Monday, November 16, 2015

Not Always Accountable For THE WALKING DEAD

A prologue...

It was dusky Sunday
I greeted with particular dread.
Soon, the autumn evening
Would again yield up THE WALKING DEAD.
It will be back to the safe zone
Where nothing's really very safe,
Where people aren't very bright,
Where they tend not to tend the gate.
Rick and his gang are the new power there;
They've taken over the entire town.
And when anyone questions their wisdom,
The show's writers strike that redshirt down!
Rick and Morgan found a quarry.
It was packed with zombies galore.
About this, something must be done;
"I don't take chances anymore."
But Rick pined to unleash that zombie herd
Within spitting distance of home!
We can lead them away from here, he said.
After that, who cares where they roam?
A really bad idea, it would seem,
But Rick was brave, Rick was strong!
With a guy like that seeing it through,
What could possibly go wrong?
Then everything did, of course,
And in very short order.
Soon, everyone was running.
Soon, all was in disorder.
"They walk, we run," shouted one girl who fled
To let her mates know they weren't beaten.
She fell in a cliche hacked in the ground,
Twisted her ankle and soon was eaten.
Michonne sensed doubts, so she stopped to make a speech
About how Rick's team are vets: "We know what we're doin'."
But the ol' zombie-guts trick plumb slipped her mind
So it was on her team's guts the dead were soon chewin'.
Toward the safe zone the herd was now bound.
Rick sought to head it off at the pass.
He sprinted a mile in 20 minutes--
These writers' version of hauling some ass.
His plan to lead it away didn't work
And he escaped without a second to lose;
Some Wolves that Morgan allowed to run off
Shot up the RV he was planning to use.
So he broke and ran with the dead in pursuit
Right to the gates of the town,
Trapping people there like sardines in a can,
The hungry dead all around.
But Rick is a pro and knew what to say:
"We'll be quiet, unseen, burn no lights at all
"They'll forget we're here and then go away,"
He said in a loud speech made right by the wall.
Then he climbed up that wall to stand a watch
In plain sight of the hungry dead below.
He posts a regular watch there as well,
Thus ensuring the dead will never go.
"I won't watch my family starve," said a fat guy
Who led a raid on the town's food
But Spencer diffused this with a speech of his own
"If you do this, we'll all be screwed."
That fat guy then saw Jessie kill a zombie
Then break into a speech, more corn and cliche.
Fat guy had heard three bad speeches in a row;
How motivated he must have felt that day!
There's a shortage of experienced hands
On hand to deal with the crisis at hand.
In such circumstances, the townsfolk place
Their lives in the hands of Rick's expert band.
Maggie and Coral show this trust their respect--
Two of the few pros still left in the zone--
They both plot to secret themselves out of town,
Each on self-concerned missions of their own.
In the end, neither ends up going;
The safe zone's pantry remains unraided;
The fate of Glenn remains unaddressed;
The problems with Morgan remain unstated;
The Wolf Morgan caught is still unmentioned;
And no word from Daryl, Sasha or Abraham;
No plot advancement in this ep at all,
Just as much filler as in it could be crammed.
The ads for the coming evening's tale
Promise only another bloated side show,
A thing that should just be a subplot
But instead is blown up to a full episode.
So as dusk gives way to dark,
THE WALKING DEAD will soon reappear.
Will they have their bearings back?
Or will they just talk about the deer?

And on to tonight...

There was some talk about the deer in tonight's installment and as the preview last week suggested, this did  indeed turn out to be a filler-packed side adventure, something that could have--and in competent hands, would have--been woven into last two week's non-stories instead of being padded out to fill an entire episode. This one follows Daryl, Sasha and Abraham as they finish the task of moving that zombie herd they've been wrangling since the season opener. The first scene is yet another spectacular shot of a seeming infinity of zombies marching up the road as far as the eye can see but though the title of the ep was "Always Accountable," that huge herd on which we open is something for which the writers entirely failed to account.

Sasha alerts Daryl they're a mile from their intended turnoff. They speed up to put some distance between the creatures and themselves, make a left and are immediately attacked by a gang of thugs with fully automatic weapons who just open fire without word or warning. By one of those cosmic coincidences that substitute for so much of the plotting on TWD, it turns out that in all the roads in all the places in this sparsely-populated apocalyptic world, these attackers were beside the one on to which our heroes turned waiting to ambush an entirely different group. A firefight ensues. Daryl guns his motorcycle and flees into the forest to escape his attackers. Sasha and Abraham defeat theirs but lose their car.

Our heroes now have a serious problem. Thanks to all that gunfire, that huge herd they'd just left a mile down the road is going to be heading their way. Immediate priority: get some new wheels, regroup and get the hell out of Dodge.

Except the writers then forget all about that herd. We don't see it again, don't hear from it, the characters don't mention it and act as if it doesn't exist. Rather than trying to find either Daryl or some transportation, Sasha and Abraham decide to wait for Daryl to find them--they break into a building and hole up! Then they talk about the deer: Sasha doling out one of TWD's patented soap speeches as they opt to settle in for the night![1]

Meanwhile, Daryl, who is just as entirely unconcerned about the zombie herd, encounters a trio of travelers who were the intended quarry of the gunmen. They've apparently left some survivor group that had morphed into a cult. Its nature is never really made clear, just that it was unpleasant and these folks had escaped it. The cult's intentions aren't clear either. It staged the initial ambush as just a kill-on-sight operation but in the rest of the ep, the cultists seem intent on making the escapees return alive. The cultists pursue the trio but after one is bitten by a stray zombie and his arm amputated, they simply leave and are then entirely forgotten. Daryl and the escapees walk around at a leisurely pace, spend the night somewhere in the forest (we aren't shown this), even stop to dig graves when one of their number is killed (in, honestly, a pretty idiotic way). It's TWD--one learns not to expect logic or consistency. The story of these three characters is, in any event, present merely to eat up screentime, just like everything else in this ep. Near the end, Daryl offers to take them to the safe zone; they opt, instead, to steal his motorcycle and ride off the show. Probably the smart move.

Along with the zombies up the road, the fate of the safe zone is pretty much forgotten. The last our heroes heard, half the zombies they were driving had broken off and were headed toward town but throughout all of this extended dicking around by all of them, no one is terribly concerned about it or in any hurry to get back. Daryl was so worried in "Thank You" that he was prepared to abandon the zombie herding operation; here, he just dawdles, seemingly entirely unconcerned even as he tries to recruit the folks he's met to come live at a home he doesn't even know is there anymore.[2] The only word on the subject offered by anyone is a stray line by Abraham on the second day--he says he's confident whatever happened back there is being handled.

Daryl, having lost his ride, finds a gas truck (introduced earlier), finds Sasha and Abraham[3] and they head for home. The end. For the third week in a row, the creators have opted for another extended delaying action aimed solely at getting the series to the midseason break (and its intended "shocking" events) without having to actually write enough of a story to accomplish this.

The dead are walking through their sixth season
And their ratings are still quite strong
But their creators are completely shot
Their show has hung around too long.



[1] The self-parody continues in this ep as well. When Abraham wants to kill a zombie near the building in which they're planning to hole up, Sasha, concerned there may be more gunmen in the area, berates him. "Don't leave a trail of breadcrumbs!" As she carves Daryl's name into the door they're about to enter.

[2] This is particularly egregious in Daryl's case because the series has, at times, gone out of its way to establish his very strong connection to the others. In season 3, he refused to run off with Merle because of it. In season 4, it was established that as one of the uber-capable survivors, he felt personally responsible for protecting and defending the others and was wracked with guilt over having failed to track down GINO, who later returned and destroyed the prison. He's been established as an impulsive man of action, something reflected only an ep earlier in his aborted effort to abandon the herding operation in order to render assistance in dealing with the thread to the safe zone. Nothing is ever really "established" when it comes to TWD characterizations though; looking for any consistency is sheer folly.

[3] Abraham finds a collection of RPGs at one point but the launcher is on the shoulder of a zombie impaled on some collapsed fencing on an overpass. Abraham has set out to pike every zombie he's seen so far in this ep but instead of doing this, he crawls out on the fencing like an idiot to wrestle with the creature for a while, suddenly dealing with the hack writer's version of Inner Pain and nearly getting bitten. The way he gets the launcher is another of those cosmic coincidences but this one is sort of funny and so somewhat forgivable.


  1. I will come back and read this. Just wanted to say is Michael Rooker is killing it on The Talking Dead tonight. Love that guy. Absolute riot.

    1. Yeah, I really love Rooker. Back when his name was announced as part of the cast for the TWD pilot, I assumed he'd be playing Rick, a part for which he's perfect. I was disappointed this wasn't the case. Maybe I'll watch the re-run of Talking Dead later.

  2. That guy and girl who stole his motorcycle are Dwight and his wife (Saviors) from the comic if I'm not mistaken. And now Dwight has is crossbow.

  3. Wasn't the worst episode this season. When I finally looked at the runtime it was 29 minutes in and it didn't feel like that long. Last week when I finally looked I thought it was halfway but it was only like 11 minutes in. That's the sign of an awful episode.

  4. This episode was just to get you to The Badlands.

  5. Truly a filler episode especially if we don't see any more of that group

    1. That group is Negan's group. The guy who stole Daryl's crossbow is Dwight... who plays a huge role in the comics.

  6. What was the chatter over the walkie talkies at the end?

    This epioside was so empty- I can't bring myself to form an opinion about it.
    The insulin girl was incredibly cute. Too bad.