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The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is a drama about a zombie apocalypse. It is based on the 2003 Image Comics series. AMC 2010-???

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Episode 10 - Them

18 February 2015

This was a significant improvement over the last few episodes. The emotional context of the whole group was clear and the visual presentation of their struggle was interesting.

I really liked the way the group allowed a comfortable following of Walkers to build up before expending energy on them. It was a scenario we hadn't seen before but one which instantly conveyed the sense that the group were slowly drowning under the pressure to survive in the wild. The idea of flinging Walkers off the side of the road, rather than trying to fight them, was another original sight.

The balance between the group as a whole, small individual spotlights and the three mourners was nicely handled. As a group we got a pretty clear sense of who was looking out for who and which characters were closer to breaking than others. For some the deaths of Tyreese and Beth were a sad but expected bump in the road, for others it meant more. For some the loss of food and water was the real problem. I liked seeing Gabriel begin the process of accepting what he'd done. I was interested to see Abraham still protective of Eugene in spite of himself.

I was pretty happy with Rick's "we are the Walking Dead" speech too. The idea of heading into battle having already accepted one's death is a solid anaology for life in the zombie apocalypse. And it seemed as good a low-key rallying cry as one could hope for in the groups current state. However Darryl's indecipherable mumble of "We aint them" was an odd rejoinder. I guess he was trying to explain that Rick's analogy couldn't apply to someone like Beth who'd brought joy and music to his life. But I'm not sure. I also found the barn door sequence odd. The Walkers appeared en masse out of nowhere and then the jump cut to the next morning made it seem like it was all a dream. It's hard to believe the group would only leave Darryl on guard duty if they were surrounded by Walkers.

The focus on the pain of Darryl, Maggie and Sasha was well produced. Although I would have preferred to not have the ham fisted moments when each of them got a camera shot to themselves (when the group paused in the road) or when they were the ones to be first to the barn door. Maggie gave the strongest performance and portrayed a sense of resignation very convincingly. Her reaction to a poor woman tied up in the trunk of a car was particularly affecting. The explanation of her seeming disinterest in Beth last season was not very convincing but would have made sense if she'd explained it back then.

Darryl was pretty good too, his constant desire to be alone made sense. It seems like Carol's gone back to playing his surrogate mother this week. Sasha was ok but it's hard to sympathise with her reckless endangerment of the others when she decided to abandon the Walker dodging plan. If I was going to go all the way with the nit picking I would also point out that Beth must have been dead for weeks before Tyreese perished. So really these characters shouldn't have been in the same state of mourning.

The ending was solid as we meet a new stranger and the music box gave it a nice off beat note to close on. However I remain cynical about the show as a whole. In part because the groups privations led predictably to a meeting with a new settled community which in retrospect makes this feel slightly like a bottle episode. And also because this episode reminded us of how fit to burst the ensemble has become. As well manipulated as the character dynamics were here it's pretty clear that the show can't service this many characters. Which means that several people are probably about to be killed off. That's fine in theory but I would like to actually care about some of them before they go. Episodes like this tease me into thinking the show might turn a corner but I know that round that bend is just another rotting corpse.

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  • To continue the thought: We need to get to the point where there are more complex human interactions between groups of survivors. That's way more interesting than this day to day thing with one group. We have had stability a few times, however nothing has stuck: The quarry camp, Hershel’s Farm and the prison.

    ‘Lost’ started to do this in second season when ‘the others’ got introduced and things got even way more interesting when more groups were added ‘Tail Section Survivors’, ‘Ajira Flight 316 Survivors’, ‘Black Rock members’, ‘DHARMA Initiative Members’, ‘Claudia’s people’, ‘Jacob and his followers’, etc…

    Posted by Fluids, 18/02/2015 3:34pm (5 years ago)

  • My ultimate hope (which has been for a while with the Walking Dead) is that we get a more complex political web of survivor group on group interaction. Here's hoping that Aaron leads this group to a group of humans that are good people. Where Rick's group can become a part of something bigger. That's the only way I think the show is going to grow. Otherwise we are just kind of meandering around with variations on what we have seen which will cause more people to lose interest.

    Posted by Fluids, 18/02/2015 3:08pm (5 years ago)

  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Thoughts:

    It was wonderful to see actors engaging in emotional conversation and interactions. It’s been sorely needed for a while. It’s understandably absent to some extent due to their dire consequences of having to only focus on the bare essentials of food, water and shelter (survival.) This though (emotional conversation), as I mentioned in my previous thought comments in S5E9 has been the shows biggest problems all along. When it is there it is very impactful. One powerful example of this was given to us between Morgan and Rick in the episode ‘Clear’ in the Fourth Season.

    This show delivered to some extent and here are my some things I picked up from interactions in this episode:

    Abraham: Still respects Eugene. His actions of batting down the water bottle prove that. Abraham kept his cool when Sasha nicked him with her knife by accident. I think that shows he’s becoming more level headed or perhaps depressed nature (his drinking.)

    Carol: I think she recognizes that Darryl had special bond with Beth and I don’t think she’s motherly as much as very understanding a patient with him. I am pretty sure Carol and Darryl will be a couple soon.

    Darryl: Finally he is showing his emotions and he is getting in touch with them. Beth did get through to him. She gave him hope in people. I think she symbolized to him the innocence of a young person who was comfortable knowing she hadn’t much time on this earth, however she was always hopeful of the outcome of mankind. This character has drastically changed since S1E4. I love his development. He has more dimensions then a lot of characters.

    Sasha: I think she has ambivalent feelings about her brother. She doesn’t see herself as him and was quick to point that out to someone in the group. She was veering into a reckless reactionary kind of way of dealing with everything. Michonne tried to correct that with her at the bridge with dealing with the walkers. Perhaps she has a lot of unresolved anger with the death of her brother Tyreese? Perhaps she is giving up on everything? It’s vague. I would put it in the unknown; however her actions kind of paint this range we are seeing.

    Maggie: I believe is still working through her regrets about not caring as much as she should have about her sister Beth. In essence, she is now like Michonne or Darryl because everyone who is in her birth family is now gone, however she does have Glenn for emotional support. Him getting rid of the kidnapped walker was a way of showing how Glenn is helping her get through her feelings of loss and regrets with Beth.

    ~~~~~~~~~~
    Symbolism:

    *Kidnapped Walker in the trunk*: To me this symbolized Beth to Maggie. I think closing the trunk on the walker symbolized not wanting to deal with Beth’s death. She tried to open and couldn’t. Glenn had to open the trunk and kill the walker since Maggie couldn’t face doing that either. She still has not dealt with Beth’s passing very well.

    *Music Box*: I believe that is Beth’s music box. Besides it symbolizing Beth I think it symbolizes Beth’s hope for perseverance of humanity. Darryl tried to fix it and it ended up he did because it started playing when Aaron appeared. This tells me that Aaron is a sign of good things to come (not bad).

    *Clean dressed Aaron*: I want to believe that Aaron’s attire alone (as clean as it was) symbolizes the goodness and brother/sister hood of man/woman kind. Clearly if he’s dressed that well there is some sort of encampment somewhere close by where people have actually reverted to some kind of normalcy within the apocalyptic environment.

    *Gabriel burning his collar*: A loss of faith in god and perhaps himself. At least it’s a step towards showing his acceptance of whatever actions he did to his flock. It appears he believes a true man of god would be selfless to his flock, apparently he did something very selfish and damning instead (whatever that was) and he’s trying to deal with it.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Good:

    *Emotional Interactions! (See thoughts above.)

    *I take Aaron as he is. I truly believe he has been watching this group and wants to help. I also believe with the outfit he is wearing that he is part of a big settlement that has learned to survive in this setting. Don’t you? I know…It’s been hard to trust anyone in this world. However, I think the music box going off at the time he arrives is a symbol of the goodness of mankind and hope for living a life in this new ugly world we have watched these characters struggle through. I am going to stay positive and optimistic until I see signs or symbols proving otherwise.

    *I believe the Walking Dead speech is a lift from the Comics. Darryl’s response (which isn’t) I believe is meant to be reactionary positive. He is slowly taking up the mantel Beth had about trusting humanity. The fact that they are survivors doesn’t mean they are dead; it means they are human. This is a mentality he has over on Rick. Perhaps Rick will come around if Aaron proves to be a bringer of good things with a large camp full of good people who have made all of this work.

    *It’s great to see some survival tactics being used: worm eating; following erosion in the ground to track ponds or water collecting areas in the woods; catching rainwater; focuses on expending minimal energy getting rid of walkers, etc…

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Bad:

    *The storm scenes were fuzzy on their events. It was hard to tell if Maggie was having a dream about the walkers at the barn door or if it was for real. It wasn’t until the Maggie and Sasha went outside and we saw the storm damage that I put together that the walkers were actually trying to get into the barn and the group held them back.
    If the winds were strong enough to rip trees out of the ground and blow away walkers or are relentless by their nature, why isn’t the barn at the very least storm damaged as well?

    *Gabriel: Letting us know through a conversation with another character he has grown to trust would be helpful to giving us more feelings for him and a better understanding of his inner struggles. If you want to keep it fourth wall (and unknown to the other characters) at least show us a flashback of what he did precisely.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Unknown:
    Is Aaron part of a big settlement in the DC area? It appears so. Are they good or bad folks? Is he alone? I don’t think so…

    Was the comment of ‘Wolves near’ in the last episode referring to the dogs that made a nice mangy meal or are the Wolves still out there? Is Aaron a wolf in freshly pressed flannel?

    Who does the title of the episode refer to? Rick’s group or Aaron’s?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Walking Dead Threads on the TV Critic:
    http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/173
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Viewer score: 67 / 100

    Posted by Fluids, 17/02/2015 6:04pm (5 years ago)

  • The episode had interesting visual moments, you mentioned. Packs is what comes to mind. Packs of people dead and undead, packs of dogs (I've often wondered why we had not seen more dogs in this show).

    I'd also wondered why we've not seen more storms. I live in the south and we can get these amazing weather systems. It isn't so hard to accept the trees falling, killing or pinning walkers and leaving the barn standing because that very thing does happen - buildings can be leveled right next those that remain intact. It happens all the time here. Still that part of the episode was poorly cut and did indeed feel dreamlike.

    I did enjoy the final scene but I'm wary, too. Another sunshiny stranger? He no doubt has a dark secret or will offer haven that is false or doesn't last. It would be cool though if he were part of a group that was genuinely thriving and Judith and Carl and some of our group could remain with them and the stronger members become soldiers to finally turn the tide in favor of the survivors to establish a new world, or the hope of one.

    Time to let our characters ride off into the sunset.

    Viewer score: 45 / 100

    Posted by Yogabon, 17/02/2015 1:17pm (5 years ago)

  • Sigh, its not looking good for The Walking Dead.

    For every scene that was ok, it felt like 2 more were boring or flawed. There are too many cast members right now, so instead of Maggie, Darryl, and Sasha getting enough attention, we have to get everyone else with a line or two that is inconsequential to pad out the episode.

    While I liked the shot of the gang staggering about in contrast to the Walkers, the content in this episode felt a bit like the stuff we got in Cold Open montages of in 301 and 502.

    The biggest problem I had was the comment that it had been "3 weeks since Atlanta", but it only was 1.5 days that they ran out of food/water. 3 weeks is a long time for a group reaching 20 people, lots of bodies to feed and hydrate.

    The barn scene made no sense, once again the producers try to make this profound artistic image, but it makes no logical sense in the context of survival. I don't see how a storm knocking over trees wouldn't damage the barn, nor do i see how a legion of Walkers pushing on a door would end up so spread out the following morning.

    I don't see any of the "emotional scenes" with Darryl or Maggie covered anything we haven't seen before, it would have been more unique if someone called out Beth's stupidity in trying to stab Dawn or something along those lines.

    I'm pretty sure even the legions of TWD fans who have lower standards would find fault with this episode.

    Last point: I'm calling it right now, by season's end Noah will die and Morgan will replace him.

    Viewer score: 46 / 100

    Posted by Ben F., 16/02/2015 2:12pm (5 years ago)

  • Behold, our 60 miles march down the road with characters we don't care about pontificating about the hopelessness of life, as they eat dog meat they by chance come across. This is like a game of spin the bottle. Who is the hopeless one today? Shall it be Glenn or shall it be Maggie? It also doesn't help that essentially the point of finding a safe place was nothing new compared to the prior episode. Also, referencing the show's title within the episode makes this seem even more of a parody than it already is at this point, Rick, just saying. A lot of 4th wall breaking moments it seems. Also, do babies in TWD just not cry for food when everyone else is starving? Tv rules I guess....the fact that the show can spare an episode without actully going anywhere specific in the story makes me think that the show is just as aimless as it's ever been. If you want to watch an actually competent adaptation of a different source material, wait until April for GOT and TWD can just keep on walking if that's what they like to do.

    Viewer score: 40 / 100

    Posted by Beric, 16/02/2015 7:20am (5 years ago)

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