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The Walking Dead: Eps 2 & 3

November 15, 2010

Sadly, I was unable to watch episode 2 of The Walking Dead, “Guts,” the night it aired, and I couldn’t watch it with Dad at all. But he told me beforehand that Rick escaped from the tank, and after I watched it, he talked about how grizzly the zombie gut suit scene was. But I think both of us were underwhelmed.

We started off in an exciting manner, where Rick indeed escapes from the tank and, with the help of lovable Glen. They make it into the department store where things start to decline. The dialogue gets clunky and we are introduced to very uninteresting characters whose names I can’t be bothered to remember: Blond lady, black lady, black guy, redneck asshole, and the other guy.

Redneck asshole acts in an asshole way, beating the daylights out of black guy (who, rather realistically, was still showing that he was in pain from this attack in the next episode). Rick waits until the most dramatic moment to actually do anything about it, and redneck asshole ends up handcuffed to a pipe on the department store roof. Glen and the other guy hunt through the sewers, black lady knows about the sewers, black guy lets cuffed redneck know he’s an asshole, Rick and blond lady share a boring moment, and eventually the whole gang escapes and leaves redneck asshole behind.

The grizzly scene that helped give a title to this episode actually had me chuckling. There’s some black humor to it, how everyone was groaning and retching with every swing of the axe. And come on, Rick and Glen had intestines and dismembered hands hanging from their necks, that’s a little funny. The pace did start to pick up again when they were out among the zombies, which serves to point out where Walking Dead is starting to falter. But more on that later.

Episode 3, titled “Tell it to the Frogs,” is better. The opening is incredible. Redneck asshole, (named Merle Dixon, as I finally catch onto this episode,) is still handcuffed to that roof, and raving like a lunatic. Dad and I both admired his acting chops in this heartbreaking scene. I actually started to feel sorry for him, left behind, about to be feasted on by the undead that are clamoring to get through the locked door. He’s going to be eaten there, locked in place, unable to fight back. Horrible way to die, and Merle knows it, struggling to snag the dropped hacksaw with his belt.

Meanwhile, Rick and the gang finally arrive back at camp, and there’s an awkward reunion with Rick’s lost wife and child. Lori is shocked, and his shooting Shane some looks. Turns out, he told her Rick was dead. We don’t know if he knowingly lied or honestly thought that was the truth, either way, it’s an unforgivable act, and later Lori demands Shane stay away from her family. Shane in turn takes out his frustrations on a new asshole whose name I can’t be bothered to remember: wife-beating asshole.

But again, there are a number of new characters whose names aren’t important because they don’t seem all that interesting or three dimensional. Wife-beating asshole, battered wife, blond sister, hat guy, beard guy, asshole brother. While Rick and Lori were bonding in their sleeping bag, Dad grunted that the show needed to get back to the zombies. I was about to point out that that isn’t want the show is about, but I felt the same way. I was anxious to get back to the action because these characters are boring. The dialogue is clunky, the background characters flat, the motivations cliche, and the tensions weak.

It’s still a good show, I am not saying it isn’t worth watching. Again, the closing scene of the menfolk running back to save redneck asshole was one of the best mystery cliffhangers I have ever seen. How did he get off that roof with the door locked? How could he chop off his hand and survive? Where did all the zombies go? What’s going to happen next??


  • The women of the camp point out that they are sick of doing womens work, and earlier I thought it was lame that no women were going on the rescue mission. On the other hand, I think this is pretty realistic. Society breaks down, and it will default back to its roots; hunter men and gatherer women. I sense this will change over the course of the show.
  • Lori has some smooth, hairless legs there, doesn’t she? I, for one, would  not be concerned about shaving during the apocalypse.
  • Also unrealistic: Lori doesn’t tell Rick she was sleeping with Shane. The moment was there, she could have been open and honest with him, but she didn’t. I don’t think Rick would have reactive all that negatively, he would have forgiven her anything now that he had her in his arms again. But I feel like the subject went unspoken just for story reasons, and not for character reasons.
  • Sex with the kid two feet away? Ick.
  • Asshole brother is really good with that crossbow. I kind of want him to stick around.
  • Is anybody going to die on this show? They haven’t even given us the token red shirt death to show us how dangerous this world is. Unless you count the horse.
  • Dad totally called that Merle was going to be gone. I kind of thought he’d be a zombie, or about to become one. Dad is good at these things.
  • Chekov’s Gun spotted: Rick still has that grenade is his pocket.
8 Comments leave one →
  1. Encrazed Crafts permalink
    November 15, 2010 9:07 pm

    I thought I was the only one that had no idea who anyone was in this show. If I didn’t type out the darned reviews or comments about it in the first place, I still wouldn’t know who’s name is what. It took two episodes for me to know the main guy is called Rick, though I did remember that Morgan’s son was named Duane (but they did say it like 12 times in the first episode). After that, I read them all online from said reviews and comments. The black guy is actually “t-dog” which holds no racial overtones at *all*, I still don’t know who the apparent Mexican Guy is (Merle called him a taco salesmen) and the two sisters are like Angela and Angie or something similar to that. I don’t know if black woman, battered wife, and beating husband have official names. The older guy that stood guard is Dale, I think, and I believe Merle’s brother is Darron, or Darrel. That is one point for realistic dialog, though. How often do people use names during conversation? Probably as much as these people do…not that it helps the audience any, of course. But if they don’t care enough to tell us, we shouldn’t care enough to remember, ammirite?

    I think that there is no real opportune moment to say “Hai, guiz! I can haz surprise sex in that forest thar’ w/yo BFF!” as I could easily see Rick double taking and walking off pissed. He risked it all for the memory of his wife that was still alive, not the knowledge that she was taking the situation so easily as to find time to shack up with Shane wide open in the forest. While I agree telling the other person should be done early on, if ever (no cheap shots just before dying either, you take it to the grave of you bare your soul early on enough to get bitter with your misdeeds!), I think Lori just let Rick have at it and called it even. As long as she keeps Shane away from now on, she should be allright. We’ll see how that works out, but I’m just glad I can watch Lori and Shane and not want to poke them in the face with a spork. Violently. (They are actually characters now, hurray!)

    • November 15, 2010 10:27 pm

      Yes, the main three, Rick, Lori, and Shane, narrowly escape the background character fate of uninteresting. But are they fully realized characters or just ideas? Moral compass, girl in the middle, and coward. Sarah Wayne Calles, who plays Lori, called the three of them Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot in an AMC interview, which I thought was interesting. It’s interesting too that characters react in realistic ways, but don’t always act in realistic ways, if that makes any sense. I dunno. Plot and everything is awesome, characterizations remain weak in my mind.

      • Encrazed Crafts permalink
        November 16, 2010 5:45 pm

        Calling the characters “ideas” is a slippery slope indeed! Next thing you know the world will have ended from deep Old Testament stuffs, the dead rising from the grave! Cats and dogs living together! Mass hysteria!

        I think all the glorified extras at this point have been not so much idea-cast, but role-cast. The angry racist, the battered wife and domineering husband, black guy named t-dog… or the names you gave them above work too 😛 (They do have a certain flare about them.) It might just be semantics, but it’s just a thought.

        I’m not even going to pretend to be one of those pretentious artist-like critics that talks about someone’s innate pains and trials in life based merely on how they walk across the room in stilettos or anything like that, but I will provide this question: Even if a character is an idea as you said, as long as the dialog and acting are at least ‘good’, should the audience care? If they ‘hide’ the fact that Rick is going to be a hero behind how he talks to people around him and how he carries himself, then it isn’t blatant and at least in theory, should not matter as long as it is engaging.

        The problem, in my opinion, is when the characters do not have enough screen time (or spend that screen time spouting bad dialog that adds nothing) and thus have no real armor or camouflage to protect/hide the fact that they are supposed to be “the hero” or “angry guy that dies and no one cares due to said angry guy tendencies.” It’s one of those, ‘if I can’t see it, they did their job’ sort of things, so if you have pointed out that they are simply walking and talking ideas, then in your mind they have failed in establishing those characters thus far.

        Though, you did say they do things in realistic ways, but not always. Does that variation provide enough unpredictability to qualify them as no longer ideas, but having character? Or is it just convenient or sloppy writing from AMC’s department in your eyes?

  2. November 16, 2010 10:56 pm

    Too narrow to allow a replyyyy!

    I think part of my over-analyzing comes from Mad Men and the awesome Lipp Sisters Blog. The writers there have amazing insight to the show, and I need to remember that I can’t always apply that level of scrutiny to every show.

    Now we can agree the background characters are two dimensional, not important enough to develop further, so we can focus on the big three: Rick, Shane, and Lori.

    Yes, you are correct, the acting is good, the dialogue is (usually) good. They needed Rick to go back to the city to move the story forward, and they didn’t just rely on the flimsy “I’m the hero and no man deserves to die like that.” They added another more believable layer of getting to the walkie talkie to save Morgan and Duane. Props for that. He’s the guy who is new to this world, closest to the old world, most likely to want to preserve what he had. His motivations make sense.

    Shane is the most interesting of the three to me. He’s not the hero, he’s not the villain. His introduction rubbed me the wrong way, griping about his woman unable to turn off the lights, but I don’t hate him. He does things I don’t like, things that we the audience know is wrong, but he isn’t a bad man. He is doing the best he can. But he is inadequate and he knows it. And he struggles. He’s cowardly, he’s afraid, but despite that he has to keep the people around him safe and in line. He’s not good at it, but that doesn’t make him bad.

    And onto Lori. Her motivations are apparently less defined. She’s the wife, and she’s human so she seeks comfort from a man like her “late” husband. She takes care of her kid. She’s a mom and wife, and that’s about it so far. Hopefully she’ll get more development beyond mama bear/girl in the middle.

    But I still think the characterizations take a backseat to story. Mad Men, I would say, is the reverse. Characters before story. You could sum up the season story in a sentence, Walking Dead is only three episodes in and it takes a paragraph. Being more story than character driven is not a bad thing. I am enjoying this show, I love it, the story is awesome. They’ve only for 6 episodes here, so they HAVE to focus on story.

    • Encrazed Crafts permalink
      November 17, 2010 12:46 am

      I have to admit, until zombies were brought into the equation I have never watched a series on AMC. To me it boiled down to: Show about guy who likes drugs and cash, a show about the 50’s and guys who disrespect women, and then some mystery show that I think was a remake of something in the past? Either way, never saw any of it. Then you add in zombies…and my interest. She is piqued.

      I have to say that I am quite glad that you said someone can enjoy a series that does not focus on the story, but the characters. I have felt the same way, but based on current popular movies (even the ones that make some coin for their publishers) it does not seem to be that way. In turn this makes me happy that Mad Men has won so many awards, that means people in higher places than the disposable income kiddie bracket know what good quality really is.

      Not to say I’m going to sit down and watch Mad Men tomorrow or anything. Unless they add in some zombie lovin’ to their show…

      Oh, and you are the second person to tag Shane with the coward adjective. Interesting. While I may not agree with all of his actions, or at least how he delivered said decisions, I think most of them are sound; objective. It would have been a waste of manpower to put up signs on the highway, potentially lethal for something almost no one would have read at this point. Rick did, but he was written that way. Morgan might, but only because Rick got him a gun to possibly off his dead wife, so by and large almost no one will willingly return to the city that does not at least know about zombies existing.

      Saying everyone on the rummaging mission (Glenn’s group) is as good as dead was fairly cut and dry, but other than Rick’s heroic main character powers they would have been zombie food anyway. We are surrounded. We are trapt. The main, or only, guide through the safest area of the city is stuck in that building with the rest of them. Sending in another group without the guns the first one had, without the guide the first one had, was likely to end with both parties dying. Double for nothing, in essence. It was a harsh choice, but objectively the right one in terms of survival. Would Shane want people to save him in that situation? Oh yeah. Would he expect it? Probably not, unless he’d hope for a Rick or someone else gullible enough to not want to leave anyone behind.

      I’ll admit his ideas and thoughts are up to this point conservative. I do not agree that this makes him a coward, I’d argue that this makes him smart, or at least street smart. Even when it came to the fire ‘incident’ it wasn’t to be a jerk (as the hick could have waddled over to the one fire that already existed that was a fairly nice size) but to protect the good of all. Rick handcuffed someone to a pipe, so even the ‘good guy’ can take some near extreme actions occasionally.

      Kinda funny though, now that I think about it. Rick is written as the hero and Shane is adverse to risk (to put it mildly). Rick on the other hand would rather take things easy and slow in situations, while Shane charges in and makes the gut decision. That almost sounds backwards as in specific situations they have the reverse personality. Weird how these characters are playing out.

      • November 17, 2010 11:55 am

        DOOOOOD You HAVE to watch Mad Men!! And oo, Halloween costume idea: Undead Mad Men!

        And I’d put cowardice and smart hand in hand. Is it smart to go back and save Redneck Asshole? No. That’s dangerous and stupid. But it’s the -right- thing to do. Bravery is doing what is hard and often stupid but -right-. Recklessness is doing something dangerous without good reason.

        Cowardice is self preservation. It’s easier to survive in this zombie world if you run and hide. And Shane might not be considered cowardly if he didn’t have Rick there to compare himself to. Rick is going the brave, heroic thing and it’s suddenly apparent that Shane, by contrast, is doing the cowardly thing. He tries to be a Rick-ish hero by giving wife-beating asshole a beat-down, but misses the mark.

        Morals have been sacrificed in favor of survival.

  3. Encrazed Crafts permalink
    November 17, 2010 4:48 pm

    Dood! (Are you part Prinny?)

    I’ll relent and say Rick is being brave *only* because it is the right thing to do, as you stated. BUT! This does not make Shane innately reek of cowardice. After all, any fan of Fallout knows there is Good, Bad, and Neutral. Because Rick is above average (Good), this does not make Shane instantly a pansy (Bad). If he was running scared at the sight of the zombie and ordered others to take care of it as he backed away, yeah, he’d be a coward. But he rushed Darle right next to Rick, he confronted Ed by the fire, and then his knuckles had a meeting with Ed’s orbital bone at the quarry. (Several meetings, in fact.) I think that just makes him average (Neutral).

    Now, let’s say if Shane and Rick go at it hand to hand and Rick wins. Keeping with the above analysis, Rick would be Good and Shane would be Bad. Anyone watching from the sidelines would be Neutral. (I’m sure you could even brake it down into Neutral-Good, and Neutral-Bad, but I’m trying to keep it simple here, for Jabba’s sake.)

    Unless you were referring to Shane comparing himself to Rick and not the audience. In that case then yes, I can see Shane beating himself up for not being as uber as Rick (though again, if they push it much farther Rick’s gonna be a Mary Sue). This might have coupled with Lori’s outburst at him and lead to the fistiskull between him and the wife beater.

  4. Caitlin permalink
    November 19, 2010 9:51 am

    I can’t remember anyone’s name either. Hell, I only know the main guy’s name is Rick and his wife is Lori from reading this. The only name I really remembered is Rick’s kid’s name is Carl. Because who names their kid Carl?

    Two things that bugged me- I think Lori’s pretty flat. I understand the whole shock factor, but for someone who thought her husband was DEAD, she was pretty unreceptive for the whole reunion and afterwards. My friend and I were thinking potentially that she’d already been shacking up with Shane prior to the whole hospital thing, just because she was SO.. blah.

    The secoond thing- Redneck brother is good with his crossbow, but he’s re-using arrows that he’s shooting animals with that they’re eating AND killing zombies? I’m guessing he’s not sterilizing that stuff. We know they don’t want the zombie blood on them, so….

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