Monday, March 12, 2012

NEW!: The Walking Dead 2:12 - Better Angels

Overall Rating: 8.2

Modern sci-fi writers sure do love that title, eh? (see: Flashforward)  This one is, without a doubt, extremely gutsy.  See more below the cut.
Plot Synopsis:

Wikipedia has a pretty good description of the plot here - don't read until you've watched the episode if you don't like to be spoiled, because there are a number of big twists.

The Skinny:

There are several plot points that confused me upon watching the episode, so let's get them out of the way before I talk about my reaction:
  • Shane entered the barn in order to decide what to do with Randall (apparently)...he evidently decided to take him out and have him point the way to the kid's camp.  What I don't understand is...why did he suddenly change his mind and kill him (snapping his neck)?  Why bother telling him you want to join his camp once you're in the forest, only to kill him a minute later?
  • Where did all of those walkers suddenly come from?  I know they get drawn to the sound of gunfire, but they're in East Jesus, not downtown Burbank.  How did hundreds of walkers suddenly flock to their location?
  • Neither Shane nor Randall were ever touched by walkers.  Why did they both turn after death?  And why did Shane turn mere seconds after death when it took Randall hours to reanimate?  They suggested that the incubation period for walker syndrome varied, but that's a lot of variation.
  • How does pulling back to the house afford any real protection and why did they feel the need to pull the vehicles closer to the house?  Not like a horde of walkers is going get stopped by rickety wood and deadbolts.
My best guess as to the most logical answers to each question:
  • Perhaps Shane never intended to follow the boy, and wanted simply to lure him a little further from camp so it would take search parties longer to find him?
  • They offered in the episode that the bogs and river beds were providing the farm cover, but perhaps there were hundreds of walkers from nearby towns that were drawn to their general area by the smell of livestock and began massing after the first gunshot was fired by Shane in the scuffle with Rick.  It's a stretch, but it's all I've got.
  • The theory being floated right now is that the walker virus is airborne and everyone carries it, but that in airborne doses, it cannot defeat a healthy immune system.  More direct contact with walker blood overwhelms the body, leading to death and walker syndrome, but death also eliminates the immune system, leading to the same result.  That still doesn't explain the apparent variability expressed by dead humans before resurrection.  Why would it matter what your constitution was prior to death?  Shouldn't the virus react the same way to all of us after we die?  I this point, I don't even think the writers have a clue.
  • Perhaps their theory is that they're less of a tempting target if they stay quiet and keep the lights out...but that if a horde of walkers too big to fight off comes calling, they'll want to be able to jump into their vehicles and escape?
Either way, there were a number of VERY nice scenes in the early parts of this episode.  Rick's speech at Dale's burial was sterling and, believe it or not, Shane's talk with Carl was quite moving as well.  It makes total sense that after the group galvanized around Rick following Dale's death, and made it perfectly clear to Shane that he didn't get a vote anymore unless it agreed with Rick's vote, Shane might want to go after Rick.  Something like this is bound to make a man like Shane snap (and it didn't help that Lori tried to set things right with Shane, even offering that she had no idea whose baby it was that she was carrying, only to also reinforce for Shane that he had no chance to be a real part of their family).  The farm is clearly no longer safe...they're going to have to leave and find a better protected area, and that will be interesting to see in future installments...not to mention how Carl will react to Shane's death.

My gut reaction to this episode is to cheer the untimely death of Shane - who for most of my reviews of this series, wasn't allowed to have a name due to his insanity.  But I would also say that this episode finally drove home the point I've been making about Shane from the beginning.  His attitude is self defeating and morally indefensible and we just saw why.  He calls Rick's wife broken (as though a person could be fixed with the right combination of strength and survival skill) and his son weak (because he feels guilty about his trouble killing the walker in the woods?).  While earlier, Rick made a point of wishing that Carl would do more things that a kid should do (since they are also trying to have a life that's worth fighting for).  Shane is a utilitarian...Rick still, deep down, wants to believe that what he's doing will lead to a better tomorrow.  He still has hope.  That hope is the only reason a person shouldn't just kill themselves at the first sign of a zombie apocalypse...and the astute viewer knows how wrong such an action know it's wrong when your heart is pounding out of your chest in fear that you may witness such a deed being done.

I also want to comment on Conservative reactions to The Walking Dead...I find them striking because, no matter how many times I hear their arguments, I disagree stridently with every one of them.  And I'm not some liberal democrat talking.

PJTV ran a Trifecta segment on Lori's giving serious thought to aborting her baby, saying it was a clear sign that Hollywood leftists had an agenda to prove that there are situations where abortion is not only understandable, but morally just.  I find this entirely LUDICROUS.  The whole time that Lori was considering taking the morning after pill, my heart was pounding (as were the hearts of millions of Americans, I imagine)...and SO WAS LORI'S!  This was not portrayed as Lori making a calm, rational decision that was clearly correct and then chickening out.  No no...she took the pills with the same look on her face that many SS men had while they were shooting Jews in Auschwitz!  She was horrified at her own weakness and terrified at the prospects for the life of her child if she didn't go through with the abortion at the same any good person in this bind might be.  There was no agenda there, was balanced coverage of a real dilemma...ending, ultimately, in Lori choosing life.

And today, my sister passed me a link to some comments made at the "Hot Air" blog which I will pass along (here).  The author is a big name in Hollywood watch-dogging from the Conservative perspective, and his comments suggest that he considered Dale to be dead weight (say WHAT?!?!?  The moral authority and the voice of reason of the group is dead weight?!?!?!) and Shane to be the one character he actually wanted to watch (because he was interesting).  Um...really?  You don't find Carol, Daryl, Hershel, Maggie, Glen...any of those guys interesting?  You feel the need to keep a madman in camp just to add some emotional depth?  OK...I can respect that, I guess...we all love a good villain.  But...what I cannot understand is the reaction of the conservative fan base...which seems largely to be of two minds, neither very enthused.  One group - likely the libertarian minded folks or at least the fiscal conservatives - really likes Shane and the drama he adds and actually sympathizes with his decisions.  The other group - we'll call them the grassroots social cons and hawks - thinks the entire show is a left wing conspiracy designed to make us hate our military, our religions and our natures and agree with liberal talking points regarding morality.

Ehem...sorry're all IDIOTS.  THIS conservative blog will remain in love with The Walking Dead so long as we believe that it remains a relatively balanced representation of humanity and all of our flaws and strengths.  For the most part, excepting two recent episodes, it has done so, as far as I'm concerned.  I think the authors, who may indeed be liberal ideologues, have done a remarkable job letting the viewer decide what's right and showing respect to multiple perspectives while also painting clear moral distinctions between utilitarians like Shane and men of principle like Hershel and Glen and Dale.  I see no evidence that the writers are trying to sell me on Obamacare or make me hate the military or any of that nonsense.  We mock 9-11 truthers and yet we find ourselves talking of Hollywood conspiracies at the drop of a hat.  Please STOP IT until you have evidence.  As for the libertarians rooting for give common libertarianism a bad name.  Please get off my team.

*heavy sigh*

Writing: 8.0

There are some strange plot holes that need filling and I don't much care for the way the show was shot on a few occasions - especially the weird cut to black with white flash thing that I guess was supposed to fool me into thinking T-Dog got attacked or something?  It had some big highs and some odd lows and all in all was relatively solid.

Acting: 7.0

The final showdown between Rick and Shane little overdone.  Rick's kind of strange screams "YOU MADE ME DO THIS!!!" was rather purple and Shane's weird heavy breathing scene in the barn with Randall made no sense from an acting standpoint.

Random side note, BTW - you know why I never name actor names for this show (nor was I very good at naming them consistently for Flashforward or Merlin or any of the recent new science fiction shows)?  Because they don't put actor names in the farking opening credits next to a picture or a character name anymore, so I haven't the slightest clue who these people are.  If I were in the actor's guild, I'd be demanding that my union reps fight for credit recognition in the opening sequence of a show.  Besides...most people I know like opening credits that are memorable and give them the cast list.  This move toward a modern world where the actors don't matter and all you get for an intro is a title screen and maybe a few mood-establishing shots if you're lucky is STUPID.  Yes I know...I could go look it up online...but I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO.

Message: 9.5

On the other hand...there was a lot to like about Rick's grief over having to kill Shane to protect his family, about his decision to embrace Daleism (a new religion for a new world!)...and I also wanted to highlight that Lori's decision to take responsibility for her shameful conduct and actually thank Shane for being their for her when everything went to hell and to apologize for making a mess of things between Rick and Shane.

1 comment:

  1. Quick note: If you're ever perplexed regarding who plays who, you can always look up that information at the official site or IMDB.

    But now to the content of your review:

    On confusing point 1, I think the weird heavy breathing thing was Shane struggling with the decision in re: Randall -- but the moment he took Randall out into the woods, he'd already decided to kill the boy and was just leading him on with talk of joining the other group.

    On confusing point 2, the walkers probably have been slowly encroaching on the farm all along. This episode is not the only time a gun has been fired on the property.

    On confusing point 3, viruses almost always have variable incubation periods, so I don't really have a problem with Shane and Randall reanimating at different times -- although it's entirely possible that Randall started "walking" relatively quickly and we just didn't see it.

    On confusing point 4, a smaller area is easier to defend. There's no way this group can watch the entire border of Hershel's farm -- but they can certainly keep an eye on the house.

    And the fact that our opinions regarding this series diverge from that of other conservatives? I suspect it might have something to do with our Catholicism. I have no clue if Green, Ott, and Whittle are affiliated with any church, but "Allahpundit" of HotAir is definitely an atheist -- and that might be coloring his perspective.