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Monday, October 19, 2015

The Walking Dead 6x01: First Time Again


I recently read an article from Cracked about anime. The part of this article I thought of when watching the season premiere of The Walking Dead, "First Time Again", was where Daniel Dockery  discusses anime series that never have a season break. Daniel posits that season breaks help bad series continue longer than they should. Basically, over the break people forget how bad a series is and\or hope the series will improve next season. I’m not saying this is the case with The Walking Dead but I think this episode would come off much different if not for the break.

The Walking Dead used the season break to skip ahead in time. Suddenly Rick’s group and the Alexandrians are more-or-less on the same page. They have a mission to move a giant hoard of zombies trapped in a quarry to some other undisclosed location. Frankly, seeing a bunch of people working together to form and enact a plan to deal with a zombie threat is a refreshing change for this show. So naturally, in true The Walking Dead fashion, defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory when some unknown entity (*cough* The Wolves *cough*) use a truck horn to lure the zombie horde back to Alexandria.

All in all, this wasn’t a bad episode but it’s placement in the series’ narrative is a bit suspect. Last episode things came to a boiling point in Alexandria. There was a town meeting to discuss kicking Rick out and it ended with a zombie getting within the walls, murder and an execution. In the very next episode everyone is working together.

We do get conveniently color coded flashbacks to catch us up but if this were a better show it wouldn’t need to use brief flashbacks as a cheat code to fast forward character development. They could've used an episode or two and show us the characters disagreeing, figuring each other out and ultimately trusting one another. In the hands of capable writers that could be very interesting to watch unfold. Instead, we only get a few brief scenes showing Glenn going from nearly being murdered by Nicholas to Glenn pretty much trusting him. (We get similar scenarios with Morgan quickly going from captive to trusted and Tobin dealing with his father's death.)

Then again, that's if this was a better show. We've seen The Walking Dead spend a lot of time on character work and it's not pretty. A couple of episodes dealing inwardly with a focus on characters would probably end up being boring and frustrating.

So maybe I should be happy with the show skipping past true character development and showing us humans smartly working together to deal with a zombie threat. Those are the most entertaining parts of this show anyway. Besides, the season break makes the plot skipping ahead much easier to accept.

Other Thoughts:
Sorry for the lateness of this post. I’m in the process of moving and thus finding very little time to write.

Another problem with season breaks is I have a tendency to forget what the hell happened at the end of last season. It took me a while to get caught up with where each character was left off.

In fact, I still forget exactly why Abraham is acting crazy but he is acting crazy!

Remember Father Gabriel and him ratting out Rick? That plot went places...

So Deanna just immediately trusts Rick because...she's shutting down and it's just easier to let him deal with everything?

So was switching between color and black and white for flashbacks artistic or just the production staff assuming the viewers are morons? I assume it’s the latter in the guise of the former.

Rick is being as xenophobic as ever. At least Daryl is on the opposite side. I knew I liked him for more that just being a bad ass!

Speaking of people I like, Morgan is fast becoming my favorite.

So, the Alexandrians forgo scratching and clawing for survival, murdering for the greater good and antagonizing anybody who may or may not be slightly perceived as a threat and instead just build a wall to protect themselves from zombies and then bring people in and help each other out. Since that’s not nihilistic the Alexandrians can’t be considered intelligent and a different kind of survivalist so they're instead considered lucky. Now this quarry shows up just to hammer that point home.

We are introduced to and say goodbye to Carter. He doesn’t like Rick which means he’s not equipped to live in the zombie apocalypse. His fatal flaw was…running too fast or something? OK, he didn’t immediately fall in line with Rick so that’s means you’re karmically dead.

Carol didn’t do too much here but they it’s evident that the writers LOVE her.

I get that Rick had to kill Carter but it really shouldn’t be that easy for him to do it.

I will say, there’s a lot of talk from Daryl and Morgan that Rick maybe needs to come back from his paranoid, xenophobic ways. Hopefully the story arc is Rick softening and not Rick being proved right and hardening Daryl and Morgan.

5 comments:

  1. Great analysis. I hadn't thought about it that way, but it matches my thoughts about it.

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  2. Frankly, seeing a bunch of people working together to form and enact a plan to deal with a zombie threat is a refreshing change for this show.

    I know, right? That's the kind of show I want to watch.

    So naturally, in true The Walking Dead fashion, defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory when some unknown entity (*cough* The Wolves *cough*) use a truck horn to lure the zombie horde back to Alexandria.

    I mean, is that supposed to be a surprise? It seems so obvious given the way they've been setting up the Wolves, yet it's played like it's some big mystery.

    Also, re: the Wolves, while I'm already dreading another group of demented humans a la Woodbury, the Termites and that group Daryl fell in with that loved stealing but hated lying, at this point, they've been built up so much that they'll have to be pretty damn exciting to justify it.

    They could've used an episode or two and show us the characters disagreeing, figuring each other out and ultimately trusting one another.

    For a few brief moments, I honestly thought they were setting up a dual narrative for the half season, with the present showing a combined Rick's Group/Alexandria and the flashbacks detailing how they got that way.

    Then I remembered what show I was watching and the episode hit the halfway mark and it became clear the "present" was all of a few hours after the "past" and nevermind.

    Sorry for the lateness of this post. I’m in the process of moving and thus finding very little time to write.

    The only thing that took longer than you writing about the episode was me watching it! :)

    In fact, I still forget exactly why Abraham is acting crazy but he is acting crazy!

    Most of the stuff from last season I remembered, but this, I still don't recall. Something about what happened when he was leading that team at the construction site, maybe? I vaguely recall that.

    Remember Father Gabriel and him ratting out Rick? That plot went places...

    I did like when Deanna basically told him to STFU. But seriously, he needs to go ASAP.

    So Deanna just immediately trusts Rick because...she's shutting down and it's just easier to let him deal with everything?

    That was my take on it. Basically, she's thinking if she'd listened to Rick from the beginning, her husband and son would still be alive, plus, it's easier to defer to him than fight back in her emotionally-deadened state (OMG! It's like *she's* the walking dead too!).

    So was switching between color and black and white for flashbacks artistic or just the production staff assuming the viewers are morons? I assume it’s the latter in the guise of the former.

    Ditto. According to this interview, it sounds like a little of both, but the quote, "We wanted to sort of make sure it wasn't confusing for the audience, so we had initially explored the idea of doing a desaturated flashback versus an oversaturated present-day." seems to suggest they think we're all fucking idiots.

    Then again, that whole interview makes it sound like they thought they were reinventing the damned wheel via their revelatory innovation of "non-linear storytelling", like they're the first people in the world to stumble on the idea of telling the end of a story first and then working forwards to it...

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  3. Speaking of people I like, Morgan is fast becoming my favorite.

    No fast about it, he's already my favorite character and, frankly, one of the big reasons I'm still watching. He values life, refuses to abandon his humanity, yet can be a bad-ass zombie killer when need be? He's everything Rick should be at this point, frankly.

    Now this quarry shows up just to hammer that point home.

    On the one hand, I agree that the repeated underlining of how the Alexandrians have only made it this far is because of luck and they're just damned lucky Jesus Rick showed up when he did, but on the other hand, I did appreciate the show explaining just why Alexandria hasn't been overwhelmed by a hoard yet, considering their walls don't seem designed to keep one out and it seems like Rick and co. run into one every third episode or so.

    We are introduced to and say goodbye to Carter.

    I was a little surprised by his early termination simply because he was played by briefly-a-movie star and former Rusty Griswold Ethan Embry.

    Hopefully the story arc is Rick softening and not Rick being proved right and hardening Daryl and Morgan.

    I really, really hope it's the former but am deeply afraid it'll turn out to be the latter, because this isn't the first episode of this show I've ever watched.

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  4. Teebore: he was played by briefly-a-movie star and former Rusty Griswold Ethan Embry.

    ... You bastard. You know, it's Marty McFly Day today and I was cool with that, and Days of Future Past are already two years past and I was cool with that too, but he was just yesterday holding the European chick's tits as a teen boy and you come and tell me they just offed a very much grown up him and I've never felt this old.

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    Replies
    1. If it makes you feel better, that's a different Rusty Griswold. Ethan Embry was the one in Vegas Vacation.

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