Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode Two: Bloodletting

Here we are again, folks, it's time to make the doughnuts, another week, another episode of The Walking Dead. I'm going to be reviewing them one at a time this year, grimly slogging through each one, each week. You can read the other reviews here, if you want.

So, nearly a week late yet again, with the third episode now a bare few hours away, I'm sure the big question on all of your minds is: What took you so long, Jon? The answer: None ya'. Moving on. So, the second question no doubt on your minds is probably: Was the second episode better than last week's let-down, go-nowhere snoozefest of a premiere?

Read on, my dear Blog Visitor, read on...


Short and sweet: This was a much better episode. Still not a good episode. It still showcased all the same horrible and unnecessary bad writing and mistakes as previously noted, but it was a better all around attempt. Better pacing, better decisions, better storytelling, better moments.

How is this possible?

Well, the obvious answer is that, with the dismissal of Frank Darabont, the last vestiges of the old production house, and all the bad choices that came hand-in-hand with that house, are now gone and it's a new day on set. And it shows.

That's the obvious answer, yes, but is it an accurate one? I can't say. I don't have any behind-the-scenes information that I can personally vouch for as valid. Neither do I have anything against Frank Darabont. In fact, I'm a fan for the most part. Among his many projects, just like all of you, I really enjoyed the Green Mile and The Mist was also a pretty fun little horror flick (and if you want to make it really creepy, try watching it as the black and white version found on the two disc collector's set), so it's not like my opinion is coming from anywhere personal or whatever.

But the fact remains: For most of last season, up to the previous episode, this show has been sub-par. Actually, it's been bad. In the common parlance... it has sucked balls.

And this first episode without Darabont and the old staff?

Not great, but better, which is a good start.

The story picks up mere minutes after last week's "cliffhanger" where young Carl got shot. Turns out, it wasn't the deer who shot him, as it first appeared last week, but was actually due to another man, Otis (played by the always welcome, Pruitt Taylor Vincent).

Otis, as it turns out, lives on a farm with his girlfriend (the soon-to-be-hated-more-than-Lori) Patricia, a man named Hershel (who is a secret nutball... Shhhhh....SPOILERS), and his passel of farmy-type children, all of whom are Redshirts of the worst kind (Except for Maggie, of course, whose single-gal vagina and continuously fragile emotional state is apparently all that's needed to give current back-grounder Glenn a reason to be included in future episodes... CHARACTER SPOILER!). So, anyway, luck be the devil tonight, as Hershel is a Vet and he sets about using what skills he has to save the dying Carl.

This is something everyone is thankful for, except for Lori, of course, because whenever there is something stupid or unnecessary to say or there's fake drama to provide or someone just has to be contrary for the sake of being contrary, then Lori is the writing staff's go-to character. I don't know why, but it's true. Maybe once Rick reached her and she ceased to be an object of obtaining meant to drive the initial story arc, they forgot to give her another, more three dimensional purpose, but whatever. It doesn't matter. The point is, in a show of generally poorly written characters, Lori is the worst of the bunch, without a doubt, not just poorly written, but inconsistent and scattershot to boot. She's awful. Anyway, Lori screams at Hershel for becoming a Vet instead of a Doctor, I guess, or something, like I said, she makes no sense ever. And then, even worse, nothing happens with her big snit-fit. She flips out and then the scene just ends. We move on. Nothing is accomplished, it isn't mentioned again, nothing except the adding on to our collective and already massive "Lori Sucks" pile of hatred.

Meanwhile, one of the only interesting characters on the show, Shane (who is undeniably now mere moments from his death and removal from the show), decides to take action.

You see, Hershel needs some medical items in order to save the confusingly ungrateful Lori's only child from death by gunshot. Rick is drained both emotionally and sanguinely, as he is the only one with the same blood type as Carl. Shane and Otis are the only available gun-hands in the immediate area, as the other "characters" and Daryl are off milling about on the highway by the RV, and the only place to get the medical supplies is at the old high school, a place which has been overrun by the walking dead... or as any veteran video game players will no doubt recognize... Side Mission!

This, of course, is the best moment of the show. While Rick and Lori and them wait and the others continue to look for the little girl whose name I can't remember, since the biggest contribution she's made to the show and the comic book is getting lost in the premiere episode, Shane and Otis raid the school. And like these things always go, it starts out okay and then it spirals out of control, the episode ending with our two heroes stuck with their backs to the wall, surrounded by a horde of zombies, and screwed big time.

All in all, not a bad way to end this week's installment.

Yeah, there's a few crappy bits, but those aside, this episode showed improvement. Better pacing. Better interacting. Better character moments. Better tension. It still looks great, at least as far as the special effects are concerned, but then, it always does. More importantly, this episode, for the first time in a long time, finally looked more like a show that I would like to keep watching.

We'll see how tonight goes.

Fingers crossed.

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