Sunday, February 17, 2013


Another week brings yet another weak installment of AMC's dreary melodrama of the deadly dull dead and of the zombies who crave them.

"Home" opens in the aftermath of last week's protracted, episode-long retreat from Woodbury, and, until the last few moments, most of it is merely filler, just like last week. Just like every week.

While Rick, completely out of his mind, is beating the bushes around the prison for the ghost of his awful wife, Glenn is, with very limited success, trying to step up and take a leadership role. The group recognizes a strike-force from Woodbury will almost certainly be descending on them at any moment, but no one besides Glenn seems very interested in doing anything about it. Hershel suggests packing up and running, a very bad idea that is immediately vetoed. Glenn suggests a better one--returning, with Michonne, to Woodbury to assassinate GINO. Hershel objects and the notion is abandoned almost immediately. Neither the very real threat they face nor Glenn's harping on it ever manage to inspire any real sense of urgency. Glenn rhetorically bellows "Who's on watch?" As he'd realized, no one is, and, as the episode continues, no one bothers to take the watch, either. While Glenn and Carl inspect the prison interior in an effort to find the source of a breach, everyone just sort of stands around, metaphorical thumbs buried in metaphorical orifices. When he returns, he assigns Carol and Axel to setting up some barricades, which they do in a leisurely manner that suggests they couldn't possibly care less. Still trying to nail down that breach in the prison, Glenn picks Maggie to ride shotgun on his recon of the perimeter. She can't be bothered, though, because she's busy pretending as if his being furious over what happened to her is some sort of thing at which she should take offense.

In the comic, the Governor had sexually tortured Michonne in a very brutal and sadistic manner, and when, a few episodes ago, his television counterpart had Maggie peel off her shirt and bend over a table, it looked as if this scenario was about to be played out with Maggie as substitute. But this is the kinder, gentler Governor In Name Only of television, and when he saw he probably wouldn't get what he wanted that way, he backed off. Maggie wasn't raped, tortured, or harmed in any way. At the time, this drew a lot of raspberries from some viewers, fruit that was countered by others who said those throwing it seemed to want a rape to happen. It was good, said the latter, that we didn't have to endure such a horror which would be too awful for a television audience. As the last two eps have demonstrated, the gang behind TWD has decided they want it both ways--to not have Maggie raped (a move dictated by the series' viewer demographics), and, at the same time, to have her act as if she suffers the psychological scars of a rape victim. In practice, this played out, this week, as Glenn needing Maggie's help on a matter crucial to their survival, and her angrily slapping him away and refusing to lend a hand because GINO saw her breasts.


GINO's attack finally comes, right at the end, and no one is prepared for anything. The first shot takes out Axel, a designated red-shirt. As usual on TWD, his death was noisily telegraphed; after being essentially a background character since his introduction, he suddenly had a lot of dialogue aimed at endearing him to the audience. What follows is the most ludicrous gunfight since THE A-TEAM was cancelled--a dozen people firing fully automatic weapons at one another for an extended period and no one hitting anyone. GINO and his thugs don't even bother to take cover. With no one on watch, one of them manages to waltz right into the prison and take one of the towers (he becomes the only other casualty of the affair). Conscientious viewers may wonder why our heroes, who can, at any other time, so unerringly score one head-shot after another, suddenly can't hit anything, but they will no doubt be dismissed by the harder-core fans of TWD as nitpickers. GINO has the prison gates crashed by a truck full of zombies, and, as the rotting critters pile out, he leaves, seeming pleased with his little show of force. If he was confused by the fact that his men, who had so efficiently liquidated a National Guard unit earlier in the season with barely a missed shot, had proven themselves such incompetent marksmen, it didn't show through his smile.

And that was "Home." I may make it sound tedious, but I can't make it sound tedious enough.



[1] While Maggie was busy not being bothered to help with this crucial matter, she did take the time to have a second Lifetime movie moment in feeding the baby.


  1. Two words for the show: Depressingly cheap.

  2. why would the gino just leave, if he stayed for 5 minutes more rick and crew would be dead. thanks for these reviews you have helped me realize twd pisses me off more than entertains me and i'm done with it.

  3. Spot on as always.

    Axel's death this episode really pisses me off. He hasn't been allowed to do anything all season long. Then he finally gets some dialogue and we realize that Lew Temple has a lot to contribute as an actor on the show. He has genuine chemistry with Carol that could have been interesting to watch play out. But the second he becomes remotely interesting (and Carol by proxy) that promise is taken away in favor of a "shocking moment" that was telegraphed from miles away.

    That sort of tactic works if used sparingly. But TWD doesn't have any other tricks. It goes to that well over and over again. Why should the audience care about ANY of the two dimensional characters on the show? You can count on them taking a bullet to the head the second they say anything remotely interesting. And there will be two two-dimensional characters waiting in the wings to take their place.

    I am equally annoyed by the way Glenn is being portrayed here. Like you pointed out, the show is trying to have it's cake and eat it too by making it very clear that Maggie wasn't raped but having everyone react as though she was.

    And then Glenn gets the Shane treatment. He is the only one who is acting with any urgency. But he does it with a bad attitude to show the audience we should disapprove. But frankly, the rest of the crew deserves to be mowed down by the Gov (in name only) and chewed up by zombies. They don't behave as though they want to live.

  4. For me, this was the single most frustrating episode of the entire series, and given some of the previous work from season 2, I'm trying to understand why.

    The characters, especially the women, have always been put through the instant-drama machine when needed, but this occurred so many times this week that it finally reached toxic levels for me.

    There is no rational reason for Maggie to react the way she did towards Glen--she even seems to acknowledge it, right before she hissy-slaps him away, in some kind of bizarre self-aware commentary.

    There is no rational reason for Rick to have access to firearms, the keys to the prison gates, or even his shoelaces at the moment, yet the opening 4 minutes show Michonne watching Rick chase after a hallucination with a puzzled look on her face, like she just realized that something....possibly...might be wrong....with Rick? But let him keep that assault rifle.

    There is no rational reason for Hershel to try to talk Rick into coming back into the prison, like he's speaking to a man who's in control of his mental state. If they don't want to chance physically subduing Rick, fine--that has tremendous risk--but Hershel continues to look genuinely puzzled when Rick can't come up with an actual reason for his walkabout outside the prison.

    There is no rational reason for anyone in the group to not consider the Governor an immediate threat. One small--and I mean micro--nod to sanity is shown when Michonne FINALLY speaks more than 4 words in a row, and actually agrees with Glenn that the Governor will be coming to kill them all. But yeah, then they forget about all of that, with Carol self-righteously declaring that "we're not assassins!"

    Indeed: killing an obvious manic before he slaughters your entire group can only be seen as an assassination, with no grounds for considering it guiltless self-defense, and the argument is dropped.

    And Andrea--poor, sweet, stupid, stupid Andrea. I honestly don't think there's been more of a character assassination on any drama I've ever seen. Even Skyler White has the excuse of discovering her hubby is a meth dealer. Thousands of people have already detailed her idiocy, but I just found it particularly harsh this week, not sure why. It could just be that horrible, slack-jawed look of hostile confusion they force the actress to do. That they can consistently transform such an attractive woman into that caricature is almost an accomplishment of its own.

    And Woodbury has always bothered me, but everything about it just hit home this week for some reason. I hate that Andrea is the only main character that the show accesses Woodbury through (apart from the brief capture of Maggie and Glen and their rescue), I hate the ridiculous town folk that oscillate between meek villagers who can't fend for themselves to a rabid mob that enjoys arena death matches, and I hate how the town looks: one long street with homes and shops in equal measure, dead-ending right up against the woods. I don't know if that's a real location they shoot at, but it has the look and feel of an obvious film set, or one of those "towns" that they train FBI agents to shoot paper targets in, and I hate how much time the series has spent there in season 3.

    Most of all, I guess I hated this episode because of the brief flashes of quality it shows, making the whole experience more painful in comparison. The drama between Merle and Daryl is a result of defined, consistent characters clashing against each other, and so it's interesting (and Michael Rooker is awesome).

    Maggie against Glen, Andrea against the Governor, Rick against Hershel, and the whole group against Glen are examples of drama that wouldn't happen if the characters acted consistently or intelligently, and there was so much of it this week that it poisoned the well for me.

  5. @Lebeau, this--"They don't behave as though they want to live"--really sums it up. In a competently written series, last week's leisurely trip back to the prison would have been a mad dash, and everyone would have been rushing to get ready for an attack from the moment the returning characters burst through the doors until it, in fact, came.

    Maggie's behavior in this context is absolutely inexcusable. They're all under the threat of death that could descend on them at any moment, and she takes the time to pitch a fit and make it very clear she's not going to do anything at all to help because she's "traumatized" by a rape that never even occurred, and angry at Glenn for being sympathetic.

    This kind of Lifetime movie moment (and her later one with the baby) is the sort of thing TWD does that always grates on me, because it's always so insanely out of place that one can see the cynical carpentry in every frame of it--these are elements that are gratuitously inserted in order to service that Lifetime viewer demographic. They have absolutely nothing to do with the story being told or with storytelling in general.

    It worked, too. When I posted my review in another forum, a handful of less-than-sharp representatives of that Lifetime demographic turned up to staunchly defend Maggie's behavior and inform me that I obviously knew nothing about the effect a sexual assault can have on a woman. If it wasn't such a grim subject, that particular assertion would be hilarious, but those making it would have to know me to know the degree of foolishness they'd exhibited.

    @John, as I see it, all but one of your points are mostly rock-solid. I'd cut TWD some slack on Hershel talking to Rick. That doesn't seem like a foul to me.

    Something you've pinned and about which I sort of wish I'd written this week is that what we're seeing in the last few eps is TWD's habit of arbitrarily-imposed melodrama finally exposing itself in a really blatant, nowhere-to-run-or-hide way, to such an extent that it's even turning off a lot of the fans. TWD's creators have written the series in this way for ages, now. In the past, I've written about it at great length. Nothing on TWD proceeds organically. There are no characters on the show, properly speaking. There are just names played by actors, and the writers make of them whatever the week's plot requires, without any regard for whether it contradicts who they were last week or will be the next week. The series is written in this way every week, and it doesn't make a dent in the ratings, but the last two eps seem to be grating on even TWD's big fans, the ones who try to rationalize nearly anything that happens on it. Those eps aren't doing anything TWD hasn't done since at least the beginning of the second season, nor are they any worse than most of what TWD has done in that time. I think what's happening, though, is that the formula has been done to such death that it's starting to wear on even the fans. You're quite correct in identifying the Dixon brothers material as, mostly, exceptional, and you get right the reason for this, as well. With the exception of some of the inanities of their little action sequence, their material could have been extracted from the ep and it was so different from everything else, so out-of-character for TWD, that it doesn't appear to belong on TWD at all.

  6. Someone needs to send this spot-on review to Kirkman.