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Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Walking Dead" recap: Road trip (again)

Spoilers for this week's episode of "The Walking Dead" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

When will the survivors on "The Walking Dead" realize that road trips just aren't a good idea? Every time people leave that camp, they end up cuffing somebody to a roof or leaving their remaining camp-mates vulnerable to a walker attack. But, in this week's episode, they decided to go on the move again. I don't really blame them, I guess. After the attack that concluded last week's episode, they couldn't really stay at their current camp site. And I suppose it's noble that Rick wanted to see if the rumored research at the possibly-still-operational CDC could save Jim.
But come on -- has history not taught this people that random road trips only lead to disaster? I know that all sci-fi/horror requires a suspension of disbelief, but can we honestly be expected to believe that the majority of the survivors would go in for this ill-advised jaunt? Or that they'd stick with this plan even after a steadily declining Jim begs to be left at the side of the road to descend into zombiehood with dignity?
I'm sorry, but that's asking a lot.
Of course, the trip to the CDC is a disaster and nearly gets the group killed, when it appears that no one's home. Fortunately, Rick's impassioned pleas to the building's one remaining resident (Noah Emmerich, making the most of his sliver of screen time), are answered and the ep ends with a cheesy shot of the survivors bathed in the light from the CDC building, which resembles nothing so much as a spaceship.
Oof.
Must say that this wasn't my favorite episode, though it had its moments. The shots of a shell-shocked, heart-broken Andrea cradling her soon-to-be-zombified sister were effective, thanks to the consistently fine work of Laurie Holden as Andrea. And the moment when Andrea finally put down a transformed Amy was devastating.
It was also nice to see Rick attempting to contact Morgan. Though we didn't see him, the mere suggestion of Lennie James's character made me happy -- let's hope we see him again really soon.
And, finally, I loved the late scenes with the Emmerich character, a miserable, exhausted CDC scientist. I'm one of the few who didn't care for the sequence from a few weeks ago, in which a whacked-out Merle Dixon attempted to free himself from the roof. But, where I found that scene marred by Michael Rooker's over-the-top performance, I found Emmerich's solo scenes as the CDC worker understated and riveting. The sequence in which he inadvertently destroyed his lab, and all the samples therein, was like a well-crafted short film.
But so much of this episode didn't work for me. I've kind of had enough of the Rick-Shane push-pull. If I'm going to be invested in this rivalry, I'm going to need more information about Shane's resentment of Rick. And, if I'm going to believe Rick as a leader, I'm going to have to see more of his suggestions be successful. Also, the character of Dale is really starting to wear on me. Jeffrey DeMunn gives a fine performance, but the script gives him little to do except make wise speeches.
I realize that, with only six episodes in this season, there's not been that much room for character development. But (and you'll pardon the pun) "Walking Dead" really needs to flesh out its characters if viewers are going to stay invested in the long-term.
There's still enough to keep me interested at this point, but I want more. What did you think?

1 comment:

Bill Scurry said...

Keeping a chomped man in your Winnebago, allowing a grieving sister to clutch her soon-to-turn dead sister, and driving a ragtag bunch of survivors to certain death at the CDC (where we all know all the corpses would have been brought to) seen like good ways to make sure no one survives the zombie holocaust. The nice moments in this episode were marred by the inconsistent behavior of characters who supposedly know better than to play fast and loose with the titular dead.

I realize they don't have the budget for 60 minutes of solid machete combat with perambulating cadavers, and conversely that they need to wring the maximum amount of drama out of the human stories, but I get the feeling that this is a soap opera with the occasional zombie drop-in. I'm not seeing the hectic pace of doom that Zack Snyder's 2004 "Dawn of the Dead" remake delivered so effortlessly in every frame.

And yet, I watch. And watch...