Television

Published on October 21st, 2014 | by Bean

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The Walking Dead Review – Season 5 Episode 2 – “Strangers”

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Well, balls. I knew Rick was right when he wanted to clean up Terminus last week, I bloody knew it. And when I say “clean up”, I mean murder every last stinking one of them long-pig-noshing freaks. Unfortunately, some of our people are still clinging to the delusion that they’re above such actions, seeing it as vengeful, when as Rick well knows, it is more an ugly necessity to avoid future violent repercussions.

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Perhaps what is so disappointing is that these dominoes start to fall in the very next episode. I imagine the show is trying to avoid repeating the extremely delayed fallout trope played through with the Governor and his band of merry sheep. It has been apparent for several seasons that the Big Bad of The Walking Dead are the living, and inventing new ways for the dregs of the human race to be abominable to one another is surely a tricky task; inevitably there will be repetitive elements.

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“Strangers” is an apt title; the lurking dread that Rick and Daryl keep referring to throughout the episode, the constant looking over the shoulder, and the sense of being watched ratchets the paranoia. Rick’s pep-talk to Carl about the myth of safety was suitably grave, and set the tone nicely. Both characters have valid arguments, though I’d side with the more circumspect decisions of Rick.

Annoyingly, it seems like the show wants to sabotage this tension by wildly signposting all the impending doom. I’m not saying The Walking Dead is always a subtle show; the nature of it’s extremes don’t always allow for that. But I am a big believer in the metaphors at the heart of the zombie genre, and the horrible mirror this show holds up to the concepts of ‘humanity’ and ‘civilisation’. It’s themes are strong, it’s core characters stronger, and the complexity and depth leveraged from the exemplary acting is staggering. But it becomes frustrating when Chirpy Bob makes moon-eyes at Sasha for the third time in half an hour; yes, he’s next, we get it!

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Why must these moments be elbowed front and centre? It doesn’t make me care about Bob more because he’s demonstrably in love with Sasha; I cared anyway, but now I’m just waiting for him to die. It’s a pattern that over-simplifies the entropy of apocalyptic behaviour. I’d much rather not see this coming a mile off…

Possibly the real problem here is how lame the cannibalism seems now it’s being explained. The not-nearly-creepy-enough chap from Terminus gives Bob/us some spiel about them being hunters now, a devolution, it being necessary, nothing personal, but ooooh, you are a tasty morsel! It’s just so camp and daft, tonally farting away the mounted tension, but worst of all it’s utterly unconvincing. Not the idea of people eating each other in a zombie apocalypse – that I buy. It’s the smarmy nonchalance that robs it of any punch. It seems like the first real error the show has made, which is perhaps why I’m harping on about it!

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A more interesting twist is the possibility that Bob may have been bitten in the underwater zombie attack; is this why he went outside for a cry? Not to sound callous, but I’d be curious to see what eating nearly necrotic flesh might do to the diner… Since we are all carriers (we?!), ahem, they are all carriers, might a Bob-sarnie make the virus kick in? Hmmm, we shall see.

In other news, Carol getting restless leg syndrome comes in a bit handy for chasing the other asshats – the ones who kidnapped Beth. Might we assume these are the same nasties that pillaged and plundered Terminus the first time around? It would makes sense, and I don’t think we particularly need three different sets of loons to deal with. I’m almost hoping it is them simply so as not to over-complicate, though it’ll undoubtedly make for ugly viewing if it is. Hopefully, the badass but tactical team of Carol and Daryl can just stick to recon here, and not fly in half-cocked and get strung up.

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And lastly, if the Rev is staying he’s gonna need to sack up. Jeeez… (Though I did enjoy Sherlock Grimes Jr showing off his investigative prowess; what is the Rev hiding?)

Review by Nina Clark; the following contribution by her better half, Mark Rowden.

Mark’s Zombie Connoisseur Corner

This week’s observation runs thus; Re. the new cannibalism thread – Zombi Holocaust (1980) – yawn. Would rather be watching Ian McCulloch in Survivors!

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Bean

Director at Nina Clark Music / The Musical Walkabout at Nina Clark Music
Bean is the family nickname of Nina Clark, singer, songwriter and professional musician. Nina's many nerdly passions, aside from music, include Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and all things Whedon. (re. GoT, she has NOT read the books, so please be cool - no spoilers!)
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