Monday, November 17, 2014

WALKING DEAD Consumed By The Soap

Not a lot to say about tonight's TWD that I haven't said about innumerable eps of TWD already. The thing that has struck me most about tonight's storyline is the extent to which the plot is being driven entirely by an accumulation of absolutely ridiculous, galactic-scale coincidences. "Consumed" follows up on the end of "Strangers," wherein Carol and Daryl found themselves hot on the trail of the people who have taken Beth merely because, of all the roads in Georgia, the vehicle that took Beth came down theirs, and not only did they just happen to be standing there in the middle of the night to see it pass but it just so happened that Carol had just put an automobile in running order so they could pursue.

Tonight, Daryl and Carol were in Atlanta and toward the end of the ep meet up with the fellow who, back in "Slabtown," had befriended Beth and then escaped the hospital at which they were both being held. "Slabtown," of course, had ended with an apparently injured Carol turning up at the hospital, but rather than having the escapee explain the m.o. of the hospital group and have Daryl and Carol use this info to infiltrate it--a really obvious course of action--Carol, instead, just runs out into the street and, coincidentally, right in front of the vehicle of the group they're tracking, a group that, again coincidentally, happens to be made up of people from a hospital who recover injured people. And having hit and injured her with their car, they take her with them. So the next phase of this storyline will also be dependent upon this accumulation of absurd coincidences.


That this was an entire ep built around Daryl and Carol meant it could have been used to better delineate and develop their often poorly defined relationship, but as so often happens with TWD, it's all just drowned in the soap, the dialogue mostly being standard-issue anti-naturalistic crap--talking about how they have to start over instead of actually starting over; Carol going on and on trying to justify herself instead of just being herself (a lot of her dialogue in this vein is like a thinly rewritten version of her script from last season's "Indifference"). An entirely wasted opportunity that gave the impression Carol was being set up, in typical TWD telegraph-it-from-a-mile-away fashion, to die. Perhaps that will prove to be a final galactic-scale coincidence and Carol will, instead, make it.


ADDENDUM (17 Nov., 2014) - I noted that Carol seemed to be reading "a thinly rewritten version of her script from last season's 'Indifference.'" Regular reader "The Joesen One"noted that Matthew Negrete, the co-writer-of-record on this ep (along with Corey Reed), was the writer of record on "Indifference." That I failed to realize this, even as I noted the cloning, means I've probably been writing about TWD way too long.

ADDENDUM (18 Nov., 2014) - To follow up on my WALKING DEAD vs. Z NATION article, ZN topped itself again this week, delivering one of its best eps. While TWD built yet another practically-nothing-happens episode around outrageous coincidences and reperforming a lousy script from last season, ZN offered up an hilarious tale in which our heroes have to stop a nuclear plant meltdown, full of funny references and great dialogue. ZN has a quarter of the budget of TWD but delivers a show so much better that everyone involved in TWD should be ashamed of themselves.


  1. I have to agree with you, again. I wanted to like this episode. I really did. The opening seemed promising and the first few minutes with them in the car following the police was fine. I did enjoy the change of setting and the threat of walkers throughout this story. I was hopefully anticipating an above average episode and I honestly would've been able to overlook the gaping coincidental flaws if the interaction between Daryl and Carol as you mentioned had been handled naturally and realistically. Alas, though it looks like the writers have let us down once again.

    And on other note....are they trying to input more humor into the show? I will admit that the falling walker scene got a chuckle out of me. One previous episode showed Glen tripping over accidentally and then Gabriel joking that he was leading the gang into a trap.....

  2. "Indifference" writer Matt Negrete also penned this episode, so I'm not surprised. He's the go-to guy for calmer episodes, and his eps are inconsistent - "Inmates" and "Slabtown" were also co-penned by him. I actually liked "Slabtown" because it had a (somewhat) definite plot and conclusion despite its cliffhanger, unlike "Strangers" and, to some extent, "Self Help".

    I think the reason why there's slower eps this season is because they based it off their stronger episodes, such as "Clear" and "Days Gone Bye". Minimalist, dialogue heavy, anti-season 2 eps that focus on small groups. This is very evident this season, with mixed results. This is very risky, and based on many FB comments from several fansites I follow, many diehard fans are getting antsy. Lots of episodes this season are joint efforts from different writers (this one co-written by "Four Walls and a Roof" writer and new addition Corey Reed), which could be the reason of the several mixed results in the episodes. I think they're stretching this story hard by even adding the hospital threat to give allowance to the comics, which they're dangerously close to following.

    Gimple spoke in a Larry King Now interview that the show could become a zombie soap opera, which somehow excites him. Something to ponder.

    I have a feeling that next week's episode will be the S5 version of "When the Dead Come Knocking", as it's the penultimate episode of the midseason, and I've pretty sure that the action doesn't show up until the mid-finale. And based on recent rumors, Beth might die in the midseason finale, and if that happens, I'll be mighty pissed. This season is not on the level of the best of season 4, but it's still miles ahead of the Mazzara era.

  3. Sharp eyes on the Negrete thing, TJO--I put a notation about it in the original article (and feel rather dumb for having entirely missed it).

    It doesn't really take any effort to get miles ahead of the Mazzara era. Episodes like this week's are throwbacks to that period though; the weeds that continue to strangle TWD.

  4. This episode was so damn awful... Can it get worse, I wonder? Gimple wants to turn the show into a soap opera. I'm still going to watch all of season 5 to see how it turns out, but if it ends up being utter crap again then I think I will be done with TWD for good.

  5. Am I crazy, or was the van facing the opposite direction when Carol and Daryl first noticed it teetering precariously over the side of that bridge? Then again, continuity isn't really one of the show's strong points..!

  6. Once again I couldn't disagree more with you. At this point I feel like you are trying to stand out and look different from other web sites to attract readers. I also hate the way you use Soap Opera and Melodramatic to hate on episodes and on the show.

    Carol and Daryl both come from abused homes and find themselves in a shelter. They have been constantly trying to work through their problems they are having and Daryl is finally opening up to Carol about it. It was huge reveal that Daryl had the Child Abuse Recovery book.

    Have you ever met anyone who has been abused? It takes years to open up and years to accept it and move on. So just saying they are being melodramatic is lazy writing on your part. The show is trying to take real elements and incorporate a zombie filled world. Many people complain about the story in the show and its always about character building. As soon as someone dies people cheer and are like this show is the best. However if there is no character building the deaths wouldn't matter.

  7. @NinjaGhost, I don't use those words to "hate on episodes and on the show"; it's my contention that soap melodrama--low-grade melodrama--is incompatible with a quality TWD, and I've explained why many times. TWD is, in its original form, an open-ended character study of how the zombified world changes people over the long-term. You can't do that if you don't have characters, and soap melodrama--the genre in which TV TWD's creators have chosen to drop their show--doesn't. In a character-driven drama, the characters are conceived as fully-realized human beings (or as close to fully realized as possible) and the plot goes where it does because of who they are and where they would take it. When it comes to soap melodrama, on the other hand, the writers conceive a plot, one aimed at generating melodrama they can milk, then just arbitrarily impose a characterization that gets them to that point. Characterizations being dictated by momentary plot needs in this way is why, for example, we're up to the 7th entirely different version of Rick right now. None of his 7 characterizations flow from the others or are in any way consistent with them (except sometimes coincidentally); they're just pulled out of the air and imposed, with minimal overlap. Multiply this by every character and you have TWD. It's why the Greenes are shown to be close knit in one episode then, in the next, Maggie has no interest whatsoever in the fate of her sister.

    More broadly, the soap melodrama approach is why everyone on TWD talks to one another in proposterous, brutally anti-naturalistic pseudo-profound speeches. It's why everyone is written as being a moron at all times, and all plot progression is made dependent upon this. It's why the characters are so relentlessly anti-human.

    This shit is some of what was passed off as dialogue on this week's ep of TWD:

    "I don't think we get to save people anymore."


    "The reason I said we get to start over is because we gotta."


    "Who I was with him [Ed], she got burned away. And I was happy about that. I mean, not happy, but... And at the prison I got to be who I always thought I should be, thought I should've been, and then she got burned away. Everything now just consumes you."

    "Well, hey, we ain't ashes."


    Do I really need to point out that real people don't talk like this? This is melodrama. Crap. People making nonsensical speeches. Talk, talk, talking about starting over instead of just starting over. Violating the first rule of screenwriting: "Show, Don't Tell." It isn't "character building"; it's rubbish.

  8. And Anon, the van is probably hanging over the same side of the bridge, but there's an axis problem with the cinematography, an amateur error that makes it look as if it's hanging over one side in the shot through the scope and the other side in the shots on the bridge. When Daryl and Carol approached it, it should have been hanging off the side to their right instead of their left. Or it may actually be hanging off two different sides of the bridge, but I'm betting it's just an axis problem, the sort of utterly amateur thing you learn not to do in the first year of film school.

  9. "I'm a doctor, not a nuclear physicist."

    Great line.