and Randall ultimately end up don’t seem to have been bitten yet have been zombiefied. What does this mean longterm? Is the walker virus or however you want to characterize it mutating to the point where bites are no longer necessary? And, if that is indeed the case, what are the implications of an open wound around walker blood as seen here when Rick and Shane both slice their hands to use their blood as bait for the walkers? This has Chekhov’s gun all over it. Why would Shane mention this at all if it wasn’t going to prove to be significant. Keep an eye on this in the coming weeks.
*Though the effectiveness of the tension the show creates was down a notch this week, I continue to love the way this show uses silence. It’s one of the most effective weapons in its arsenal, in my opinion.
*This week’s Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment: Rick cuts his finger to lure a walker and then stabs him in the brain with his pocketknife.
*This week’s Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment #2: Randall hacking into the back of the head of a walker with a knife.
*This week’s Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment #3: Rick, under a stack of walkers, sticks a gun barrel through a walker’s mouth in order to shoot the one behind it.
*This week’s Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment #4: Randall, while driving Rick’s car, running over the head of a walker in graphic, melon-splattering fashion.
*”When I found out about you and Lori, I wanted to break your jaw, let you choke on your teeth.”
*”He’ll be locked up in the barn. Unless you bust it open.”
*”There are no rules, man. We’re lost.”
*”If you wanna kill me, you’re gonna need to do better than a wrench.”
*”I don’t think you can keep them safe.”

Written by jeremylikestv

March 7, 2012 at 7:45 pm

TV Diary | The Walking Dead: “Triggerfinger”

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TV Diary | The Walking Dead – Episode 2.09 – “Triggerfinger” – Original Airdate: 2/19/12

Episode Grade: A-

After seeing “Triggerfinger,” I’m convinced of one thing [1]: Shane isn’t making it out of this second season alive. The devolution of the Shane character – which one could argue began with his brutal beating of Carol’s abusive husband in season one’s “Frogs” – has been one of the most intriguing things to watch play out in this bifurcated second season. Watching Shane alienate one person after another [2] even as Andrea and T-Dog, to a lesser degree, seem to have his back has put him out on an island and his decision to abandon Virgil to a fate as walker food was the first completely clear sign that he was cracking and becoming The Walking Dead’s villain but – and here’s the interesting thing that the show’s done – both of these dickish decisions were made for ostensibly noble reasons. In “Frogs,” he was meting out punishment for a lowlife wife- and child-abuser. In “Save The Last One,” he sacrificed Otis in order to get back to Hershel’s farm in time to save his surrogate son, Carl. And that’s what’s so interesting about the way The Walking Dead’s second season is playing out – the moral ambiguities of life in an apocalyptic world are coming to the fore. On almost any other show, Shane would be a villain without question. But here, he’s trying to spare victims of abuse and trying to save a child wounded by a gunshot, albeit through excessively brutal means. That’s not to say that some of his actions this season (and last for that matter) aren’t despicable because they are. But there are humanistic reasons behind many of them. Contrast that with the final scene of “Triggerfinger” and the turn that Lori seems to be taking. After surviving the car crash in “Nebraska” [3], Lori returns to the farm after being told by Shane (in a lie) that Rick had arrived safely back at the farm as a way of securing her own return because of Shane’s worry about her and the unborn child that he believes is his. Upon realizing she’s been lied to, she makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with Shane, a fact that’s picked up on by Dale and leads to his sharing his theory about Otis’s death with Lori. This possibility seems to spur something in Lori because, in the episode’s final scene, she confesses Dale’s theory to Rick as well as paints Shane to him as a dangerous person who’s still in love with her. She seems to be hinting – none to subtly – that Shane needs to be dealt with. Permanently. Positioning her this way is fascinating thanks to her status as the de facto female hero of the show yet she’s now, to use Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall’s characterization, “gone all Lady MacBeth on Rick.” And as we’ve seen, Rick can be pretty malleable so a lethal showdown with Shane seems to be in the offing. While some critics feel the show hasn’t done a good job with regard to character development over its 16 episodes [4] which is a fair assessment in some respects [5], I’d counter that the show has in fact done an effective job of developing the essential characters (Rick, Lori, Shane, Glenn) and uses the others to fill in when needed. I’d also argue that the way the last two episodes have played out, I’m more excited to watch how the rest of the season develops than I was since maybe the pilot. And that’s no small thing.

[1] Beyond the fact that The Walking Dead is developing into a more confident show by the episode.
[2] Rick, Lori, Hershel, and Dale are the ones that immediately come to mind.
[3] And the resulting tangle with walkers, only to eventually be found and taken back to the farm by Shane.
[4] What basically amounts to a little more than a full cable season. The Walking Dead was rushed into production and only produced six episodes in its first season, which is half of what’s usually seen with other cable drama series.
[5] Too often characters seem to be introduced with little to no warning and then we, as an audience, are expected to immediately care about them. Witness Hershel’s apparent other daughter in “Nebraska.”

Miscellany:
*Theory: For all of the hand-wringing over series creator Frank Darabont’s exit, is The Walking Dead actually better off without him? By all accounts, the first half of the season was the last swath of the show that he had any involvement in, making “Nebraska” and “Triggerfinger” the first episodes post-Darabont. Coincidentally, they’ve been two of the best installments of the season. Might be worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
*The sideways shot of Rick in the bar in the aftermath of the shooting gave a palpable visceral and disorienting feel to the situation. Kudos to director Billy Gierhart for that choice.
*Nice tension built into Rick, Hershel, and Glenn’s escape through the back alley of the bar. The Walking Dead is really beginning to get these pressure-cooker set pieces down to a science.
*So we all agree that this Daryl tough-guy act is a complete façade, right? Perhaps the first cracks were evident when Daryl joins the (ultimately unneeded) search party for Rick, Hershel, and Glenn after initially wanting nothing to do with it.
*I’m eventually waiting for Hershel to crack even more than he already has, particularly after watching the disappointment on his face when he, Rick, and Glenn return to the farm and Maggie comes rushing out… only to go directly to Glenn and not to him.
*Speaking of the Glenn/Maggie relationship, I liked the turn that it took this week when Glenn mentioned that his feelings for Maggie are affecting his ability to be a functioning member of the group since he fears dying and is putting others in danger because of his concern for her should anything happen to him. I’m looking forward to seeing where this is heading and I’ve enjoyed Lauren Cohan’s addition to the cast this season.
*This week’s Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment: A walker disgustingly forcing its head through the broken windshield of Lori’s totaled car. (And source of the above banner photo.)
*This week’s Bonus Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment: Lori yanking the turn signal rod off of her steering column and jamming it into said walker’s eye.
*This week’s Bonus Walking Dead Extreme Gore Moment 2.0: Rick popping the impaled leg of a fallen adversary (Damien from Rescue Me, if you’re playing at home) off of the fence upon which it was hanging.
*After the Shane faction of the camp strongly objects to Rick’s decision to bring Damien Leg Guy back to the farm, is there any doubt that Damien Leg Guy’s crew is going to end up finding him? Maybe this is the spark that’s going to proffer the ultimate showdown between Rick and Shane.
*Loved Jeffrey DeMunn’s delivery of this line to Carl after Lori confesses that she and Rick never had the sex talk with Carl: “Don’t look at me. That’s your father’s job.”
*”They drew on us.”
*”Let’s just chalk this up to what it was. Wrong place, wrong time.”
*”I can shoot. I just don’t like to.”
*”Maybe if you’d spent your time worrying about your daughter’s business instead of sticking it in everyone else’s, she’d still be alive.”
*”You just can’t stop lying, can you?”
*”Whatever happens, it’s yours.”
*”You killed the living to protect what’s yours?” “That’s right.” “Shane thinks I’m his.”

Written by jeremylikestv

March 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm