The Boob Tube Review: The Return of The Walking Dead by Alex Snider

In the Boob Tube Review, we discuss the television we've been watching. There are usually plenty of spoilers, so beware, this covers up to the second episode of the third season:

The safety of Hershel's enchanted farm has passed. Gone is the muddy moat that acted as a walker trap. Gone is the barn whose rickety doors belied their tactile strength. Gone is the never ending supply of hot water for long showers and staggering amounts of laundry. Also gone? Rick's dilly-dallying, hemming and hawing decision making. Never again will there be another Randall, nope, just a machete to the head instead. Now we have plot momentum and action and (some) lines for T-Dog! Some things remain the same, though, like magical healing powers centred around Hershel and Carl's dependency on the sheriff's hat and Rick's outrage that there are other survivors out there.

Watching it with a friend, we were of two minds regarding the prisoners, I felt that the zombie apocalypse was Rick's dream come true given how much he seems to despise other people and his level of entitlement for all spaces ever. I for instance, would be pretty ecstatic to come across other survivors if I were in their shoes, particularly if I was stuck with that crew. My friend brought up a pretty valid point though that in every disaster/horror movie whenever a group of survivors comes across army dudes or prison dudes and there are ladies in the former group, bad things happen (28 Days Later things). Valid point, but in terms of reality and taking into account America's Prison Industrial Complex and the war on drugs, the chances that those guys were in prison on mandatory sentences for drug charges were pretty high; they probably weren't murderers (except the guy who was totally a murderer, RIP Big Tiny).

(Speaking of reality, how does everyone feel about the fact that the show, set in Georgia, has had very few African American characters (including zombies) as of late but then get to prison and, bam, suddenly the show is paying attention to real life demographics? I understand that it's a new show runner and all and that it is realistic given the Prison Industrial Complex but seriously, that is the moment they decide to go for realism? Holding out hope that this realism will carry on beyond the prison.)

Now obviously Tomas was a bad guy as was demonstrated when he went Tarantino on Big Tiny and also when he threw the zombie onto Rick but were the other guys so bad? It's unclear at this point whether Rick's decision to lock Andrew in the yard with the walkers was to indicate his turn to the dark or to convey the difficult decisions that plague him as leader. He spared Oscar and Axel so while he hasn't lost his humanity completely, locking that door was definitely shades of Shane.

Hershel made a miraculous recovery thanks to Carol's in depth knowledge of the infection-staying powers of bandages, thank gods not all medicine died out in the apocalypse! With that boost of confidence she feels almost ready to perform a c-section but only if she can practice on a rotting corpse. Sure. Ok. I'm going to let that one slide (much like the stomach skin of a walker as a scalpel attempts to slice through it) because I am digging the new, sassier Carol. Besides, modern medicine has a lot to thank corpses for, what with the 19th century grave robbers and all. Of course those corpses were rather fresh and not dead-undead-dead but hey, when life gives you putrid lemons, you practice surgery on them. Also, did anyone else find that the zombie-donated-to-science resembled Spooge's meth-head wife from Breaking Bad? (SPOILER) The one who crushed her husband's head with an ATM in season two? Check it out, man:

Then there was Hershel's sneak attack on Lori as she tried to resuscitate him. That was a legit scary, shock moment. Well done, Walking Dead writers! It did definitely remind me of this, though:

Was anyone else shocked to hear that the whole zombie thing had only been going on for 10 months? What does that mean for Lori's pregnancy? That baby is totally going to be born with a shaved head and with a penchant for long, hot, rage showers. One thing I think is missing a little bit from the show, or at least from the episodes that get too weighed down by bickering and action, is the human toll of the walker situation. This was summed up by Big Tiny's lament for his mum. It would be a pretty agonizing and melodramatic show if it constantly dwelled on the past but it's nice to be reminded of the individuals lost, outside of the family Hershel, a little more. Humanizing and all that.

One of the more frustrating parts of the episode was that no one but Carl thought to go to the infirmary. Personally, if I went through the trouble of hacking the leg off of a... (close friend? Compatriot? Father figure? Cell mate? What are the relationships here? Who is T-Dog to everyone?)... Hershel, then I'd also want to be bothered to get a couple people to head off to find bandages to help stop the infection immediately. Especially if my wife was also overdue. Couldn't they have just locked up the prisoners for a little bit? Given them some time in the yard while they did a quick run for supplies? Why was that downgraded to a lower priority than getting the prisoner-strangers settled? Of course Carl went! Someone had to! Still a silly and dangerous thing to do and ridiculous to not tell anyone but it needed to be done! I guess it was because only Carol knew the value of gauze...

The hardest part of the episode to see (aside from the zombie up skirt – even in death, women will be violated : (( ) was the interaction between Rick and Lori. I am having a harder and harder time figuring out what Rick's issue is with her. I'm assuming that something happened in those six months between seasons that led to his callous rejection but it is making me feel so bad for her. I was never on the Lori-hate train that so many other viewers are on and I never took the Lady MacBeth bait the writers were dangling so this new turn of "I know I'm a shitty wife and I'm not winning any mother of the year awards" is ringing false. Why is she a shitty wife? Why is she a shitty mother? No, she didn't pay the best attention to Carl but what about Rick's role in that? I'd say that Rick's propping Carl up as boy-wonder with so much responsibility (over the women, natch) has played more of a part in Carl's heroic but reckless bravado. Whatever Lori has done so far, their marriage is not over so this silent treatment of Rick's, especially when she is 9 months into a pregnancy she was guilted into carrying out, amounts to emotional abuse. It's the damn apocalypse! Sort your shit or get the fuck out. #teamLori

Alex Snider is prepared for a zombie apocalypse. Her blog is What Fresh Hell is This and her twitter is @what_freshhell.


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