The producers of "The Walking Dead"had to compete against both the NBA All-Star Game(Dumb) and the Oscars (Plum dumb) on Sunday night, and Team AMC brought it hardcore. I think most fans would agree that this may have been the best. episode. ever.
What made it great? Here's a quick rundown:
1. The zombie kills. You'll have to wait until the "Best zombie kill" section below for all the gory details, but suffice it to say that I deleted what I wrote down in my notes as the leading candidate about five times.
2. The witty dialog. There's usually some funny quote in each episode to use as the subhead for these blogs. This week there were like six such lines. I think I chose the best one.
3. The arguments. Lori and Andrea had a good pissing contest about who does more work on the farm, and who has been tormented more in the zombie apocalypse, then Andrea and Maggie had a good cat fight. Rick and Shane really got some stuff off of their chests and fought like only bros can fight. You could tell how tense it was when they couldn't man up enough to look each other in the eyes. Speaking of...
4. The no-holds-barred WWE-style fight between Rick and Shane. When Rick was duking the crap out of Shane's face on the ground, the Foley artist went a little bit overboard. It sounded like Rick was putting his fist through a pile of eggshells and balsa wood with every strike. When the shot changed to Shane's face I fully expected to see something that looked like a Cannibal Corpse album cover. But Shane was just panting heavily, like "Is that the best you got cowboy?"
5. The music. It started when we got Clutch in the midseason premiere. But this week we got music from both Sniff 'n' the Tears and Wye Oak! AMC must have some good licensing agreements. I hope this keeps up.
6. The symbolism. What was up with that walker out in the field? Was Shane like "I feel so alone, like a lonely walker in the field. I don't want to be lonely anymore." and what was up with Rick looking at those two dead zombie cops? Was he like "Shane and I used to be just a pair of hombres like these two, maybe I should go save him from his school bus death trap." I don't know, but it's fun food for thought, and it makes me feel like I'm watching some high brow indie movie instead of some pulp that applies to the lowest common denominator.
I don't want to just sit here and stroke the show's ego, though, so here are some cut downs.
1. Sloppy make up. Sometimes the zombies are all hording up in some crowd wearing tattered Harvest Festival scarecrow outfits with their faces all banged up and rotted away. But then the camera angle changes and you see their hands raised up like they're at some Jay-Z concert, and their hands look all nice and healthy like when George Can't-Stand-Ya was a hand model. I don't expect them to be missing fingers and have holes in their hands and stuff, but at least rub some dirt on there or throw some darts at their hands or let a dog bite their hands just a little.
2. Lazy editing. The beginning of the episode started with a scene that we saw later in the episode. I guess it was supposed to be cool foreshadowing or something, but it really seemed to me like they just came up a little short this week and needed 30 seconds more footage so they tacked that on at the beginning. Maybe they had to cut out a scene at the last second because Dale was showing his good ones through his pants zipper like that famous scene in "Teen Woof."
3. Too many computer graphics. Back in the day, when everyone was saying how sick"The Matrix" and "Spiderman" were because of the special effects, I was like "No those movies suck with all their dumb cartoony computer graphics." This show has been good about using real life special effects, but this week, for example, some of the head stabbing was computerized, and when Shane threw that giant "American Pickers" wrench through that window, it was so obviously digitzed. Let the man throw a wrench, dammit!
4. Abandoned characters. There was lots of great violence this week, so I'm not complaining too much, but did you notice that Carl, Daryl, Glenn, Hershel, Dale, Carol and T-Dog did not show their face even once? Were those actors on furlough or something?
Onto random thoughts!
Best special move
Behind the music
The music that they blared in Randall's ears so he couldn't get audio clues to get back to the farm seems to have been Sniff 'n' the Tears 1978 debut album "Fickle Heart." At the end of the episode, they play Wye Oak's "Civilian." FYI: Like Clutch, Wye Oak is also from Maryland!
Better choices to blare into someone's ears
Maybe "Fickle Heart" was the only album on that MP3 player that they found, but something like Sepultura or Agnostic Front probably would have made it even harder for him to figure out where they were driving him.
Worst attempt at comic relief
Lori is giving Maggie advice on how to deal with Glenn, and she says, "Just don't say 'Man up.' It never goes well." Like haha, dudes are always telling each other to "Man up" and "Cowboy up" and "Take off your dress, Susan, you Nancy-boy, put down your purse, Princess!"
My favorite zombie
The one who was licking Shane's blood off of the school bus door. He's what you might call a windowlicker. His eyes get all big and he's like "Nnnggghhh." He's like a kid who gets to lick the frosting off of a mixer. Sadly, that's his last experience before getting jabbed in the head with a knife.
- The building where they fight was the Mert County Department of Public Works (I don't think there is a real Mert County)
- The truck's mudflap said "Sutphen" That's a real company that makes firetrucks. The bulldozer was made by Case and the dumptruck was a Heil.
- One of the vehicles had a Georgia city government tag numbered: 562E8. The license plate of their awesome Hyundai is CE8 D819.
- A parking spot was reserved for the Mert County Maintenance Supervisor.
- That building is on Pimento Ave. in Griffin, GA. Check it out on Google Maps here.
A good time to buy stock in Gerber knives
Rick says that they should start stabbing zombies more in the face with knives to keep the noise down and save ammo. That's a nice story and all, but I think it's a big ploy to increase the visibility of Gerber's product placement.
What everyone is up to
Rick: After doing the Blue Steel pose at the end of last week's episode, he got all up in Shane's business about trying to interlope his family away.
Lori: Feeding delicious looking chicken and fresh veggies (I would post "YUM!!!" if I saw it on Facebook) to Beth, who recently ended her silent treatment. Had a pretty good cat fight with Andrea. One of them should have snapped their fingers at the other in the shape of a Z.
Carl: Did not appear. Probably off playing with Legos and doing Mad Libs.
Shane: Keeps acting like a cool teenager when Rick is trying to clear up their beef. He also makes his jaw muscle twitch a lot. I don't think he's ready to give up.
Andrea: Advocating suicide to impressionable adolescents. What is she, Dr. Kevorkian? Hey, Dr. Death, why don't you ease up on all the bad vibes, no.
Dale: Did not appear. He's probably off looking for hats, or fishing vests, or Hawaiian shirts or eyebrow trimmers.
Glenn: Did not appear. I think he's still licking his wounds from when he got a'skeered of all the shooting last week.
Daryl: Only appeared in the previews for next week's episode, when he interrogates Randall like Sayid in "Lost".
Carol: Also did not appear. Presumably she's pestering Daryl.
T-Dog: They're not even trying to include him anymore. At this point the writers must be like, "Why did we add him to the story again?"
Hershel: Did not appear in this episode, though they did say he was stitching up Beth's half-heartedly slashed wrist (off camera). Curiously, he was on "The Talking Dead" later on Sunday night.
Maggie: Her job now is suicide help line counselor.
Beth: Has gone completely emo and brings kitchen knives to bed instead of a Teddy bear.
Randall: Likes being duct taped by the neck to car seats and miraculously healing from devestating leg wounds. After the joyous look he had while plunging his knife repeatedly into that zombies skull, though, I'm not sure if I would trust him.
Beth, to Maggie: "I don't want to be gutted, I want to go, in this bed, tonight, with you beside me, please."
Andrea, to Lori: "Playing house, acting like the queen bee, laying down rules for everybody but yourself."
Lori, to Andrea: "You sit up on that RV working on your tan with a shotgun in your lap."
Shane, to Rick: "You can't just be the good guy and expect to live, not anymore." Rick: "I'm not the good guy anymore."
Randall, to zombie: "Come on bitch, let's see what you've got!"
Beth: "What's (Hershel) gonna do, kill me for committing suicide?" Maggie: "Stop being such a brat."
Rick, to Shane: "I wanted to break your jaw, let you choke on your teeth, but I didn't. That wasn't weakness. It took everything."
Randall: "I used to watch football and screw around on the Internet, I lived with my mom ... I rode the bench on varsity baseball."
That weird, Groundskeeper Willie one that spilled out of the maintenance building after Shane chucked a big monkey wrench through the window. It's eyes were all foggy and small like it was hiding a million secrets!
Best zombie kill
Rick was laying there with three zombos trying to undead gang bang him, and then he was like "Make a hole!" and blammoed one of the zombies through the mouth with his "Dirty Harry" gun and the bullet got the one behind it too. Would this work in real life? Probably not because the bullet would be refracted.
Second place: Zombie had his head smashed by a Hyundai.
Zombies: Man, who knows at this point. Out of professional integrity I'll give it the old junior college try, but I've got to admit I'm kind of flying by the seat of my pants at this point. So, 10 for a total of 77 on the season. (I know this sounds like a really arbitrary guess, but I was trying my best to keep count during the episode.) Humans win big this week, no deaths. Beth was threatening suicide though, and Shane really wants to gun down Randall. All of those charred humanoids at the public works building don't count, do they?
Is the infection starting to spread without bites? What was the deal with those severed lady fingers with nail polish in the school bus? Did Rick and Shane settle their differences, or are they still in a fight? Is Beth going to tell the world "You can't fire me, I quit!" Where is Dave and Tony's camp? Are those other survivors mounting an attack on the farm? What did Jenner whisper to Rick? What has become of Merle Dixon and the father-son team of Morgan and Duane Jones?
A look ahead to the next episode, "Judge, Jury, Executioner"
Randall meets Daryl. Daryl intimidates Randall with a Gerber knife and his fists of fury. Daryl keeps winding up and punching Randall's face with big haymakers. Rick asks Randall if he has any last requests. Shane and Dale have a heart-to-heart.