No Hope Left [Walking Dead Dissection]

Posted by on February 13th, 2012
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“There’s no hope left, I see that now.”

Herschel, our ever-optimistic farm host is now crestfallen over the events of the zombie barn party. He’s now come to the conclusion that he was wrong about zombies, it’s not a disease, it’s a death sentence.

But he isn’t really talking about walkers. No. He’s talking about this show. One insanely stupid character decision piled on top of more trite plot devices and topped itself off with a TWD hallmark, repeated conversations between characters that aren’t that interesting the first place.

Abandon all hope ye who click AFTER THE JUMP.Normally I try to give these things a reasoned, measured outlook. Today, I am just so filled with bile I am going to barf it up in a series of bullet points.


Seriously, Lori?

Let’s not bury the lede. Lori’s car wreck is a white flag from the writer’s room. An uninteresting concept carried out in the laziest way possible.

To recap:

– Lori doesn’t want Rick running off but let’s him anyway. Does that sound like 80% of all the dialogue in this series to you? If it does, congratulations, you’re not deaf. More on that later.

– Rick leaves.

– 15 minutes later with LITERALLY NOTHING making the situation more urgent Lori decides that someone needs to be dispatched to complete the EXACT SAME TASK Rick just left to complete.

– She asks around to see if anyone is interested, no takers.

– In a single act that completely invalidates the reasons she was arguing with Rick and (importantly) NO further plot developments she decides to leave herself and try to complete the task that Rick needed to complete.

– Reading a map while driving the writer’s room decides to put a zombie in the middle of the road which leads to her flipping her sedan on the side of the road.

And now, a quick list of things that would have made this infinitely more tolerable.

– All of a sudden the fainting family members starts vomiting blood or something and Lori volunteers to get drugs from the pharmacy. Meanwhile, since both the drug store and the bar are downtown she sees it as an opportunity to corral Rick and Herschel

– Literally anything other than a zombie in the road caused her crash. Maybe someone sabotaged the tire, or a mysterious gunman started shooting at her or really anything else.

Herschel can’t drink his way out of boring

One of my favorite moments of this series is Merle Dixon chained to the roof in Atlanta. He’s muttering, incoherent, violent toward himself. You see a man unraveling.

Herschel decides to deal with his grief by picking up an old drinking habit. But after getting a few glasses in at the local saloon he’s… pretty much the same dude. He’s not throwing stuff or saying things he might regret later. He’s just same old boring Herschel.

Pour me a shot of snore with a who-gives-a-f–k chaser.

Making Rick a cold-blooded gunslinger doesn’t make him interesting

There is a much better show currently airing on television called Justified. In this series, our protagonist regularly gets into tense situations where he kills bad guys. This works to perfection because Timothy Olyphant exudes confidence and control. He knows when it’s him or the guy in front of him, he’s the one leaving the table.

Rick spends an hour and a half trying to convince an old man to go home and save his daughter. Unsuccessfully. He then engages in cagey conversation with two strangers (who may or may not be bandits) and declines their request to tag along. This conversation is so repetitive and boring that the possible bandit pulls a gun and both he and his partner get killed.

I am assuming the point of this was to give Rick some Badass Cred. But after this, since there is no real change in Rick’s character leading up to it, the exchange rings hollow.

He’s no Raylan Givens.

The writing is deliberately f–king with us by teasing interesting plots they refuse to engage in

Our boys from Philly proceed to rattle off a list of stories they’ve heard along the road to Georgia. For example: the Coast Guard is taking people out to inhabited islands and the government has commandeered a train line to Nebraska where they are building a safe area. His point being, they are all pipe dreams.

Chasing after either of those “pipe dreams” sounds more interesting than the current plan of “sit around on the farm and look at each other until a pregnant woman jack knifes her car”.

The fainting goat

Why did Herschel’s daughter faint? Who cares, watch this video.

More arguments we’ve heard a million times

Dale doesn’t trust Shane and Shane isn’t pleased about it!

Lori and Rick don’t agree on how much Rick is sacrificing for the group!

It pains me to even type these. The good news is we are only a week away from all these greatest hits being repeated on the next episode.

BONUS: AMC deserves a hot poker in the face

Seriously? Putting the “Next Week On” teaser in the first commercial break for Kevin Smith’s Pawn Stars knock off? Why don’t you just put the final five minutes of the episode there too?

I don’t DVR Comic Book Men so I didn’t get to see what is normally among my favorite parts of every hourlong drama.

Great move guys! Also, Comic Book Men looks terrible.

15 Responses to “No Hope Left [Walking Dead Dissection]”

  1. Michael Hilliard Says:

    This is why I tend to wait for things to come to netflix or DvD so that I can watch it all the way though. I can not take another series that seems amazing at first and flubs shortly there after. 

  2. rickfoster Says:

    They pulled the “Next Week On” stuff when “Hell On Wheels” premiered. I’ve also never been a fan of the preview because it’s usually edited by the network, which tends to spoil or over hype something.

    And honestly, I would NOT be surprised come season finale time, they over run the final 90 seconds into Comic Book Men and not accommodate for DVR usage.

    AMC: Money Matters Here

  3. Anonymous Says:

    “Also, Comic Book Men looks terrible.” – The only part I agree with you on.

    You’re clearly watching the wrong show, if you thought Walking Dead was  zombie thriller. Sorry that you were confused; feel free to remove it from your DVR. By the way, if you watched Talking Dead or the Talking Dead after show on the web, you’d know that more exciting things are coming. The purpose of that episode was to reestablish what was going on. Things will be moving forward for the duration, but please, don’t watch anym0re, because it clearly was never your kind of show.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    “Also, Comic Book Men looks terrible.” – The only part I agree with you on.

    You’re clearly watching the wrong show, if you thought Walking Dead was  zombie thriller. Sorry that you were confused; feel free to remove it from your DVR. By the way, if you watched Talking Dead or the Talking Dead after show on the web, you’d know that more exciting things are coming. The purpose of that episode was to reestablish what was going on. Things will be moving forward for the duration, but please, don’t watch anym0re, because it clearly was never your kind of show.

  5. JustinRYoung Says:

    I want nothing more than the show to to be good. I started writing these reviews so I could talk about how awesome I thought it was. 

    And if more exciting things are coming… hooray! 

    Does that mean I can’t criticize this episode? 

  6. JustinRYoung Says:

    I love the Next Week Ons I don’t know what it is but I just love watching a trailer for a TV episode… 

  7. Anonymous Says:

    No, you’re welcome to criticize it if you want, I’m merely saying that it doesn’t seem like the show was made for you. It seems like you were looking for something else.  If you remember back to season 1, the majority of the group was at the same camp site, doing basically the same thing they’ve been doing at the farm. I agree it’s been slow, but you say you’re ready to give up, and I say if this is really that bad to you, then perhaps you should.

  8. JustinRYoung Says:

    First season was filled with goals.

    -Rick must survive
    -Rick must reconcile with wife and kid
    -Rescue Merle mission back in Atlanta
    -Decision to leave camp
    -Must make it to CDC
    -Do we trust creepy CDC guy?

    What are the goals so far this season

    -Find Sophia
    -Save Carl
    -Solve Zombie Barn
    -Find Herschel 

    There has just been less to do. I bitch because I really want to love this show. I am going to watch through this season at least.

  9. DDevario Says:

    Sorry JuRY, i must disagree.  I really liked this episode.First, the ending scene is literally Rick crossing the line.  We have seen him trying to be the most civil person in this god forsaken world, and then he kills 2 random dudes, just to prove to hershal that he will do what is needed to protect the farm.  Second, as in the comic, there needs to be some other lines drawn.  and while they may be a bit slow in doing it, we see Darrel rethinking his place, Lori trying to support rick, albeit in the dumbest way possible ( i give you that one, she is dumb at this point ), dale starting to see Shane’s point, and Carl starting to become callous to life.While its not the best episode, I liked how much it has setup.  Whether any of it plays out and I hope it will, we both will see.

  10. mxyzptlk Says:

    I’m not one who disagrees, and I don’t think anything on The Talking Dead mitigates the current problems with the series. In fact, Dave Navarro did a decent job of expressing the frustrations many have had with the show when he said “It would be great if we can have another character bedridden for a whole season.”

    Producer Glen Mazzara’s response to questions about why the characters are treading water and repeating themselves was basically ‘It’s dangerous out there! Don’t you know there’s been a zombie apocalypse? You can’t even drive down the street without hitting one!’

    That’s one. We saw one new zombie this show, and that zombie served the same purpose as the snake that bit Daryl — which made me wonder if the show is snakebitten. Not even Chris Hardwick seemed as convinced about the show as he usually is, and tried to salvage tempers by leaking that his staff has seen future episodes are and stoked by them.

    The point is that external pressures are needed for the characters and the plot to evolve. But those pressures need to be organic to the world at hand, not deus ex machinas used to create fleeting drama like an ad campaign. There was just no need for Lori to do exactly what she admonished Rick about — especially when everyone knows she’s far less equipped to handle getting an old drunk guy out of a chair than the cop with a gun. That was on par with a teen slasher movie where the girl is told not to go skinny dipping in the lake, but soon enough she’s naked on the beach getting ready to get killed. The only thing that would have made that seem less contrived is if she actually got to the bar, and interrupted a Mexican stand-off between the Jerky Boys from Philly and Officer Grimes. She could have even been wounded or shot, which attracts the rest of the Philly crowd and a zombie mob.

    JuRY covers Herschel’s lack of development well. What could have been done to make him more interesting is if Herschel initiates the violence with the Philly guys, not Rick. Say Lori walks into the bar, interrupts the stand-off, and Herschel takes that opportunity to whack the one behind the bar with a bottle or a glass. Right now Herschel is no different than he was before.

    Herschel’s daughter fainting seems like another desperate grab to create drama, and like the jay-walking zombie and the snake, seems to come out of nowhere. You just can’t keep having stuff happen with no reason or set-up and not expect the audience to feel jerked around or insulted. That needs to be handled within the next episode, or she becomes the next Sophia/Carl, where we sit around hoping her situation improves.

    svchost has a point that the show isn’t just about zombies. If we just want walker-slaughter, we have Zombieland. Like The Stand, Lost, Children of Men, and a good bit of the Bible, apocalyptic narratives are as much about the new dynamic of social relationships in the resulting fallout of said catastrophe, and how those social dynamics lead to the first green shoots of a new civilization.

    But for those social dynamics to adapt and evolve, external pressures are required. We know what pressures already exist in this world, and Mazzara implying that there’s no narrative evolution because it’s better for the characters to become agoraphobic on the farm is a cop out.

    What’s worse, though, is when even after the manufactured pressures, there is no real character evolution, or when the evolution is so glacial it can only be witnessed from the vantage point of the entire season. And they’re committing the sin of telling, not showing. They shouldn’t have to tell us that Carl is becoming cold; they should have Carl do something that freaking shows he’s becoming cold, like Kirkman did in the comics. Carl doesn’t have to do the same thing as in the comics, but he has to do something if we’re to believe it. Right now, the only thing that’s all that new about Carl is he’s still wearing his dad’s hat.  

    The same thing happened when Lori tried to get Daryl to go do what she asked Rick not to do and then let him do so there was no point in sending a third person out to do. She inexplicably calls Daryl selfish, as if she wasn’t even around for Daryl’s selfless, unending and dangerous search, and Daryl then has to remind us through his yelling at her that he took a bullet and an arrow for Sophia. To be honest, it wasn’t that long ago when he both got shot in the freaking head and was pierced through the torso with a crossbow bolt, but he’s not looking all the worse for wear. Even a bandage on the head or a wrap around the hole that should be through his body would be enough to signal to the audience ‘Daryl sacrificed his body for others — he’s not selfish, but now he’s damaged.’ Nope — just easier to tell us that, even if we find it hard to believe because he looks comparably fine.

    Back to the Philly Folk: The way that was shot was too leading, with the weird “eat me” comment (who says that anymore?) and the telling cut to the heavy dude staring down the rest like he walked into the bar looking for a fight. If you weren’t clued in that ‘hey, these are bad guys!’, his pissing on the floor rammed it home. He might as well have been wearing a Hamburglar mask.

    Even Rick’s beard got on my nerves. It’s gruff, but it’s trimmed below the jaw to avoid neckbeard, and in some shots it’s clearly manicured. Who manicures the perfect scruff in the middle of a zombie apocalypse? It looked like the equivalent of buying pre-ripped jeans.

    Gotta work, but want to point some good things that could be salvaged in a bit.

  11. EbonNebula Says:

     You seem to have neglected the primary(and now defunkt) goal of Fort Benning. Also, it’s worth noting that this season is only half over, so obviously the list for season one will be longer for now.

    I do agree that Lori is a stupid binch. But I’m willing to blame it on pregers hormones, and hope she miscarries. Because I find absolutly nothing appealing about baby mamma drama

    Also, we were all there to see what happened to Amy. So, lets not pretend we don’t know exactly what’s going on with Hershal’s daughter.  Honestly, who cares. She was just a generic side character with only two or three lines all season. It’s just kicking Hershal when he’s down.

  12. mxyzptlk Says:

    I barfed way too much on the screen in my last post. Just wanted to say at least Shane is showing some kind of weird development — which again Dave Navarro nailed.*

    Shane’s all agro masculinity, but he can’t stop talking about his own poor self . When he’s washing Carol’s hands and trying to comfort her in her time of need, everything he’s saying is asking her to comfort him.

    Shane’s losing it. His self-confidence is shot, and he’s developing a Nick Diaz me-against-the-world thing. So there’s one point of development.

    I’m kind of willing to give Dale the benefit of the doubt here. His leaking that he thinks Shane sacrificed Otis could be a bit Machiavellian. However, the writers are still doing more telling than showing. (Except for the scene where Shane and his earlobes go off on Dale while Dale stares at him slack-jawed and doesn’t say a thing; for once that did more showing than telling.)

    * (Thank you Dave Navarro. Skipping homecoming to see Jane’s Addiction is still one of the best choices I made in high school.)

  13. JustinRYoung Says:

    True this season is half over, but it’s also twice as long. 

  14. Optimus_past_my_Prime Says:

    Maybe if they had actually written the show around the comic book it wouldn’t suck so much. That, combined with the dismissal of Frank Darabont, is killing what could’ve been a great show. Boo-urns to AMC.

  15. Optimus_past_my_Prime Says:

    Maybe if they had actually written the show around the comic book it wouldn’t suck so much. That, combined with the dismissal of Frank Darabont, is killing what could’ve been a great show. Boo-urns to AMC.