Monday, October 20, 2014

Good & Bad: 'The Walking Dead' (10/19/14)

Season 5, Episode 2: Strangers
Plot: Remember last week when Rick wanted to hunt down and kill all the cannibalistic Terminus people after Carol had blown up their home and infested it with walkers? Further remember when everyone was all “Nah Brah, live and let live” and talked him out of it? Well, I can think of one person in particular who is wishing he changed his vote. But we’ll get to that. 

Rick and his gang have left the train tracks behind them and struck out on a pleasant, if somewhat introspection-heavy, walk in the woods. Everyone’s got issues, everyone’s got regrets oh and to make things worse, Daryl is pretty sure someone is following them. The gang thinks they found out who that is when they find a priest scampering atop a boulder to avoid a pack of walkers who are trying to eat him. They rescue the priest, and he takes them back to his church in the middle of the woods. He explains he hasn’t killed anyone or anything and has survived thanks to a well-timed food drive prior to the walker outbreak. While most of the rest of the gang follows Father Gabriel into town for supplies, Carl finds evidence that the good priest may be less good. After a brief tussle with some water walkers, everyone comes back to the church, gets plastered on some Communion wine and Bob goes outside to have himself a good cry for some reason.

Elsewhere, Daryl and Carol wander off to a random car in the middle of the road and at that exact moment the car that stole Beth (and is presumably still being driven by that dog Daryl met last season) drives by. Daryl and Carol hop in the other car and tear off in hot pursuit.

Of course, Bob is attacked by someone and that someone turns out to be all of the Terminus people who aren’t dead. They share with Bob a little secret: He doesn’t taste too bad and then we see that they’ve cut off and begun to eat at least one of his feet.


Good: It’s like that classic Johnny Depp movie “Secret Window” says: “The only thing that matters is the ending.” That’s a concept “The Walking Dead” is no stranger to. Just think of how awful last season’s “The Grove” could have been if it had ended with literally anything other than child murder. Compared to last week’s foray into 80’s action movies, this was quiet, brooding, maybe a tiny bit dull. But that ending was sick. I actually heard someone at work call this a great episode, which I don’t think it was at all. It had some nice character work but was heavy with plot-refocusing. It was a good-ish episode with a great ending.

Good: I’ve been waiting for this show to give the lesbian girl some depth beyond just being “that lesbian girl” and this episode did that in spades. Her fist bump with Rick? Top notch. From here on out, she’ll always be “that fist-bump girl” to me. Also, it seemed like there was some subtext in there about her trying to turn other people into lesbians. Not sure if I misread that, but if that is the plan, I look forward to Abraham’s awkward attempt to explain the situation to Eugene. “Now you see, when two ladies, umm … they love each other … and … they ugh … How about a little music?”

Bad: Disjointed open. I had a little trouble sticking with all those quick cuts between people talking about their regrets and then the group walking towards the camera in slo-mo. Also it seemed like they abandoned the gimmick of “Here’s a close up of three people, here’s what they’re up to” thing halfway through.

Bad: I reserve the right to flip this to a good depending on where the Father Gabriel story goes, but it seems to me that maybe, just maybe, we could have wrapped him up in one episode? “Hey, here’s this weird priest who says he hasn’t killed anyone. Hey, there’s some cryptic message carved into the outside of his church. Hey, he locked himself into the well-stocked church and let all of his parishioners either starve or become walker food outside.” Done. Maybe not everything needs to be an eight-episode arc. Maybe the occasional “Monster of the week” type episode would be a thing “Walking Dead” should do. Like I said, it could be good, but I have a feeling like it won’t go beyond the “do what you gotta do” thing.

Good: Bob talking about life post-walker world. I loved his line about not letting too much go because at some point they’re all going to be back on the couch watching football and they will enjoy it less if they know they killed like a school bus full of orphans a month ago.

Bad: Flooded food storage place. Didn’t we see that before? Only that time, there was a helicopter involved.

Good: Water walkers. They look cooler than fire walkers, but aren’t as dangerous. Sure, we’ve seen them before too, but never in action.

Good: Michonne’s katana remembered. I enjoyed this whole speech not just the back story of the blade, but I feel like doing it while they were walking shorted it a little. This is a secret she reveals when she’s drunk in the church later, not on an errand.

Bad: Michonne misses Andrea. Come on, Michonne. Don’t lie.

Good: You’re going to burn for this! I love the theatricality of that. The person who carved that into the church could have opted for a simple “f you,” but instead took aim straight below Father Gabe’s bible belt. Yes sir, I feel good about that pun.

Bad: I didn’t understand a single thing that was going on with Carol, Daryl and that car. What did she flip on in the trunk? Was I supposed to know this? Why did she go back later?

Bad: Why was everyone out wandering in the woods at night? Carol’s off playing with that car. Daryl’s following Carol. Bob is crying. It’s almost as if the dead haven’t come back to life to feast on the flesh of the living and a human band of homeless cannibals aren’t out wandering the woods. Jesus, even just a wolf might be wandering out there.

Bad: All the tracking skills in the world aren’t as useful as getting insanely lucky. Daryl just so happened to be in the right place at the right time when that car he spent several hours running after just happens to go blazing by. Sometimes the world of this show seems too small. Every time they go somewhere new, I keep expecting to see the prison lurking right next door and Herschel’s farm next door to that. Like they’re just strolling down the world’s most diverse street.

Potentially great: More Daryl and Beth, please.

Good: That ending. My god.

Good: So Terminus Gareth is pretty much my new favorite non Beth/Daryl thing. I couldn’t have been the only one who got some Joker vibes during his “Nothing personal” speech. Also, him eating Bob’s foot in front of him is almost Ramsay Snow-esque in cruelty. I hope he last forever which means he’ll either be dead next week or will be roundly defeated and then show up again next season, do everything exactly the same only somehow get a tank and then be roundly defeated a second time.         

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