Monday, March 16, 2015

Good & Bad: 'The Walking Dead' (3/16/15)
Season 5, Episode 14, “Spend”

Plot: I could start this off with a giant paragraph or two outlining every single little thing about the plot of last night’s “The Walking Dead,” or I could sum it up in one, slightly modified, Taylor Swift lyric: “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, ‘Walking Dead’ gonna walking dead, dead, dead.”


  • Bad: You know how over the last few weeks Rick and his gang have been operating under, shall we say, a questionable morale code? Since meeting Aaron and then coming to Alexandria, the Grimes gang have basically turned into a bunch of punch-happy, adulterating, child-threatening town thieves. The mysterious Alexandria people (who we’d just met) were the heroes and the people we’d followed for four and half seasons had suddenly – unintentionally, or so I theorized – became the villains. The show seemed to want me to root for Rick even as it did everything possible to undermine him and make him look like a dick. Well, don’t worry about it. Last night’s episode cleared everything up. See, the Alexandria people are all either wildly ineffective or evil. So all that plotting and scheming and betraying Rick’s gang was up to is suddenly OK because the people on the other side of that plotting and scheming and betraying turned out to be bad or useless. Last night’s plot twists were pretty much the most “Walking Dead” things ever. Once again, Rick’s gang is the clear good guy, those pesky others are blatantly ineffective (or evil) and need to be dealt with. I give it a bad, but I should have just given it an “inevitable.” This was really the only way the story could play out. “The Walking Dead” isn’t interested in mistakes or decisions which suddenly and fundamentally alter its characters or their world. The show is way happier when character growth means getting tougher and the biggest changes involve moving to a new location and killing off random side characters. And that’s fine. That’s the show it wants to be. I need to just accept it and stop expecting it to do more or be better.
  • Good: Bad news for Noah, good news for the rest of us: the “Walking Dead” writing team displayed an abundance of interest in him last night and as is almost always the case when the “Walking Dead” writing team displays an abundance of interest in a side character, he got gotten. Poor old Noah. Dead before he can ever follow up on his sudden and completely arbitrary interest in architecture and wall-building. Noah and I had our differences and I found his character to be at worst a detriment to humanity and at best an inoffensive background dweller. I’m not sad to see him go.
  • Bad: “Walking Dead,” I’m going to level with you. Killing off one side character every week is really lowering the impact. Next week, just kill off half the group. Go on. Not every character who was even remotely a regular needs a showcase death.     
  • Good: So the story and characters are meh. Those gore effects, though. Hot tamales. Lady Leader’s Obnoxious Kid had his guts ripped out of him slowly by a herd of walkers (he died too by the way). Noah got ripped to shreds, including a particularly grisly fish-hooking close up. The stuff you can do on TV these days.
  • Bad: The worst “run group” ever. Alexandria needs batteries to keep the lights on. Just so happens there’s a battery depot nearby. So the crack team of Glenn, Tara, Eugene, Art Vandelay (Noah), Lady Leader’s Obnoxious Kid and Random Guy are dispatched to go bring back power. I don’t care if Eugene is a battery expert, I’m leaving him at home. Not sure why Noah is still going on runs seeing as though he’s become the town’s official historian and backup architect. Random Guy, we never even got a chance to hate you. Also, it was just two weeks ago, Obnoxious Kid and Glenn were fighting in the streets. They got over that fast.
  • Good: Officer Rick and the Case of the Broken Owl. Someone broke an owl statue the Blonde Lady that Rick adultered last week had made for her kid to paint. It’s a good thing Alexandria’s newest boy detective is on the case. He’ll solve this in a …
  • Bad: Goddamnit Carol. She spends the entire episode being nagged by Chubby Kid to make him more cookies. When she finally caves, she’s a total dick to him about it. Then he asks her for a gun and she is all: “OMG YOUR DAD IS BEATING YOUR MOM! RICK KILL THAT GUY NOW!!!!” Meanwhile, Rick is investigating something that may have been a clue, but may have also been an old soda can, trying his damdest to earn that quarter he charges for taking on cases. Rick is Encyclopedia Brown in this example.
  • Bad: Carol, despite uncovering the Chubby Kid’s abusive father, is still the worst. She’s just this grumpy, gun-stealing old bat. She’s a year or two removed from being that neighbor who, when the ball goes into her yard, someone just pulls out a new one rather than ask her to unlock her gate. Not because they’re scared of her, mind you, it’s just no one wants to deal with her.
  • Bad, but I get it: Carol wants Rick to kill the Abusive Husband because she had an Abusive Husband of her own. Still, maybe prison? For life? Zero to dead seems a little rushed, although, if you just keep killing all of your criminals, it sure saves on prisons and courts and so on.
  • Bad: This Abe story came out of nowhere, right? He’s just randomly working on a construction site. Was this discussed before and I just tuned out?  
  • Good: “I need to send a fax to Cleveland.” This is the dumbest, most inexplicable way of saying “I need to poop” and I love it to pieces.
  • Good: Abe saves the day, becomes foreman of construction site. Save a life, get promoted. The way you do.
  • Good: Eugene saves the day, sort of reluctantly and clumsily and then he doesn’t actually totally save the day. Because he’s Eugene and that makes sense.  
  • Good: Glenn, Noah and Random guy stuck in a revolving door full of walkers. This is just the coolest hopeless setting.
  • Bad: So … I had no idea the spawn of Blonde Lady and Abusive Husband (who is also Drunk Doctor) is Chubby Kid. No clue.
  • Good: Nay, great: HEEL TURN! Fr. Gabe tells Leader Lady Rick and company can’t be trusted because they know what he did and he wants a fresh start so he totally sells them up the creek. Now her Kid is dead, her husband’s fresh new protégé is also dead and every position of power in town except hers is being held by the new enemy. Umm … well, she’s still a better leader than Hospital Dawn so, you know, four more years.   

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