While I realize that The Walking Dead is based on a graphic novel that came out in monthly installments, it is increasingly reminding me of a different comic series: Mary Worth. Basically pure camp at this point, Mary Worth has an entertainment value in the fact that, because it’s a daily strip, the action moves at an unintentionally hilariously glacial pace. It can take weeks for the characters to finish a single conversation. The buttoning up of a coat or the locking of a door is treated as a monumental event. Mary Worth gets away with it because it's classic and pure and who would you even send a letter to at this point to complain? The Walking Dead … or as I’m now going to refer to it in my head from here on out, The Walking Around Looking for the Maybe Dead But Who Even Cares Sophia ... is under no such time constraints and really should be able to keep up at least a slightly faster pace than a 70-year-old comic about an elderly apple seller. But then again, Shane and Otis should’ve been able to outrun those lumbering zombies last week too.
The week’s episode begins with Otis’s funeral. It’s a civilized affair, with each survivor placing a rock atop a pile to signify their respect. Hershel asks Shane to speak, and Shane at first answers, “I’m not good at it. Sorry,” which I like to believe was the writers’ way of apologizing (to me personally) for some of the dialogue they’ve given him this season. Shane then tells a half-true, half-dirty, guilt-soaked lie about how Otis died. Otis died a hero, he says, for the greatest reason of all, to save what is now, as Hershel points out, their most precious asset: a child.
Of course, a couple of scenes later Hershel is telling Grimes that’s he’s going to have to pack up that child along with the rest of the last remaining survivors on Earth and send them on their way, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First we must discuss the powwow between Hershel and the gang about how to best search for that other most precious pain in the asset, Sophia. Hershel has a handy map of the entire countryside, which looks very Legend of Zelda, and he points out the
levels areas where they still haven’t looked. This prompts Daryl to say that he’s going to head back to the creek where he’s already been, and Shane volunteers to return to the stretch of interstate that everyone finally just left. Hershel agrees that this is an excellent plan, except wait, he has one little, tiny suggestion: No one should take their guns. It’s one of the Farm’s rules, which you can excuse us for being slow to pick up on, considering we were introduced to the Farm by way of one of its inhabitants shooting an unarmed little boy, not to mention the ongoing mystery of how the place remains so zombie-free considering it’s the most unfortified homestead in the country.
Or rather, make that the second most. Because what’s less safe than living in a weaponless house ablaze with lights and juicy human activity during a zombie apocalypse? Camping outside that house in a nylon tent. And what’s less safe than camping in that tent? Peeing unnecessarily onto a pregnancy test in a field during the pitch-black night when there is a perfectly nice bathroom inside the house that probably has a door with a lock and everything. (And the house, considering its boundless supply of dramatic-steam-manufacturing hot water, probably has a heated toilet seat, too.)
I will say that I am glad that Glenn is being given more screen time, even though that foreplay conversation made me uncomfortable. Not because it was about sex but because of how perfunctory, insert-sex-scene here it felt. I cannot begin to fathom how he got that noose over the bloated zombies head, but that is the least of my concerns with this show. There was one glorious moment when I was watching the gang fighting over how to pull the rope, and it occurred to me that watching this hapless bunch try to problem solve is like watching something out of an eighties comedy. Imagine the crew in Stripes or the Griswolds in the Vacation movies trying to take on a zombie invasion. Things just got funnier, didn’t they? And suddenly make a whole lot more sense, too.
It is fitting that Daryl found that Cherokee rose, because he remains the great hope of season two. I watched that scene twice, the second time imagining Shane or Grimes giving that speech and realizing I wouldn’t have bought a word of it if they had. So maybe it is Norman Reedus who deserves most of the credit for finding a way to bring his character to life (a character that was one of the shallowest when the show began); something is happening in the Daryl scenes, something real. That moment in the RV with Carol had a stillness to it that I feel the show is ever struggling to achieve. Usually it feels forced, like when Hershel called Grimes over to admire the view (and weirdly lecture him about his religious convictions; for a second I felt that I was watching some sort of 7th Heaven mash-up). If only the show understood more often that reflective doesn’t have to mean just plain slow.
• For those of you in the camp that thinks T-Dog’s blood has been infected, I’d say you were given further ammo in this episode with his talk of “not being me” back at the RV. In keeping with what is attempting to be the show's internal logic, if you were to factor in how Jim’s head was filled with zombie urges once he got scratched, it would make sense that zombie blood poisoning could also poison T-Dog’s thoughts.
• It was subtle (mercifully), but Hershel’s talk of “aspects” of the Farm that he couldn’t discuss is a secret that I’m looking forward to seeing unfold. Here’s hoping it happens sometime
in the next three this season.
• Daryl seems to have given up his search for Merle. Does that mean the show has too? And how does that then affect the fate of Morgan and his son and their most promising story line?
• Perhaps a less pressing mystery than the others, but: What could Lori have possibly written on that piece of paper that wasn’t “pregnancy test”? Did she really specify a particular brand? And why a shopping list at all? Wouldn’t you at this point have cleaned out the town of anything remotely useful? And finally, you do realize that Shane and Otis could’ve probably found a respirator in that old-timey-yet-medically-equipped-could-not-be-more-opposite-of a-high-school-swarming-with-zombies pharmacy, right?