Friday, February 10, 2012

The Walking Dead - Get Ready!

Trying something a little bit new today, folks! In anticipation of The Walking Dead returning on Sunday (yes!this!Sunday!), I have enlisted guest blogger KC to help recap Season 2 thus far and hopefully give some insightful opinions about the season, the amazing mid-season finale and where we think this zombie train is going. This first installment has minimal back and forth, but I imagine going forward there will be more. Here we go! KC kicks things off...

KC: So, LCT, I’m incredibly excited to doing a little back and forth with you over Season 2.0 of “The Walking Dead” in anticipation of the upcoming Season 2.5 (I’m pretty sure this is a continuation of Season 2, right?).  If I may be so bold to get inside your head, I think you’re approaching it from a different point of view than I.  You’re generally happy with the direction of this season has been going in?  While I’ve been a little bit less happy.  Also, you’ve read at least some of the graphic novels and know when the show deviates, while I do not.  I have some strong feelings about this season so far, so lets get this discussion rolling!

LCT: Yeah Yeah Yeah! This will be great, KC! Just to clarify, I was not completely happy with some stuff happening in Season 2.0, but probably less unhappy than you. My gripes were about dumb things like how all of a sudden laying under a car saves you from the undead. I mean, where's the gut necklaces? And just why is Glen in that stupid well? However, as far as pace goes, now having some time to reflect, I can understand a bit more the “why” of certain decisions to slow things down. Also to clarify, I have read most of the graphic novels… truth be told I came to a part where I had to put it down and never went back. Readers of the GNs will probably know what I am talking about. But certainly I have read up through and beyond what we have seen this season, and I imagine well after next season.

I call bullshit

KC: One of the problems I’ve had with Season 2 is that it’s noticeably less action packed than Season 1.  Now, I don’t have a problem with shows slowing down to have more character moments, but in this case, I think it’s revealed how one-dimensional most of them are.  Characters like Shane or Andrea who seemed to have hidden depths have morphed into, respectively, a mustache twirling villain and a trigger-happy hothead.

Haven’t you found all that time spent on the farm almost interminable?  There were too many clunky, two-character conversations that were poorly staged and written.  They seemed to be saying the same things to each other over and over again.

LCT: My love for this show runs deep, man. Way deep. So I will forgive a lot. The first season was as close to perfect as any TV show ever. It was much like the start of Lost, where ultimately it was about survival and learning to live with these people with whom they were thrown into this situation. As unrealistic (mayhaps?) as this situation is, the show makes you believe in it and the actions and dialogue of the characters were absolutely realistic, which is hard to find on TV (see: The River).  However, I was also disappointed with the stagnancy of the beginning of Season 2 as I was watching it. None of this Sophia-has-gone-missing business is in the novels, but here it served to keep everyone in one place and sort of gave everyone one goal, thus leading to this sense of complacency (especially, as you said, compared with Season 1). What bothered me most, was not so much the slowing down, but all the Jesus chats. At the time of watching, I had no explaination for church chats and they were so frustrating, but in hindsight I think all of those scenes were ultimately shown to position the opposing belief systems of Hershell and Rick & Co. By this, I mean sort of tee-ing up the notions of faith, belief and hope vs. what’s happening in this real life. Also, it laid some groundwork for some of these characters to eventually abandon religion and faith. Rick asks for a sign and his kid gets shot. Carol asks to spare Sophia and take her instead and, well, we know what happened there. Looking at the entire season through this lense, they were looking for hope, but in the end, this is a dark, dark world they are living in.

As for time on the farm, I think they did a good job of juxtaposing the temporary relief of Rick & Co at having found a sort of “safe-haven” with “whaaaaaat’s iiiinnnn theee baaaaaarn.” (<-spooky words spoken spookily.)  Or, as I said above, hope (for some normalcy) vs. (terrifying) reality. Again, while watching, it seemed slower paced and frustrating, but in hindsight, it was all necessary in order to set up this power struggle of viewpoints between Rick and Shane, and to some degree, Herschel. Though I totally agree they could have moved it along for sure.

I think this is a good place to point out that in addition to the Sophia missing plotline, the character of (mustache twirling) Shane does not make it this far in the graphic novels. I think this works for the TV show. It gives more depth to Rick’s eminent true rise to leadership. Or at least, it gives his character a bit more to overcome on his way to embracing his role as leader of the pack. Also, Shane is the representation of survival of the fittest, every-man-for himself, kill all them walkers. This is needed for the final showdown.

KC: As the pace as slowed down, some of the actors’ weaknesses have started to reveal themselves.  I just don’t find Sarah Wayne Callies’ Lori at all sympathetic.  Jon Bernthal’s Shane has gotten less interesting as he’s gotten more evil.  I think Andrew Lincoln (as Rick) is the only actor who’s really managed to shine this season (the scene when he finally breaks down after delivering a severely injured Carl to Herschel was pretty fantastic).

LCT: Agreed. I don’t know what the hell they’re trying to do with Lori. I hate her longtime. I feel that the show works very hard to make her seem like a good mom, but she really sucks. This has been a consistent complaint of mine, and one of TWD’s weaker areas: they have Lori say mom things, but her actions are very not mom like. It was not uncommon to hear Lori say things like “stay where I can see you” but then Carl would be wandering off taking knives off of dead guys in cars or something. In a zombie apocalypse my kids are tethered to me, just sayin’. The most blatant example is the barn scene at the end of last episode and Lori is saying to Carl “don’t look” but doesn’t cover his eyes or make him turn away or even take him away. Like, why does she have to be right there? Having said all of this, I am sympathetic to her pregnancy dilemma. I mean, that is a dreary situation. Just the prospect of actually having a baby without an epidural is enough to give anyone pause, never mind zombies. If American Horror Story has taught us anything, it’s that baby birthing ain’t no walk in the park without proper medical support. Also, I’m inclined to believe that Herschel will not be very helpful going forward, you know, since they wasted his family and friends in the barn.

KC: That said, there have a been a couple of things that I’ve liked, and they’ve been enough to keep me following the show, hopeful that it can turn itself around. 

Daryl somehow went from being a character I loathed to my favorite - I almost wish every episode focused on him.  

LCT: Yes! It will be interesting to see what the loss of Sophia does to him. He may go rogue. Or he may make out with Carol. 


KC: And there were a couple of intriguing plotlines and some huge twists that took me by surprise.  Like poor little Sophia!  I didn’t think the show had the courage to go to that dark place.  I look forward to seeing how they follow up on it.

Shane’s transformation into a douche bag (is this a family blog?) isn’t something I thought was well handled, but the motivating event was: Shane shooting Otis and leaving him for dead so that he can escape with Carl’s medicine was chilling. 

I also liked how gracefully Rick took the news that Lori and Shane slept together when they thought Rick was dead (um, way to mourn, Lori).  I was sure they were going straight up soap opera with that storyline (like, Rick finding out at the very worst moment and getting into a big brawl with Shane or something like that).  And it seems like it could still develop into a big “Who’s the father of Lori’s baby?” storyline; but so far, it’s been handled well.

LCT: Yes, they handled this Lori telling Rick scene very well. I also think this scene was pivotal in moving Rick towards leader and sort of changes the balance of power between Shane and Rick. Not like Shane was the man with the power, but up until this point, Rick was the only one who didn’t know about the affair, so Shane sort of had that power of knowledge. Now that’s all changed because Rick is in the know and Shane does NOT know that Shane knows at this time. So if Shane thinks he has this knowledge bomb, he will find it is powerless. Rick’s got  tha powah!

I think Shane's transformation, while I am not in favor of his views, is necessary in order to get to where we are at the end. I actually think they make him a somewhat relatable character, with his sort of militant opposition and kill em all attitude. I can see that survival of the fittest viewpoint happening out in the zombie apocalypse (um, I bet?). Also, being all badass gets you a little nookie in the front seat, evidently.

KC: LCT, my wish for Season 2.5 is more zomb… er… “walker” attacks!  That will go a long way towards turning this ship around, I think.  What do you think? Did you think there was any justification for Hershel keeping his zombie family members in the barn?  Are you about ready to see the crew get off the farm?  

LCT: How are we not dissecting the last episode? I think the mid-season finale made up for everything that frustrated me in the previous episodes. That showdown at the barn was some of the best TV I have ever seen. It was the ultimate power struggle and this one scene was the culmination of everything Shane, Rick and Herschel had been touting the whole season. Here's how I see it from several angles:

Shane: So Shane is representing the kill-all-them-monsters extreme. Which, to be fair, is not so far fetched since it is pretty much what they have been practicing. (Although, historically when it came to people they knew, they were more lenient… anyone remember Jim from Season 1? I believe they left him tied to a tree to feel the breeze. But I think even then Shane wasn’t so happy about that.) So he finds out that there’s a bunch of walkers in the barn and he gets everyone on his side to shoot up all them monsters. But this is a tough line for even Shane to toe when it’s one of his own. So when Sophia walks out and he can’t pull the trigger and truly follow through and do what needs to be done, it’s ultimately Rick that steps up.

Rick: Poor Rick has been trying to balance all the personalities for so long – trying to keep the peace and make everyone happy - and also has been reluctant to assume full leadership and all that it entails. He goes with Herschel to wrangle a walker in order to keep the peace and along the way trying to understand all viewpoints. He is horrified that Shane & Co have taken it upon themselves to get rid of the walkers on Herschel’s property. And I’m not sure on which side he would have ultimately come down on (had he not walked in on this scene but was able to complete his chat with Herschel), but when someone needed to step up, in probably the most powerful scene ever, it was Rick who did the deed. Sheriff’s back in town!

Herschel: I’m convinced that he had to know that Sophia was in the barn, since we now know how they were getting them into the barn. But he kept it all a secret because he wanted the whole barn a secret. With Hershel asking Rick to help him wrangle that walker in the woods, he was working up to getting Rick to see his side. If Shane hadn't gone apeshit, Herschel would have told him about Sophia the minute they got that walker in the barn. This would totally support his view that they are people who are sick, not monsters.

No words

I also think the show made a conscious effort to make Sophia look more “sick” than “monster.” (See above.) The obvious reasoning would be that she hasn’t been undead all that long compared to the other barn dwellers, but in light of Herschel’s POV and Rick’s actions, it was all the more heart wrenching. It’s probably no surprise that I was sobbing, SOBBING, during this scene and for days afterwards. I'm tearing even thinking about it now, all these weeks later. Now that is awesome TV.

As far as what’s next for TWD, having read the graphic novels I think I know where they are headed. But this power struggle is going to be very complicated and they have deviated from the novels a lot. Rick is clearly ready to be the leader of the pack, but I am assuming Herschel is kicking them all to the curb pronto… which leads to many questions: will the team split into Team Shane and Team Rick? Will Maggie go with Glen or will Glen stay on the farm? Does anyone think Carol and Daryl will/should get together (and be Caryl?).

I know this, though… with the death of Sophia, I feel their hope is gone. This is going to be the darkest season of The Walking Dead yet. So KC,  I think you will get your wish for a lot more zombie chompin'.

KC's fave pic of this post, I bet


Amy G said...

So Happy to see your lengthy blog about TWD bwcause I can't duscuss this show enough. I'm a huge fan - despite what I about to write (you're always tougher on the ones you live, right?). Some of my gripes about last half-season have a lot to do with the fact that I can suspend disbelief for a zombie apocalypse, but somehow can't buy poor decision-making. For example, the Otis and Shane Zombie showdown...were those medical supplies not in a trailer?? Why the hell would they choose to split up on foot facing dozens or more zombies when they could have hitched that damn pick-up to the med supply trailer in about five minutes?? Very stupid. Also, why do they keep making several trips to the drug store? Wouldn't it make more sense just to clear the place out once and be done with it? What, are they waiting for a sale or something? And the obvious bad decision that Lori made. First of all, who is in the mood for love, with not just one, but two men, in the middle of a zombie apocilypse where just about everyone you know has died in the last couple of weeks? Secondly, if I did find myself feeling amorous, I would be using 5 condoms, a diaphragm, some spermicide followed by a whiskey douche. I just made that last part up - have I gone too far? Anyway, in a zombie apocalypse situation, that would be a pretty easy guilt free decision for me, especially since I was biologically unable to breast feed my first two kids for whatever reason, so my newborn would end up starving and being fed to zombies anyway.

On an entirely different note, I think Darryl is among the most under-appreciated characters on tv. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a Daryl-led splinter group, which I would totally join. Also, why do all the women suck? Carol is a helpless weak basket case (even before Sofia went missing), the blond chick is a crazy bitchy hothead, and Lori is just cold and heartless and her character gives you no inkling as to why two men would be remotely attracted to her. None of the women are particularly smart, or useful or skilled or funny or even attractive. Then they have the one black guy that had about 3 lines the whole season. In general, there is an extreme dearth of black characters for a show that is set in Atlanta. I work in downtown Atlanta where much of the first season was shot and the cast and extras for those scenes should have been at least 50 percent African American. Just saying'. Anyway, I'm also just saying' that I love the show and can't wait for 35 minutes from now for the season 2.5 opener. Amy G

Amy G said...

P.s. sorry for all the typos - hopefully makes sense. Stupid iPhone autocorrect!

LCT said...

Your comments are so right on! I agree that some of the decision making is awwwful. Although I have to admit that I didn't even think about the medical trailer (oh, right... it's on wheels). But I am adding that to the ever growing list of these characters not using their precious braaaiiins. Also, wiping coffee off of my monitor because of "whiskey douche." <-- probably the greatest thing I've ever read. Stay tuned for new post in about a couple of hours.