Monday, December 6, 2010

The Walking Dead - "TS-19"

To avoid the undead, the cast of 'The Walking Dead' must now live together inside an elevator for all of eternity.
Photo Credit: AMC
Review by Paul Steven Brown

'The Walking Dead'
Season 1 - Episode 6

After last week's drastic divergence from the source material, I was feeling a bit pessimistic about the season finale of 'The Walking Dead'. Thankful it turned out to be a solid episode and one that didn't go down the path that I predicted. As a bonus, "TS-19" was the episode that made me finally relax and enjoy 'The Walking Dead' the television as it's own thing and to not worry about whether or not it will stray too far from the comic book series.

I don't think that the flashback to Shane trying to figure out what to do with Rick's comatose body when all hell was breaking loose was necessary. I liked the ambiguity of how that point in time was alluded to in previous episodes. Still, one can certainly argue that Shane was in an extremely chaotic situation and there was no telling how long Rick would have survived without the medical equipment.

Shane does have control of his own actions in the present. His getting drunk and near rape of Lori was very scary and an indication of the danger lurking in plane sight. Daryl Dixon may be a loose screw, but he has no problems vocalizing his feelings or intentions. Shane, due to shame and jealousy, tries to keep them buried. The shot of Shane drinking out to the liquor bottle while in the shower was a bit forced. It screams, "Look! I'm sad and don't know how to handle it!"

One relationship that seems to be moving into interesting areas is that of Andrea and Dale. She has come to depend on him as a friend and a person to connect to, now that her sister Amy is dead. Dale needs someone to care about to give himself something to live for. Having read the comics, this seems to be tracking a similar path, which is an interesting development for these two characters despite the age difference. It doesn't hurt that Laurie Holden and Jeffrey DeMunn are two of the strongest actors in this ensemble and have the abilities to deliver the emotional punches without it coming off as forced.

I could have done without the super-tech that was present at the CDC. We get a voice operated supercomputer and flashy graphics to show what was going on inside Test Subject 19's brain during her infection. While a zombie apocalypse is fantasy, the technology in the CDC felt too much like a move over into science fiction.

I'm glad we didn't find out how all of this started. I'd rather let the mystery be and have the show focus on how people survive in this crazy world. For the most part, Jenner was there just to emphasis the hopelessness and enormity of the present condition of the world. If anything, Jenner's new added to an increasing sense of nihilism that continues to dominate 'The Walking Dead'. The weight of the news was enough for Jacqui to choose a quick death beside Jenner, instead continuing to live day to day against hopeless odds.

Of course, the big meaty hook at the end of episode was Jenner's Lost in Translation moment with Rick. What did he say? Are there other possible facilities? Is he steering them to possibly safer waters?

And with that, the gang is back on the road and force to wander until next fall. At least there will be thirteen episodes in season two. I've really enjoyed 'The Walking Dead', but I have to constantly remind myself to let it be it's own thing and try not to heap too much expectations upon it due to my love of the original comic book series. It certainly has the ability to stand on its own.

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