Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Walking Dead - "Tell It to the Frogs"

Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) lays down a few new ground rules for Shane (Jon Bernthal) now that Rick is back.
Photo Credit: AMC
Review by Paul Steven Brown

'The Walking Dead'
Season 1 - Episode 3
"Tell It to the Frogs"

Last week's episode of 'The Walking Dead' veered more towards what is expected and common for zombie movies. This week's "Tell It to the Frogs" brings the program back in line with the character drama strengths of the premiere. Other than the horde that was scratching at Merle Dixon's roof top door, the rest of the humans only had one zombie run-in back at camp. Most the episode dealt with Rick's reunion with his wife, Lori, and son, Carl, and the tension between the various personalities amongst the survivors. I love some intense zombie action, but 'The Walking Dead' is at its best when dealing with the living and their personal struggles in a world gone to hell.

Lori is in a difficult position at the moment. She thought Rick was dead, and from what we learn in this episode, Shane was the source of that incorrect information. Now with Rick's return, Shane is losing Lori as a sex partner, and also Carl as a potential son. Shane's frustration and anger gets directed at Carol's husband, Ed, whose abuse starts to carry over towards the other woman in camp. Ed needed to be put in his place, but Shane wanted to lash out at something and proceeded to beat the man senseless.

Andrea and Jacqui are not very happy with the current division of labor around camp. While Shane plays around with Carl, and Ed sits on his butt smoking cigarettes, the women are doing the laundry. It may be the end of the world, but some folks still have "traditional" (by which I mean "sexist") ideas as to what roles men and women should continue to have. Unfortunately, characters like Ed and Merle Dixon are not very nuanced. They come across as very cliched "abusive husband" and "racist hick". I'm not saying that there aren't people like this in the world, but these characters do little more than fit a stereotype for us to hate.

At the end of the episode Rick, Glenn, T-Dog, and Merle's brother, Daryl head back into Atlanta to pick up the sack of weapons that Rick dropped when he was swarmed and to rescue Merle from the roof top. I can't help but feel that half of those men aren't going to make it back, and part of that is due to my familiarity with the source material. We also learn that Merle freed himself with a hacksaw, so now we have a potential human threat to worry about, too. This seems a bit too manufactured for my taste and I'd rather watch the survivors deal with their day to day existence and inter-personal conflicts instead of having to deal with the threat of a crazed racist redneck in addition to zombies.

Still, "Tell It to the Frogs" is more of the type of episode that I'd like to see on 'The Walking Dead'. The real drama is what happens in the interactions between these folks as a result of way the world is at the moment. Sure, the occasional zombie attack is fun, but unless the creators do something original with them, they don't really come across as anything that we haven't seen before in a zombie movie.

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