Original Air Date: November 6, 2011

Five things: 

1. Nothing BIG going on, but lots of little stuff. This almost felt like an issue of the comic book.  Anyone who reads the comic knows that the comic series delights in starting small smoldering fires and then fanning the flames for 5-6 issues until the characters have a HUGE problem on their hands.  There was a lot of that in this issue.  I’ll talk about a few of those specific items below, but other than an exciting zombie set piece, there wasn’t a whole lot of action in this episode.  Thankfully, this episode was a lot better written than the first three episodes of Season 2.  Rick and Herschel’s chat about God was a little longer than it needed to be and I didn’t need to hear about the Cherokee Rose, but otherwise the scenes wrapped up in an appropriate manner such that when I look at my notes, there were a LOT of little moments in this episode.

2. Will they stay or will they go? One of the big conflagrations that started was the concept that Herschel would kick Rick’s band off his farm and that Rick really doesn’t want to go.  Readers of the comic know that this was torn straight from the comics, but even though the set-up is pretty identical, I’ll be surprised if it finishes the same way (because the TV series has been consciously different so far).  This really ties into a central theme of these apocalypse stories where it seems that decent people would want to help other decent people.  But when you have strangers showing up at your safe place and they’re asking to eat and drink your scarce resources and thereby literally take food out of your children’s mouths, what would you do?  How do you balance altruism with parenthood?

3. Glen and Maggie. What a joy to see that the TV series handled the beginning of the Glen/Maggie relationship just about the same way as the comic.  Just about the time you see Glen being all awkward around Maggie because she caught him with a box of rubbers, she just asks him if he’d like to have sex.  And, the way it happens is very well done.  Too much fiction tries to show these future scenarios where they women are all empowered and that means they just go around screwing the geeky guys; that always comes off as geeky sci-fi author’s wet dream.  But, this scene really just underscored what a screwed up place this world is.  Maggie isn’t a whore, but she still likes boys and doesn’t see a lot of options out there (also probably doesn’t know how long she’ll live).  If this series is to endure like the comic, these two characters are important to get right because they are really central.  Glen and Maggie are in many ways the most normal of all the comic characters and they also represent a hope of a better future.  The TV series is off to a great start with them.

4. Pretty good set piece with the zombie. It’s hard to say why I liked this scene with the zombie in the well, but I did.  It certainly had its problems.  It was very predictable that something bad would happen and the scenes of them pulling Glen and then the zombie up were poorly done.  Honestly, why did 5 adults have a hard time pulling Glen or the zombie up?  And why did the ropes have so much slack in them when Glen was getting hoisted?  But, it had some positives.  Even though the zombie ripping in two was gross, it was unexpectedly gross (unlike the scene of gutting a zombie a few weeks ago).  And, (a) it showed the survivors working as a team to solve a problem and (b) that killing single zombies is about as routine as stomping a bug in this new world.

5. Lots of funny little moments. Shane saying a few words at Otis’ funeral in the fat man’s clothing. AWKWARD! Where did they get the rocks for Otis’ monument?  I’ve been on a lot of farms and there usually aren’t that many big rocks laying around.  Herschel really doesn’t like guns, huh?  We learn that Herschel has a generator! STAY AWAY FROM THE BARN!!!! (this is going to be an awesome future scene!)  Lori will have some explaining to do, huh?  Maybe zombies like ham just fine, but don’t like it when it has a HUGE treble hook in it?  Why would you use the whole ham?  Great scene of Darryl looking for Sophia and making nice with Carol.  How are they keeping their horses shod?  Clip-clop…   “Dad, this is awesome!  We’ve both been shot!”

Conclusion: Nothing big happened, but a few fires started burning in this episode.  Now the trick will be to pay them off effectively.  That is where the comic has excelled over the years.  Hopefully the TV series will be as good.

Grade: B (with a bullet because this episode held the promise that the writers are getting their act together)

-Dean Stell

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