Monday, November 21, 2016

THE WALKING DEAD's Get-Up-And-Go Done Got Up & Went

On THE WALKING DEAD tonight, a few of the writers came back from their month-long vacation to author up "Go Getters," and while their plotting is still plodding and their filler still fulsome, there is at least some work going into their end of the show for a change. Not in the graveside melodrama moments[1] and certainly not in the insipid "romantic" scenes between Coral and Enid, about which no one could possible care, but this ep engineered, however, clunkily, a substantial change--a power-shift at the Hilltop community. Maggie, who is suffering a problematic pregnancy, has taken over.

The Hilltoppers essentially commissioned the Alexandrians to wipe out the Saviors, which didn't work out as planned. Now, the Saviors are displeased by this. They launch an attack--I suppose one could sort of call it that--in the dead of night. Maggie and Sasha awaken, look out the window and the main gate is open, a car parked inside with loud musing coming out of it and there are several bonfires suddenly burning inside the walls. Zombies are pouring through the open gate and this leads to a big zombie-killing action scene in which Maggie acts as a sort of field general. Hey, if she's going to take over, she has to prove she's up for leadership, right? Heaven forbid she be written as a competent leader character all along, so this quality in her didn't have to be established in this crude way. She gets to drive a tractor over the welded-up car. Isn't that sweet?

Absent the aid of magic they're not supposed to possess, how in hell did the Saviors stage this scene? They didn't crash the gate--that would have been heard and the gate would be damaged. They didn't drive up in that car with the music playing either--we hear its sound-system kick in and it's already parked inside the gate. The car also appears to be welded shut and inaccessible, this done so no one can turn off the music. There are four large bonfires and piling up the material for them would have taken time as well, and everyone seems to have been locked/sealed into their living quarters too![2] Negan's men not only somehow managed to get inside the gate without being seen but spent a substantial amount of time working on this prank inside the compound while no one noticed and then successfully made their retreat before anyone realized anything was happening, right through the midst of the zombies pouring through the gate. No one was on watch at the gate to sound an alarm? No guards making rounds? And while the idea of the music and the bonfires seems to be to draw into the compound a horde of zombies, TWD established last season that zombies don't just come to fire but walk right into it, burning themselves to a crisp, which renders both the Saviors' plan--to unleash these zombies on the population--and the big action scene wherein the Hilltoppers go out and fight off the critters entirely gratuitous and spectacularly idiotic. Just stand back and let them do themselves in. But that wouldn't allow Maggie to prove herself, now, would it? And it wouldn't have those kewl fires as a background for the action sequences!

The next day, the Saviors show up in force. Well, as much of a force as they've managed so far this season--about 25 people, with some editing trying to make it look like more. Here, I'll give the creators props for at least trying. Negan's lack of a visible force of any real size has been a plot problem throughout the season. At one point, Maggie tries to cheat a bit, saying of them, "there are a lot, maybe hundreds." Or maybe not.

The Saviors carry out a retaliatory looting of Hilltop. Gregory, the community's cowardly leader, has Maggie and Sasha hide in a closet. They end up in a different closet than he intended--Jesus correctly anticipates Gregory would spinelessly try to betray our heroines and moves them--but it doesn't make any sense that this ruse works, regardless of the closet. The Saviors are picking the community apart, filling four big panel trucks and a pick-up with booty. They don't look in the closets?

By the end, Maggie is in de facto command and Sasha, who has it in her head to kill Negan, dispatches Jesus to learn the location of the Saviors' main base. Jesus sneaks on to one of the Saviors' trucks and--what a remarkable coincidence!--it happens to be the same one on which Coral has stowed away, himself intending to try to find and kill Negan! Last week saw Rosita asking Eugene to make her a bullet for a gun she'd found. Resistance percolates among the underlings while Rick, their always-inspiring leader, is out trying to find supplies for Negan. With only three eps left before the midseason break--yeah, that much has already gone by--will the remaining writers return from their vacation or will those who came back this week rejoin them? I'm sure everyone is just as excited to learn that answer to that as I!



[1] As this is the first ep that returned to Maggie after Glenn's destruction, I'll give the show credit for not spending an inordinate amount of time on teary faces and showing the characters despairingly rehashing what viewers have already seen. That's absolutely S.O.P. with TWD and I'm glad the writers decided not to proceed in that direction.

[2] To get outside, Sasha and Maggie have to climb out through the roof of their trailer, while Jesus and some others had to climb out the second-story window of the big house. How in the world did the Saviors manage this? There are no visible obstructions to the doors. Sasha descends from the roof right in front of one of the trailer doors, Jesus kicks away a zombie that was clawing at the door of another and we get a shot of the door of the main house--there is no obstruction there either. Doors to residences that can't be opened from the inside and to which the Saviors--but not the residents--have keys? Jesus had to climb out that second-story window, though there was a door leading out to the landing there, which we're meant to believe was locked as well. The Saviors scaled the walls in order to somehow lock the second-story door? The entire scenario is impossible without the aid of magic, including a spell to seal the doors.

Twitter: @jriddlecult


  1. I always love the horrible inconsistency and poor continuity in the writing. Coral totally trashes his car (their only transportation) to kill 2 Walkers. Just later in this episode, Sasha kills about ten Walkers with a hunting knife, yet Coral had to sacrifice his car for just two?

    I started thinking I was watching a Road Runner cartoon when Maggie came out of nowhere driving a huge tractor -- the type used on enormous acreage of corporate farms. There would be no need for such a gigantic machine for their tiny gardens, but the writers thought it would be cool, so BAM, Maggie pulls it from thin air. The writers never feel the need for the characters to use items which would reasonably be on hand.

    The prop department can't find a more organic looking bread? All of the bread looks like highly processed bread right out of the plastic wrapper. There must be an enormous factory bakery somewhere in the neighborhood.

    You already covered all of the cartoon gags that Negan's men seem to order from Acme and assemble within minutes, all without alarming anyone. I'm wondering when they will start pulling out anvils and lit sticks of dynamite from thin air?

    If the sorry writers pen it, the production crew will pull it off, no matter how silly. Coral nearly pulled two pair of working skates (which were the perfect sizes) out of nowhere. I only watch this show for the unintended comedy anymore.

    1. Of course Coral had to total his ride... the dumb girl was being threatened by extremely 2 slow, moronic, shuffling zombies and all she had at her disposal was her youth, perfect health, and a 10-speed bike. She was doomed to die if not for the heroic Coral. So heroic in fact, that he knew the best course of action afterwards wasn't to scrounge up another car, or even another bike, but to simply take a stroll through the Zombie Apocalypse with his best girl at his side... how romantic... and then roller skates. Don't forget, if the road is suddenly blocked with a huge zombie hoard, nothing beats roller skates for crashing through the bush like a couple of idiots.

  2. Half the reason this episode worked better was because there was actually an A plot and B plot. Now the A plot was basically a rehash of last week but at hilltop but at least there were some stakes to Maggie and Sasha possibly getting discovered and there were actual dynamic conflict between the hilltop leader and our characters. The B plot was classic walking dead. Characters walking from one place to another and arriving in a single day to a location that other characters took all day driving to before. It was lame but at least there was something else going on in the episode.

    FYI according to Wikipedia the last two episodes were at 11 million viewers. Down from the 17 million of the premiere and also it appears the show hasn't been in 11 million viewership range since season 4. I think a decline IS happening. Will be interesting to see what this season finishes out at and what they return next year with.

    1. I started arguing the show had peaked in the midst of season 5, when it still appeared to be going up. It has a long way to fall--if it lost half its viewership, it would still be doing well for a cable series.

      I don't know if Hilltop is supposed to be far away from the Safe Zone. The first trip there with Jesus didn't seem to take very long at all but I do seem to recall someone in last season's finale talking about it being far as a rationale for so many of them going along. I'll look into that.

  3. "Get-Up-And-Go Done Got Up & Went"

    Ha, an Aerosmith reference, right? Very cool.

    1. That's actually an idiom so old no one even knows the origin of it anymore. It was in some old songs. More recently, as in the '60s, Pete Seeger incorporated it into one of his (and that may have been an older one too--I haven't researched it and I'm just talking off the cuff here). Aerosmith used it too though.