Series television is written by committee. An individual script will usually only have one writer's name on it, but the final filmed version of it will be the product of a large number of people, from the showrunner and the writer's room down to even the individual actors (in series that don't insist on overly rigid recitation of the written word). One of the things that has long puzzled me about THE WALKING DEAD is how Robert Kirkman, who is a talented writer I've read for many years, always ends up as the author of record on so many godawful episodes. If his name appears on a script, it's guaranteed to be a stinker, and tonight's installment, "Strangers," was his sixth turd in a row, a turd that, like the previous five, shows no trace of his influence, much less of his authorship. Not a single Kirmanesque moment, line of dialogue, anything. This simply isn't how Kirkman writes. Are his scripts being dragged down by too much influence from others? Is he choking when it comes time to write a tv script? Is someone of lesser talent ghostwriting for him? It's a mystery I've pondered for a few years now, one that's likely to remain a mystery for the foreseeable future. For our purposes here at the moment, it's enough to note that, tonight, TWD squandered the good will it had earned via its great season 5 opener with yet another Mazzara-esque filler episode.
Once again, we're back to the soap melodrama dialogue
wherein no one has a normal conversation about a mundane subject; every
exchange involves some preposterous, overblown speech about some Very
Important Things that are mostly repetitions of things we're heard a
million times already. Let's wallow in how Troubled a character is about
something bad in their past by having them repeatedly tell
us--regulation hangdog look in place--they Don't Want To Talk About It.
The other 9,999 times clearly weren't enough, so let's have Rick give
his 10,000th repetition of his speech to Carl about how he must be
exceptionally careful in this zombified world. Let's have another speech
from Abraham about how we must get Eugene to D.C. so we can save the
Other bad habits returned. Bob is suddenly given lots of
dialogue, the home of which he's long dreamed, and a romance with Sasha.
Longtime viewers of TWD know what that means; he's being set up
for a gruesome fate. He isn't dead by the end of the ep, but only, one
suspects, because this is a filler episode in which virtually nothing
happens. He appears to have been bitten by a zombie on mission to find
food--something at which the episode only hinted--and was then snatched by the remnants of the Terminusians. When they weren't killed, you just knew
they'd be back, right? The subject of a Terminusian shish ka-Bob--yes,
you may roll your eyes at that--he seems to have been designated by the
creators to meet Dale's fate from the comics. Meanwhile, Carol
apparently decides to leave the group near the end; she treks to a
broken-down car she and Daryl had encountered earlier, gets it running,
and is just about to leave when Daryl stumbles upon her. Not satisfied
with one such remarkable coincidence, the ep immediately throws us
another--at that very moment, the car of whomever kidnapped Beth goes
speeding up the road right in front of the car Carol just got running!
She and Daryl jump in and take off in pursuit, but, again, this being a
filler ep, whatever becomes of that will have to wait until next week.
pace of the ep is wretched, little of any substance happens, it brings
the momentum established by the previous ep to a standstill--overall,
"Strangers" was a disappointing fallback to Mazzara-esque crap, an exercise that deepens the mystery of Robert Kirkman's substandard scripts but is otherwise a complete waste of an episode.
 Kirkman's first ep, "Vatos," is very Kirkmanesque, a great script with lots of Kirkman touches and great moments, including the best ever last line of a TWD ep,
but the big twist toward its end--the "gangsters" who turn out to be
guarding a nursing home--was so bad, so ill-advised, and left such a bad
taste in viewers' mouths that its merits tend to be ignored and it
often ends up listed among the all-time worst TWD eps.
 Certainly a possible scenario. Though Kirkman has
always described himself as intimately involved in the creative end of
the show, he made numerous public comments in interviews during its 2nd
and 3rd seasons that were wildly inaccurate and suggest he was only
minimally aware of what was happening with it and was merely trying to
fudge his way through questions regarding it to which he didn't know the
 He's attacked by a zombie during one of TWD's patented ridiculous zombie setpieces. The group wants to collect food from the lower level of a building that is waist-deep in water. There's a hole in the floor above it; the flooded lower level is teeming with zombies. Instead of simply spearing the zombies from above, which could be done with no risk, the team descends to the lower level to battle the zombies in the waist-deep water. At one point, one of the creatures grabs Bob and drags him under. When he's rescued, he claims to be all right, but something is clearly bothering him, and later, after the group returns to home base--a church--he's shown standing outside alone crying, perhaps over being bittern, perhaps only to make viewers familiar with the comics think he was bitten.
 It wouldn't surprise me if Tara
eventually ends up wanting to marry Glenn and Maggie either. As
sometimes happened last year, Gimple likes to try to mine some of the
material from the comics that Mazzara pissed away during his reign as