Monday, November 11, 2013

Another Turn of the WALKING DEAD Worm

...and then, out of nowhere, THE WALKING DEAD came roaring back again. After two extremely limp episodes, the Gimple Gang down their picker-uppers and come back hard with a mostly-keeper of a tale called "Internment." It's not a full-blown classic, but with the exception of the lamer elements, it's just where a passably good ep of TWD should be. Which, of course, means it looks great by TWD standards.

Those lamer elements are some Mazzara-era inanities that plague the ep, almost all of them in the first act. Filler material, most of it of a melodramatic nature featuring Hershel as he tends to the many afflicted by the mysterious virus. It doesn't add anything to what's to come except running time and to redundantly set up what the previous episodes have already set up. Ten minutes in, Rick arrives back at the prison from his ditch-Carol trip, and Maggie is standing alone inside the fence spearing zombies congregated in a huge herd immediately outside it and pressing into it. It's a great, startling image; a much bigger group of monsters than nearly took out the fence three eps ago, and as Rick jumps out of his vehicle, that's exactly what Maggie tells him. This is, by any serious estimation, a dire matter, requiring immediate attention. Incredibly, Rick basically tells her he'll get to it afterwhile, and goes off to have conversations with Carl and Hershel! Telling Hershel what happened with Carol is deemed to be more important than this. The tale stays with Hershel for a time, as well, further killing the tension that should be building over the situation at the fence.

Nearly a quarter of the episode passes before Rick gets back to Maggie. From that point forward, it's full steam ahead, and quite entertaining television, but why are the idiocies and the wasteful, inane filler there at all? Why can't TWD finally just flush this goddamn shit for good and live up to the quality show it is through the rest of this episode? These are vexing questions.[1]

The rest of the ep is a very fast-paced, suspenseful horror tale. Night has fallen, and Rick, who has been trying to keep Carl out of action, is forced to recruit the boy to help buttress the fence. But the seemingly endless wave of zombies continue pressing forward, and soon, the makeshift reinforcements give way and the dread horde comes streaming on to the prison grounds. Rick breaks out the automatic weapons, reluctantly passes one over to Carl, and the two prepare to make what could be a last stand. Meanwhile, inside the quarantined cell-block inside the prison, Hershel is the lone healthy leg in an isolated cell-block full of people on their last ones, doing all he can to keep the rest--including Glenn--alive until the mission to find meds can return. When his patients die, they reanimate, and with a string of deaths, this quickly gets out of hand. All of this is pure gold. Hershel--one-legged, exhausted, and well past his zombie-fighting prime--stumbles around in the dark trying to deal with an increasingly confusing horror show around him that goes from bad to worse then worse some more.

I like to see TWD done well, and except for that Mazzara-esque rot, that's what this was. I don't know what it will take for the series to finally rid itself of Mazzara-ism once and for all. A tub of Ex-Lax, maybe? An injection of penicillin? Perhaps an exorcist could be engaged, I don't know, but I certainly wish someone behind its scenes would look into it and see it done. Even with the warts on this mostly solid production, I'd normally still be looking forward to the next week's installment, but tonight's last note was unfortunately also given over to a particularly bad bit of Mazzara-ism: a shot of GINO standing outside the fence, watching our heroes clean up, followed by a preview of next week that seems to promise a GINO-centered ep. I suspect most viewers will greet the prospect of this characters' return with the same delighted anticipation they'd offer a return of the bubonic plague.

I, however, am not as delighted as they are.



[1] How much filler and idiocy have we had in recent weeks? After the inane bits of tonight's ep, it felt as if TWD had picked up the ball where it was left after the second ep. One could, in fact, almost just pick up the relevant parts of the first few minutes of the third ep (the decision to dispatch the team in search of meds), stitch them together with tonight's ep, minus the inanities, and it would be like a direct continuation that wouldn't lose anything that mattered, except the revelation that Carol was the killer (which would be good to lose), and her fate. Not seeing the mission to retrieve the meds would be, dramatically speaking, somewhat unsatisfying, but nowhere near as unsatisfying as that mission as it was presented.


  1. My sentiments exactly! A slow start, but a bang of a second half. The last 35 minutes is every thing this show should be about, survival in an impossible world. Then they had to go and ruin everything with that damned pan shot to GINO standing there.

    They couldn't even let us have hope for one week of this show possibly fulfilling everything it could be without telegraphing the boringness to come. I really hoped that Gimble would just forget about that cartoon villain and let him fade from our memories. Now we have weeks of GINO, twirling his handlebar mustache and laughing while he ties Maggie to the railroad tracks. Probably inundated with more uneventful one hour meetings between Rock and GINO sharing a bottle.

    At least I have ample warning of the snoozefest to come and not get my hopes up for next week. The zombies will again become a minor inconvenience as all attention focuses on GINO and his dastardly plans. I only hope that they kill GINO at the end of the next episode, rather than milk out his adventures for the rest of the season.

    Are we supposed to believe that surviving as a loner in a world full of zombies and disease is so easy for GINO, that he has plenty of time to concentrate on getting revenge on these people? This is why GINO make the entire show a cartoon. He seemingly hasn't a care in the world except repeatedly trying to torture or kill Rick's group. It changes the whole dynamic of the show.

    Thanks for the honest review. Too bad the goodness can't last. We already know that anything with GINO will suck royally. Why did they bring him back?

  2. In a recent interview

    Scott gimple says he was sick of the governor and tired of focusing the entire season on him. Saying he doesnt want a retread of season 3. Yes the last shot was cheesy as hell with him standing in the open but I can forgive that if he gimple is serious about making him a better character

  3. Hey cinemaarchologist.

    Did you ever watch deep space nine. Ever since they showed up at the prison I keep thinking about the two shows. They did a good job of showing a group of characters living in a static location having a mix of stories involving the station and ones where the venture out. You think the prison would have worked if instead of showing a 'month in the life' of the prison they showed a years worth. With individual stories each episode and central story arcs spread across the season. Ive also compared gul dukats transition from political enemy to full blown crazy nemisis. Now thats how you build a villian. The walking dead tv show could learn a lesson. One more thing I wonder what roger moore could of done with this show?

  4. Yeah, I was wondering what lesson James Bond could bring to TWD. ;) I never saw much of DS9 beyond parts of its first season. I wasn't a fan. I don't know where it went after.

    The interview with the Hollywood Reporter is with Robert Kirkman. I don't doubt Gimple said those things, but Kirkman has a long history of getting things badly wrong in his comments about upcoming events on tv TWD; it suggests he's only minimally involved with it. I don't want to see GINO anymore. Not at all. He's a living reminder of both the abomination that was TWD under Mazzara, and how that abomination raped and destroyed one of the best storylines of the comic.

    That interview did reveal something interesting, if it's accurate (which can be a big caveat): Kirkman asserts there was never any plan to kill GINO at the end of season 3. If true, it means all of the rubbish that preceded it--the stuff TWD's fans insisted, in real time, was building up to a conclusion--never really had any conclusion in mind at all.

  5. How to handle GINO's return (if he simply must return): The next ep, episode 6, begins three seconds after that last shot from ep 5. GINO is standing outside the prison. Then, he's being spied in a scope. It's Maggie. She's in one of the guard-towers with, say, Daryl. Seeing him, she pulls back away from the scope, looking wide-eyed.

    "Holy shit!"

    "What is it?"

    "I think it's... GINO!"

    "What? Where?"

    "Down there!"

    "You sure?"

    "Pretty sure!"

    "What's he doing?"

    "Just standing there."

    "Well... shoot that motherfucker!"

    "Yeah." She takes aim.

    Back down on the ground, GINO has a big self-satisfied smile. He's been checking out the prison and chuckles to himself, in his best imitation of Liam Neeson: "Looks like it's gonna' be a cakewa..." And then his head explodes.

    Back in the tower, Daryl: "Did you get 'im?"

    "I think so." She looks through the scope, sees the corpse. "I think I did!" Looks up with one of those beaming, excited-Maggie looks.



    YEAH!" They high-five. The opening credits begin.

    And no one mentions GINO again.

  6. I've read all of your reviews. Your writing is flawless. Some of the best review writing I've seen on the internet; it's simple yet articulates your opinion perfectly.

  7. Well, thanks. I don't think I've been anywhere near my best the last few weeks, but I keep banging away at it.

    1. Why only focus on the walking dead. Dont you like other shows. Your reviews are entertaining but seems odd you dont have any other shows you follow

  8. What's worse is that I actually follow a few shows now, and they're quite good--mostly a movie guy, I've seen more tv in the last few years than I had in the previous 20--but I've barely even mentioned them here. Not even a single article about BREAKING BAD.