Friday, November 04, 2011

Walking Dead Ep 3: Save the Last One

First of all, my apologies for taking so long to get this blog up. My modem died on Wednesday (ACK!!!) and it's prevented me from posting, and both Josh and I have been up to our ears in work so it's been tough even attempting to do this on our lunch breaks! But here it is.

Before we get to this week's episode, I just wanted to point out one of those "in case you missed it" things from last week, as pointed out by several readers in the comments to last week's episode. When Daryl pulled out his brother's stash of antibiotics, if you looked closely you would have seen an homage to that other amazing AMC show, Breaking Bad. Do you see it?

Awesome. But now, on to the new ep.

Nikki: The week of Halloween, and I’m keen to talk about zombies! This week’s episode of The Walking Dead was another stellar outing, where it seems we’ve hit that point with every character where they’re starting to question why they’re doing what they do. Lori asks quite seriously if they’re being stupid trying to save Carl. Why would they save the child’s life only for him to have to go back outside and fight for it every day for the rest of his existence? We see Carol go into a stupor, finally, and while she appears to mourn quietly, it was nice to see her react. Glenn finally comes back into things, but he remains quiet, as if he, too, is starting to wonder why. Andrea and Daryl walk into the woods and see how one guy gave up, but didn’t realize you can’t hang a zombie, and as Andrea stares at him, you know she’s thinking about the poor bastard that zombie used to be. But strangely, it seems to have given her the strength to keep on fighting, rather than give up, which is what she wanted to do last season.

Joshua: This was a great episode for Halloween, dark and tense and angst-ridden and gory whoa boy with a vengeance after last week's relatively tame offering. But you're right that character motivations really took center stage this week as everyone tried to figure out what to do next, and why, in an episode that sung for me in a way that this show hasn't done before. I thought it was terrific tv, and I can't wait to talk about it.

Let's stick with Andrea for the moment. I liked her answer a lot more than Daryl: “I don't know if I want to live. Or if I have to, or... if it's just a habit.” That is perfect honesty, and as concise as her conscience will allow her to be, but her choice is obvious in that she's still around to ponder at all. She's been a regular zombie magnet this season, with horrific close encounters in both of the first episodes, and both times she has instinctually fought to survive. This question, and the same answer, are really at the heart of every big choice made in this hour, from Andrea to Glen to Lori to Shane: you do whatever it takes, because of course you do. Because in a world of walkers, that's what makes a survivor.

Nikki: Absolutely. I’ve been discussing this episode with friends this week and it’s what we keep coming down to – you either give up, or you fight. And these people have been fighting for so long they’re not about to give up now. Andrea is upset with Dale because she believes he took away her ability to choose how and when she would die at the end of last season. Now, as she put it, she’s at the mercy of the walkers, and she could die at any time, being ripped apart by them. But she’s really fighting back, and as you say, living has become a habit, and one she just can’t seem to kick. I agree, it was a fantastic line.

But, if we’re talking about being ripped apart by walkers, we obviously need to discuss What Shane Did. When he first came back to the house alone, and said Otis didn’t make it, I kept saying to my husband that he wasn’t telling the truth. My husband thought I was wrong, and he said no, he’s just upset because he saw a guy get killed right in front of him. I said he’s seen a lot of that already, but he seems to be suffering from something more than that right now; he looked utterly shell-shocked. I said to my husband, “Oh my god, you don’t think he shot Otis and killed him so the zombies would pounce on him and then he could get away?!” “No,” he said. “I don’t think he would do something like that.” I said, “The writers have never spared us a gruesome zombie killing before, why the hell wouldn’t they show us Otis being ripped apart unless they’re keeping something from us?” “Hm. Good point,” he said.

And then, it turns out Shane did something FAR worse than killing Otis and leaving him there for the zombies to feed on… he disabled him and left him there ALIVE so he would actually feel the pain of being eaten alive. Good god. It was a horrific scene, but blended beautifully with the tone of the episode: Andrea is staying alive out of habit, Lori and Rick are fighting to stay alive to try to find a better world for their son, and Shane is staying alive AT ALL COSTS. And what a cost this was.

Joshua: From that creepy 'Apocalypse Now' opening scene with the head-shaving, I thought Shane was toast. I thought they were setting us up for Shane's Heroic Death the entire episode. So when he was suddenly back at the farm, and on his own, it was pretty obvious to me what had happened instead. But boy, was the reality of it so much more awful than I had imagined.

Wasn't Jon Bernthal fantastic? This episode's arc was life-altering for Shane, and I really thought he nailed the performance every step of the way. The crazed look in his eye in that great scene when the zombies were pushing against the chain link fence behind him, the nervous way he shifted back and forth from one foot to the other as he told his account of Otis' demise, the way he couldn't quite look over at Patricia as she reacted to the news of her husband's death, or at Lori as she sat in the room with Carl, every instance added up to the most compelling work I've seen the show offer us yet.

As for narrative implications, I'd say this event does not bode well. We may never know whether his actions were primarily for Carl or Lori or himself (and he may not know, either), but the idea that Otis saved his life not once but TWICE and then Shane was still able to justify what he did to the poor guy officially makes him the most dangerous person on the show. As for personal implications? I'm bummed that Pruitt Taylor Vince is already gone! I thought he took a role that could easily have been unsympathetic from the jump, simply by nature of what happened to Carl, and made him an appealing part of the cast very quickly, and I really am sad to see him go.

I get the feeling, however, that it's probably not a great idea to get too close to any character on this show.

Nikki: I agree. When Shane showed up alone, I said alone, “Aw, MAN! I really wanted Vince to stick around for a while.” And we were also trying to figure out the head-shaving thing. “Was that in the past? Did he do that months ago?” (And then when we saw it again at the end in context, I’ll admit I said, “If you had very little running water and had been without it for months, would you really just let the shower run while cutting your hair?” But I digress in a nitpickerly way…)

A couple of questions I had from this episode:
• How careful has the search for Sophia been if Daryl and Andrea were able to find a zombie camp in the woods AT NIGHT when they hadn’t been walking very far from the highway? Considering they were going to comb that forest starting in the middle and spiraling outward, I’m thinking their search for that kid has been lame at best. Sorry to keep harping on this, but I have a daughter, and I’d be going INSANE about the fact no one was looking for her if I were Carol.
• They said a couple of episodes ago that Carl’s blood type is A+, and they’re sucking Rick dry. But A+ is the most popular blood type in the world (1/3 of the population has this, according to Doctor Who!) so isn’t there a SINGLE other person with the same blood type?! How is it that Rick is the only one in a house of 10 people who could be donating blood right now?

I was glad to see Carol showing a bit of emotion in this episode FINALLY, but I still think it hasn’t been enough. But I’m not going to gripe about it anymore. Just chalk it up to something I don’t buy, which is OK.

But as you say, Shane just became very dangerous. On the one hand, as I said to my husband, he needed to save himself to get to the camp and deliver those supplies to Carl (was anyone else’s stomach turning when they thought they were about to operate on Carl sans anaesthetic? ACK). But on the other, he and Otis were still ahead of those walkers and had a fighting chance when he shot Otis and then beat him to a pulp with the butt of a gun. I can’t wait to see how his character arc continues to progress as a result of what he did.

Did Otis get killed off like that in the comics or did he meet a different end?

Joshua: Otis lasted for a while longer in the comics but was never much of a major player or a sympathetic character, so I don't feel as though we're losing too much potential with his sudden exit. In fact, as I sit here and think about it, we may well be gaining it. See, they could always run into Zombie Otis later. And if his legs weren't all devoured in the attack like poor hanging piranha man from the campsite, then Shane might have a hard time explaining that obvious gunshot. (That's what I would do, anyway.)

To your other questions: I know the group is ragtag & that no one has any tracking experience except Daryl, but I agree that the search for Sophia has still seemed half-assed at best, and I hope they have a very good explanation for where she's been & what she's been doing once we finally get there. And I too was wondering why no one else could step up when Hershel was forbidding Rick to donate any more blood. Perhaps none of them are regular donors & don't know their type? That may be one of those unexplained details we must simply chalk up to tv illogic or accept on faith.

Other quick notes:

• I thought Andrea’s line to Daryl about living might go down as my favorite of the series to date, but then in the scene immediately following, Patricia tells T-Dog, “I'd say Merle Dixon's clap is the best thing that ever happened to you,” and ruined my certainty.

• Maggie and Patricia's Southern accents strike me as a bit overplayed, but Hershel's is PERFECT. Scott Wilson is another native Atlantan like Chandler Riggs, and although he's been in Hollywood since the '60s, it's obvious he still has the subtleties of the drawl down pat.

• Speaking of Riggs, he was again terrific in his brief appearance this week. That slow fade-to-seizure thing he did was awesomely awful.

• During the campsite scene with Daryl and Andrea and poor hanging piranha man, I loved the detail of his suicide poem taped to the tree. Reminded me of the old rhyming tombstone epitaphs you find so often in the American West. [“Here lies the father of 29./He would have had more/But he didn't have time.”; “Owen Moore/Gone away/Owin' more/Than he could pay”; etc.]

Whose epitaph will we write this week? Will Patricia want someone to go back for Otis, possibly exposing Shane's stompy, shooty shenanigans? Can Rick continue to cry in every scene he appears if his body is completely drained of blood? All these questions and more may well be answered in the very next gore-streaked episode! See you all then.


Colleen/redeem147 said...

I think if anyone is O+ they could donate to A+. That's why it's called the universal donor. It's also, sorry #10, the most common blood group.

I'm O+.

HoH8 said...

Shane couldnt kill Otis cause the walkers only eat the living so he had to leave him alive....

Carl has B+ which is the second largest blood in america...yes ive been wondering myself why havent anyone else had offered also.....

happy that Andrea has her gun back maybe now she will kill more walkers....

that farm sure has so many things, like milk,bread,juice, unlimited hot water....if i was them i'll stay there forever, lol.....

we see carol always crying over her daughter but why isnt she the first one out there looking and never stopping looking for her....

it was nice seeing maggie flirting with glenn...i hope they start something.....

hey nikki...dont worry being late with ur blog...what do they say?...better late then never,☺.....

Lisa(until further notice) said...

I think Carol is a very damaged soul due to the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband. It has probably affected every aspect of who she is, how she feels about herself, and the way in which she is able (or unable) to deal with her fears and problems.