Monday, November 5, 2012

The Killer Within THE WALKING DEAD Is The Writing

After last week's relatively leisurely installment, the creators of THE WALKING DEAD picked up the pace tonight, with "Killer Inside," another action-packed episode. Two episodes ago, a pair of inmates caused some trouble for Rick and the gang--Rick split the head of one with a machete, then chased the other into a zombie-filled prison yard. Through the door Rick slammed in his face, we heard the fellow's agonized screams as he was torn to pieces by the hungry dead, but this week, he apparently got better. Having reassembled himself and left the prison grounds, he finds a dead deer, and though zombies only eat the living or the flesh of the recently dead, he's able to use the meat to bait a bate of zombies back into the facility with the goal of having them overrun it and kill everyone so that he and some of his previously fellow inmates (who are also inside and would also be targeted by the flesh-eaters) can retake it for themselves.

No, it didn't make a damn bit of sense when watching it, either.[1]

What can you say? It's THE WALKING DEAD. Another ep that follows showrunner Glenn Mazzara's now-familiar prescription for the series' many problems: throw zombies at them, instead of doing anything to address them.

TWD is set in a world in which, theoretically, anyone should be able to die at any time, but it's played out on a mainstream tv show where, to quote myself, audiences "typically demand a stable cast of familiar characters." Utterly lacking the metaphorical equivalent of the viscera it sometimes displays, TWD employs a number of methods of getting around the need to leave the impression that anyone can die without actually killing any of the popular regulars. One is by setting up redshirts, who, though among the regulars, are given no real attention, aren't given much to do or say, and, consequently, have no real fan base to object if they are destroyed. Early in tonight's ep, the two remaining inmates, who, in "Sick," had been exiled to a separate cell-block, appear with a plea that they be allowed to join Rick's group. Rick's utterly unyielding--which is to say utterly un-Rick-like--resistance to this idea provides an opening for T-Dog to disagree, and to argue for letting the ex-cons join up. T-Dog has been TWD's longest-running redshirt, and those familiar with the series will have immediately recognized the telegraphed-by-a-mile death-sentence inherent in the fact that Rick suddenly wasn't Rick for the purpose of ham-handedly contriving a situation in which T-Dog was given something of significance to say tonight. And, indeed, in the conflagration that follows, T-Dog bites the dust.

Another way in which TWD kills regulars is to render them so odious to the viewing audience that they can be destroyed without causing much of an uproar. TWD may not be no comedy club, but most viewers probably applauded back in season 1 when the dead dined on Carol's abusive husband Ed.[2] Later, Shane was turned into a cartoon villain. After having Pscycho-Shane brutishly "solve" all of season 2's manufactured "moral dilemmas" while keeping the other regulars' hands clean, he could then be killed without anyone missing him very much. Lori is easily the most hated character on the series--the writers devoted nearly everything they did with her last season toward making her such, as a means of setting her up to be killed, and tonight, they dropped the hammer on her. Hypocritically, they tried, at the last minute, to give her some little hint of sympathy, having her suddenly pause, in the midst of a bloody, failing effort to give birth, to have a little Lifetime For Women melodrama with her son, before Maggie gutted her. This last is allegedly an effort to "save" the baby, but the procedure is carried out with the finesse of an angry Freddy Krueger--that baby is just fine afterwards is, to put it as kindly as possible, contrived.

Not, however, as contrived as Lori's instantaneous death upon being cut. Perhaps less than a full day after having his leg chopped off with an axe,[3] Hershel has apparently applied some of that patent TWD magic healing powder--he's up and hobbling around on a crutch, little apparent pain, and seems to be just fine--all fired up to "take a stroll."[4] That Lori received no magic powder for her far less serious wound suggests the other characters may have thought as little of her as do the viewers.

Over in Woodbury,Michonne took a closer look at one of the Guard trucks GINO and his men brought back to town after killing those manning it. She finds bullet-holes in it and fresh blood, contradicting GINO's account of what happened to the Guardsmen. Being on TWD, though, she immediately confronts GINO with this (!!!), but doesn't tell Andrea about either what she found or about the absolutely ludicrous explanations GINO offered her when confronted. No, when it comes to talking with Andrea, it's merely her "gut" that is telling her "something is off" about Woodbury and GINO. Every bit of forward momentum on TWD is made dependent upon everyone consistently being a complete idiot, and, the writers, being terminally untalented, constantly rehash everything. We're seeing played out, here, the scenario from last season wherein Andrea was in thrall to Shane, and Dale, while trying to warn against this, declined to share any of the significant evidence he'd amassed regarding Shane's growing madness, leaving his warning at bad feelings of his own. In the current rehash, Andrea is falling further under GINO's spell, continues to resist Michonne's efforts to leave, and Michonne, who has collected some evidence, declines to share it.
All together, another fast-paced but utterly stupid and tedious episode.



[1] When zombies invade the prison (let in by the fellow Rick allowed to be eaten two weeks ago), Rick immediately moves to blame the other inmates, the ones who had spent all day groveling in an effort to let him join their group, and who he'd locked out of the prison (though they'd stood at the front gate in plain sight since he'd done so).

[2] Though not everyone was pleased. Ed reportedly wasn't very happy about it, either.

[3] The ep doesn't say exactly how long it has been, but our heroes haven't even yet cleaned up the dead people they killed in "Sick," Lori, who was said to be already past her due-date, is still pregnant, and back in Woodbury, the blood of the Guardsmen killed by GINO in the previous episode is still fresh when Michonne finds it. If more than a day has passed, our heroes have basically sat around doing nothing after "Sick," and those Guardsman must have been chugging some serious anti-coagulants before they died.

[4] Last season, the magic powder healed Carl's gunshot wound to the abdomen in a little over 2 days, and, in merely a week, had so effectively healed Randall's hideous leg wound--a hole six or more inches wide through the leg, his calf severed--that he could hobble around on it and even break a zombie's arm with it.


  1. Good review, J! While fast paced, and pretty crazy, this still managed to be an unsatisfying episode. I know what you mean about certain characters not having much of a fan base before they are killed off, I wonder if the writers would ever feel cheeky enough to kill off a fan favorite like Daryl. I’m imagining that these decisions were made nonetheless to prevent things from ever becoming too static; to keep things controversial so the audience never gets bored.

    Interesting that there was a little of the classic whodunit murder mystery technique, where audiences’ suspicions are thrown off by having the guilty person be someone who was thought to be dead. We’ve seen this many times, mainly because it’s a trick that usually works, but in this case it was too unconvincing and nonsensical to have that much of an impact.

  2. on. This show is utter garbage with plot holes so big you can drive a semi truck through. I have to admit i watch it to laugh at it and it's stupid characters -- is that wrong?

  3. True words. This show can only be watched as unintentional comedy, cause if taken seriously it's shit.

  4. Pay no attention to thos anonymous insults, your work here is much appretiated.

    "Why do you analyze so much something that you hate?" Every critic in history must have heard that one at least once.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. What a nazi hypocritical pussy. You waste hours and hours nitpicking a successful television show, but the second someone points how meandering, pointless, and yes "melodramtic" your writing is, you delete. Noticed you left the comments praising you though. What a self-serving, starved for attention little nobody you are.

  6. I have been reading you blog , with interest, since last season. I started watching the Walking Dead from episode 1 and enjoyed the first season, since then the show has been on a deep downward spiral. I look forward each week to your reviews because they voice a true and honest critique of this show. Reading your blog is the only true entertainment I now have for The Walkin Dead.