Alright, dudes. This probably isn’t going to be the greatest review ever, but I just sat through 3 hours and 13 minutes of Billy Crystal doing blackface jokes and being angry that Viola Davis was robbed, and then immediately followed that by tuning into AMC too early and having to listen to awful Lori’s awful speech all over again. And starting “18 Miles Out” with one of those clichéd “2 hours earlier...” cold opens didn’t help matters. So, as you can guess, I’m in a bit of a mood.
None of that, however, changes the fact that this was a pretty darn good episode. Seriously. They went all Hamlet crossed with Night of the Living Dead on me. Where was all this quality the rest of the season?
It’s pathetic how much better this show gets when it moves off the farm. Every scene at the homestead lurched the show into a dead stop. And not just because the whole thing felt very “ladies have emotions, yo!” I get where they were going with that. At the end of the world, do you lay down and die or stand up and fight? Is either option worth it in the long run? Does either choice even matter? But that’s not what we got. Instead we had half an episode dedicated to angst and generic whinging about how life is sooo hard and two idiotic women fighting over someone as douchy as Shane.
More to the point, we already dealt with the philosophical question of to be or not to be last season with Andrea and the gun and again with Andrea and the exploding CDC. Maggie and Lori have decided that Beth (aka Little Blonde Piece) should suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, while Andrea’s perfectly fine with the girl’s desire to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them. Turns out the whole dying, sleeping, perchancing to dream thing comes with an uncomfortable rub and the kid decides she wants to live after all. Good for her, or whatever. It’s hard to summon empathy for a character the writers couldn’t be bothered to flesh out even when she was about to shuffle off her mortal coil. But that zombie attack out at the jail more than made up for the inanities at Hershel’s farm.
At the risk of sounding redundant, I get the writer’s point with this sequence, but it worked a heckuva lot better than the “will she or won’t she” non-story. Dumping Randall in the middle of nowhere hogtied and terrified makes sense given what just happened with Tony and Dave’s crew, but it’s also sad when you think back and realize the Rick from season 1 never would have even considered ditching the kid. Times, they are a’changin’.
The boys did manage to get in some stupid behavior (it’s always a good idea to shout and shoot at each other when there are possible roamers around), and the writers breezed over some rather large and ludicrous plot holes (such as how a whole murder of walkers somehow didn’t hear said screaming match/gun battle but did hear Rick break some glass). But those are little niggling points overall. It was nice to see some comics love with the shot of Rick stabbing the zombie in the head through the fence. And it was even better to watch Shane nearly piss himself in fear as he watched his only companion sacrifice him — albeit temporarily — in the way Shane did to Otis.
Of course, the episode ended like every other episode, with a failed mission that leaves everyone two steps back from where they started. But unlike most other eps, this one worked. The biggest reason for this (besides not being tied to the farm) was the scripting of an episode that both furthered the serialized plot and that was in and of itself a self-contained standalone.
Better still, it focused all its attention on just a few characters, giving the audience a chance to if not get to know these people then at least get a chance to finally hear what they’ve been thinking all these months. The writers picked two stories to tell and kept the cameras trained only on those characters who directly related to those scenes. Dale and T-Dog didn’t wander through the background, Carol didn’t pass by to nag Daryl about not being more sociable, Hershel wasn’t getting drunk, nothing. Glen Mazzara would do well to continue with this Lost-like model of storytelling. I am kinda looking forward to an episode with just T-Dog, Carol, Patricia, and Jimmy killing some lamebrains and chatting about their lives pre-apocalypse.
- “I used to watch football and screw around on the Internet!”
- Women be cookin’! All the time! They never leave the kitchen! Except when there’s laundry and cleaning to be done!
- That was some hardcore zombie stabage there, Rick.
- Andrea said everything to Lori we’ve all wanted to scream at her.
- Even AMC agreed that the suicide plot was a waste of air time. They didn’t upload a single photo from that sequence.
- Who’s got two thumbs and is überexcited that the Next Doctor is going to be the Governor? This chick. (Although I am slightly disappointed that Sol Starr turned down the role.)
Alex Brown is a research librarian by day, writer by night, and all around geek who watches entirely too much TV. One of these days she will go out and have a life, but right now she’s too busy re-watching Roar. You can follow her on Twitter if you dare.