TV Talk: THE WALKING DEAD 1.3: Tell It To The Frogs (Meredith’s Response)

The very fact that there IS a Team Shane proves how far from the comics we’ve drifted. Meredith chimes in.

Okay, fellas, I can see both of your points. To be sure, Devin, Rick’s going back into geek-infested Atlanta one hot second after being reunited with his family makes for a big pile of stupid. Henri’s right, though: much of that is simply because that’s just who Rick is. He’s a good-doer with a fair reason to believe he’s invincible after surviving a shootout, a coma, and a solo journey through the post-apocalyptic South. But I think there’s more to Rick’s decision than cockiness and blind benevolence. Rick’s a cop. He sleeps peacefully through the outbreak, wakes up and skips out of the hospital, makes some new friends on his journey to Georgia, easily evades a bunch of walkers and finds his family within a few otherwise uneventful days. He’s not feeling the ruinous effects of the outbreak the way the rest of the survivors are, because shit has so far been remarkably smooth sailing for Rick. It makes sense that he’d immediately return to his cop routine of fixing shit and helping people, because that’s what he knows. Rick himself describes his state of mind as merely “disoriented,” which is kind of adorable. “This silly zombie apocalypse has got me so danged disoriented!” It takes true devastation to shake a man out of the mold he’s carefully developed his entire life. Rick hasn’t been devastated yet.  I can’t WAIT for Rick to get himself devastated.

So Rick’s self-righteous adherence to rules that no longer apply makes sense from a character perspective, but it also works beautifully as a narrative device. What we have here is the reverse Prince Hal! A character so meritorious, so pure, has a LONG way to fall when faced with impossible decisions to which there are no obvious ethical answers like “Well, we’ll just have to go back and save him then!” Rick’s inevitable corruption will make for some super fun TV-watching, promise. Much more so than if he’d started out all twisted and unscrupulous to begin with.

I guess it sounds like I’m on Team Shane, yeah? I’ll admit, Shane displays a lot more complexity in “Frogs” than in the first two eps or the comics, and I agree with Devin that his being less overtly villainous makes the love triangle far more compelling. Also, actually triangular, which can hardly be argued about the comic. I can’t hate on Shane for telling Lori that Rick was dead; his reaction when Rick first arrives is a mixture of shock, dismay and genuine gratification, a neat trick that actor Bernthal manages handily. Shane doesn’t want Rick to return to Atlanta; he earnestly attempts to keep him at camp because he cares about Rick’s well-being. I don’t think it’s cool that Shane moved on to his buddy’s wife as soon as the collapse of society allowed, but I believe he lied to Lori out of regard for her safety rather than her, you know, vagina. Between his sweet bonding with Carl and his pitiful little sadface while Lori and Rick are secksin’ it up, I definitely felt some unexpected sympathy for Shane in this episode. Yeah, he went a little apeshit on Ed in what’s clearly meant to be a cautionary example of his mental state, but whatever. Ed beats his wife and doesn’t like the womenfolk to chatter while they’re doing his laundry. That dude sucks and deserves to get FACE PUNCHED. Anyway, you’re right, Henri. Sympathy aside, I’m always Team Glenn. Except for when I’m Team Dale.

I did find the Domestic Abuse is Bad stuff a little random, but I really enjoyed the discussion of the division of labor by the women of the camp. Post-outbreak gender norms seem to break down into Men Hunt/Ladies Launder, and I love when Jacqui (ugh, these names) complains, “Someone explain to me how all the women end up doing the Hattie McDaniel work.” It’s a small scene but one I appreciate, and I’m eager to watch the show delve deeper into how the devolution of society has some necessary consequences as far as gender roles are concerned.

Because of all of this, I can’t concur with Devin that this was an episode with no real plot movement. Things Are Happening! I can’t believe we only have three episodes left this year, gah! The opening scene with Michael Rooker goes a long way toward justifying his performance to me; that man’s got a phD in playing crazy. And I’ve got to hand it to you,  Henri, if you’re right about Merle’s inclusion leading to a very cool twist on the comics, I’ll take back everything I said about Merle fucking Dixon. I’m pretty happy with Norman Reedus (Scud!) as Daryl, and as Devin said, he helps Merle make a hell of a lot more sense. And that crossbow to the head moment was rad! I still don’t like Lori, but I’m still really enjoying not liking Lori. All in all, “Tell it to the Frogs” is a great improvement over “Guts,” and I’m crazy stoked to see how the latter half of the season plays out. Morgan and Duane had better come back, dammit!