Walking Dead: Chupacabra Review (Mania.com)

By:Joe Oesterle
Review Date: Monday, November 14, 2011


The pre-credits flashback tried to trick us into thinking in world without Rick, Shane would be just as heroic, but don’t believe it. Shane is a flawed character, and those flaws are only going to get bigger and more dangerous as this series goes on. It’s tempting to believe, as Shane could have been this show’s protagonist as he hugs Lori tightly while the couple watch in horrified amazement as US government helicopters rain napalm on what had to seem to them as civilization. This of course was the beginning of everybody’s learning curve. Civilization is yesterday’s luxury, and civility is not long for this world either.
   When we flash forward to current day Shane, he’s spouting off some very cold but reasonable logic to Rick. In a world that hasn’t been infested with undead flesh eaters, a lost girl has, on average, has about 72 hours to be found. After that, any law official will tell you, the odds of finding a child, decreases drastically with every minute that passes. Factor in zombies, and Sophia’s chances of survival would have to be severely worse.
   Realizing those odds and making sure the head of your operation is keenly aware of the low probability of finding Sophia alive is not what clues you in to the fact Shane is not a virtuous man. That fact is found in the light banter Rick encouraged when he attempted to elicit conversation from his seriously somber sidekick. Apparently among Shane’s sexual high school conflicts he lists at least one married woman, and he doesn’t seem all that conflicted about the dalliance some 15 years later. This is what points to Shane’s character flaws. This is why Shane could never be the story’s hero.
   I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, in a better universe, Shane is a better man. In better times, Shane is not a monster. These are not better times, and unless I miss my guess, Shane will one day become just as harmful, and much more treacherous than the zombies he’s helping the gang fend off. Even in these times, Shane is capable of heroic actions, but Shane is not a hero. Rick’s the hero, and we’re witnessing the genesis of a monumental rift between two very old, very close friends. By the way, I’m betting we’re going to find out that Lori is also listed among Shane’s schoolboy conquests.
   Man, I hate Andrea. I truly did expect to start liking her by now, but after she shot Darryl that girl is on my “let a zombie eat her” list. At first I felt sympathy and compassion for her, then I just figured I could wait out her legitimate bouts of depression, but what the hell? She’s not an experienced shot yet, Hershel explicitly forbid firing weapons on his property, Rick, the group leader ordered her to not shoot, and then she not only takes aim at one of the best characters in the whole show, she fires her shot when 3 others in the group were close enough to get blasted if she missed. To be fair, that’s probably more of a writing mistake than a character flaw, but whatever the reason, I now hate that chick. (I do reserve the right to like her again – mostly because she’s pretty hot.)
   So if Shane is a survivalist, and Rick is the compassionate leader, it’s becoming clear that everyone’s favorite hillbilly, Darryl, is a less refined combination of the two. (Not that either one are going to be confused for Thurston Howell the Third anytime soon.)
   It’s doubtful Rick or Shane would have made it back to the farm had they been thrown off a horse down a steep rocky hill with an arrow sticking through their sides (twice.) Of course neither of our cop buddies had the advantage of a heavy dose of tough love from their douche bag hallucination of a brother.
   We learned a little of Darryl’s social insecurities this episode, and it’s because of his lack of a traditional upbringing that he’s been the warrior, tracker that he is. It was nice to see Carol kiss Darryl’s forehead in appreciation of all his selfless work. Funny thing is when I heard Carol compliment Darryl on doing more for her daughter in the past week or so than her actual father did during her whole life I couldn’t help but paint her with that same brush. We don’t know much about the relationships in Carol’s family, but from my viewpoint last season, she is at the very least guilty of allowing her husband to aggressively browbeat their daughter, and very likely much worse.
   Steven Yuen once again delivered a stellar performance as the awkward and inexperienced Lothario. It’s hard to tell if Maggie was even going to let Glenn bust out condom number two until Hershel went ahead and forbid it. Shane could have told Glenn the best way to get a girl to sleep with you is to have her father to prohibit that kind of action.
   Dale once again was the voice of reason when he too tried to reason with younger hormones. Both Dale and Hershel have different reasons for preventing their union. Hershel’s are partly religious, and partly concern for the heartache Maggie will feel if Glenn is bitten or when he kicks the whole tribe out of his farm. Dale is simply thinking, please don’t fuck up this sweet zombie-free patch of land.
   And there’s the irony. Turns out there’s more zombies in that barn than living people at the dinner table. Not exactly sure why Hershel is keeping them all under one roof. Some people collect comic books, others action figures. Hershel is a zombie aficionado.
   Truth be told, I know exactly why Hershel in the graphic novel is running a zombie warehouse, and I assume this is the same reason, but you never know.
   Looking back it didn’t seem like much happened in this latest installment, but there was a lot of character development this week. I realize a lot of people turn on this show for zombie chases, zombie fights, and zombie kills, but that’s not really what this show is about. This show is about the human condition and what happens to certain personality types when pushed to extreme circumstances. Darryl clearly didn’t have the greatest upbringing in the world and he’s turned out to be an outstanding team member. Shane seems to have had a better home life during his formative years than Darryl, but he’s not half the man Darryl is capable of being.
   Oh yeah, and Lori is pregnant, and there’s a real chance good this baby’s feet might be made of clay. That’s not good news for any husband to receive, but it’s got to be a bit more heartbreaking if you find out it’s your less than heroic best friend’s kid and you’re living in a world where zombies definitely exist and Chupacabra’s might as well.
   Oh yeah part two. T-Dog was worthless again.
Click this link to check out some of Joe Oesterle’s Dia de las Muertos photography at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and feel free to browse the site for some unedited stories from his book, “Weird Hollywood.” http://joeartistwriter.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/dia-de-las-muertos-hollywood-forever-cemetery-2011/

Mania Grade: B
TV Series: The Walking Dead
Episode: Chupacabra
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn
Written By: David Johnson
Directed By: Guy Ferland
Network: AMC
Series: Walking Dead