"JSS," tonight's episode of THE WALKING DEAD, focused on what was happening back at the safe zone while so many of its inhabitants were away on Rick's insane zombie-herding scheme. In the course of it, we get the source of the mysterious horn that, at the conclusion of the previous ep, began to attract the zombies toward the town.
It proves to be quite an "in the course of it" though.
of the first 15 of the eps 40-something minutes are merely soap and
filler. Scene after molasses-in-winter scene of absolutely no
consequence that could have and should have been left on the
cutting-room floor. At about the 15 minute-mark, Carol puts a dish in
the oven and sets a timer. It's tick-ticking away and she strolls over
to the window and sees her neighbor, with whom she'd been talking
earlier, having a smoke. Suddenly, a big machete-wielding pirate comes out of nowhere and
attacks and kills the woman! It's a big shock and the filmmaker in me
immediately recognized it as the scene that should have concluded the
cold opening of the episode--cut right from it to the opening title
sequence. TWD instead made viewers wade through a lot of pointless mush.
safe zone apparently has no one on look-out,[*] even after such a big deal
was made out of this last season and even after they know there's a hostile element in the area, and it's caught with britches down by
an attack by the "Wolves" group, piratical raiders who cut the letter w
into the foreheads of their prey. They don't have guns, only blades,
but most of the safe zone's more competent combatants are out herding
zombies and a lot of carnage follows. Carol, in order to maintain her
secret identity as a mild-mannered housewife, dons a mask, hood and a
long-coat that could certainly double for a cape and, no doubt in the
name of truth, justice and the American way, takes to kicking serious
ass. The mysterious horn is revealed to come from a truck the Wolves
were driving. The Alexandrian who apparently wasn't on look-out suddenly
is on duty and he shoots the driver as the truck barrels up. It crashed into the wall and its horn momentarily locked down.
tonight, I suspect a significant portion of the TWD fan
community that so long clamored for the return of Morgan may be feeling
as if they've been sold a lemon. Consistent with TWD's soap melodrama
model, Morgan, like all the other characters, has actually been several
characters over time, his characterization changed radically, repeatedly
and arbitrarily to suit the needs of the plot of the moment. At first,
he was a very take-no-nonsense regular guy; basically a good fellow but
if Rick was bitten or meant any harm, Morgan would have put him in the
ground without a second thought. When he appeared again (in season 3's "Clear"), he was completely out of his mind and actually did
try to kill Rick, Carl and Michonne. His third and most bizarre
incarnation is that of a peaceful, staff-wielding Jedi master, suddenly
proficient in martial arts.
It's becoming hard to see this as anything other than a big step down.
week, when Rick tried to let the incompetent Alexandrians handle some
zombies, Morgan 3.0 looked upon this with disapproval. Then when Rick had to
kill Carter to avoid derailing the herd and getting everyone killed,
one would have thought from Morgan's droopy visage that Rick had just
committed some sort of war crime. Tonight, Morgan returned to the safe
zone and took up the fight against the marauders but he's clearly
starring in the wrong comic. Battling subhuman Wily Wolves out to do nothing but
commit rape, murder, arson and rape, he's Merciful Morgan who doesn't
want to hurt anybody, suddenly doesn't seem to know what kind of world
in which he's living (though he's been living in it for, at this point, years) and while the Wolves are tearing the town apart and
carrying out their carnage, he constantly stops for long intervals and
tries to reason with them. After taking down one of them, he even ties
up the fellow! When Carol sees it, she has the right reply--she just
walks up and shoots the guy. She hands Morgan a gun, which he looks upon
as if she'd just handed him a day-old turd before passing it off to the
equally worthless Father Gabriel.
Morgan squares off
with the last several attackers. He gives them a pretty good beating but
he tells them to leave and never come back if they want to live, in a
scene that looks uncomfortably like he's siding with them over his
fellow Alexandrians. They finally get the hint and flee. Everyone knows
what happens on TWD when the characters don't properly deal with
situations like this. Not Merciful Morgan. He gets a lesson in it
moments later but all it does is make him look sullen and walk away, a
time-limit counter practically flashing across the back of his head. The
stupid is strong with this one.
An amusing running
sequence has to do with Coral holing up in order to protect Judith. He
manages, at one point, to save Pete's worthless son Ron from a Wolf but
nearly gets himself killed because of his moronic failure to put the guy
away. Then he immediately turns to Ron and, with deadly earnest, says
"Come inside--I can keep you safe." Yeah, I laughed. Ron, having just
witnessed Carl's proficiency in dealing with trouble, wisely passes.
for the incredible amount of padding and the offensively stupid take on
Morgan, this could have been a good ep. All the actual notes being hit
here, though, are quite stale indeed. TWD isn't doing anything new.[**] It
isn't doing anything interesting either.
[*] 19 Oct., 2015 - Some readers have objected that there is an alleged lookout on the wall, a fellow who gets torched at one point, but like the fellow who is later shown in the tower, he somehow missed the entire invasion. He's killed by molotov cocktails chucked from inside the town, where people are already being audibly killed while he remains oblivious. A TWD "lookout" who never sees anything is the same as no lookout.
[**] 19 Oct., 2015 - Further underlining this point, reader "Wolverine Smith" notes that "This episode seemed like a recycling of last season's premiere, 'No
Sanctuary', except with Morgan standing in for the role of Tyreese and
Carol playing the role of, well, Carol (or at least Carol 2.0 with the
Rambo twist. Once again, the real badass fighter has lost the stomach
for killing and Carol 2.0 must show them the way." The Morgan/Tyreese parallel is obvious but the "No Sanctuary" parallel hadn't occurred to me.