Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review: The Walking Dead 77

Non Spoiler Review:
This issue picks up on the awkward moment we last left Rick...caught by his son talking to his dead wife on the phone. But this little moment is only a minor part of the larger action of issue #77, that juxtaposes some relationship drama with the consequences of Rick's earlier decision. 

We do get some deaths here, sudden and unexpected as is typical for this series, and we end with more ominous things on the horizon. I have the sense events will begin to move much faster now that all the pieces seem to be established. This was another decent instalment, but a little more contrived than what we've grown used to from Kirkman.

Spoilers Now!
Rick has been outed as a crazy person, and has to have an awkward father/son talk about why he's on the phone with his dead mother. Despite Rick's argument that it makes him feel better and he knows she's dead, Carl is at first curious, wanting to listen to the phone, and then disgusted, basically telling him to grow up.

Andrea has her first stint in the church tower, and takes Spencer up on a dinner offer. She's still torn up over Dale's death, but they do agree to have a no pressure dinner together. Maggie and Glen, meanwhile, are suffering a lack of romance. Maggie is still feeling traumatized from what happened at the prison, but Glen steps up to the plate and says what she needs to hear.

The sick guy finally succumbs, despite the drugs Glen helped acquire in the city, so we get a very quick disposal of the body by Douglas and the crew. There is a debate to hold a funeral but Douglas does not want to disturb the psychology of the community by introducing death into their lives again. Spiking the head so the corpse won't reanimate, they begin to bury him, only to have Pete show up with a knife, determined to kill Rick for ruining his life. Poor Regina steps up to tell him to settle down, only to get a slit throat for her troubles, and Pete is brought down. Rick decides to execute Pete right then and there, and gets a "Do it" from a furious Douglas. Bang!

And that bang, of course, alerts the bad boys we saw in the city last month that they're on the right track to the community.

What Worked:
Once again, the natural flow of character interactions continues to flesh out the psychological state of the colony. Everything is so tenuous, Douglas can't risk sparking a trauma by introducing a funeral back into their society. It's nice to see Andrea is still conflicted after Dale's death, and hasn't been able to just move on so easily. Spencer seems stable enough (in the context that any of the characters are stable).

I thought Rick's talk with Carl might be more of a confrontation, but it was short and sweet, and completely overshadowed by later events. 

What Didn't Work:
Pete's breakdown played more like a plot device than something arising naturally from the flow of the story. We suddenly find him sitting alone in his new house, muttering to himself about how unfair everything is. Then he spies his handy-dandy kitchen knives and is off strolling through the town hell bent on killing Rick. That seems a bit melodramatic and cliched, especially the overt confrontation at the burial. For someone who conducted himself as an abusive husband in relative secrecy, he goes completely off his rocker now. That just didn't play naturally to me. An argument can be made that all the characters are a hairsbreadth away from a complete breakdown, but this seemed more useful to accelerate the plot than just another horrible thing happening.

The contrived level of that scene robbed the ending of a bit of its punch, but we (and the characters) have the more imminent arrival of trouble next issue. I'm hoping that the community has some backup plan we've yet to see to deal with an attack. If not, I'll have even more to complain about next issue if Rick and Abraham manage to let these hooligans run amok through the town.

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