Monday, February 23, 2015

THE WALKING DEAD Covers Little Distance 2.0

Not much to say about tonight's TWD. "The Distance" is a title that would pretty much fit any of the last few eps, but not for the reasons TWD's creators would probably care to admit.

Only two eps ago, Rick had agreed with Michonne that the group should go to D.C., on the grounds that it was a reasonable assumption there must be people there in some sort of safe area. On this, the entire future of the group was staked and a long journey undertaken. Tonight, the opportunity to find such a safe area presented itself and Rick did one of those astonishing 180-degree flips TWD's soap melodrama format often imposes on its characters. As usual, the writers chose to demonize overt survivalist sentiment; Rick's caution about trusting the stranger who has landed in their midst promising sanctuary is taken to a cartoonish extreme, leaving him looking like a vicious and completely unreasonable jerk desperately looking for some excuse not to go to the sanctuary.[1] Aaron, the stranger in question, tells our heroes how to get to the Safe Zone and Rick insists on taking a different route. Aaron warns him that this proposed alternate direction is extremely unsafe and Rick not only insists on taking it anyway but insists on doing so at night![2] I'd like to be able to praise the sequence that followed, wherein the group, following Rick's lead, takes to vehicles and ends up plowing right into a zombie herd. Some fun, over-the-top gore and violence of the sort one rarely gets from TWD. But it's all just there to hit that anti-survivalist theme again. Rick's hypercaution nearly got them all killed.[2]

Insert my standard complaint here about every bit of plot progression on TWD being made dependent upon characters doing mind-numbingly stupid things. This was one of the worst Rick examples since he decided to hand over Michonne to GINO. Add to it the team Rick dispatches after Aaron tells him his partner is waiting up the road with a pair of vehicles. Rick doesn't believe this and doesn't even want to check it out! Daryl or Michonne could have quietly slipped through the forest and checked out the situation. Michonne even volunteers to do so. Instead, Rick sends a large, heavily armed party whose ninja-like investigative technique was to walk abreast of one another right up the road in broad daylight. Glenn, running that particular operation, tells the others to shoot anyone who comes at them! Aaron is supposed to be a recruiter who "auditions" new people for the Safe Zone, a job that requires building trust with strangers, but when he tells hyper-paranoid Rick he has applesauce for baby Judith and Rick insists he eat a bite of it first to prove it isn't drugged or poisoned, he goes through an elaborate song-and-dance to try to get out of eating it (he does eventually eat it but the entire incident, which mostly seems aimed at eating up screentime, certainly doesn't speak to his skills as a recruiter). Later, instead of a stealth recon of the route Aaron proposes (and that Rick doesn't trust), Rick has everyone mount up and, in the dark, drive into a place Aaron said isn't safe (which he also doesn't have checked in advance), because, he says, they can use the cover of night if there is some sort of ambush ahead. In the dark, where any bushwackers ahead can see their headlights coming long before they get there but they can't see any bushwackers that may be ahead.

After some zombie combat--in the dark, up the road that wasn't safe--the group escapes and spends the rest of the ep traveling to the Safe Zone, weathering an automotive breakdown written in solely to fill out the running time and arriving at its gates just in time for the closing credits to roll. "The Distance" is a title that would adequately cover the last several installments of the series. Like them, it's yet another ep in which almost nothing of any substance actually happens and most of the running-time is taken up with filler.[3] This particular problem isn't as bad now as it was under Mazzara, to be sure, but the last three eps have been so packed with padding they could survive a reentry from space.

--j.

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[1] In the pre-credit sequence, Rick slugs the stranger--totally unprovoked and against a fellow who had already been disarmed and restrained by the others.

[2] Consistent with showrunner Scott Gimple's apparent biases regarding the characters, Rick was being a dick tonight, while Michonne was the voice of reason.

[3] A complaint that has recently started rearing its head again among TWD internet fans is the assertion that AMC is starting to pack a lot more ads into the episodes. On one board this week, a poster insisted to me that AMC was running so many ads that TWD's running time without them was down to about half an hour! TWD, of course, runs 42-43 minutes a week sans ads, just as it always has. This complaint always starts turning up when the series starts piling on so much padding. Because so little is actually happening on screen between them, the commercial breaks begin to seem overbearing.

4 comments:

  1. I thought it was hilarious that glen fixed the rv like they could have just asked the dude from alexandria.. that scene was gut wwrenchinly pointless.

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  2. I'd say it was better than the last two weeks, though that isn't saying a whole hell of a lot.. They certainly went a bit to far with Rick being a paranoid dick.. In the comic he also punched Aaron out if I remember correct, after that an interrogation ensued which was enough, nothing over-the-top really.

    One thing I thought about when watching was the refuting of Glenn's "character development" the past few episodes. I seem to recall Glenn talking with Rick about how he doesn't trust strangers anymore and would kill Dawn on sight and not let the prisoner at Terminus out of the container. This episode seem to refute all this development and put Glenn back by a couple of episodes(" know what I said, but it does matter" blabla). Not that I liked this development or anything but it seems a waste if they're just gonna throw it out of the window 2 episodes later just because the plot calls for it.

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  3. Filler? On The Walking Dead? I always thought those 3 minute music-video montages of people doing nothing in particular were totally legit artistic expressions of whatever. The feelings man, can't you just appreciate the feelings?

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  4. I couldn't agree more. The distance has been my tolerance for this show's willingness to do whatever it can to have characters talking in Malick narratives.

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