Chaos; but Not the Kind We Want
Editor’s Note: I was unable to watch the last episode of FtWD when it aired, I got held up by other Nerdy, Inc. things, it’s been a whole big thing. But we’ve caught up, just in time for the third episode tonight!
Unlike the last episode (in which nothing happened for an hour and a half), we finally see things happen to our characters! Unfortunately, not a whole lot of it makes sense and I spent a good amount of time yelling at my TV. It’s the epitome of “these characters are not acting rationally because we need the story to pan out a specific way.” And it’s infuriating.
We are seeing LA begin to spiral into disarray as society’s grip on law and order starts to weaken. Nobody has yet to wrap their heads around the problem, or it’s genesis, but it’s clear that something is amiss. It’s interesting to see the characters piece together what we already know, but at the same time it’s not because…well…here’s why:
Robert Kirkman has stated that Zombie Movies don’t exist in the TWD or the FtWD universe. Our characters have no exposure to zombies, their history, their lore, etc. However, the characters come to the (correct) conclusion about what is happening in the universe almost too quickly. For example, when Madison and Travis are picking up Alicia from her ailing boyfriend Matt’s house, they see him in bed with a fever. Travis pulls back Matt’s shirt collar and they see his collarbone is a bloody mess. Madison immediately recognizes the wound as a bite.
How? I saw it too, and I couldn’t tell that it was a bite. The only reason I knew it was a bite was because I know that a zombie apocalypse is imminent. I’ve grown up with these films and comics, so I know the tropes. But Madison has not…to her, that could be anything from a gunshot wound to a stab.
Similarly, Travis seems to know that the walkers are people that are already dead, as evidenced by his line stating that the walkers are people that have already died. Again, it wouldn’t quite add up if this was a wholly new concept in their lives. The dialogue is just a bit too…guided. The characters act as if they have an underlying understanding of what’s going on, so their conversations and actions are not believable.
Get out of the road!
Their conversations also aren’t believable because the dialogue is very, very bad. The conversation that Travis had over the phone with his ex-wife, Liza, was difficult to watch because it was a back-and-forth without any infused logic. Travis is insisting he pick up his son, but Liza won’t let him, as it’s her weekend with Chris. Rather than saying: “Turn on the news” or “It’s an emergency” or “Look outside and smell the chaos,” he insists on telling her later.
That is, of course, only so we can have those characters fall into a situation in which they are in over their heads later on. It’s very frustrating to watch because these aren’t the actions of normal people. Travis, like other characters, aren’t speaking the way your or I would, and it’s obvious why: it would work. We wouldn’t fall into the situations that would result in the simple, made-for-TV drama.
While we are on the subject of Chris…how about that plotline? I’m really curious what the writers were going for with the whole police-shot-a-homeless-guy-who-was-most-likely-a-zombie angle. The protesters were very clearly echoing the sentiment held by many Americans about police brutality in this country, but at the same time, all the viewers know that the homeless guy was probably a zombie. Was this supposed to be a veiled metaphor or criticism of something? Because if so…I’m not really sure who we are supposed to side with on this one.
The violence, similarly, got out of hand very quickly. A small crowd of protesters around a crime scene escalated into people kicking over mailboxes and flipping minivans, and I’m not sure why. I understand that this is all background story, and we should be focusing on the characters at hand, but since they are all flat and uninteresting, my mind is wandering to literally anything else in the show just to figure it all out.
I say that the characters are flat and uninteresting because they are flat and uninteresting. We haven’t been given a whole lot to like about them so far. Madison, Travis, and Alicia are better than Nick, by comparison, because they aren’t drug addicts, but beyond that we haven’t seen them do anything noble or inspiring yet. In the original series, we learned very early on that Rick is a brave policeman ready to lay down his life for the job, that he is good father, and that tries to remain as true to his word as possible. Here, none of the main characters have done anything to earn our respect. You could argue that this is sort of an “everyman” type situation and the characters will flourish in time, and while that may be true, it makes for some slow television in the meantime.
It’s not until, literally, the final minute of the show where we see any sort of moral question or dilemma posed to the audience. It comes in the form of one neighbor attacking another, and we are asked what the right thing to do is…help a friend, or let a zombie eat her.
And apparently, the answer is “let a zombie eat her,” because that is what Madison does. She actually prevents Alicia from leaving the house to save their neighbor. Our first opportunity to see a character be brave or respectable and it doesn’t happen. Madison really should have let Alicia go…it would have been win-win. Either she kills the zombie and saves her neighbor, or she gets eaten by the zombie and is therefore punished for quoting a Miley Cyrus song in the course of normal conversation.
Yes, that really happened. Watch it again.
Odds and Ends
- I love how that kid’s name is Tobias. I only wish he had cutoffs.
- Alicia and Nick are very puzzling for a brother and sister. Their relationship is strange and the show is very inconsistent about how they get along.
- TAKE THE FOOD, MADISON!
- I’m getting really sick of the “silhouette looming but it’s not actually a zombie” fake-out. It’s cheap suspense. And it’s getting old very quickly.
Alex Russo likes to talk about television. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.