Monday, February 13, 2012

Review: The Walking Dead "Nebraska"

Non Spoiler Review:
It's pretty telling I can write a review for The Walking Dead so quickly. Returning from hiatus, this episode was extremely slow and mostly everyone shuffling around from one place to the other. Sure, there's a lot of fallout to deal with from Sophia's death, and that's what Nebraska is all about—everyone coming to terms with the situation. As far as plot advancement? Not much.

I see what Kirkman is trying to do with this slow simmer of emotions and conflicts. However, this is a TV series, and unlike the comics, which can go on for months and months just developing characters, there needs to be some plot advanced to keep people coming back. This is the second episode that could easily have had its elements folded into others and kept things running more briskly.

I realize there are behind the scenes budget controveries at AMC, but I left thinking yet another of the season's allotment has been used up. It's additionally maddening because the characters are frustrated they spent so much time looking for Sophia for naught, just like us. I know it will improve, but it's not my viewing habits that AMC needs to keep happy.

Spoilers Now!
Sophia is dead, and everyone is in complete shock. Beth runs over to her mother whom she believes has just been killed, but she's still got some life in her and tries to kill her before Andrea dispatches the corpse. Shane launches into accusing Hershel of lying to him about Sophia's whereabouts, but Hershel informs him that Otis was the one who brought in the walkers and maybe found her before he was killed. He wants them all off his land as he and his family return to the house.

The rest prepare to bury the bodies in order to keep busy, while Carol goes off into the woods to process her loss. Shane's feeling the pressure and tries to justify himself to Dale. Andrea and T-Dog appear to take Shane's side.

Maggie wants to know if Glen will stay if the rest leave, and admits she's in love with him. Glen, however, doesn't know what to say back. Then Beth (still traumatized) faints and grows feverish. Hershel has gone missing, and Maggie seems to think he might have gone to the bar in town where he once frequented. Rick and Glen go off to get him, despite Shane and Lori wanting him to stay and take care of things on the farm.

Dale confides in Lori that he thinks Shane killed Otis. Lori asks Daryl to go into town to get Hershel and Rick, but he's bitter and done looking for people, so she takes a gun and drives the car into town herself. She doesn't keep her eyes on the empty road, runs into a walker and rolls the car in like 60 seconds. 

Rick and Glen find Hershel where they expect, and fill him in that Beth collapsed. But Hershel is broken and lets them know Rick's people have been a plague on his farm. He does admit that he was a fool all along thinking he could save those people, and now he has no hope. And he sees they know it too. Rick gives one of his speeches and declares it's not about what he and Hershel believe, but what the others do. That's when two men walk into the bar.

Dave and Tony are northerners who came south with word of a refugee camp in Washington, and then other rumours that trains were running survivors into Nebraska. They have a drink with them, but it's clear there is incredible mistrust and suspicion between them all. They also let Rick know that Fort Benning was overrun after meeting a soldier from there. Dave asks where they're set up and suggests they pool resources. Rick draws the line at joining up or revealing any other information. Tony's less amicable and tells them he'll just take what they have if they don't want to share. Tony tries to calm the situation and have another drink, suggesting they discuss things, but weapons start to come out and Rick abruptly shoots both men. 

The Verdict:
There's little else to say about this one. The purpose appears to be to make a break with the past (and the first half of the season). It was way too talky and slow for me, and probably the least interesting episode of the whole series so far. If not for the last two minutes it would have been a complete write off.

There also appears to be some little bits thrown in implying a new threat. Beth's mystery illness can't just be shock. Is she infected? And is it somehow tied in to the arm that fell off the walker in the truck that Andrea casually retrieved?

I am interested to see how these two northern characters fit into things and who they might be with. But other elements felt tacked on—Lori's terrible driving skills appeared out of nowhere for some additional peril. I'm wondering if this other bunch might succeed in driving them all off the farm and into a hopefully more interesting setting.

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