Monday, November 15, 2010
"Walking Dead" recap: This is my brother, Darryl
A personal emergency delayed my viewing of this week's episode of "The Walking Dead" until this morning. Thus, my recap of "Tell it to the Frogs" will be fairly brief. In short, this episode was the shortest to date on gory action and the longest on character development. That's OK. You can't have characters smearing themselves with entrails or getting their horses disemboweled in every episode. There has to be more than action if the audience is going to come back week after week.
Plus, this episode did make some important headway on the character front. We finally saw a reunion between Rick and his family, which was appropriately emotional and intense (Rick's wordless embrace with Carl was one of the episode's more affecting moments). We also learned why Lori was so quick to abandon her husband and create a new, makeshift family with Shane: Shane lied and told her Rick had died. That makes sense, although she still hooked up with Shane awfully fast.
Speaking of things happening a little too quickly, I did not buy that Merle Dixon had launched into a full-scale wackadoo in less than an hour. I mean, by the show's timeline, it was probably only minutes since he was left on that roof, and he's already babbling, singing and laughing like a maniac? Yes, I know he was a little off to begin with, but I kind of doubt he would go so bonkers so quickly. He does manage to pull himself together eventually, but I still think that opening sequence would have been more effective if it had just shown Merle futilely, and silently, trying to free himself before getting the big idea about the tools. His wacky behavior robbed what could have been an unbearably tense sequence of drama.
But that wasn't my biggest problem with this episode. My biggest problem was buying that Rick would go back to rescue Merle. Yes, I know that Rick is an honorable guy and, yes, he's still rankled by dropping his bag of guns and walkies, but come on -- the guy just found his family. He JUST embraced his son for the first time since getting shot. He JUST saw his wife again and made a fresh start with her. Is he REALLY going to jeopardize all that for an a-hole like Merle Dixon? It makes no sense. And, no, I don't buy that he's motivated by a sense of duty to Morgan and his son. In the pilot and in last week's episode, I got a pretty clear idea that Rick's bag is gone for good. I think it's unlikely he'll find it again, and I don't think Rick holds out much hope for that.
That leaves Merle Dixon as the only reason to go back. And yes, dragging Merle's brother Darryl out of camp will keep him from wreaking havoc there for a while. But if those brothers are reunited, will they really be kindly disposed toward Rick and his gang? Or will Rick end up just having to chain BOTH of them to a roof somewhere?
Anyway, here are some more of my thoughts on "Tell it to the Frogs":
* So, between the Dixon brothers and Ed the redneck wife beater, is it safe to assume that there are NO standards for who the survivors will let in their camp? I mean, was there any real purpose to Ed, aside from being a punching bag upon which Shane can vent his Rick-related frustrations?
* And why did Shane lie about Rick? It seems like Shane is super-resentful toward his former partner now, and was getting off on taking both his family and his role as a leader. But how did that happen? When last we saw them, they were buddies. Is there a good reason for this change? Or is it just clumsy plotting?
* Though we've been bombarded with gore in the pilot and last week's harrowing "Guts," this episode was relatively understated on the violence front. Yes, we did see the deer-eating zombie hacked apart, and there was the beating of the hapless Ed. But all that was pretty mild compared to best episodes. I guess that's good. You can't have a "Guts" every week, or you'll wear your audience out. And I thought that the spooky closing shot of Merle's bloody handcuff had way more power than we would have gotten from actually showing Merle sawing his hand off. Sometimes, there is more power in what you don't see.
What did you think?