Shane Ryan and Josh Jackson review The Walking Dead each week in a series of letters.
Seeya, Carol, you rationalizing pyscho-come-lately!
We obviously have to lead with that, because Rick’s call to leave Carol up to her own devices was pretty friggin’ great, and totally unexpected. For a while it seemed like we were watching a one-hour Carol propaganda film, listing all the reasons why it was okay for her to kill Karen and David because she thought it would stop the spread of the flu (retro-spoiler: It didn’t). It started with the fact that she loves the camp so much and somebody had to do something, and blah-blah. Then she made an appeal to her abusive past, and how somehow her victimhood justified her murdering the weak and infirm. All garbage, but I definitely thought the writers were trying to convince us of her reasons, to lay the foundation for Carol’s continuing role within the gang.
Well, I was dead wrong. It was only Rick who needed convincing, and he was too smart. I mistook his silence for wavering, but in fact he was just gathering his resolve for the moment of departure. With two profound words from Rick—”that’s bullshit”—Carol got jettisoned, and finally her excuses rang as hollow as they’d felt all along. Andrew Lincoln (Rick) takes some Internet guff for his minimalistic acting, but I actually thought he was pretty great in this episode. The slow-play is right up his alley, and he pulled it off beautifully. It made the Carol-dumping all the more satisfying, and even though I didn’t expect it this soon, she really, really had to go. The character was a solid supporting player back when she was a skittish victim blossoming into a survivor, but when they gave her more to handle and tried to blow her personality into something domineering, it just never worked.
Now what? I agree with Rick that she’ll survive. Hopefully she and the Governor get together and there’s a holy war. I AM SO UP FOR A HOLY WAR, JOSH!
“Indifference” was the tale of two runs, and the other half of the episode followed our favorite foursome, Daryl-Michonne-Tyreese-Stookey, as they made their way to the university for medicines. There were a few zombie fights along the way, but there was just so much human drama, Josh. Michonne has somehow become the joker and peacemaker, while Daryl is bitter that she keeps leaving, Tyreese might be trying for death-by-zombie, and Stookey just wants to get hammered (can’t blame him). It comes to a head when they finally reach their destination and Bobby Stooks can’t be bothered to put any medicine in his bag. That actually cracked me up because it’s not like he needed much room for the liquor. You can do both, Bob!
But he just took the alcohol, and then he wrestled like hell to keep it safe from the zombies and almost tried to shoot Daryl when he threatened to throw it overboard. I like his commitment, and I’m not sure I’m on board with the teetotaling morality of the rest of the gang. Sure, his addiction has already gotten one person killed and nearly claimed more lives at the university, but a man has to have his vices.
In other news, Rick lost two guns and a nice watch to a couple people who have somehow survived this long in the zombie apocalypse without figuring out how to kill a zombie, Stookey revealed that he’s the perpetual last man standing, and Carol wins the “overly harsh line of the night” award with her quick rebuke to young Lizzy—“Don’t call me mom!”
All in all, Josh, I’m really enjoying this season. The tension is as fresh as ever, and even though watching The Walking Dead means putting up with some awkward character reversals and uncomfortable sentimentality, it feels no worse this season than any other. Casting a flu as the group’s enemy was risky, but I think it’s paying off so far. The question is, how long can they draw it out? Surely not for all 16 episodes. The preview for next week included machine gun fire, so I think they’re going to conquer the flu soon and move on to bigger and better things.
I’ll turn it over to you, and since you’re a beer snob who knows a thing or two about hops and barley and malt, I’d love to hear you recommend a craft brew for Bob Stookey at some point in your response. Help him escape, Josh. Enable him.
I’m with you. When the zombie apocalypse comes on, I want to surround myself with tough bastards, but I have no room for anyone who thinks the way to quarantine the flu is a knife through the head of anyone who’s sick. Talking Dead held a poll, where 66% of the respondents thought Rick should’ve just taken Carol back to the prison. But I just can’t see how Tyreese or anyone else should be expected to “just accept” what she did. I like Carol, and I hope she makes it—and leads a new group against the dark forces of the Governor. I’ve loved watching her go from helpless housewife to badass survivalist, just not from badass housewife to self-justifying murderer.
But if Rick was worried about Tyreese, that crazy ol’ boxing coach (what, wrong show?) is nothing compared to Daryl, and I’m not sure how Carol’s best friend takes the news. It may not be Michonne who takes off on the next solo mission. I certainly wouldn’t want to be Bob right now—a bottle of liquor in my backpack and the promise of a beatdown if I touch it. At first I thought it was a half-filled 40-ounce of malt liquor—something you should never risk your life for—but upon further review, it looked more like whiskey. And I don’t have to recommend that our survivors make a supply run to Decatur, Ga., where they’ll find plenty of St. Bernardus and probably even some Westvleteren 12 in the cellar of The Brick Store. Back at the zombie-cave-in market were cases of Sweetwater and Terrapin—certainly good enough for the end of a long day of zombie slaying.
As for the new kids, I did love how Carol scoffed at their helplessness—getting trapped in the bathroom for two days by a single pajamaed zombie when they had guns and knives. They wanted to play it safe, and yet they decided to split up in that neighborhood to cover more ground. How did they ever make it more than a year into the apocalypse? They might as well have been wearing red Starfleet uniforms—there was no way they were making it out of this episode alive.
I agree that this season has been fun so far. It looks like next week is heavy on the horror as the flu victims become zombies one-by-one, and Hershel, Glenn and Lizzie try to stay alive long enough for the meds to arrive.
By the way, did you see Michonne smile in this episode? It was completely disarming in its unexpectedness and its brightness. As Carol has lost her humanity and disallowed emotion, Michonne is starting to let her guard down a little and rediscover hers. But I have a feeling that when she stops looking for the Governor is when she finds him. But first we’ve got to beat the bug.
So how does the group take Rick’s banishment of Carol? How does Carol fare on her own? And is zombie Lizzy less scary than human Lizzy? I think we all know the answer to that last one.
Interesting call on Daryl. My immediate reaction is that he’ll get it when Rick explains that she killed the two sickies, but at the same time, Rick will be asking for a lot of faith. First off, they need to know that he didn’t just kill her and leave her for dead, and he’ll have zero proof. Plus, there’s probably some ambiguity in their minds about what exactly happened between he and Shane back on Hershel’s farm, since nobody was around to witness that event, either. Daryl has mostly been Rick’s most loyal lieutenant, but could this be the beginning of a rift between them?
I am stunned that 66 percent wanted forgiveness for Carol. I’m hoping only three people voted, because it’s hard to conceive of many people getting bamboozled by her woe-is-me act. At the same time, who votes in these things? Have you ever been watching anything, be it drama or sports, and responded to a text poll? What kind of person does that? Do we really want to use them as representatives for all the reasonable people out there who don’t waste valuable minutes of their lives texting the number 2 to 41550? I say those numbers would be reversed if we could somehow get regular people to vote.
I’m still skeeved out by Lizzie, but I think she might be the first real philosopher of the zombie apocalypse. If people take the approach that they look forward to zombiehood, isn’t that a strangely healthy outlook? Nope, I’m not scared of death. I’ve got my zombie life ahead of me! (Just please don’t kill me in the head area.) If I was trying to sell this as a religion, my tag line would be: “We’re the only faith with a guaranteed afterlife!” Forget the promises of heaven or reincarnation; with the Church of the Rising Walker, we all get resurrected! (Again, doesn’t apply if you die by head wound. No refunds.) Lizzie is already a true believer, and maybe she can start a cult. I bet Stookey would be into it if they incorporate holy wine.
Which brings up another thought that has probably been conceived a thousand times by a thousand other people who thought they were being original, but it just occurred to me that the zombie process is the dark side of the Jesus story. You come back, but instead of being glorious, it’s awful and you want to eat everyone. I can already tell this is a painfully old and banal thought, though, so I’m going to drop it. Still, you have to admit that if Satan had his way on earth, zombies would be a really ironic way for him to stick it to the trinity.
I also dug the Michonne-smiling scene, and it’s another part of the process of restored humanity we’ve been seeing all season. Which makes me think that perhaps the writers are paving the way for a Michonne romance. I’ll kick it back to you with this question: Who is the most likely fellow? I wouldn’t say no to a top five.
Oh, and I can’t let this go … did it seem to you like maybe Rick and Carol were about to hook up by the tomatoes? There was a moment, Josh, I swear. There was a moment.
Glad it didn’t happen,
The idea of zombies being the dark side of the Jesus story may or may not be played out, but a quick Google search of “Zombie Jesus” only resulted in the discovery of a celebration of Zombie Jesus Day, which proclaims that if Jesus rose from the dead, he must have been a zombie. And an Uncyclopedia page that included the tagline, He died for your sins. Now he’s back for your brains. But what you’re talking about is more interesting to me—while the show isn’t known to dig particularly deep, I did enjoy its brief explorations into what the zombie apocalypse did to religion in Season Two.
At this point, though, the most everyone but Lizzie can hope for is redemption of the small “r” variety, and I’m really glad to see Michonne letting go of the anger that’s been driving her since her encounter with the Governor (and really before that). If I have one criticism about the character development of the show, it’s the way that one characteristic can so easily take over—Glenn’s sudden cautiousness once he met Maggie and his gloominess once Maggie met the Governor. Rick spiral into madness. Beth’s newfound stoicism. Carol’s hardened edges. It’s good to see characters grow and change, but I’m ready for Glenn particularly to snap out of it. Maybe he’ll appreciate life more if he beats this flu.
If Michonne letting go of her anger opens her up to love, here are her most likely candidates in order of most to least. I’m assuming Doctor Subramanian doesn’t make it.
1. Tyreese – He’s currently on the rebound, but it’d take a hulk of a man to keep up with Michonne.
2. Daryl – He might be #1 if they weren’t both such introverted loners.
3. Rick – The big hurdle here is that Michonne can hardly hold Judith without crying.
4. Beth – Just keeping an open mind here. We really don’t know Michonne that well.
5. Bob Stookey – If he once again finds himself the last man on Earth.
And no, there was nothing happening there among the tomatoes. No moment, Shane. Get your head back in the game.
Finally, I leave you with your own Top Five: What current musicians would you pick for your zombie apocalypse team?
I’m assuming you mean that these five musicians and I will be living together in the zombie apocalypse, and I’m not picking musicians I hate to become zombies so I can kill them. Right? Right. (If that’s not right, I pick Ryan Adams five times.)
Look, I’m a dude, so I have to admit that my first instinct was just to pick five really good-looking female musicians. God knows these email exchanges won’t work without full disclosure. But my wife reads this and also I think the apocalypse really saps everyone’s sex drive anyway, so I’ll take your question seriously.
1. Colin Meloy, The Decemberists – He seems to know a lot about strange duels and wars and such. He may be slightly nerdy, but I think his intelligence would come in handy. He’s like Patrick with an edge.
2. Ben Bridwell, Band of Horses – This is my Daryl. He seems tough and rugged and quietly moral, and I think he’d be hell on zombies.
3. Henry Rollins – Angry, huge, tough. There’s a 40 percent chance he’d kill one of us at some point, but you need at least one loose cannon on the team.
4. Morrissey – I just want to hear him sing “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” to Bridwell (or Rollins?) after he gets bit.
5. Paulina Gretzky – I couldn’t help myself. At this point I’m only opening myself up for heartbreak since there’s no way she’s choosing me over any of the other four dudes on this list, including Morrissey, but maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll all die. Otherwise, I’m definitely going to become the Shane of the group, and not just because Shane is also my name. Colin Meloy is going to have to kill me in a field.
That was fun, so I’m going to turn it back over to you as we near the end of this week’s emails. Same question. And as always,
Please don’t die, Daryl Dixon.
I’ll just say that with the undead attacking from all sides, you could do worse with five Henry Rollinses. But I’d also add Jack White (for general badassery), Janelle Monáe (for unbridled energy), Dave Grohl (maybe I should just go with five drummers), and Justin Bieber (bait).