This week's installment of TWD is called "Say The Word." The series invokes a few words. Awful. Stupid. Tedious. Embarrassing. In my reviews, I've used most of them, some until I'm as sick to death of them as I am of the series itself. "Melodrama" particularly wears on me now, the thing and the word. If, as it's said, a picture is worth a thousand words, any given minute of TWD--24 frames per second, at its present level of writing--would exhaust the best-stocked thesaurus in any human language.
Some words on "Say The Word":
Continuity. This week's ep begins right where last's left off. Lori is dead, T-Dog is dead, Carol is believed to be dead and there's a new baby now that needs to be fed. In an hilariously unconvincing effort to portray Rick as having fallen into a veritable abyss of grief over the death of his awful wife, Andrew Lincoln is insanely overacting. Wholly unconcerned with the fate of his newborn daughter, Rick grabs an axe and charges into the prison, intent on working out his misery on the dead still shuffling about within.
Intelligence. With the prison overrun by zombies, all the gates and doors opened by the villainous Andrew presumably still standing wide open for every new creature that shuffles along, their leader out of his mind and Carol missing, Daryl, Glenn and Maggie immediately decide their most pressing priority is to make a run into the outside world to try to find baby formula, leaving their now zombie-infested home in the hands of a child, a baby, a gimp, a lunatic 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, in nine months of pregnancy, neither Lori nor anyone else has bothered to acquire any.
Grief. Rick is so troubled by the loss of his pernicious paramour--the one he, toward, the end, didn't seem to like any more than did the viewers--that he seems to be hearing voices in his head. They tell him "Play the bad, b-movie ham actor's version of Going Completely Insane" and he simply must obey. Daryl, on the other hand, is so totally unconcerned with the disappearance of his lover that he immediately and enthusiastically elects to undertake the baby-food mission. He and Maggie find a supply, return and he has cutesy moments as he feeds the wee tyke and plies it with baby-talk. He shows no sign of being upset by Carol's possible death. He doesn't even show the slightest interest in her fate until the very last scene of the ep and then only to put a flower on her grave.
Holes. Before that, Glenn was sweating away in the hot sun, digging graves for his fallen comrades. The prisoners elect to give him a break and pitch in and between them, they scratch out the three Glenn says they need. Basic math, it would seem, is a problem for the writers, as our heroes actually only have two bodies to bury. Or do they?
Carol. Beside T-Dog's well-eaten corpse, our heroes found some cloth that was hers. It was bloody and, being the morons that pass for "characters" on TWD, they assumed this meant she was dead. There was no body. No one, not even Daryl, bothers searching for her. They just dig a grave for her then fill it back in with dirt. Or did they find her body and bury it, and the writers just didn't bother to tell the audience?
Baffling. That last wasn't the only example of strikingly incompetent storytelling. During his rampage through the prison, Rick comes upon the room in which Lori died. Her corpse, however, isn't there. Did the others already recover and bury the body? Did Carl fail to effectively brain-blast Lori and she now walks with the living dead? Is the fattened zombie Rick finds in the same room and kills supposed to have eaten Lori's corpse? Who knows? Certainly not TWD's viewers.
Rubbish. I think even those who mistake TWD's storytelling for compelling can figure out this one.
 Showrunner Glenn Mazzara
continues to throw zombies at the problems, instead of doing anything to
address them, banking on concealing them behind a faster pace. Rick goes on this random kill-fest and in the same ep, Michonne, over in Woodbury, finds GINO's stable of zombies and for no real reason at all turns them loose so she can slaughter them. Just as she finishes them off, she's discovered by the fellow coming to feed them. He's carrying a bucket of gore. Zombies only eat the living or the just-dead. Is it fresh human gore in that bucket? We aren't told but when Michonne insists to Andrea they have to leave Woodbury, she once again omits the detail, as she has every piece of evidence she's collected regarding Woodbury, and Andrea stays behind.
ADDENDUM (12 Nov., 2012) - Reading Lebeau, who also reviews TWD each week, reminded me that, on this ep, Andrea specifically says, to Michonne, "you need to give me more to go on." As Lebeau puts it, even at that prompting, "Michonne doesn’t mention any of the mounting evidence." I should probably start making notes during the eps!
ADDENDUM (14 Nov., 2012) - The series has been leaning more and more heavily on CGI gore, which looks awful on its best day, and has been looking really awful on TWD. The practical effects have suffered this season as well. Mazzara's pour-on-the-zombies approach is actually making things worse this season, because the effects crews are trying to do far too much with an inadequate budget and inadequate time. It makes the technical work--one of the only things TWD was still doing mostly right--into just as much a mess as everything else. Rick's rampage could be somewhat justified but Michonne's was entirely gratuitous and was obviously included for no other purpose than to add some zombie action to the episode. Cut out one (or both) and there would have been more time and money to do everything else right but because they're thrown in the mask the inadequacy of everything else, the show without them becomes dull and people would start to notice how awful it is.
 In the aftermath of Sophia's death back in season 2, Glenn was given the unenviable task of trying to convince the viewers, after the fact, that Sophia's death hit the group particularly hard. This was the writers' substitute for doing anything to make the viewers feel any attachment to Sophia before or during the time she was missing. This week, Glenn got the duty with T-Dog, revealing that, when the zombie apocalypse first broke, T drove his church's bus around helping out old people. He also tells us that T saved his ass a million times. Perhaps if the creators had shown one or two of those million times or if they had at any point treated T-Dog as more than a token redshirt, this wouldn't be necessary and wouldn't look so pathetic.
 UPDATE (12 Nov., 2012) - Actually, TWD's viewers noticed something I apparently didn't--a blood-trail leading from the site of Lori's body to that zombie. There isn't even a trace of Lori, so we're apparently to assume the others dug a grave then made absolutely no effort to recover the body (it was after dark by the time Rick entered the room where Lori died) and that porky zombie ate the whole of her, bones, clothes and all. ADDENDUM (13 Nov., 2012) - The episode's director, Greg Nicotero, has apparently confirmed that the zombie is supposed to have eaten Lori.