After riding higher and higher for the first five episodes, The Walking Dead reached it’s highest amount of viewers at 5.5 million, which is staggering for a violent zombie drama on a cable network. The only thing is, for a show that recently garnered 5.5 million watchers, it happened to be the first lackluster episode of the new show, in my eyes at least.
It may be because last week’s episode was likely the best thing I’ve watched on television in a very long time, but The Walking Dead finally proved to me that it is human, or perhaps a little too human. Is it time to panic? Hell no. There is one episode left in the first season, the creative minds behind the show will stew over how to make Season 2 even better than the first after that, and not every episode is going to be this bland, I’m sure of it. That said, there are a few disappointing things to discuss after the jump.
[If you hate spoilers, don’t continue…]
- Find That Balance: If there is one thing very apparent to me based on this fledgling show, it’s that directors, writers, ect. want this show to have just the right balance between zombie troubles and human conflicts. Based on the comic and on the early episodes, the ratio appears to be 2:1 on the Human:Zombie ratio, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Episodes 1 and 2 were pretty even on the content, 3 was more about conflicts at the encampment, episode 4 started even and then went wild with the zombies, and now we have a very zombie-free episode 5. There’s no real way to change this, but it’s nice to know that the guys behind the camera really do give a crap about making The Walking Dead something more than a simple horror-zombie show.
- Unpredictability: Episode 1 of The Walking Dead was pretty close to the original comic book in more ways than one. A few changes for the better, but it was pretty predictable for a reader of the graphic novels like myself. Now we’re at Episode 5, and I’m pretty sure the only familiar things I’ll be seeing are new characters, deaths, and minor changes to the ones we already know. Case in point: The guy attempting to find any sort of cure for the plague, alone a high security building/bunker was completely and utterly new to me. Now, it should be noted that I’ve read the comic series by way of getting the hardcover collections, and have yet to obtain books 5 and 6. Maybe some ideas from those books made their way to the show prematurely. That said, the show has kept me guessing more often than predicting, and I consider that a good thing.
- In-Shane… (Nice Timing!): I thought about for a bit, and have come to the conclusion that watching Shane contemplate going Platoon on Rick was the best thing his character has done outside of beating the crap out of Ed (We’ll get to him later). Although The Walking Dead has had it’s fair share of interesting people to begin with, we had yet to see someone literally lose his/her mind. Finally, we have that moment, and you can bet your ass that we aren’t even close to seeing Shane at his craziest.
- One Little Disagreement: Sorry, but I have to disagree here; I think that the zombie transformation rate should be very quick, like in the comic, and not this ‘wait a day or two and they’ll turn’ stuff. No disrespect to Andrea, but in the comic she only got a few minutes to weep over her dead sister before Amy reanimated and tried to take a hunk out of Andrea’s neck. In this episode, Andrea got a full day to grovel over Amy’s body, before finally having to end her life a second time. It’s only my opinion, but I like the quick reanimation, as it gives more tension to the situation; no matter how sad you may be over the death of someone, you still need to destroy that brain before mourning, and fast.
- Jim (Sort of): Meh, nitpicking. When Jim is bit in the comic, he immediately accepted death and got dropped off by Rick and Company. In ‘Wildfire’, Jim tried to hide the bite, then became scared, tried to play everything off, and then finally accepted death after a bit of contemplation. Sure, get more human emotions in there and stuff. But comic-book Jim was a depressed badass, and this guy just wasn’t badass enough. Oh well, we can’t get everything we want.
- Bored to Death: I guess it was just me, but this episode was just boring. Perhaps a hangover from the epic Episode 4. Perhaps I was just tired in general. Perhaps I was a little distraught over Leslie Nielsen dying (So much for that cameo). But in the end, this episode moved slow, never sped up, and ended on a semi-cliffhanger. I’m ready to see what happens with crazy Shane and the potentially crazy Bunker Man and Andrea. Episode 5 was a daydream, and I’m ready for Season 1 to end with a nightmare.
- Ed’s Not Looking Too Hot: Oh, Ed. You beat your wife, got beat up by Shane to the point of green bruises and blood-red eyes, you died alone in the zombie attack, and the last image all the viewers will have of you is a totally decimated corpse, which is subsequently pick-axed by a newly widowed Carol, who obviously had so seriously needed time to vent. This show is the best anti-wife-beating show that isn’t on Lifetime.
Final Thoughts: Yeah, this episode was a malaise, at least for me. But I’m still holding good expectations for the season finale, no matter how zombie-less it looks in the quick AMC preview I saw at the end of yesterday’s episode. In the end, this season still gets an ‘A’ from me. The first four episodes were simply great, so an episode that is simply normal won’t get me that upset. That said, if AMC wants to get those views up even higher next season, Sunday’s finale better bring the goods. Don’t me and the other fanboys down!
Final Grade: B