Sunday, 16 February 2014

Be there or being a walking corpse - thoughts on AMC's The Walking Dead

Yes, this is my business blog but on weekends I do occasionally take some time off and talk non- business topics.

Today I want to chat about The Walking Dead (non genre/SF aficionado's can now stop reading) currently showing on Fox TV in the UK. We've just arrived at the start of the second half of season four with the mid season premiere episode : 'After' picking up events, literally seconds after the climatic storming of the prison by the Governor and the (SPOILER's) dramatic deaths of series regular Hershel and nigh beating to death of Rick.

Rick's group at the prison have fled in various directions, the prison being all but destroyed and now uninhabitable. The Governor is also dead, as a lingering shot of his body reminds us early on.

The writers though resisted the temptation of going ever larger with the scale of the story and instead focus on the smaller personal stories of the next moves of Rick and his son Carl, staggering off into the wilderness alone with Rick severely injured following his beating by the Governor and also fan favourite Michonne who is back to her original ruse of capturing two neutered walkers (arms and jaws removed to avoid biting/scratching) to 'disguise' her from the attentions of other zombies.

We see, through an ingenious and cleverly filmed dream sequence some of Michonne's 'secret origin' and as suspected the loss of a child has created severe cracks in her psyche. During the episode her travels take her through depression to one of the very few happy endings I can remember on TWD as she is reunited with Carl and Rick in a (for the show) quite an uplifting final scene - involving actual laugher !

Meanwhile Rick and Carl find temporary safety in a small middle class housing estate, with Carl looting supplies and (not) tending to his fathers injuries. At this point Carl is in need of some serious growing up and surrenders to both cockiness in the face of two zombie attacks that he barely survives all the while undergoing a major teenage strop at the ineffectiveness of his injured dad in protecting the destroyed colony. To underline the situation we see Rick seemingly turn into a zombie but not, and then the tense moments as Carl holds his gun on his father but then this gives way to the realisation that things are not perhaps so bad as they seem and Carl miraculously puts aside his simmering resentment and everyone is 'happy' again. It's also worth pointing out that Ricks injuries then seem to heal faster than medically possible - but this is of course not a medical documentary !

Putting aside the unrealistically quick mood switch Carl undergoes (the limitations of a 42 minute episode doesn't necessarily allow for days of moody soul searching) at the end of the episode and the potential annoyance factor of having an episode dominated by a solo performance from teenager Chandler Riggs (Carl) whose surly teen portrayal can be a little tiresome on occasion (although here is is better performance if only frustratingly slow in picking up on zombie dangers given his recent experiences - but I suppose that's the writers problem not Riggs) this is a damn fine episode. The strength of the Walking Dead comes not from the Zombie menace alone but rather the juxtaposition of the human drama as it interweaves with the survivors stories. The canvas that the series concept creates allows for massive, terrible spectacle but also low level, one on one human experience, fear and triumph. Often all at the same time.

So 'After' is a great start to the next chapter of the Walking Dead - well paced, fascinating and (at least in my case) jumping off your chair in revulsion and agitation at what is thrown at you from the screen.

AMC's The Walking Dead - Monday's on Fox TV 9.00pm - Be there of be a Walking Cadaver !

No comments:

Post a Comment