Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Walking Dead S2 Ep 6: Secrets

Welcome to another week of zombie talk! I’m your host, Nikki “Zombie” Stafford, here with my co-host, Josh “Walker” Winstead. Before we go further, I wanted to recommend a Twitter feed a friend of mine started; it’s @SheldonFunk, and he’s a recently-made zombie who tweets about his new experiences inside an undead body.

But on to the episode. I’d like to focus on Dale for a minute. I’ve liked his relationship with Andrea from the beginning – he’s very much a father figure to her and has always treated her like his daughter (he treated her sister like one, too, before she died). In this week’s episode he opens up to Lori that he and his wife tried to have kids, but she miscarried and it wasn’t to be. Andrea seems to be filling that void for him. But this week when he realized (instantly) that Andrea had been fooling around with Shane (it’s about time – THAT was a pairing that seemed inevitable) he immediately threatened Shane and suggested he high-tail his ass outta there. For a moment it felt like Dale was actually in love with Andrea, and jealous of Shane, but upon further thought I think he was just acting like a domineering dad again. You’re no good for my girl, so get away from her. Is that how you took it, Josh?

Meanwhile, Glenn spills the beans to Dale (“The boy has no guile,” says Dale later) and Dale immediately goes to Hershel to confront him on the undead family reunion happening inside the barn. It takes a lot of guts to do that, given the fact that Hershel’s farm has given everyone a safe haven and Dale risks losing that by ticking Hershel off, but Dale handles the moment very responsibly, asking Hersh if he’s really thought about what those people have become. The revelation that I anticipated last week – that they’re not zombies to Hershel, but his wife and stepson – explains why there’s a hue of sadness around Hershel all the time. Dale tries to reason with him, but backs away when he knows it’s time. I wonder who Hershel is going to tell, and when.

Joshua: Well, it's the week of our national day of Thanksgiving here in the States, the time when we all gather together with family and friends to reflect on the year's many blessings and gorge ourselves on hobbled chicken and barn mice. Or turkey and stuffing, if you prefer. And speaking of stuffing, this week's episode of The Walking Dead was likewise packed solid with content as all sorts of pieces slide into position for whatever deadly conflict our survivors will find themselves combating in this Sunday's mid-season finale.

These poor bastards, man. Have you noticed how no one gets to have a casual conversation on this show? There was a lot of big consequential discussion happening this week, most of which centered around Dale turning into Perry Mason and either knowing, learning or figuring out most everything that's going on with everyone. Honestly, I half expected him to pop his head into Daryl's recovery tent at some point and say, “Did I ever tell you I used to hear voices in my head?”

I agree with you, Nikki, in that Dale's intent with his harsh comments to Shane was more fatherly than anything, but I also think he's a bit conflicted about his feelings towards Andrea, too. It will certainly be interesting to see how it resolves itself, but one thing's absolute: for a pretty insightful guy, Dale can be really dumb, dude. I don't know a lot about bears, but I know better than to poke my fingers through the bars of the cage, you know?

Nikki: Perhaps the walkers in the barn will be having Thanksgiving dinner, too. And it’ll taste remarkably like DALE.

And now for my weekly nitpick. Isn’t ammo a little precious at this point? Too precious to be shooting wildly at absolutely everything and wasting dozens and dozens of bullets? I know everyone has to practice, but it seemed like they were just shootin’ for the sake of shootin’ at some points. And speaking of which, WHERE are the walkers? Before, they couldn’t even whisper-scream, “Sophia!” in the woods without fear of walkers showing up, and yet here they are shooting and shooting and SHOOTING rather loudly… and nothing comes. In previous scenes, someone drops a thumbtack and hundreds of walkers descend on them, so I couldn’t figure out how exactly there isn’t a single one for miles around (the sound of gunshots can travel for miles). No wonder everyone is desperate to stay on the property. It’s like there an invisible bubble surrounding it.

So what did you make of Lori finally (FINALLY) telling Rick the truth, and his reaction to it?

Josh: Lori's confession to Rick went exactly as I thought it would, with Rick obviously uncomfortable but totally reasonable about the matter. We found out from Dale that her indiscretions with Shane weren't the common knowledge in quarry camp that we believed them to be. Good on Lori, though, for coughing it up regardless. Too bad it took a botched secret abortion attempt to wring it out of her, but at least it's out in the open. And now we can get down to the really interesting part – Rick vs. Shane, mano y mano. I'm thinking a cage match suspended hayloft-high over the barn floor would be perfect. But Otis' wife gets to break one of Shane's legs first, just to be fair.

I'm glad you brought up gun training. It has been well over a year since I read the earliest issues of the comic, but if I am remembering correctly, gun training was the reason the group had to leave the quarry in the first place, as the sounds of their gunfire attracted so many walkers that they could no longer stay. Surely ammo must be a concern as well, but in the grand scheme of things, a few extra rounds is worth how many more will be saved with accurate shooting in the long run, not to mention how many lives it might save. It would be hard to overestimate the value of something that stands so firmly between life and death for these folks.

So the downside to gun training is that it's very noisy and somewhat wasteful of a valuable resource. The upside, particularly for the audience, is watching everyone turn into badasses. I can't deny the vicarious action-movie thrill I felt when Andrea finally mellowed out, settled into the groove, and started wailing on dead guys' noggins. And I'd say that Andrea couldn't deny the thrill she felt, either, the little minx. That package-grabbing Come Hither in the car with Shane? That's post-apocalypse forward, right there. [And would also have been the perfect moment to cue up The Pretenders' “Middle of the Road,” but alas, no.]

Watching the suburban story of Shane and Andrea play out over the course of this episode, I couldn't help but think how complex it was beneath the surface, how many different psychological dynamics were at play, how multilayered each piece of the conversation seemed to be. This kind of deep, well-informed meditation is one of my favorite parts of the show, and I think the writers do a good job of bringing these issues into play without overdoing it.

Another good example from this episode was the conversation between Glenn and Lori after he returned from his eventful drugstore run. The group as a whole feels very fractured right now to me, with even the continued search for Sophia not much of a team effort. Last week's dinner scene may have been the first time all season that everyone's been in the same place at once, and we saw how lighthearted and comfortable that turned out. The only way to pull the group back together into something resembling a team is to stop thinking of themselves as individuals. Glenn's entreaty that Lori not make her decision alone was as honest and unselfish as anything I've seen anyone say on this show and a great example of the kind of attitude that will save their lives on a daily basis.

Nikki: Agreed. Glenn might have no guile, according to Dale, but he’s got a lot of heart. The abortion issue is interesting because it seems to be something that everyone has an opinion on. I’m sure people at home got fired up watching this, whether they agreed with what Lori is doing (it’s her body, after all, and the rest of them don’t have to carry a baby to full term while outrunning walkers, getting no sleep, and being constantly hungry and/or nauseous) or disagreed with it (shouldn’t Rick or Shane get a say in the matter? What about the group morale, the fact that they’re all in this together? Haven’t they proven to her that they’d work this all out together?) The writers certainly dig up enough fodder for both sides, with Lori confused and scared, Maggie self-righteous and angry, Rick baffled and worried, Dale reassuring and anecdotal, and Glenn trying to be the unsure voice of reason.

Glenn has really come a long way. I know we talked about him last week, but this week, as you say, he delivers that great line to Lori. When we first saw him in season 1, he was the voice on the other end of the walkie calling Rick an asshole or something (if I recall correctly) and quickly racing through the streets of Atlanta, saving Rick’s butt. He draped decomposing body parts on himself and shuffled through the streets, and in that scene he looked absolutely terrified, a big difference from that first appearance. There has always been fear in Glenn, but there’s usually some pretty quick-thinking in there, too. The zombie attack in the pharmacy this week showed us more of that first-season Glenn again. He’s scared, yes – he was probably frightened out of his mind when he was talking in the walkie to Rick, to be honest – but he’s quick to the draw, immediately pulling one of the boards off the shelf, running at the walker, and beating the undead crap out of it to save Maggie’s life. (There was much cheering on our couch in that scene. Well, between the, “Ugh… oh, EWWW… gaaahhh… okay, tell me when he’s stopped crunching its face in…”) It was a poignant scene, actually, because maybe when faced with a walker that’s about to eat her, Maggie might be forced to stop thinking of the creatures in the barn as “Mom” and “Big brother.”

Josh: You bet – or else, right? I also thought Glenn's stuff this week was awesome. (In fact, at one point in my notes I may have written, “Can I be in love with Glenn, too?” Maybe.) He comes across as such an unlikely survivor and serves as a great everyman for the audience, sort of an embodiment of the idea that we never truly know what we are capable of until extenuating circumstances bring our limits to the fore. The relationship with Maggie has been so sweet and well-handled so far, and I hate to think how he'd take it should anything happen to her. Here's hoping we don't ever have to find out.

Bits & Bobs:

• “You're pregnant. You need vitamins, medicine, a nice pillow...”

• LOVE Carl in the hat. Really hope that lasts.

• Rick's new non-cop shirt looks exactly like his old uniform shirt this week, only with stripes.

• For whatever reason, when Lori approached Hershel at the fence, I was sure she was going to tell him about the pregnancy until he completely threw her off balance by telling her he expected them to leave when Carl had recovered. Anyone else?

• Using that raggedy axe with the duct-taped handle is the most dangerous thing I've seen Glenn do yet. Looks slightly safer than streaking through the barn smothered in fresh brains.

• “What do you call 'em?” “Mom.” Ooh, burn!

• I know it's just an aesthetic thing, but a post-apocalyptic landscape and a Hyundai are a lousy match. So thanks, product placement, for ruining my suspension of disbelief. (Also, I hope we aren't expected to believe that car's back seat is big enough to accommodate sex, even if it is just the angry, cursory been-capping-zombies-and-kinda-need-to-hump-now variety.)

Well, folks, that's all I have for this week. The holiday special we promised you guys will have to wait for next week's big midseason finale edition, as familial obligations have us both stretched too thin this week to get it together. I've found some awesome stuff, though, so as you begin your shopping blitzkrieg this weekend, be sure to save out a few bucks for jerky and gigantic knives, and come join us then!


Page48 said...

Glenn and Maggie need to borrow the Hyundai, cuz they're running out of options. I don't think Glenn will get another chance to do the breast stroke in the drug store EVER again.

Indeed, where have all the dead folks gone? Andrea gets pissed at Shane and reckons it's cool to walk back to the farm. I'd be afraid to walk through the living room, let alone take my chances on the highway to hell.

If Lori is done with the morning after pills, she might leave them with Andrea.

Wouldn't it have been more fun if Nervous Nellie returned to the barn with Otis hanging on for dear death? I'm counting on him coming back to spice things up at the farm.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I can see Lori, not so much worried about having an awkward time when pregnant, as worried about a baby that will likely get eaten. But if nobody has children, mankind is dead. Maybe in this world that's just an inevitability.