The Boob Tube Review: The Walking Dead's Return of Gale Boetticher by Alex Snider

Sometimes, we discuss the television we've been watching. There are usually plenty of spoilers, so beware.

Wouldn't it be incredible if in the universe of television, characters killed off either by violence, accidents or wasting disease, were reincarnated onto other shows? Not the actors, although nothing delights me more than seeing familiar faces show up on other series, but the characters. No one can tell me that's not what has happened with this new scientist character in Woodbury — if that's not Breaking Bad's Gale Boetticher reincarnated, I'll eat my hat. His calm demeanour? His unsolicited, yet sage advise to his boss whom holds his confidence? The proffering of hot caffeinated beverages? All classic Gale. Ah, Gale, sweet, karaoke-ing prince! I think of you often and fondly! If Vampire Bill had met the true death then I'd really have a case because Governor is all kinds of Bill (charming, dangerous liar who cuts a handsome figure in vest and struggles to suppress British accent) but alas, Bill is still in Louisiana.

"See in my opinion it's all about the quinic acid level" 
While things with Rick and his sorry gang have been looking up since they left the farm, the Governor and Woodbury are a very, very welcome change of pace. Like most idyllic communities of manicured lawns, peach stands and enigmatic handsome leaders, something sinister lurks. The signs were there even before the massacre of the world's most ineffectual soldiers, before the Governor's nightcap in front of his wall of entanked zombie heads (joke I jotted down while watching the episode: "that's not what I meant when I asked for some head!") although to be fair, now that television has gone extinct (NIGHTMARE) one really does have to come up with new night-time, post-coital entertainment so, really, why not watch decapitated heads decompose in fishtanks? I can see how that would be soothing, especially with a scotch. I wonder if there's a fish tank zombie head screensaver I can download?
The Governor is clearly a pretty bad dude and I suppose later in the season we'll see him come up against Rick but isn't he kind of exactly like Rick? I mean, if Rick hadn't spent so much time searching for Sophia maybe the Governor wouldn't have this head start on his autocracy. They have the same aversion to outsiders (as if Rick wouldn't have taken out those soldiers or at least irritated them into taking the first shot), same penchant for brunette's, same love for authority. The prison is just a more shabby-chic Woodbury with less antique stores. My favourite thing about the Governor is that he calls the zombies "biters" not "walkers" because, of course, there wouldn't be a universal term for them (except for maybe "zombie") without Twitter to partake in the nomenclature. What other names would there be? Obviously "The Infected"; hopefully "Rotters"; maybe "Uggos"?

"I call the big one Bitey" 
Having not read the graphic novels I don't really know what kind of shenanigans is going on in Woodbury. Maybe I've been in Aboriginal Studies and Classical Civilizations and socialist/anti-capitalist for too long but I got seriously skeeved out with all the Governor's talk about rebuilding civilization. Whose civilization? What does that entail? Judging by the attention to weeding and number of dresses, I trust that the kyriarchy will continue to prevail – so long as a White guy is in charge then everything is gonna work out just fine. Why do I get the feeling that with the rebuilding of civilization, so much else would have to start from scratch, too? Like women's rights and civil rights? I'm also guessing some sort of intensive efforts at repopulation is underway but only under the 'supervision' of the Governor and that there is a racial purity thing happening too because once again, we've got a serious dearth of people of colour. Come on, if Merle is going to be a fleshed out character, racism and all, then the writers and show runners cannot continue with this crap.

"Welcome to Whitebury!"
The past couple of episodes has seen an introduction of seven new African American characters but three of them were killed immediately (Big Tiny, Andrew and unnamed helicopter guy who was shown gruesomely chopped in half, then stabbed in the head — cool); the Governor's henchman had zero lines; Michonne and Axel both have less lines than I have toes, leaving the nurse to clean up shop with lines and a more fleshed out personality than "stoic". T-Dogg hasn't fared much better this season either, he has been distinguished from a potted plant but what few lines he has do nothing to establish his personality. It's not good enough to just have Black characters when they're given no defining characteristics other than angry.

Michonne was a highly anticipated addition to the season and I can see why, she's fierce and tough and is the antithesis of the rest of the cast (aside from maybe Daryl) but again, so far what we're seeing is just as zero-dimensional as T-Dogg: an untameable badass who needs. her. weapons. The scene at breakfast with Gale 2.0 and the Governor scratched the surface of her emotional depth when they asked about her zombie pack mules. She certainly isn't an exception to the axiom "still waters run deep". I can't wait to hear more of her backstory and to see more of her range if only because of this adorable gif, that I could watch for hours:

I'm holding out judgment on Michonne's two arm-less, jaw-less walkers until we find out who they were and that there was absolutely no way around having two Black men (zombies or not) mutilated and chained around the neck. Because, man, that's some seriously messed up and problematic imagery. 

To continue my rant, is it so outlandish to want to watch a show and not be pissed because once again, the women characters are falling nicely into well trod stereotypes? All the character development we saw with Andrea last season seems to be washing away as she moons over the Governor. What she just wants a man to take care of her? Come on! I want to like her! I want to like Maggie and Carol and even Beth. For fuck's sake, I defend Lori in every recap. I know I'm going to like Michonne when I have more of a reason to beside she's not feminine. Writers, I beg of you, write the women characters like they're people.

Maybe I'm expecting too much from a TV show but in 2012, shouldn't we be past token POC characters and trope-y female characters? Until then we need to keep demanding better of show runners and writers, and keep saying that the bare minimum is just not enough.


Alex Snider also has feelings about "Girls". Her website is What Fresh Hell is This and her Twitter handle is @what_freshhell.


Post a Comment