I’ve been a bit confused this last week. I’ve been pointing out the flaws of The Walking Dead for a couple of years now, while it garnered record viewing figures and a stunning 8.8 on imdb. The three episodes since the mid season break have been like watching a different show; tense, character driven and exciting. Yet this week, there seems to have been a swell of opinion turning against the show. I feel a little like it can’t win. It starts to works on the issues it has and is subjected to a level of nitpicking that a more acclaimed show wouldn’t receive. For instance, while Breaking Bad is obviously amazing, I always felt that Walt and Skyler’s relationship was endlessly cyclical and repetitive for seasons 1 to 3, but say that out loud and you’d be screamed out.
Before I wrote this review I read about 100 comments on another review absolutely slating the most recent episode ,”Claimed”, because a character that was sat on the toilet had his trousers up, as if this somehow invalidated the entire episode. I mean, come on. Yes, some of the tension methods deployed in Rick’s house based escapades were perhaps a tad hacknyed, but I found the execution breathlessly tense in a way the show had never done before. Sometimes you just need to experience something rather than paying Sherlock levels of attention to continuity errors.
I think it says a lot about the recent upturn in form of TWD that I’m actually defending it from criticism. “Claimed” was another step up, and I think on reflection, one of my favourite episodes of the show. It was only really held back by the scenes introducing Rosita, Abraham, and Dr Mullet, which felt a bit out of kilter with the Carl/Michonne/Rick scenes. That said, having some new characters that weren’t just mopes but had a keen sense of direction felt like a bit of a breath of fresh air, and purpose. Although I get the feeling a man with a greased back mullet isn’t going to be the saviour of mankind. Especially when 2 years into the zombie apocalypse he still can’t work a gun. And on that
As an aside I very much enjoyed a character FINALLY telling another not to waste ammunition on a slow moving close up zombie. A neat touch, alongside Rick killing a man and leaving the toilet door for the reanimated victim to come back and cause havoc in the house.
Perhaps Rick’s scenes work as well as they do since he doesn’t have any dialogue; Rick’s always been at his best when he’s working for survival and not droning on about whatever issue it is he’s having this week. Sure his house based sequences rely on a slice of convenience, but they were breath stoppingly tense, and the reveal of an assailant sat on the bog properly made me jump.
A gripe I sometimes have with TWD, which might seem odd for a zombie show, is that too often it just defaults to having zombies show up to engineer tension.In Rick, Carl and Michonne sequences this week, there was nary a walker in sight, and yet for the first time it felt like an actual horror show. Michonne finding the murder suicide family was one of the most tense, and horrifying images of the show’s run and wasn’t dependent on random walker appearance. Michonne and Carl’s awkward friendship making was also a nice touch. It would have been tremendously easy to just have them hit it off from the start, but the build up was great, allowing both characters to develop. Also Michonne squirts liquid cheese in her mouth.
All in all, the show’s improvement continues apace.