The Best and the Worst.
Here we have an interesting conundrum. This episode had moments that were both shockingly good and shockingly awful. It was an interesting episode that provided a delightful little ecosystem representative of the highs and lows that shows like this can experience.
In short: the best part was the first part. That is to say: the first half of the episode was very good. And that’s not because there were zombies in this part of the show. No, the first half of the episode was great because it utilized dramatic irony to its fullest and because it murdered a dog.
Let’s start with the dog thing. I’m a big proponent of death in cinema. I think it’s heavily underutilized and that movies and TV shows tend to sidestep realism out a sense of misplaced fear. I often worry that writers don’t have faith enough in their own work to take that extra step. Kids and pets tend to outlast their significantly smarter adult counterparts. So it was great to see this episode not candy-coat the realities of this world. Yeah, dogs are not as smart as people and would probably be eaten. It was an all-in kind of move and it paid off, as it made us hate the zombies a bit more and add that extra dose of unease to the scene. So good on the show. +1 for dead dog.
God, I hope my girlfriend doesn’t see this.
The other great facet to this episode was it’s usage of dramatic irony. In that same scene, we see a zombie walk into Madison’s home. There’s none of this “mysterious figure in the shadows” type of nonsense. We know 100% that a zombie is in that house. So when Travis’s truck pulls up, it’s suspense rather than suspicion. Walking into the house is the rational thing for Travis to do with his set of information, but we know more than he does, so it gives the show some much needed drama. Real drama. It was tense, stressful, and legitimately interesting.
From there, the episode took a quick turn for the worst. It swapped out real drama for melodrama, and it was back to the same old same old…flat characters pontificating about abstract notions of what’s going on around them. We get some vague discussions on survival and how moral people are ill-equipped to handle themselves, discussions on commitment and teamwork, and more damn talk about Nick and his drug use.
I feel ya…
It’s difficult to recap the second half of the episode because very little happened to progress the story AND very little happened to develop the characters. Because the show is dealing in endless generalities, none of the characters have had a true moment to shine. It’s like if you were playing an RPG, and you level up every ability by 1 every time, rather than focusing on a few core skills that you use most often. The progress is so slow that it will take quite some time to see any real progress…and we hope we are still invested once that net change is noticeable.
The final moments of the show set up some great topics that I hope will be discussed down the line, namely the military involvement in the whole ordeal. How long will the military continue to hunt zombies and protect humans before they resign to just cleaning house à la Half-Life?
All in all, it was a Frankenstein of an episode, and it will be interesting to see what the show doubles down on in the coming weeks.
Odds and Ends
- That rolling blackout scene was extremely well done and it actually resonated with me.
- Why does this lady have a hedge-maze of a garden in her yard? Isn’t that difficult to navigate when you’re NOT a zombie?
- Props to the effects and make-up crew. That shotgun to the face was very well done.
- You should listen to mother Nick. You know EXACTLY to which piece of advise I’m referring.
Alex Russo likes to talk about television. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.