“The Walking Dead,” you cruel seductress. Last week I commented how just when I needed a jolt of excitement, this zombie survival show brought out the big guns. An episode filled with betrayal, action, zombies, and reconciled plot holes were certainly an area of satisfaction. I was back to being intrigued to see where the show would take us next. But just as in the fashion “The Walking Dead” has been moving all season, this episode was as dead and lifeless as the floater in the well. The problem is when the show peaks, it always comes back down instead of continuing on a level plane. If in one episode Rick had to fight 20 zombies with a machete, subsequently in the next episode he’d spend the same amount of time just making breakfast…and that’s it. You have a horror audience watching! We can handle the intensity dial being increasingly turned towards 11! Suffice it to say I was almost bored to tears with last weeks episode, only perking up at the chance of some AMC side boob. Even that let me down. We do learn some critical information in the very last seconds of the episode, but of course all that will be dealt with next time, if the gang doesn’t decide to play hacky sack for four hours.
After the events of “Save The Last One,” “Cherokee Rose” decides to take a breather. The survivors all arrive at Hershel’s farm, and ground rules are laid out by Hershel himself. The main two are as follows: No weapons on the property and once Sophia if found they are to move on. Unpopular, but Rick convinces everyone to be proper guests. Carl is doing much better, and floats in and out of sleep to provide some dialogue. Rick whines about not being the best father possible and the hardships of raising a child during the apocalypse, but Hershel cheers him up. Rick uses this intimate moment to convince the farm owner that he and his gang would be a perfect fit if they were allowed to stay on the farm, and Hershel says he’ll think about it. Maybe. Ahh, closure….
The zombie moment of the episode involves a zed who fell into one of the 5 wells on the property. Obviously wanting to kill the threat, the characters pictured above have to find a way to extract the dead head from the well so the clean water isn’t contaminated…if it hasn’t been already that is. After nearly dropping Glenn in as zombie chow, he’s able to lasso the zombie so the rest can pull him up and out. But, the chubby zombie gets caught on the side of the well, ripping at his rotted and decaying flesh. Despite this, everyone keeps pulling, until he rips clean in half, dropping an array of exposed organs, blood, and limbs back into the well. Chalk that up to a loss.
In other news, while looking for Sophia solo, Daryl stumbles upon an old house in the woods. No zombies jump him, but he does find a pillow and a blanket freshly prepped on the floor. He calls for the child, but gets no answer. Out front he finds a Cherokee Rose and explains the significance to Carol in an attempt to offer hope, banking that the house showed a sign of life from Sophia. Meanwhile, Maggie and Glenn go on a supply run in a desolate town, and after some sexual tension last week (and the obvious relationship all comic readers knew would happen) the two do the nasty right in the pharmacy. Love and the zombie apocalypse, how romantic. Our weekly Shane update still has him mentally distraught, and he silently opposes the no gun policy. That’s pretty much it for this episode, did I forget anything? Oh yea, Lori is pregnant and we haven’t seen her be intimate with Rick yet. Do I need to spell it out?
Somebody poisoned the water hole! When the most intense moments of an episode come from pulling a zombie out of a well, you’ve got problems. I attribute this fact to overkill. By whom? The writers. So many complaints last year centered around the writing, and lack of focus, and plot holes and yadda yadda. So this season, the scripts seem to be very centered around the drama of the group, and getting to the nitty-gritty of each character in an attempt to show us how proficient the writer’s development skills are. There’s essentially 1 encounter with 1 zombie per episode, and that’s usually just with 1 character. The rest of the episode is mostly devoted to advancing characters like Shane and Rick with personality defining moments. The problem with that? Eventually, it hits the end of the episode, and you realize nothing happened. Let’s look at this week as an example:
-Daryl might be closer to finding Sophia: She might be alive, right, we knew that
-Hershel might let the group stay: Ok, we figured that would happen
-Shane still might be crazy: Again, Ok, we knew that
-Rick questions himself: Like every episode
-Dale tries to take care of Andrea: She resists as always
The only nuggets we get here is the pregnancy and Glenn’s new relationship, the latter being a minimal shock as well.
As the season presses on, the horror and special effects are taking a back seat with minimal opportunity to impress. Writing is trying to appease all the critics of last season, but are creating new problems in their wake. I admit, you’ll never be able to please everyone, it just isn’t possible, but “The Walking Dead” is turning out to be a real crap shoot week to week. Are we going to get a fun-filled zombie ride that has us gripping the edge of our couch? Or a sluggishly slow gap filler in between point A and D. A serious balance has to be struck, or people may give up waiting for one of the dynamite episodes.