Well, it finally happened: so many of you wanted David not to review the Walking Dead that now I am stepping in to throw down some comments. Be careful what you wish for, right?
Enough preamble. Lets get to the part you’re here for.
1. What a Miserable Show
There are three episodes left, so what better way to build the anticipation for a big showdown than to air an episode in which absolutely nothing happens?
That’s not the first time that’s been said about the show, as we’ve just come off a season-long stretch of absolutely nothing happening, but look at the episode in its broad terms. What did it accomplish? Well, we learned that the Governor was bad, which we knew. We learned that he has nasty things in store for the Prisoners, which we knew. We learned that not everyone believes in or trusts the Governor, which we knew. The only thing that really happened in this episode is that Andrea got thrown into the Governor’s Nasty Basement (patent pending), which honestly could’ve been accomplished in five minutes:
Andrea: Governor, that’s it! I’m out of here!
And then we move on.
The thing that the Walking Dead as a show tries repeatedly to do, and then fails repeatedly as well, is build a grandiose amount of dramatic tension. Yet, from everything we’ve seen, it doesn’t appear that the writers know how to do this. Dramatic tension on the Walking Dead is equivalent to watching any contest reality show where a judge is about to announce the winner or loser and they cut to commercial; everything is done through the cheapest and most basic manipulation that serves no real story purpose. It just drags things out so that people over-invested in events groan for a little bit. It’s not shocking, it’s not fear-inducing and it basically makes for a waste of an episode.
Of course, when I say that the show is miserable, I mean that on multiple levels. It’s miserable from the perspective that by all general standards it’s a bad show, yes, but it’s also bleak to an almost unenjoyable level. It’s like people on this show have just forgotten how to smile or live their lives, which is weird to see when you get a Woodbury-centric episode and only see the jerks hanging around. And, yeah, it’s the end of the world and there’s a war about to kick off, so of course no one is really going to be out playing hopscotch, but this is like watching a bad torture porn film, like Captivity or something. Even Breaking Bad has a laugh in it or two.
Look, I’m not perfect. I like my fair share of bad shows. Before The Walking Dead I watch Once Upon a Time, and believe it or not I’ve laughed at portions in season four of Community. But I don’t particularly see anything compelling about watching people be miserable, distrusting and horrible to one another repeatedly week after week when there are so many worse things in their environment — at least, not with so much audience manipulation involved. It only works in the comic because most things aren’t dragged out excessively; to a degree, for sure, but not in the way that they are in this show week after week. I just don’t have anything better to do on Sunday nights.
You can probably see why I’m not the one who regularly reviews this show right about now. Lets continue on anyway.
2. The Best Sense of Direction, Sneaking Up Behind You
The Walking Dead isn’t a very realistic show, and that’s OK. Why should it be? It’s a show where zombies walk the Earth, so things are as they are. Yet, even with that knowledge aside, I find a few aspects incredibly difficult to believe – specifically, that a) Andrea can find her way to the Prison without the use of a map or a compass, and b) the Governor can track Andrea in a car with uncanny and inhuman precision.
The first aspect isn’t so horrible, I suppose. We’ve seen her do it before, we’ve seen other characters do it before. It’s incredibly odd (and was actually a major story point in the book – “WHERE IS THE PRISON? HOW DO WE GET THERE?” vs. the show’s “Oh, this was here?”), but it’s something that the show and its fans seem happy enough to gloss over. Alright.Continued below
But the second one is bewildering. The Governor has the same talent that Jason and Mike Myers always have, it seems, in that they know where you’re going before you do, and it reduces the Walking Dead to Generic Horror Movie. Andrea finds herself at an abandoned warehouse and takes the time to hide out in it (always a good idea when on the run from a psychopath: stay in one single location), and not only is the Governor able to find it but he apparently has such confidence in driving up to a random abandoned warehouse that he decides to creep on in and see if Andrea is inside — so much so that he assumes she’s there and starts whistling and calling for her without even laying eyes on her. And why not assume, right? Really, he knows she’s there because he’s just such a crafty bastard. And of course it all goes south for him, as these things happen to do in fiction, but then he finds her at the exact spot at the Prison where she’s about to make contact with Sheriff Crazy Pants Rick. It’s all so… convenient.
Here’s the thing: this might honestly sound like a bit of a nitpick, and I suppose on some level it is. This is a trope in horror, and an exploited one at that. But at the same time, and this ties into the first part, things like this ruin any and all tension that the Walking Dead tries to build, because it simply relies on scare tactics rather than any kind of true horror. “Andrea made it to the prison and all is well, but BOO! The Governor is behind you! Ohhh, I bet you didn’t see that coming!” That’s not real horror; that’s modern/quickly outdated horror that just wants to catch you for one moment rather than draw things out and truly leave you shaken. Seeing it employed multiple times this episode just felt lazy. (They did it with the zombies too, but we’ll get to that.)
Perhaps if you’re really into the Andrea/Governor relationship this episode felt great. That’s basically all that it was about anyway (because apparently the multi-faceted and duplicitous nature of their interactions hasn’t been beaten over our heads enough yet), so clearly the creators of the show and the writers of this episode hope that you’re interested enough in how these two manipulate one another to allow for such a filler episode. But the very least they could’ve done is spaced it out throughout the duration of the show, rather than use a paint-by-numbers story pulled out of “My First Horror Teleplay” by Alan Smithee.
Also: why didn’t Andrea take the car? She left the Governor for dead, why not jack his ride, get to the Prison a bit faster? Or does her uncanny sense of direction powers only work when on foot? Must be that.
3. Why Fan Service is a Worthless Endeavor
With season 3.5, the folks behind this show promised to add fan favorite Tyreese into the mix. For those who don’t know, Tyreese had a major role in the book during this very storyline, essentially acting as Rick’s other half for every important moment. He was Rick when Rick couldn’t be Rick (which during the show is all the time always), and he was one of the most human characters in the whole bunch. Remember that scene where Rick went nuts and axed a bunch of random zombies after the death of Laurie? Something similar to that happened in a scene belonging to Tyreese, and it was much, much better. And way more bad-ass, but that’s irrelevant.
So now Tyreese is on the show. Why? The character was immediately kicked out of the Prison, negating his known role, and now he’s over at Woodbury because where else could he go. Yet, where the character was a true friend and confidant to Rick, he’s now occupying the role of Captain Obvious, and it’s incredibly disheartening. It seems Tyreese’s main role on the show is to tell us what we already know, and since the zombie pits that really shake him up are destroyed at the end of the episode it goes doubly to prove that this episode was all filler and no killer. Therefore, there’s no real reason to have Tyreese at all, because the character could go by any other name and be just as effective. He’s only Tyreese because he’s fan service, and that’s such a worthless endeavor.Continued below
You’d think that the people adapting comics would have a huge “REMEMBER SPIDER-MAN 3” poster up in their offices by now.
There’s two episodes left and the character could prove to mean something just yet. Maybe he’s going to turn the tide at the last second, and maybe that one scene (readers know what I mean) won’t take place. But as for now, he’s basically just here to remind you that the Governor is bad news, just in case you didn’t already know that.
By the way, do you guys think that the Governor might be a bad guy? I mean, Woodbury seems nice, but I don’t know. Something seems fishy. I hope they address that soon.
4. Zombies: How Do They Work?
In season two, there were barely any zombies on the show and people complained. Now, in season three, to rectify this scenario they throw zombies in whenever they get the chance, because that’s what people want. After fourteen episodes, though, I’m not quite positive that the people behind this show really understand what to do with them, because they’re either just cheap scares or deus ex machinas. (Be careful: a zombie will probably attack you after you read this sentence!)
The zombies of this episode came at two specific points. The first was when Andrea hid in the woods from the Governor and the Governormobile, resulting in a rather ridiculous scene in which the quietest four zombies in the world ended up surround her despite the fact that they were moaning and shuffling through leaves. The second was when Andrea and the Governor chased each other through the warehouse, ultimately resulting in Andrea unleashing a stairwell full of zombies on the Governor (not enough to take him down because Jason and Mike Myers never go down that easy, but enough for her to put on a face and smirk at him from behind a door). However, the only reason that either “work” is because up to the point the zombies arrive, they are calm and quiet, like NPCs who haven’t been activated yet. Which would be fine, I suppose, if this didn’t inherently contradict pretty much everything we’ve seen elsewhere on the show where zombies immediately react to the presence of human dinner.
I mentioned this earlier in this review, but I’m not looking for realism in this show. I’m really not. I’m also aware that I’m nitpicking. But Andrea should’ve noticed/heard/at least looked for zombies in those woods, and those zombies in the stairwell should’ve come shuffling down to the door the second she first opened it, not waiting for her to pull a trick The show just needs some form of consistency throughout it, and that’s been one of its biggest problems past the first season. The show wants to be so many things, to feature so many elements, to balance so many subplots, that it has a hard time keeping focus of the simplest things, like what role the zombies play in it. We all know (or, we all should know after watching plenty of Romero films) that zombies are never the actual point of zombie-related fiction, but even with minor details it’d be nice if at least one aspect could be kept relatively even.
However, despite four remarks knocking the show, I do have to say that there is at least one part that I like.
5. Why is David Morrissey on This Show?
I like Morrissey. He’s quite a good actor. He was good in Red Riding, he was quite entertaining in that one Doctor Who special and if you ever get a chance to see the Hollow Crown and his role in the adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Richard II,” you are in for a treat. And as the Governor? Well, its worth tuning in week after week to see what crazy thing he’s going to do next!
It generally bewilders me that Morrissey is on this show, though,because he is far too good for it. Once all the idiotic pretense was dropped in the first half of this season where the Governor was both bad and good at the same time, Morrissey really brought that role to life; he took the character to the dark side and into a horrific place (such as with the whole “miserable” bit from earlier) and it’s fun to watch him grimace and sneer at everyone. But when he gets matched up with other people, you just have to wonder if perhaps he doesn’t have something better to do, because he’s acting circles around the entire cast. Granted, he’s an archetype stuck in a trope, but he’s certainly making the best of it with his performance.Continued below
For what it’s worth, I do have two other minor additional thoughts:
- It must be nice to be Chris Hardwick. Honestly, I don’t understand the purpose of the Talking Dead and I don’t think I ever will. Why you would want to see other people discuss the show and praise every aspect of it after watching it is sort of beyond me. But, still, Hardwick has a pretty cozy job here. Must be nice.
- This soundtrack is not very good. Not the Bear McCreary stuff, that’s fine. The songs they throw in. It just breaks the pace and kills the mood. Nothing gets me to be compassionate about a main character strapped to some kind of weird former-dentist chair than a good ol’ rock n’ roll song.
I of course welcome all discussion and exchange of opinions in the comment section. David will most likely be back to review the show next week, and I will stick to doing seasonal wrap-ups.