The Boob Tube Review: The Walking Dead's American Gladiators by Alex Snider

Not sure if I enjoyed this week's episode so much because it was good or because it wasn't like the past few clusterfucks. A little from column A, a little from column B probably. I even cracked a few smiles! Of course it was mostly when Daryl was onscreen; he was on fire this week. I loved his new sartorial decision (just because it's the apocalypse doesn't mean that one doesn't loot an Anthropologie). I loved his look of glee when he found that possum (who doesn't love a unexpected freebie lunch?). I loved his baby whispering and empty (?) grave visiting. He is my favourite.

I also greatly enjoyed the Governor this week. I like his face, I like his devotion to his daughter, I like his ability to write page after page of neat, uniform dashes and I really like his dedication to party throwing. I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly why the Governor is so evil. Yes there is his nightly entertainment of gazing at pickled zombie heads (is that really any different from watching any of the Real Housewives instalments?) and yes, he did shoot a whole bunch of soldiers but I'm sure he has really good reasons for all that. If the Governor is supposed to represent Rick in the darkest time-line or be the bad guy foil to his sheriff, then the writers have some serious Rick-PR work to do. Real talk, the Governor is even a better parent than Rick, and his kid is undead (with smooth, silky hair and only a bit of exposed scalp). Rick hasn't even held his new baby or hugged his son after the death of his mother. And when was the last time that Rick encouraged happiness/smiles in his group of survivors? Beth singing sad songs isn't quite the same reward/payoff as hard lemonade and UFC.


Last season we saw Hershel jump through dizzying logical hoops to justify keeping his barn stocked with walkers and we (I?) rolled our eyes at his pro-life prattling and at his naive delusions about a cure. His sentimentality was jarring and out of place in a genre that has only ever been about immediate survival. Now with the appearance of the Governor's daughter and knowing that Milton the scientist thinks there is a chance that the walkers retain some modicum of memory along with the reveal that it has only been 10 months since the outbreak, Hershel's zombie policy seems less ridiculous. Is it a normal reaction to keep hope alive? Are Rick et al an exception with their pessimism? Who now seems more monstrous: Rick, who refuses to entertain the idea of a cure, or the Governor who developed strategies in order to maintain a connection to Penny? In a situation such as the zombie apocalypse, how quickly does one move on?

If there is indeed a cure or even the possibility that the undead hold fast onto a flicker of their former selves, then what does that mean for the show and for the character's future? Wracked with guilt, no doubt, but is the show breaking new ground in the zombie field by looking past survival and searching for a way to rebuild a fallen society? There was a hint of Milton's theory in the pilot episode, when Morgan's walker wife continued to stare in at their former home, so there is a definite possibility that the show is going in the direction of a really messy ethical/moral dilemma for the survivors. Killing the walkers will not be as easy if they're still a bit human. Or will it?
"Let's call her Jacqui." "I'm sorry, who?

 Some bits and pieces:
  • Totally related to Penny's outrage when getting her hair brushed. Man, when I was a kid and my mum tried to pull a brush through my ratty hair, I threw fits rivalling that little zombie child. And my mum didn't scrap off chunks of scalp in the process. Penny, I feel you, girl.
  • Also understandable? That the no one at the prison went off to look for Carol. I mean, they'd already spent an eternity searching for Sophia. I'm sure she'll understand their neglect once she comes back.
  • It was only upon reading other recaps that I realized the walker in the storage/birth room that Rick killed was supposed to have eaten Lori. lol wut? Who knew that the undead digestive system can process bone?
  • And as if it's not grating enough that these people just assumed that Lori would no problem be there to feed the baby and that even if she was alive, that she'd be able to breastfeed in the frakking apocalypse and took no measures to find formula (or any other baby things) in the prior 8 (!!!!) months, they also had to be like "no prob, we'll just hit up the mall". Really, a mall? When three episodes ago, Carl was ready to nosh on dog food? 
  • Super relieved that there was no baby/toddler zombies at that daycare centre. Don't think I could handle that. 
  • It was nice of the writers to fill out more of T-Dog's personality after he died if not lazy and insulting, but really "he wasn't just a good guy, he was the best"?!! Now you're just punking us, Glenn. The best guy but couldn't be bothered to have a conversation with him. Reminds me of how after the breakdown of a crappy relationship, I will sometimes romanticize the relationship and reminisce in an alternate reality kind of way. "He cheated on me but damn, was he a great kisser! Things weren't so bad! He was actually the best!"
  • At least Lil' Asskicker won't have to worry about bullying.
  • Rick hearing the phone ring: who's going to be on the other line?? Lori? Morgan? God? If next week opens with "ahh-oooga, this is your captain calling" I will forgive the show everything.

Alex Snider watches a lot of TV. Her website is What Fresh Hell is This and her Twitter handle is @what_freshhell.


Post a Comment