Walking Dead: Bloodletting Review - Mania.com

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  • 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.


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jedibanner 10/24/2011 8:10:36 AM

great review, agrees with everything but for me...I guess my main issue with the show right now is that it's trying to put too much emotions in the show and I can't stand people crying every show.

It's one thing to have drama but when 90% of the show is drama and not a mix of action and zombies, the interest is fading a bit.

Just when it was getting interested in the end with the catching of equipment, it ends with a ''to be continued'' half-way through the moment. Sure it's great to get people back for the next show but overall, the pace of last season seemed better balanced then this season.

And compeltelly agrees with the end of the review...Shane, come on...all the tactics and preperation to get in and then PAFF, he just opens the door without checking and makes a crap load of noize???? WTF!!!

And what's this about Laurie blaming the hunter....typical women judging with emotions and not logic (Yes, I know, I said it...sue me).

Anyways, still fun to watch but, let's hope there's more paste next episodes.

millean 10/24/2011 8:39:59 AM

OK, so I'm finally caught up with this show.  While I don't seem to love it as much as some of you, it is still a very good series and I am looking forward to the upcoming season.

The thing that seemed out of place to me was that there was hardly a mention of Sophia still being lost (save for a couple of passing comments.)  Think I would have mentioned that to Hershel's gang so they would at least keep an eye out.

Also (and admittedly this refers more to last week's episode), is it a law of physics that if you are running from something in the woods that you have to fall?  That gag is soooo overplayed.  Just once I'd like to see the "bad guy" fall instead of the "good guy".

Finally, if those are the worst complaints I'll have with this show, then that speaks volumes to the writers.  Good job, keep it up!


wessmith1966 10/24/2011 8:47:29 AM

Good review Joe, and I think I agree with your points. I did like the flashback. With the way the show began last year I figured we'd get flashbacks along the way. I like how our intrepid band of survivors is starting to splinter. Let's face it, if the world truly fell apart like this people would band together in groups but the stress of the situation who soon fracture the peoples' collective constitution and then the group. Especially since there really isn't a strong alpha-type leading the group.

I just read Jedibanner's comments and yes, you do blame the hunter. Basic rule of hunting; you do not shoot unless you have a completely unobstructed view of the target. Considering the kid was standing right next to the deer and the bullet went through the deer to hit the kid then the shooter (who had a scope on his rifle) would have been able to see, at the very least, the kid's legs and possibly his head unless the shooter was shooting through brush (which is a big no-no).

After the first two episodes I don't think the writing is as smart as last year's, but it's early in the season and with all of the shake-up behind the scenes the production might need a couple of episodes to get its feet.

One thing that always bothers me about zombie movies/shows...who cares how fast the damn things move! Why can't they move in different speeds? After all, live people move at different speeds. A zombied 20 years old who was in good shape should be able to move faster than a zombied 40 year old who rarely moved further than the refrigerator. Zombies move as fast as the story needs them to!

redhulk 10/24/2011 8:48:05 AM

The review was better than mine. There were too many teary eyes, guilt trips and open mouths aghast! Biggest complaint is not much happened considering all the story telling that needs to be done in a few season  episodes. Its a big farm, but did we have to endure Rick carrying Carl over its entire length! Yep, he's a devoted father, I got that in less time!  Editing maybe? Most of the story took place in the farmhouse bedroom with the rest of the cast hiking (arguing) through the woods. Poor Dale, the camp counselor and babysitter!  Do we need to see Hershall poking around in Carl's wound, I'd prefer the gore to be from the source zombie material rather than reality gore!  Where the heck is Sophia? Not even a hint to keep us wondering! (Maybe she's with Darryl's brother).  Some poor editing showing evening at the school but sunshine back at the bedroom. The focus on Carl's worsening condition and need to gather medical supplies diverts the story from its main goal this week which was to introduce the new group.  Yeah, alot of griping but the writing was so amaturish! I hope this show doesn't get lost in its own writing like LOST did, one of the biggest boondoggles in TV writing history. The source materal is good story! When they can enhance it with subtle alterations or new characters fine, but don't stray too far from the reason its on TV.

jedibanner 10/24/2011 9:04:01 AM

Wessmith, I'm ahunter myself and yes, you do have to make sure to have compelte vision but, if that were true when hunting, people wouldn't get shot by accidents and it's not always the shooter's fault. If you can't see a kid cause the deer is larger then the kid, that's what hunting is, when you have a shot, you take it.

And the guy is trying to make amends cause he feels bad and surprise surprise, who comes up and critizes like a bitch? the wife...

Sorry but for me, it just shows how sometimes people react with emotions first instead of logic and it just irritates me cause reality is shaken when emotions comes in. Yes it means the show is making me react so the intent is good but how it's done is my issue and just bigs me...for those who read the books...let's just say I can't wait for things to follow the storylines of the book a bit more.

redvector 10/24/2011 9:22:34 AM

Well, TWD has an advantage that Lost didn't. A comic book/GN series to use as a guideline. Lost lost me in it's 3rd season. It kind of fell apart for me because it had a "let's make it up as we go along" feel.

Roqueja 10/24/2011 10:42:33 AM

I feel that this episode shows that the writers are keeping the pace of the story too slow for natural progression.  I can't quite put my finger on what it is, it's just too slow.  Last season was superb, so far this season, not so much.  I do hope that it turns around soon, and I do beleive it will after setting up all the points that it has.  I am also a big fan of Darryl, and he steals almost every scene he is in.  Very well written character, and looks to have some amazing storyline coming up with an inevitable reunion with his brother.

I highly recommend The Rise of the Govenor for must read Walking Dead.  Kinda weird that I haven't heard anything on this site about it.  I tripped over it at the bookstore by chance and am really enjoying it.  I hope that Kirkman keeps the Walking Dead juggernaut going on all mediums for a long time.

jedibanner 10/24/2011 11:52:42 AM

Roqueja, I think since most people have either read the series we don't want always write with ''spoilers'' and the show themselves have taken quite a bit of different roads compated to the series so, it's just different to talk about the series vs the book.

But yeah, the governor arc in WD is the best...kind of what I meant in my first comment...I can't wait for it to happen.

samson 10/24/2011 12:23:32 PM

I've never read the comic because I don't want to. I like not knowing what's going to happen next. It happens so rarely for me. I don't want to do anything that would spoil that experience for me.

I wish I didn't know anything about Darabont leaving and etc ... I feel like there is something missing in this season that I can't quite put my finger on. I'm not sure if I feel that way because I know what happened behind the scenes and it's coloring my opinion, or if the show is actually lacking something that was there in season one. Like, those litle subtle touches that made the show really stand out, aren't there anymore.

On another note, great review Joe. I think you pretty much nailed it.

conundrum 10/24/2011 1:51:52 PM

All I can really say is this, when a show gives me nightmares that night about my own child gone missing in a post apocalyptic world, and my best ally is a redneck tracker (yes, Daryl was in the dream), feeling the gut wrenching uncertainly about my little biys fate...they must be doing something right, the writes, directors, producers, etc.  Even for it's quirks, I'm hooked.

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