Last night, I stayed up way too late waiting for The Walking Dead (my current favorite TV show) to come online; I went to bed at 10:30, show still not online, but then woke up at four, only to find that the show had come onto one of the other sites and I had searched under the wrong terms.
While I wasn’t a fan of the comic or the zombie genre before, I turned into the show because I love post-apocalyptic, serial drama. This season, the show has reminded me of what Lost was like before Lindelof and Cuse became stars of the show: a bunch of ordinary people, trying to survive in a world with few rules. Yes, some of the episodes this fall have been tedious and short on action, but remember this a young show that has budget constraints. 24 was very similarly slowly in its early years, and the show grew once it was syndicated. As long as the second half of the season has more action, I’m good with that.
Of course, every time I see them show what should be a huge group of zombies, I get the sense that it’s only a small group that looks big because of the camera angle, but hey, the show is great. I’m a frugal Nebraskan, so I appreciate anyone making the best of what they have.
I wonder how much HBO burns over that they could have had the show. Probably some; they have made their share of blunders since The Sopranos left in 2007, and it’s not as bad as canceling Deadwood and not getting the two movies based on the series. Certainly, NBC looks more blundersome when they let Desperate Housewives slide out there back door. Of course, HBO does have Game of Thrones now, so they likely the biggest disappointment in the matter belongs to Thomas Jane, who would have played Rick Grimes, had HBO ordered The Walking Dead to pilot.
But the more I reflect on The Walking Dead, the more I see an analogy that reflects a world I’ve lived in: the world of depression. The survivors are the depressed people, and the zombies are the world around them. So many themes fit that depressed motif: the sense of hopelessness, the feeling as if everyone is oppressing you, things only getting worse. Not that I know Robert Kirkman’s motivation, but the themes do arise in the work. Perhaps that’s what takes this horror parable and makes it so appealing to geeks and masses, is it is that world of rejection they live in every day.
But back to last night’s episode, named for the state of my residence: this episode was slow-starting, mainly because it had to deal with the revelations of Sophia’s death, plus Hershel’s family that had become walkers being shot. But it ended in a better place than it began, as Rick’s decision to take out the two Philly survivors will have consequences in the next episode, as well as Lori’s car crash. (The latter event seemed about as staged as Carl’s getting shot, but that can be remedied by a good payoff). While Dave was going for his gun, you can see Rick going down that dark road that Shane did when he killed Otis, although Shane’s path was certainly darker. The conflict with this other band of survivors (as seen in the trailer) should provide some good fodder for the remaining five episodes this season. Personally, I have been rather impatient for them to get to the prison (working theory since last summer was that they’d get there by season 2′s end), but now I can’t wait for these episodes. Best moment this week: Andrea delivering the final blow with a farm implement.
Final thought: the same thing that makes The Walking Dead great is what makes Chuck great. The show creates conflict between multiple characters on multiple levels, maintaining from beginning to end. Take Lori: even though she didn’t want Rick to leave, she feels the need to go after him herself, for the same reason he wanted to leave. Daryl is willing to look for Carol’s daughter, but won’t go after Rick. Rick kills Sophia, but then commends Hershel for holding out hope for the walkers. That’s great storytelling.
(Update: A follow-up)