TV Talk: THE WALKING DEAD Episode 1.6 – TS-19 (Henri Edition)

Yeah, CGI-splosions are kind of weak, but Henri’s down with shower montages. And it’s nice to know that these characters really do exist in a world that’s been overrun and aren’t just trapped near a decimated and quarantined Atlanta. The end of season one was as bumpy as the episodes that came before it, but it could still be a great prologue to a full season next year.

YES, the CGI-splosion was ridiculous and made me wonder why they didn’t ever say, “Hey, we don’t have the budget to make this look cool, so how about we focus on close ups of the actors faces or something that matters instead?”

YES, the ticking clock was an annoying sort of Diabolus Ex Machina and a somewhat tired narrative device.

YES, the shower montage made the entire theater where I was watching it erupt in laughter.

BUT, did we know that Shane had that awesome “L’il Bird” tattoo on his pectoral muscle before the shower montage? Because if not, that was worth it for that one shot alone.

And I think it’s significant that in a six episode season we were bookended with two scenes of people being REALLY fucking excited to take a shower in hot water. More than anything else, that’s the modern convenience they can show that we take for granted, and I appreciate that. It’s an especially poignant example because we’ve all had that time when we tried to take a shower but some jackass roommate or stranger living in the apartment below us has already used up all of the hot water and we would MURDER someone to not stand in the cold water, haven’t we?

[caption id=“attachment_4510” align=“aligncenter” width=“568” caption=“Also, we got this hilarious moment”]


PLUS, this episode was significant because it got our characters away from zombies and let a lot of things really happen. Sure, the fact that the rest of the world was doing okay was the shocker ending of 28 Days Later, but that’s only because we’re all so familiar with Romero’s world. Without having it said explicitly, though, a non-nerd audience can be forgiven for wondering how far and wide the disease spread. Hell, I was wondering that myself as I read the comics.

It goes back to the On the Beach idea. And real quick, for anyone who hasn’t read that novel or seen the classic film, here’s my lazy-from-memory recap: it’s basically about how the world ends after the radioactive fallout from nuclear war spreads disease around the globe. All the action takes place in the last remaining city in Australia, where people know that the radiation cloud is coming but can’t do anything to escape it. The heroes in that story are powerless to stop the encroaching doom, but they have to try everything they can to see if there are other survivors - if there’s any other hope - and if there’s even a reason to bother writing their thoughts in a journal.

Just… pondering that idea of there really being NOTHING… I don’t know, that fascinates me. What do you do when there won’t be any future generations? And ultimately, why does it even matter?

This episode played out like Double Dare in the best way possible for me. Once we knew that there was no other government out there it had me wonder about what I would do with Carl if I were Rick and Lori even if the underground bunker of the CDC had an unlimited supply of energy. You still want to raise him and give him a chance for a long and full life, but at the same time you know that he’ll just grow up to appreciate wine and then start sleeping with Carol’s girl. And then they’ll have a kid, and then… what? You’ve gotta have some STRONG Christian beliefs to think that your grandkids can all hook up and then maybe save the human race. The rest of us (those with the more delicious brains) know that those later generations would just get more and more brain damaged, and then what?

And how do you raise a kid under those circumstances? It’s a totally different question than how do you manage keeping him safe in a world of walkers.

Again, though, to be fair - that’s me enjoying the show more for the “What would I do?” factor than for the “What’s going to happen to these characters?” type of show. This episode was also the first one that got me caring about them, though.

For one thing, we learned that Shane didn’t make the funny little smirk to Rick as he left a bed on wheels in front of his room. Then Shane got all rapey, and I do think there’s something that makes a failed date rapist like that more sympathetic than a successful one, Meredith - it’s the fact that the failures have a minute to stop and recognize how shitty they’re being. That didn’t make me think Shane sucks any less, of course. He totally sucks sooooooo much. But that rapey time was so desperate, and so clearly more about needing an emotional connection than a physical one, that it made his pain more real.

More importantly, it brought the tension between Shane and Lori to the top of their minds, and that’s a good set up for Season 2.

I appreciated hearing the story of what happened at the CDC. The people leaving to be with their families was boring, but the rash of suicides… I liked that. Especially with the other suicides that happened in this episode. Was it silly that we lost another minority character? Sure. But Jacqui’s choice made sense, and watching the characters struggle with that decision brought the What Would I Do? game to heightened levels even as I was identifying with Dale and Andrea.

As for why these people survived and haven’t become hardened, I think they survived the same way any of us do: by dumb luck.

Rick survived because his heart beat was super duper quiet and so there wasn’t any loud sound to draw the attention of the zombies who know how to push things on wheels.

Glenn survived because he used to deliver pizzas, and pizza delivery drivers are all badass (okay, I may be biased due to my three years as a delivery driver, but stilll).

Jim survived (for a while) because he ran away instead of trying to punch the zombies that were eating his family.

And so on.

I did hear a great theory from the crowd I watched it that answered the question about why none of the characters seem to have ever seen a zombie movie: because all of us nerds who are familiar with the subject would be safe and sound inside a big box chain store. The only people running around in the world not knowing what to do are the numbskulls who spent their time watching sports or some other bullshit and so are caught completely off guard. That’s clearly the case with this band of survivors.

I’m rambling on and on, but one last thing before I close this post: I also agree with one of our commenters from last week who mentioned that this feels like a good prologue, or a mini-series. That makes sense to me. Everything we’ve seen is just a prologue for the real season, and now we know the characters and we know the world they live in.

The only other show I remember hearing about that did a mini-series prologue event before the real deal was Battlestar Galactica. I never watched the real series because I got way too bored during the first two episodes of the mini-series, but from everything I’ve heard I fucked up by not giving it another chance.

This season had a lot of bumps in the road, but I think it could be a strong prologue to what develops into a fantastic series in the next season or two. So I’m not going to give this season a grade yet, as there isn’t enough to really compare it to. I know enough to know that I’ll give the next season a shot, and I won’t be surprised if it turns into a really good show.

There is one departure it would need to make from the comics in order to become a fantastic show, though - at some point down the line, maybe midway through season three or four, it needs to jump forward 5 years. Just watching Rick and his crew survive from day to day won’t answer enough of my questions. Eventually, I need to see what Carl does in the world when he’s the adult. Although I suppose they could give me that with a series finale that follows in the footsteps of Six Feet Under. Or Dawson’s Creek.

So we’ve come to the end of the line for our TV Talk on The Walking Dead, but I kind of want to keep going. Can we do another round of posts that gets all full of comic spoilers and talks about what we thought of the similarities and differences there, please? It will sort of be our epilogue to this series, our way of burying our dead instead of just burning them…

I’m game if you guys are. Devin? Meredith?