Mania Grade: B
27 Comments | Add
Rate & Share:
- TV Series: The Walking Dead
- Episode: Bloodletting
- Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal,Sarah Wayne Callies, Chandler Riggs
- Written By: Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard
- Directed By: Ernest R. Dickerson
- Network: AMC
- Series: Walking Dead
Walking Dead: Bloodletting Review
Better Then Last But Still Not Great
By Joe Oesterle
October 24, 2011
Better than last week, not as good as last season, that’s how I’d sum up the latest installment of The Walking Dead. On the positive side the human drama aspect was far more compelling than the premiere episode of Season 2, but there was a bit of convenient writing toward the end that kind of annoyed me.
In many ways this show has reminded me of one of my favorite TV shows ever, LOST. The similarities are many. Wandering around forests/jungles, tracking friends and enemies, fear of the unknown, an unexplained incident, our heroes are on quest for survival, some heroes are more flawed than others, killing off main characters we’re invested in, and this week we saw a flashback.
It was interesting to see a tiny bit of backstory of the potential decline of Rick and Lori’s relationship before the “incident.” As any man could have told you, it was all Lori’s fault. Lori apparently was going through some crazy chick thing, as all ladies are wont to do, and was picking fights with a perfectly good and reasonable man, and by all evidence, a model husband and father, because she was, in her own words feeling like a bitch. This is exactly the kind of scene a show like this needs. If you’re going to invest in a program that wants you to believe in a zombie apocalypse, it needs to be rooted in reality, and what better way scream realism than to depict a woman who picks fights just with an innocent, loving man because she wanted him to “blow up.” I guess the only part that felt forced was the fact that she admitted being in the wrong. Women. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t feed them to the zombie horde. Hmmm, maybe I have some issues to work out.
Speaking of the character, Lori, kudos to actress Sarah Wayne Callies performance in this episode. I don’t know much of this Callies’ work, but she gave a very nice turn this week.
Another nice piece of realism came when Rick was carrying the near lifeless body of his son Carl across a long field from the woods. Rick is in fine shape, but it was refreshing to see the dedication to real life details as opposed to glossing over those things to simply further a plot along. I can’t remember the last time I saw a hero carrying 85 pounds of dead weight running as fast as he can AND struggle with his load. Poor Rick was desperate to rush his son to safety yet the reality of the situation was addressed.
Andrew Lincoln and Jon Bernthal also gave a fine bit of acting, and I found it interesting how the character Rick started looking and walking a little bit zombish after giving blood. The scenes between the two men were moving, and if you listened close you could decipher the main differences between these two cowboy cops. Rick is bound and determined to get back to his wife and let her know their son is in mortal danger, without ever doubting his own ability to successfully complete the mission, while Shane on the other hand is not quite as automatically selfless and heroic. Shane does and says all the right things, but his nervous joking gives him away as a (more) flawed protagonist. When faced with the proposition of heading into zombie-filled territory after promising to do whatever is required, Shane nervously quips something along the lines of “is it too late to take that back?”
Again, that in itself doesn’t make Shane a bad man. Most of us are probably have more Shane in us than we have Rick, but it does reinforce the mistakes and choices Shane has made in the past, and most probably hints at other tiny faults of Shane’s that may become larger and more threatening in the future.
The one character who continues to pleasantly surprise is Darryl. Norman Reedus plays this white trash warrior brilliantly, and kudos to the writing staff for not making him a stereotypical redneck. Darryl is a capable leader, and seems to always step up and do the right thing when the situation arises. Whether it’s confidently assuring the group to stick with the plan, or supplying large quantities of illegal narcotics, Darryl has been a genuinely valuable addition to this caravan. He’s also added his own brand of bad-ass comic relief without ever playing really playing it for laughs.
From the conversation between Dale and T Dog, it looks like some writer was also embarrassed about naming a grown man, T Dog. Thadeus Dougs is a way better name than T Dog, but now that I know the origin behind the nickname, lame and dated as it is, I much prefer T Dog.
While we’re getting to know some of our characters a little better, we’re introduced to a whole other group of survivors in a world gone mad. Another LOST similarity.) Hershel is a man of faith, and even though he didn’t utter the Lord’s name, Hershel feels like an old-fashioned, all-American God-fearing man. Of course as a doctor, he is also a man of science, but the constant is his faith. Hershel is positive nature will correct the latest plague to befall man, he just isn’t nearly as confident that he’ll be around to see it.
Two scenes that could have made me groan played out much better than I expected. The first event happened when Andrea was caught off guard and attaked by a walker. I have to admit I was startled, because at first glance I just saw that zombie as another one of the search party. I was however briefly disappointed when while trying to escape, we were treated to the old horror stand-by of falling down in the woods, and backing away while screaming. What I was not expecting was a one-man cavalry on horseback to come in with a baseball bat and save the day, and what I did not expect even more was for that one man to be a woman.
The second scene that gave me an initial cringe was the exchange between Lori and Hershel when she finds out he’s a veterinarian. Maybe I just watch too much Tv and movies, but I’ve witnessed the surviving member go ballistic when his/her only hope of saving their loved one turns out to be an animal doctor, but all was forgiven when in response to Lori’s insult, “You’re in a bit over your head,” he kindly old doctor calmly responded, “Ma’am, aren’t we all?”
Which brings me to my main problem with this episode. In a show where all the character behavior was so spot on, I was surprised to see so many convenient writing tricks when there were better ways to handle the situations.
Shane and Otis arrive at the high school and apparently the zombies still hang out there. To be honest the scene reminded me of my high school days where all the stoners mulled about the smoking area for most of the day. If there was any difference at all, it was zombies seem to move faster than teenage burnouts.
I know there has been some debate on this very comment section last week as to the speed of an average zombie, and I even watched, “Talking Dead,” hosted by Chris Harwick as he posed this very question to WD comic creator, Robert Kirkman.
Kirkman basically said zombies are faster when they are newly turned, and faster after eating, but they can’t run, but some can lumber about pretty quick. If we’re looking for Zombie-metrics (and last week I was) than a fast zombie is still not as quick as a very fat middle-aged guy carrying a bag load of medical equipment. Hopefully from here on out this equation can now be considered canon.
Oh, and at the risk of sounding too political, it was funny to see a zombie with a FEMA jacket on. Many Katrina survivors assumed anyone working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency was brain dead anyway.
Ok, back to the show, Shane and Otis find flares and distract the zombies with the pretty flashing lights. Assuming there were only 3 flares, and the first two did start the horde away from that health trailer, wouldn’t a trained officer of the law have the forethought to save one flare in case they needed another distraction? Also wouldn’t Shane, a trained policeman have been more cautious before bursting open a door where 4 dozen hungry zombies were just minutes before? And most importantly, there were at least two windows in that trailer. One of the windows WAS ON THE DOOR THAT SHANE SO BLATANTLY THREW OPEN WITHOUT A MOMENT’S HESITATION.
Come on guys, stuff like that can make you look like Smallville writers in a hurry.
That said, I have every faith we’ve just been ramping up for some great shows, and I except The Walking Dead to be back to last season’s standards net week.
Follow Joe Oesterle’s latest book, “Weird Hollywood” on Twitter or on Facebook.