Monday, March 26, 2018

The Stupids Send THE WALKING DEAD Astray Again

Deadlier and more prolific than the zombie virus, the Stupids continued to plague THE WALKING DEAD tonight. Simon leads the Saviors to attack Hilltop with no guns, just a few bows and a bunch of melee weapons. Last week, regarding this plan, I asked,

"How, exactly, are the Saviors, who are supposed to be getting low on ammo, ever going to get close enough to cut people barricaded in a walled fortress on a, yes, hilltop, particularly given that those people have guns--fully automatic weapons--to keep any attackers well at bay?"

Tonight, we got the answer: Hilltop, infected by the Stupids, just opens the gate and lets the Saviors in. When the Savior force arrives at its objective, some spike-strips placed on the road take out the tires on their lead vehicles, so they stop within easy range of the fortress to remove these obstacles. It's dark but they're lit by their own headlines--sitting ducks--yet the Hilltoppers don't fire on them, just lets them mill about. At this point, they can be turned to Swiss cheese before they even get to the gate--there's absolutely no way they're getting inside, and no way they can lay siege to the place either. If they stay there, they can be shot down at Hilltop's leisure. They've brought knives to a gunfight and that's that. Fortunately for them--and for the ep's running time--the writers haven't yet filled their contractually-obligated quota of moments during the season when Daryl is supposed to be made to look cool. Returning from lookout duty on his motorcycle, Daryl drives right through the middle of the enemy force, shooting them down as he goes. Hilltop opens the gates to let him in and just lets the Saviors roll right on through too.

As embarrassingly Stupid as this looks, it gets instantly worse: it turns out this was Maggie's plan all along. She has people waiting to ambush them as they come in.[1] The Hilltoppers, who probably outnumber the Saviors, are armed with fully-automatic weapons. Only on TWD can this be anything other than a one-sided massacre that lasts a few seconds but, the Spirit of Stupid having descended, the Saviors somehow make a hard fight of it. At one point, Hilltop's defenders are even forced to retreat into their Big House. The Saviors approach the house by walking straight up through the yard, right in the open with no cover. Hilltop is waiting--they light the yard and open up on them from the windows. Again, something that should be a one-sided massacre (when, earlier in the season, the Kingdom's forces were caught in a similar situation facing only one machine gun, they were all killed). The Saviors are sent fleeing toward the front gate but just at that moment, Rick arrives with the rest of the lookouts and the Saviors are caught with guns at their backs, guns at their front and no avenue of escape.

Game over, right?

Well, no, because maybe half a dozen Saviors just dive behind the Hilltop defensive wall on one side of the gateway. The returning lookouts, who are within spitting distance and couldn't possibly have missed this maneuver, just walk right past them. The Saviors run out the gate, get in a pair of vehicles and drive away. Rick and Maggie shoot at them as they flee but neither Rick nor Maggie nor anyone else jumps in vehicles, runs them down and finishes them off. Hey, there are still three more episodes to fill.[2]

Still, nearly the entire Savior fighting force was wiped out. Throughout this season, the Saviors have displayed a remarkable respawning ability; regenerating at the whim of the writers. The attacks on their outposts in the first half of the season should have reduced their numbers to the point that they didn't have the manpower to cause all the trouble they have since. In these last two eps, the Saviors threw their remaining fighters at Hilltop and lost badly. This should be the end of the war, an ordeal that has dragged on for two and a half seasons now, but there's no acknowledgement of this by anyone, no cheering, no celebrating. The tone remains as dreary as ever. Carol and Tobin have one of those cliche conversations about what Carol will do after the war in over, as if it wasn't. To get in some mixed signals, Rick takes the boards off the window of the Hilltop Big House, as if it is over.

In the night, the Stupids come again. The Saviors' weapons were coated in zombie grue and everyone they cut begins to zombify, rising from their beds and going off in search of people to eat. They growl and grunt and are none too quiet but even as they start killing people, their noise doesn't disturb the sleep of anyone.[3] One of them even falls down the very long staircase in the Big House with what looks like most of Hilltop's population sleeping at the bottom. No one so much as stirs.

The zombies who are in the medical trailers have to cross the yard and get inside the house to cause their mayhem. They're able to do so because yet again, Hilltop has no watchmen posted. This was an issue last season, when the lack of watchmen meant the Saviors were able to wreak all sorts of impossible havoc on Hilltop's grounds, and, as usual, our heroes haven't learned a thing since. With a war that may still be ongoing and a pen of dangerous prisoners in the yard, there isn't a single guard on duty, no one keeping a watch.

Speaking of those prisoners, they're in a crude, hastily-constructed pen. Anyone in it could easily slip out of it. They've only credibly remained there because of the presence of guards, which makes the complete absence of guards here even more egregious. As the zombies begin to rise, the brat Henry goes down to the prisoner pen with a rifle and demands to know which of the Saviors there killed his brother. Last week, Morgan told him the now-deceased Gavin had done so and there's no reason the boy wouldn't believe that but the Stupids are upon him too; he drops in on the prisoners and threatens to begin randomly shooting them if they don't identify the murderer. Henry can do this from outside the pen just fine but even as audible mayhem erupts in the house, the boy, who doesn't seem terribly interested in what may be happening to his friends inside, unlocks the pen and steps into it. As could be expected, he's then easily tackled and many of the Saviors escape.

As with the previous ep, the Stupids claimed everything this week.

--j.

---

[1] Throughout TWD, Rick has been presented as an absolutely wretched leader but because the writers have wanted him to remain the leader, they've compensated by having all the characters gratuitously praise his leadership. Tonight, they did the same with Maggie. There's no way to characterize her plan for unnecessarily allowing the Saviors inside her fortress as anything other than utterly idiotic, a thing that got people needlessly killed, so the writers have multiple characters come up to her after the fight to praise her great leadership skills, to the point that it begins to look really awkward.

[2] During the course of the fighting, Savior turncoat Dwight, who wants to help our heroes win, is running around behind Simon conspicuously failing to kill him or even trying to do so, for no reason other than that the writers decree it. Both he and Simon are with the small group who escape.

[3] Except for one fellow who, assigned the duty of watching over two seriously wounded people in a world in which people who die return as flesh-eating monsters, lays down between them and goes to sleep.


Email: jriddlecult@gmail.com
Twitter: @jriddlecult

4 comments:

  1. Amusingly, Henry, the Stupid child, is played by Madison Lintz's little brother. As you probably remember, Madison Lintz played Sophia, the original Stupid child of The Walking Dead.

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  2. I don't think guys like William Shakespeare or Ernest Hemingway could have described just HOW goddamn stupid this episode was, I don't think the proper words, or combination thereof, actually exist to do so anyway.

    Good job on enumerating the absolute plethora of idiotic activity jam-packed into this episode, the only thing I can possibly add is that the Saviors were shown bristling with firearms while on the way to the Hilltop, if memory serves.

    But that's neither here nor there. Nope, what is relevant here, in humble opinion anyway, is that this episode ranks up there among the MOST STUPID episodes ever. It may even be THE most stupid. Quite a bold statement, I know. Consider some of the doozies in the past; there's Rick's ingenious 'let's-lead-the-zombies-out-of-the-quarry' plan, Carol's 'I-can't-kill-anymore-so-I'm-leaving-to-go-live-in-the-wasteland-where-I'll-have-to-kill-all-the-time' nonsense, the episode where Rick and some other guy jump into a bullet-riddled boat to paddle across a zombie pond instead of just walking around,...etc...etc...the list goes on and on...

    But for a sheer continuously high stupid-per-minute rate, I hereby posit this episode The Most Stupid Ever.

    J-Rid, you're vastly more knowledgeable of this series so I ask you, does this outlandish claim hold water? Is there another episode even more stupid? If so, I'm all ears...

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    Replies
    1. I don't know. The depths of the idiocy of both this and the previous ep are certainly profound but on that count, it's hard to top season 3, which was just one stupid ep after another.

      Hershel, who was their most valuable human resource at the time, loses his leg, the team recognize that if he is to have any chance of survival, they need to locate the prison infirmary and get the supplies they need to deal with it, then they all just sort of stand around, no one doing a thing toward that end. Most of the men decide to go help the prisoners clean out a new place to sleep while the women stand around making sad faces and servicing viewer demographics. Neither of Hershel's own daughters go look for the infirmary nor make any case for anyone else doing so. Maggie tells Hershel it's ok if he wants to just die! It's up to Coral to go off on his own and find the infirmary, and he's then condemned by his awful mother for doing so.

      Later, one of the prisoners, who was previously eaten by the dead, turns up alive again, opens the prison to zombies he leads into it then sets off the prison horns to lure the creatures in from miles around to overrun the prison and kill our heroes, so that he and the other prisoners, who would also be killed in this onslaught, could retake the facility, which he calls their "home."

      Rick had barely spoken to his awful wife for over 8 months but when she dies, he's so completely devastate by this loss--the loss of a woman he had emotionally abandoned long ago--that he goes stark raving insane. With the prison overrun by zombies, most of the gates and doors opened by that prisoner presumably still standing open for every new creature that shuffles along, a potential army of the those dead maybe on the way (thanks to those prison horns), their leader out of his mind and Carol missing, Daryl, all of the able-bodied adults immediately decide their most pressing priority is to make a run into the outside world to try to find baby formula, leaving the baby about whom they're so concerned in their now zombie-overrun home in the care of a crippled old man (who is stuck in the yard and can't even sit down or get out of the sun), a lunatic, a child and two unarmed former prisoners they don't even trust. Glenn ultimately stays behind only because Daryl can't fit three people on his motorcycle. Why is it so important to immediately go out and find formula for baby? Well, we're told that in nine months of pregnancy, neither Lori nor anyone else had been been able to acquire any. Maggie and Daryl find it in the first play they look. Glenn slaves away in the hot sun to dig three graves, two of which are then just filled in, as there are no bodies to put in them.

      And so on. Every ep that season was just like these eps are now.

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  3. If they kill Rick I'm done with this show know that,I been watching since the pilot &I'm not the only one,so if that what it is rewrite that shit!

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