Remember last week when I talked about your typical zombie story, with your typical group of survivors doing typical things? Well, the show gave us about as typical an episode as you can get this week, with Rick hooking up with a small group of survivors trying to get out of Atlanta. This is one of those instances in which the show strays from the comic book. In the comic, Rick meets up with Glenn and it’s the two of them who escape the city. Here, we were introduced to the blandest group of survivors imaginable who didn’t seem to have much purpose beyond being ethnic, cowering in front of the racist guy, and dropping little bits of knowledge to advance the story here and there. All in all, it was not great.
Well, I’m being too harsh. Overall, the episode wasn’t great, but there were great bits sprinkled throughout. One of those moments can be seen above, in which Rick and Glenn smother themselves in zombie guts in an elaborate attempt to hijack a moving truck. It’s beats like these in which I feel the show is treading some new ground, showing us things we’ve never seen before in a story like this. Other times, not so much. Case in point, the aforementioned group of stereotypes. If I were Rick and Glenn, I would have hijacked the moving truck and peeled out of there. What was so great about the pilot was the eerie quiet, the sense of desolation. I think a lot of this could still have been preserved with the hordes of zombies and even Glenn around, but with these other jokers there’s just no chance.
Another bit that rubbed me the wrong way, and that I’m having trouble finding an eloquent way to fit into this review: Before Rick and co. can get down and dirty with this guy they’re going to chop up, Rick pulls out the guy’s wallet and says a few words about him. I understand that the “walking dead” in the title refer more to the survivors than it does the zombies, and when all is said and done these characters may be in very, very bad places, so the writers need to show the gradual declination of their humanity, but still, can we get rid of trite stuff like this and just chop the guy’s head off? I’m sure there are better ways to show the audience Rick’s humanity, and none of them involve him saying, “Don’t kill the living!”
Back at the survivor camp, the writers are really trying to impress on us that SHANE IS SLEEPING WITH LORI. And for those of you who don’t understand the importance of this, Lori is Rick’s wife. And when Rick comes back, he will like finding out that his friend and ex-partner has been keeping his side of the bed warm none too much. Give us some credit. We don’t need EVERYTHING spelled out for us. I like Shane this week about as much as I did last week, which is to say not much at all. I think the real fireworks are going to begin in the next episode, when Shane sees his leadership role in the group threatened by Rick. That’ll be some good stuff (foreknowledge!).
I know I just spent most of the review hating on this episode, but my feelings toward the show aren’t that bad and certainly not pessimistic. I think the show has the potential to be truly great and a more-than-worthy addition to AMC’s lineup, but like so many shows before it, it’s got to find its way. I’m just hoping that way doesn’t tread too much through stock characters and trite platitudes about humanity.
Things that Happened In the Episode that Don’t Happen In Real Life:
- People don’t call rainstorms cloudbursts.
- People don’t slap handcuffs on some piece of white trash, then walk ten feet away to gaze into the distance and collect their thoughts.
- Big black guys with backwards Kangol caps don’t go down that easy.
- People don’t wait that long to step in when the aforementioned white trash is beating up on the aforementioned black guy.