It’s fun to nitpick over every detail of the shows we love (or love to hate). That’s an essential part of geeking out, something that separates the casual fan from the ones who do stuff like, um, write recaps and comment on them. Like many of you, I also wonder how these groaning, lumbering zombies still manage to sneak up on anyone who’s survived this long (especially in the woods, where they’d be stepping on branches and tripping). So while it’s logical that the undead would fall down all the time, that doesn’t make for good television. That’s why no one is strutting around with zombie pets for safety (even Michonne has given up on that) or covering themselves in gore to avoid detection (I’d take death over wearing entrails couture for the rest of my life).
That’s a very short list of the ways in which this show sidesteps common sense. Last night offered more examples. Where, I wonder, did Tara procure a Sharpie so she could take diligent hand-notes to help Glenn find the school bus? Not to mention a Sharpie that hasn’t dried up yet? Why would a guy like Sgt. Abraham Ford — military man, all about the business of staying alive — fight Glenn on an open road when the noise would likely draw out zombies? How could Rick strangle a dude to death without any of his redneck friends hearing them wrestle in a tiny bathroom? And how did Rick heal so quickly, when he could barely breathe just a day ago?
Because it’s a television show about a zombie apocalypse and if everything they did was logical and safe, it would be please-eat-my-brains-already boring.
This episode isn’t quite that bad, but it isn’t much of a thriller, either. We follow three groups — Michonne and Carl’s supply run, Glenn and Tara with the newbs, and Rick stuck at home with the home invaders — and learned two important tidbits. The first is courtesy of Michonne, who tries cheering Carl up after a very awkward reference to Judith soured his mood. It’s still a little weird to see Michonne smile, but as she’s joking with Carl, it’s clear she’d be a much cooler mom than Lori was. And despite her sophisticated tastes, as we saw in her flashback-y nightmare, she’s not above chugging some cheese in a can. (Which, by the way, I’ve never heard referred to as “crazy cheese” before, but I like it.)
Michonne’s big reveal as Carl pesters her with a million questions is that her son’s name was Andre Anthony, and he was 3 when he died. My guess is that her baby daddy turned and killed their little boy, which would explain why Michonne only just beginning to thaw, emotionally. But that’s where her sharing stops. Not much of a revelation, but again, it’s TV. Can’t give away all of Michonne’s secrets just yet.
As for Rick, the only purpose he serves is to provide a tense thread throughout an otherwise low-key episode. The writers dusted off some old horror-film tropes to put him in peril — is there anything older than the “stuck under the bed watching the killer’s shoes” move? Though I wasn’t expecting Rick to find a guy on the crapper when he slipped into the bathroom. (Rather convenient that Rick’s jacket was already hanging over the shower door, so he could take it when he escaped. Again — television!) The other function of the redneck raid on Rick’s house is to get him and his crew back on the move. In this part of Georgia, all roads apparently lead to the train tracks and signs for Terminus. Strangely, despite Rick’s luck with safe-haven communities, he’s gung-ho for finding this one. Way more excited about his reunion with Carol than with Judith.
The second and far bigger revelation comes courtesy of Sgt. Ford and his posse, which includes his midriff-baring babe, Rosita, and Dr. Eugene Porter, who’s smart but apparently not smart enough to handle a firearm without perforating their truck. The sergeant has a way with words: “This shit is time-sensitive,” he tells Glenn of his mission. “Let me tell you how to best avoid winding up as just another dead-alive prick.” He also kills zombies with flair, giving one a WWE-style knee to the head and smiling all the while. With a hot babe in tow, a sweet mustache and what appears to be a lot of ammo, maybe he is the luckiest guy in the world. (Could Glenn drop him with one punch to the jaw? Probably not. Television!)
But the reason Abraham is so chipper is his mission — Doc Eugene, he says, knows what caused the zombie hell they’re living in, and they’re headed to Washington. Turns out they’re been using a sat phone to chat with some “muckety mucks” in the capital (though the fact they’ve stopped answering doesn’t seem to trouble the Sarge much). Of course, the Doc’s intel is classified, so Tara, Glenn, and the rest of us won’t be hearing his explanation any time soon.
Most curiously, Eugene is onboard with Glenn’s agenda; without their truck, might as well backtrack three driving hours on foot. The Sarge doesn’t agree, but Eugene gets the last word. “Trust me,” says the guy who’s killed one truck and zero zombies, “I’m smarter than you.” As they head back down the road, there’s an odd smirk on Eugene’s face. Perhaps the Sarge doesn’t know Eugene’s secret, either — and maybe Eugene has no clue what’s behind the zombie apocalypse. Whatever his true agenda is, it seems unwise to trust a guy with a mullet to save mankind.