Monday, February 9, 2015

Good & Bad: 'The Walking Dead' (2/8/15)
Season 5, Episode 9
"What Happened and What's Going On"

Plot: TV’s biggest show whose title doesn’t feature an abbreviation or a city name in it returned last night with an absolute orgy of blood, violence, explosions, more blood, additional explosions and then, just when you thought there wouldn’t be any more, there were EVEN MORE explosions! Plots were twisted, untwisted and then re-twisted again, true allegiances were revealed, new characters were flipping everywhere, and it was complete madness. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, “The Walking Dead” stormed back into our lives with the “take-no-prisoners” attitude we’ve come to know and love from the … oh wait no. The only part of that which actually happened was “The Walking Dead” came back last night.
                Let’s see, in reality, last night’s kind of dull and needlessly fancy episode moved the gang from Georgia to a different part of the south (Virginia) to check out Noah’s old neighborhood. Naturally because it was Noah who vouched for it, when they get there, the place was all overrun with walkers. Noah gets emotional, goes to have a walk around, Ty follows and, because Noah was involved, Ty is immediately bitten by a walker. Ty then spends the rest of the episode in one room having hallucinations of a random smattering of recently deceased characters from seasons passed. Noah alerts Rick, Michonne, and Glenn – who’d spent their part of the episode arguing about where the suddenly globe-trotting gang would go next (they picked Washington, DC)– and they all try to rescue Ty but it doesn’t work and big guy dies and everyone is bummed.

  • Bad: Someone in the crew decided that last night’s episode needed to be fancier than your average “Walking Dead” episode. So because of that decision, our opening sequence is essentially a bunch of random images: a shovel digging in loose soil, Fr. Gabe performing some type of funeral, shots of the prison, blood dripping on a picture, shots of rail road tracks, etc. Then, throughout the rest of the episode, those same random shots were repeated over and over again. The intended effect: A very minute, small section of Ty’s life is flashing before his eyes. The actual effect: We’re trying very hard to make this episode where the only thing that happens is we kill off a beloved character different than the last episode where the only thing that happened was that we killed off a beloved character.  
  • Good: Ty goes out like a boss. Dude gets bit, then he gets bit again. Then he hangs on and faces his inner demons/regrets – or at least the ones that are played by actors who had a free spot on their calendar, i.e., not Herschel. Ty’s a good guy and if he had to go he deserved a nice ending, which this tried to be even though it wasn't the best executed nice ending.
  • Bad: Rick, Glenn, Michonne. She wants to stay in Noah’s neighborhood, Rick says no, then they’re going to DC, but no one’s sure, then they decide to go to DC. Their segments such as they were, were booked like an opening to “Monday Night Raw.” Lots of talking circles around things which could have been resolved very quickly. “Hey so this place is a dump, has no real defenses, is overrun with walkers, and Noah likes it here. Now, he’s already killed Beth and dragged us all hundreds of miles from our home for nothing. Hell for all we know, he’s killing Ty right now. So, long story short, let’s go to the biggest nearby town and see how things are there?” Done.   
  • Good: Ty’s demons. Little blonde girls? Yeah, that makes sense. Carol killed them right under his nose. Beth? Meh. His sister sorta got her killed, but I think we can all agree that one was mostly Noah’s fault. Bob? Yeah sure. Mean-Termite guy? Sure, big confrontation a few episodes back. The Governor? Why’s Ty still feeling guilty about crashing at this guy’s pad for like two weeks two years ago? It wasn’t a big deal. Once you found out he was nuts, you left. 
  • Bad: Jesus Christ, does Ty have to spend this much time talking to his inner demons? How can a giant lovable teddy bear who wears a winter hat year-round have so many demons? FEWER DEMONS!
  • Bad: We get it you guys. There's blood on that picture. And it's the same one from earlier!
  • Good: The little blonde girls are all like: “It’s better now!” and the Gov is all “No it’s not!” Classic Gov. It’s not a good or a bad, but rather a missed opportunity. At some point the Gov should have said something to Ty to the effect of: “Look, you need to listen to me because I traveled a long way to talk to you. I’m supposed to be putting together an army of ghosts to lead another doomed-to-fail assault on the prison since that’s the only thing I’m allowed to do on this show.”  
  • Bad: On his way to get Rick and company to help Ty, Noah somehow gets trapped under a door and attacked by walkers.
  • Good: Ty gets the Herschel treatment. Ty got bit on his arm, so they lop the sucker off and begin a mad dash to rendezvous with the rest of the gang to keep him from bleeding out. Nice call back since Herschel couldn’t make it to Ty’s subconscious.
  • Bad: Rick asks Noah if he can hold Ty while they fight walkers. Noah says “Absolutely.” Within seconds, he’s dropped Ty and is about to be torn to shreds until someone else has to swoop in and save him.
  • Bad: So, is this “Noah is completely, ridiculously not worth keeping alive for even a second more” building to anything? In just a few short episodes, he’s descended beyond Season Two Carl-levels of “detriment to the gang.” He’s basically become the show’s Gilligan. I’m really excited for the season finale when they get to DC, they meet the President (played by Chris Hardwick) who tells them there’s a cure. Pres. Hardwick shows them a vile full of a mysterious liquid, sitting carefully on top of a pedestal. Noah walks in from the bathroom, trips, smashes the vile and then uses the instructions on how to make more to try to mop it up, ruining them in the process.
  • Bad: Worst getaway ever. The car gets stuck in the dirt, Rick hits a truck full of torsos. Noah is asked to do things. If this getaway had been even remotely competent, Ty would be walking around with one arm, a ponytail and dispensing southern-friend wisdom right now.
  • Good-ish: The shot of Beth and all the good ghosts driving Ty into the afterlife was pleasant.

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