A new danger is revealed in the second episode this season’s The Walking Dead. So how did our newly formed prison gang do with their first full-on attack?
Let’s bitch it out.
Last week the pace was decidedly slow as we returned to find our prison gang living in harmony. There was plenty of making out, pet names, council meetings and pig farming. But of course, we knew the rainbows and sunshine would not last long as we ended with blink-or-you’ll-miss-him Patrick (Vincent Martella) dying from a flu-virus before promptly bleeding out through every orifice and turning into a walker. And thus began the first catastrophic attack on our happy colony.
Am I the only one who didn’t feel any suspense or trepidation during this attack? It all boils down to one reason – we simply haven’t spent enough time with these new characters to care whether they live through this ordeal. Case in point, Tyreese (Chad Coleman) and his new girlfriend Karen (Melissa Ponzio). It doesn’t seem as though we’ve spent adequate time with Tyreese at all (his collective screen time has been what, 20 minutes at best?) so I find it extremely difficult to care about what happens to him or his burgeoning relationship. Sure, when he discovered Karen’s charred body at episode’s end, there was a small pang of “aww”, but really, the function of the scene is to find out who burnt the bodies in the first place rather than care about Tyreese’s impending rage. And likely the culprit will be another character we know next to nothing about (my bets are on Lawrence Gilliard Jr.’s Stookey) which all amounts to a bunch of ZZZZZ. I hate to say it, but this season is starting to smell of the Nikki and Paulo syndrome.
As much as people despise the ‘getting to know you’ phase when it comes to introducing new characters (as it usually amounts to slower-paced episodes like we saw last week) it’s necessary to provide adequate payoff when the action does come. Sure we love the threat that ‘No one is safe’, but that only applies when we actually give a sh*t about the characters.
Going back to our well-loved protagonists, the attack is clearly meant to exhibit their growth, but even that seems to be severely lacking. It’s clear that Carol (Melissa McBride) has wholeheartedly changed from the shrieking victim she’s inhabited throughout much of the series, but her evolution is anything but. Her changes function more as a character rewrite rather than the substantive growth that would make her a layered character with depth. It’s just too much too soon. Many of New Carol’s statements just come off as awkward and uncomfortable.
Of course I’m referring to the smackdown that she delivers on poor little Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) after being unable to knife her dead father in the head. Sure Lizzie isn’t exactly the picture of ‘sane’ as she seems more preoccupied with the walker she’s named Nick than her dead father, but she’s a kid. I’ll cut her some slack. Carol delivering her most sincere “Honey, you’re weak” in retaliation seems incredibly jarring and out of place. I get that the world has changed and it’s no longer productive to coddle the children, but seriously – the kid just lost her father and has never been through a walker attack. Give her some time to process! It feels as the though the producers are shoving it down our throats that Carol is the new badass and we should all be rejoicing that she’s no longer playing the weak victim that many of us (myself included) bitched about before. Personally, I think more subtlety is in order.
In contrast, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is indeed affected by the attack, but his character growth actually feels like development. He’s continuing to struggle with the prospect of taking on a leadership role again, which he does eventually, but it doesn’t happen in a way that feels disingenuous or manufactured as it does in Carol’s case. Rick’s journey is far more believable, and although he holsters his gun once more, it’s clear that it’s not an easy decision and one that he will likely continue to struggle with in subsequent episodes. He’ll step up when needed, which is a good thing to see, but everything that he’s gone through still weighs heavily, as it should. Of course, Rick is our lead protagonist so the care that’s given to his character is expected – but Carol has been with us since S1 and with everything she’s gone through, I think the same kind of tact can be applied to her development as well.
- Thank GOD Carl’s (Chandler Riggs) stupid hat is gone. I know it will likely return now that he’s got his gun back, but let’s just bask in the glory of having two full episodes where we don’t see that thing.
- I hate the idea of a plague because I still don’t feel as though The Walking Dead has adequately addressed the danger of the walkers alone. I am thankful, however, that the core group found out about the virus relatively quickly without having it drag on episode after episode until they pieced it together. Why must each season introduce yet another threat when the biggest one still holds so much intrigue? More isn’t necessarily better…
- The scene with Michonne (Danai Gurira) holding baby Judith (who is frickin’ adorable) is incredibly effective and serves as the episode’s best moment. It’s only a few seconds, yet so much is conveyed emotionally and narratively without a single word being spoken. More moments like this please!
- Poor little piggies. Perhaps getting rid of all of them isn’t the best of ideas. Keeping one for study might have been a smart move to get a leg up on the virus, don’t you think?
What did you think viewers? How are you liking this new season? Who do you think is feeding rats to the walkers and pre-emptively burning the sick? Are they the same person? Or two? Or an entire TEAM? Will we find out what happened to Michonne? Will Rick ease back into the role of leader? Sound off in our comments section below.
A gentle reminder that we adhere to a SPOILER FREE zone here, so please keep any plot points from the graphic novels to yourself.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm EST on AMC