A big reveal, a horde of zombies, a huge cliffhanger, and lots of dialogue...who would have thought that with all those elements this episode would be really...bad.

Is it Over Yet?

This was a truly fascinating episode of TV, as it perfectly highlighted everything that is wrong with this season. Everything…laid out on a silver platter. It was disjointed, containted purposeless violence, and proved the showrunners to be a sinister bunch. Just in time for Thanksgiving!

Disjointed you ask? Yes, disjointed. It’s simple…the show is trying to do too many things. It’s trying to address previous cliffhangers, maintain current relationships and the tension therein, and set up future conflicts, all while chucking in mindless zombie action and seemingly emotional reveals in order to placate all audience members. It’s a lot to do, I’ll admit, but that comes with the territory when you want to make a sprawling show like this. In this episode alone we got a clash of differing philosophies, an attempt to reaffirm the importance of community, people trying to cope with loss, a fake zombie scare, and a real zombie scare…there was so much to contend with that it left the episode without an emotional (or narrative) core.

The most interesting relationship mentioned above continues to be the tension between Rick/Carol and Morgan. There’s a lot to explore there and it will deliver the best drama if handled correctly. The seeds are planted, it’s just a matter of making sure they are given the attention and dedication they need. It’s literally life versus death, and when deciding if a wandering bunch of people can (or should) play judge, jury, and executioner, we can usually get a good ideaological debate from the episode. I can’t stress enough that THIS IS THE TYPE OF DRAMA THE SHOW SHOULD BE FOCUSING ON ALL THE TIME. THIS IS DRAMATIC TENSION.

That tension, however, was punctuated with the exact opposite of tension…a B.S. zombie scare. This was the most transparent part of the episode, as we watched a complete idiot try to shimmy across a poorly suspended wire simply because, God forbid, we have an episode without zombies. This sequence had zero bearing on the plot and was less interesting than the commercials that followed it. Seriously. Ask yourself this: what mattered here? There would be no consequence if the maneover hadn’t been attempted, and if the guy fell into the zombies, who cares? He’s A) an uninteresting side character and B) and idiot for trying. This is not the way to get an audience emotionally involved.

Oh, and speaking of ways not to get an audience emotionally involved: Glenn is still alive. Are you surprised? I’m not. He crawled under the dumpster and just waited until the zombies got distracted by a tin can and walked away (seriously). And ignoring the logisitical question of how one zombie could eat every part of Lori’s body in season three, but a group of zombies would leave Nicholas’s face fully in tact, we have to accept the truth here: this was a marketing ploy.

If Glenn had fake-died in the middle of an episode and made it out by the end, would there have been rampant speculation and a myriad of articles being written about the logistics of either outcome? Of course not. There was a big bump in the ratings and everyone got an extra minute or so in the spotlight. And you were lied to. Real nice, huh?

The fact of the matter is that this series has become The Cliffhanger Show. Every episode ends with a big, flashy cliffhanger (the tower falling!). Then the next episode wraps it up in the first ten minutes, we get 40 minutes of dialogue that is either A) crap, or B) interesting, but divorced from the preceding and succeeding events. Then we end on another cliffhanger. String ’em all together and you’ve got yourself a seaon of adequate TV.

What it all boils down to is this: The Walking Dead works on a small scale. The intimite, isolated episodes provide us with good character studies and interesting dilemmas. One of my favorite episodes in recent years was “The Grove,” a season four episode where Carol had to make some tough choices regarding the people with whom she was traveling. No big, flashy action scenes or all-out brawls…just a small, personal story with a complete beginning, middle, and end. This method works. Stringing it together with flashy, but ultimately consequence free events makes the show kind of…pointless. The framework just isn’t there and the show suffers for it.

So once again we can now speculate on “what happens next?” Spoiler Alert: We’ve all seen it before, and it’ll make us wonder just how much more there really is to this story.

Odds and Ends

  • Enid sucks.
  • Rick is training this kid with the gun and, therefore, I don’t trust him. He’s not a W-head sleeper agent, no, but I think he’s going to the downfall of the group in one way or another.
  • I want the whole group together again, not because I love ’em all so much, but because this timeline (or lack thereof) is very annoying. We have no sense of just how long this whole ordeal has gone on for or what the sequence of events is from person-to-person.
  • Those balloons freaked out my kitten.

    Alex Russo likes to talk about television. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.

Alex Russo

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