The Walking Dead: First Time Again

The Walking Dead: First Time Again October 13, 2015

Oh yeah, sorry for never following up after my “guess what we’re going to Chicago with no plan!” post. I hope y’all didn’t think we were still stuck in the Midway airport or anything. We got home safely, after making a quick detour to Dallas, and I haven’t written since then because I’ve been super grumpy. It turns out I love traveling and seeing friends and family, and I hate laundry and housework. So, grumpy Mommy.

But! That is not the point of this post, because The Walking Dead has returned for the season, and I am so happy now. So, so happy. So happy I’m pulling a Cari and writing about it…every week. Because zombies make me happy. Oh, this post contains massive spoilers, so don’t read it and then yell at me in the comments, ‘kay?

First, my chaotic reactions: the black-and-white thing totally worked and was amazing, and Heath! Heath! Yay, Heath looking like you just stepped out of the comics! I’ve been waiting for you, dude! I’m not sure why because you’re not my favorite character (still bitter that you didn’t bite the, er, bat instead of the love of my comic life), but I still got a super giddy fangirl thrill from seeing you there at the quarry, with your dreadlocks and glasses and glorious Heathness, just hanging out with Ethan Embry like it ain’t no thing.

Oh, can we talk about Ethan Embry for a minute? Because this is how I like my Ethan Embry:

marc sucks
Happy, goofy, and eternally stuck in Rex Manning Day Ethan Embry

This is not how I like my Ethan Embry:

ethan embry walking dead
Frowny, grumpy, zpocalypse-failing Ethan Embry

Seriously, I don’t know how he got the corners of his mouth to turn downward so dramatically in every take, but by the middle of the show I was begging to be released from the spectre of sad-faced Ethan. So many thanks to the zombie who finally obliged.

Speaking of obligatory zombies, holy shite, their makeup artists have taken the craft up to a whole new level! I loved the zombie just ripping half of his skin off. Nevertheless, the directors seemed a wee bit too aware of the excellent-looking zombies in this episode, because we got long, long, lingering shots of them. Maybe a little bit too long. I could have done with a few more lingering shots of drunk Abraham and His Amazing Mustache, myself, but I guess the directors prefer to focus on rotting flesh. That mustache, tho.

Okay, onto the main plot: I loved the structure of this episode. The color-fade-to-black-and-white-opening shot was masterful, and I loved the juxtaposition of watching them lay out the plan in black-and-white past tense, while also watching it play out in living color (yup, I went there). But can we talk about the actual plan for a minute? Because it was terrible.

I was fully on board with Rick when he was like, “No Carter, you idiot, we can’t just keep hoping the trucks hold.” I get it, man. There were scads of zombies in that quarry, and there’s no way Alexandria’s propped-up-from-the-outside-walls (that STILL irritate the crap out of me) would hold up against a horde of that size. Nevertheless, Rick’s plan was a bit…dramatic. In the way that makes for great TV but would not incline me to trust him to make the best decisions in the zpocalypse.

I think Rick’s plan was an excellent contingency plan. As a Plan B, if-all-else-fails-plan, it is totally worth the insane risk of trying to lure an enormous herd of walkers for 20 long miles. And remember, 20 miles at a shamble is a very, very long walk. Like, a 7 hour walk. That’s 7 hours of making sure that nothing goes wrong, that no sound or scream or, I dunno, stray helicopter, lures the massive herd back east to Alexandria. 7 hours of potential catastrophes is a long, long time to count on a mix of preparation and sheer luck — which is why this plan should never, ever have been Plan A.

Remember how those zombie heads smashed into Carter’s neat little pool-table set-up at the fork in the road? Remember how they literally smashed, and more than a few zombies were dispatched by a combination of rotting fragility and their own forward motion? Imagine how effective it would have been to set up that little pool-table pocket at, say, the top of the frickin’ quarry! Right behind the trucks, so that when the precarious one fell, the zombies would spill up the path and be routed right back over the cliff to the bottom of the quarry.

Granted, that wouldn’t have solved the problem by a long shot — maybe a few zombies would hit the bottom at just the right angle to smash their heads, but most would probably just end up with crushed legs and arms. Nevertheless, it would have bought the Alexandrians time to thin the herd while it was still contained. A few Molotov cocktails, some spare gasoline…you could basically just turn the quarry into an enormous firepit. Hell, Eugene took out a bunch of walkers with a fire hose last season, so when the fire got a little hot, they could just turn the hose on, dispatching the fire and remaining-undead undead.

The thing is, when a threat is contained, the most sensible thing to do is deal with it in its contained state. Yes, I get that it needed to be done quickly, because the noise was drawing in more walkers and thereby increasing the threat on a daily basis, but it still makes more sense to at least attempt to destroy the threat when it’s in a confined space, rather than to let it loose and cross your fingers that you can keep it contained out in the open. There was a middle ground between Carter’s wimpy “can’t we just fortify the exits?” and Rick’s “I’m sure they’ll just follow Darryl, probably, because I say so dammit!”, and it irritates the crap out of me that no other character suggested it.

But perhaps even worse is the lack of resolution to Rick’s plan. It was like this open-ended, “we’ll take them 20 miles away and then…just come home”. What. The. Red. Hell? What’s to stop them from turning around when Darryl and Sasha do, and then just keep walking? Isn’t that kind of the whole crux of the plan anyway, that zombies will just walk in one direction unless something distracts them? So say there’s nothing in that 20 miles to distract them, since that’s exactly what Team Grimes has been working to ensure…why wouldn’t the walkers just keep walking? All the way back to Alexandria?

Even if they didn’t, that’s still an enormous herd to just set loose, and personally, 20 miles would still be too close for comfort if I were in Alexandria. There’s no guarantee they’ll disperse, since zombies tend to “herd up” (as Rick so helpfully points out). Even if the Alexandrians didn’t have to deal with them in the future, some other community, or small band of survivors like Team Grimes once was, would be decimated in an encounter. That seems like a pretty jackass move of Rick to make, actually, which makes me even more suspicious of him. The Ricktatorship is definitely back, but it seems to have taken an even more subtle — and dangerous — form. Rick isn’t just 100% in charge, he’s also 100% cold-hearted. I honestly prefer Desperate/Angry Rick, who thought he had the responsibility to decide who lived and who died, to this new Rick, who genuinely believes that certain people don’t deserve to live. This doesn’t bode well for our heroes who still have consciences, like Glenn (oh, Glenn), Darryl, Morgan, Michonne, and Carl.

On the other hand, Carol still has no conscience and I love it. She is the most terrifying, most delightful undercover housewife ever, and I can’t decide what I loved more — that Morgan saw through her in a second, or that she’s now almost certainly plotting to bring him some flowers to look at.

Line of the Week: Eugene, hands down, with “It’s good to see someone like me. I fully respect the hair game.”

Profundity of the Week: Michonne, “That’s how it is, isn’t it? You always think there’s one more peanut butter left.”

Douche Canoe of the Week: Rick, for insisting on burying Drunk Pete outside the walls, a move that will punish no one aside from Pete’s thrice-punished family. What an ass.

Sidenotes:

  • Fr. Gabriel still sucks, and I’m delighted to see his suckage being widely recognized.
  • Sasha’s PTSD is still boring, so it’s good that she seems to be coming out of it a little bit. On the other hand, Abraham’s PTSD is hilariously entertaining, and it’s very wrong of me to be so highly amused by it.
  • Speaking of Abraham, anyone wanna bet where Holly went for those “more than five ticks”? Bow-chicka-bow-wow.
  • Oh yeah, where was Rosita? I know Rosita is the most forgettable character to ever wear enormous earrings, but I literally forgot her until I typed that super-subtle innuendo about Abraham and Holly. Seriously, where’d she go?
  • Tara is awake! Yay! We’re all very  happy about this until she mentions Noah, and we’re reminded again that Nicholas was the worst ever, until Glenn saved him with the power of his heart-melting-pizza-boy-goodness.
  • Eugene’s hair is okay, though, so everything will be fine.
  • I cannot be the only person who is incredibly annoyed by Maggie’s overlarge jacket that she’s been wearing since they entered Alexandria. Whose was it? Why is it so huge? Why won’t she take it off? Obviously she’s pregnant and they’re not telling anyone yet, but still. It’s not like she’s carrying the baby on the underside of her arms, which is the only plausible reason I can see for wardrobe to continue to dress her in Paul Bunyan’s winter coat. Jeez.
  • Oh, there’s Rosita. I didn’t recognize her without the earrings.
  • Jessie seems to be wearing the same shirt Lori wore for three long seasons. I wonder if Rick would fall in love with any cast member if you put them in a flannel shirt over a tank top?

Next week’s preview:

My guess for next week: Enid is on the horn, inside the car from the preview. My instinct says it’s not part of some nefarious plot by the Wolves to draw the walkers to Alexandria, because why would they want to destroy the town that they want? (I’m assuming they want the town, not just a slaughter, but maybe I’m off base there.) But I do think Enid has something to do with the Wolves, and that it’s all wrapped up in the reason she’s currently sitting inside that car, with her head on the horn. Probably dead.

Or else maybe she had a total meltdown at the sight of whoever’s dead outside the car, and is laying on the horn in an attempt to call for help? She seems to savvy for that — although she’s certainly rattled by something.

Also, I’m desperately hoping it’s Jesus that Spencer sees in the bell tower at the end of the preview. I’m so ready for him.

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