The Walking Dead: “Chupacabra”

Posted on November 14, 2011

“It’s a wonder you people have survived this long.”

Gotta love Hershel. He may be a xenophobe, and dangerously naive about the nature of the zombie plague, but when the man speaks, true things tend to fall out of his mouth. When a traffic jam causes one child to go missing, another to get shot, a sliced-open arm in one member of the group and a bullet wound AND an arrow through the side in another, it’s time to start asking whether or not Rick, the de facto leader of this band, is doing all that good a job in protecting or leading this group. Unfortunately, the person doing the asking is Shane, who’s kind of crazy and has his own reasons for wanting to challenge Rick’s authority; namely, his obsession with protecting Rick’s wife and son. The group, such as it is, is an absolute mess and can’t seem to handle getting through each day without being torn apart internally by all the competing agendas or almost literally falling apart whenever they encounter the slightest crimp in their bare-bones plans. When you see the group – wild, dirty, and violent – in contrast with Hershel’s idyllic farm life and extended family, with their clean clothes and dinner with tablecloths, you have to wonder if Hershel isn’t at least partially right in asking them to hand over their guns. This is why Rick, in a moment of total clarity, ripped the zombie-ear necklace off Darryl before Hershel and his family could see just how barbaric Rick’s group really is.

But of course, Hershel has a secret of his own and as is so often the case with the outwardly-perfect, the truth of what lies beyond the facade is dark, dirty and dangerous. And as is so often the case with the dark, dirty and dangerous, the situation arose out of the very best intentions.

If there’s a theme to Walking Dead – besides “Look out!” that is – then it’s about hope in a world that can’t afford it anymore. It’s about answering the question of why any of us should keep on when everything around them has turned to shit. Rick has always served as a figure of hope for the group. He embodies it by being the man who came back from the dead and into the arms of his family, against all odds. He also embodies it by being the man who continues to believe that if they all just stay together and soldier on, things will get better for them somehow, somewhere. Almost every argument he’s ever had with Shane has centered around Rick’s need to hold on to hope and Shane’s need to protect his adopted family from immediate harm. Hope vs. pragmatism. A pragmatist wouldn’t keep looking for the inexplicably ninja-like Sophia; nor would he continue to leave radio messages for a man and his son alone in a town full of zombies; nor would he have ventured to the CDC for answers; nor would he have hopped out of a coma and immediately focused on the impossible task of finding his wife and son in the aftermath of the apocalypse. Rick has been nothing but hope since this whole thing started.

But if Rick is the embodiment of hope and all the ways it can sustain you and keep your family together, then Hershel is the flip side of that; hope so far beyond the bounds of reason that it borders on madness; hope that is so fevered and without common sense that it will keep the undead locked in a barn, waiting for the day when a cure will come and all can return to the lives they had before. Rick’s boundless hope may not always serve the group as well as it should, but Hershel’s is the most dangerous form of hope of all; one that breeds paranoia and xenophobia; a hope that’s gone beyond hope into a dangerous form of faith. All will be well if we just be patient and not let outsiders upset the apple cart. Even if Rick’s track record as leader of his group isn’t exactly sparkling, nothing compares to the sheer blind stupidity that would cause Hershel to start rounding up zombies for safekeeping on his property.

Turning the camera away from the two leaders and onto their followers, let’s all hear it for Andrea, folks. She’s been a pouting, increasingly nasty person all season and her reward for defying the menfolk and refusing to do laundry is to show her for the useless thing she is. Finally putting a gun in Andrea’s hands and having it result in almost the worst possible thing to happen, in light of her constant complaining about the men trying to control her, doesn’t speak well of the show’s take on gender politics. Those silly gals shouldn’t worry themselves over menfolk problems because when they do, disaster happens.

And exactly why are Carol and Lori hanging laundry while Glen plays the guitar and T-Dog and Dale do precisely nothing? Why are the mothers of the seriously wounded or missing children doing housewife drudgery?

But the man of the hour was Darryl, who, it turns out, is like Redneck Terminator. A good ol’ boy so badass, he can climb a mountain with an arrow sticking out of him, then yank that sucker out and fire it into the head of an approaching zombie. In his own twisted way, Darryl too is an avatar of hope in this world. It’s not the flowery, naive hope of Hershel, or the survival-by-inches hope of Rick, but he believes Carol’s little girl is out there and not only does he risk his life to go into the wild to track her, he takes time out from all the various disasters that befell him on the trip to make sure he brought home Sophia’s doll … to give her mother hope.

We’ve been pretty annoyed with the way the plotting stalled once Sophia ran off into the woods, but more episodes like these, where we get fantastic character examinations and deepening of the themes of the series will go a long way towards shutting up whiners like us who complain that things are moving too slow. They can move them as slow as they want so long as we get an engrossing hour of television. This episode was easily the best of the season and one of the best episodes overall in the show’s short history. More Darryl and less Rick/Shane/Lori drama, please.



[Photo Credit: AMC]

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  • Anonymous

    Well said, gentlemen.
    I watch this show with my glasses off and one eye closed (can’t do disturbing images). Hubby loves it because of the gross factor and you two have me hooked on your reviews. This episode is easily the best I’ve seen.

    • TLo – I hope that AMC can hire you to do plot summaries! Great job

  • Darryl’s hope is the most honest of all of them, I think–from the hints we’ve gotten, he already knows what absolute bottom is.  A zombie apocalypse is just more proof of what a deeply unfriendly place the world is.  He is pragmatic and once there is proof (if there is) of Sophia’s demise then he will move right on.  But until that proof comes to light, he sees no reason not to keep looking, and his hope never second-guesses itself.  You either believe she is still out there or you don’t, and if you do, you keep looking.

  • Anonymous

    I am probably wrong – I just keep thinking there is got to be something up with Herschel’s Farm.  I am probably alone, but when I saw the zombies in the barn – I thought “biofuel” to keep the power on…not “waiting for the day when a cure will come and all can return to the lives they had before.” 

    • Anonymous

      I thought something similar — not that Herschel was keeping them in hopes of making them better, but he was performing experiments to find an innoculation against the zombie-ism, or some other not-so-noble cause.

      For me, Daryl is a much more interesting anti-hero than Shane. Shane’s dissent seems almost comical in its predictableness. Darryl keeps me guessing. Will “Merle’s” visits alter Darryl’s relationship with the group? I’m actually interested in finding out. Shane’s psycho, end of story.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad you guys liked the episode. The fact that the writers are making us care so much for Darryl (doing almost a 180 from last season), speaks well of their ability to keep the audience engaged. I thought the scenes in the woods are always so tense, and bringing back Merle was pretty good. It was also interesting how the scene between Rick and Shane in the woods provided for a chance to put the audience on Shane’s side, making him sound reasonable, even in his madness. However, I’m not sure what the writers need to do to care for Andrea any more…. Oy she is the worst! Overall, good good episode… Can’t wait to see what happens with the zombies in the barn….

  • Anonymous

    My husband and I have decided that the writers must be dudes with no wives and no kids.  The idiotic way the parents are written – Lori leaving her kid on the highway with a family she doesn’t know and a potentially abusive husband.  Carol leisurely hanging laundry while her daughter is lost in the woods. – and then portraying Andrea as increasingly annoying and trigger-happy, who would shoot into a group of her own people.  At this point, the hubs is rooting for the zombies and me, for Darryl. 

    Thanks for the recaps, bitches!

    • Carey Cauthen

      I think most of the writers are male, but there are plenty of female producers, and Gale Anne Hurd is one of the two exec producers. 

  • glennethph

    I think those are their relatives in the barn.  I think he thinks that after everything, somebody will find a cure.  So if they keep them locked up until then, they’ll be safe from being killed or decapitated.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, that’s an interesting theory (although the “biofuel” idea is also creepy-good). But I was just thinking how on earth did they round them up so neatly in the barn…  although if they were relatives, they might just put them there after they died and before they “zombified”? I guess we’ll find soon enough….

      • If they’re following the comic books, they are family members who have become zombies. He IS holding them until they find a cure, but all hell eventually breaks loose (literally).

        • Anonymous

          I think the rule here is to not reference the comic books or reveal plot lines when commenting.

          • And TLo broke their own rule with this spoiler.

          • Hershel discussed his hopes for a cure in last week’s episode.

          • Anonymous

            Ive tried reading the comics and I like the show better! I bought the first 10 volumes(!!) and as the writers of the show have said, they may follow the comics or they may not and as they kinda havent, I dont think it matters if the comics are mentioned….

          • Anonymous

            Really?  In what way?  I see no specific reference to the comic book by TLo?  I see them exploring a plot line referenced by Hershel last week about having faith and hope that a cure would be found.

    • Anonymous

      I got a little I Am Legend vibe…like maybe he’s trying to find a cure.  Although, sounds like if they follow the comic book, that won’t be the case. 

  • MilaXX

    I think the reason this week worked was because they moved away from the Shane/Lori/Rick love triangle soul sucking plot. I may be callous but there aren’t many viewers who really care whether Sophia is alive or dead at this point. However watching Darryl be awesome was full of win. 
    On another note I hate how the writers portray women on this show, but if they can keep the storytelling interesting enough I can live with it.

  • Who is going to find a cure in Hershel’s mind?  It’s completely possible that one could be created, but who’s going to find it?  And how are they going to distribute it? 

    The thought in general makes sense to me, but on a practical level, I just don’t understand how he thinks that’s gonna work! 

  • Incredible episode, and what a contrast between this and that ridiculous episode of Once Upon a Time. Dystopia beats Fantasy, especially when the fantasy writers blow (and not in a good way).

  • Carey Cauthen

    While I am annoyed at the domestic tasks all the women seemed tasked with, I don’t see Andrea’s stupidity with the gun as a gender issue, “just let the guys take care of you” thing. Her trigger-happy nature didn’t surprise me in the least. You give someone a gun and suddenly they feel powerful (especially in a situation like a zombie apocalypse). You give them a bare minimum of training — just enough to make them feel like they’re competent  when in truth they have just enough knowledge to make them dangerous — and you get stupid accidents and stupid choices like this. There’s a reason so many people get accidentally wounded by their own guns or guns owned by family/friends — not enough training or respect for the powerful weapon they’re holding. Honestly, i would have been surprised if she hadn’t shot someone.

    • parissweetheart

      I agree, plus she isn’t going to shoot perfectly without shooting. It would be much better to do target practice on something other than your own people though.
      The division of labor does need to be fixed. I’m fine with the women doing laundry but I think people doing nothing should learn to pitch in. Everyone should be able to do everything to keep the crew safe and okay.

      • Anonymous

        Personally I would rather hang laundry than haul water from a zombie-filled well across the field.

    • I think Andrea is just an idiot.  Full stop.  Gender has nothing to do with it.  Rick is also an idiot, though he’s an idiot in the other direction: he has foolish hope, whereas Andrea just seems to have wandered off into emotional darkness.

      • Anonymous

        I think Rick lost it when he asked for God to give him a sign he was doing the right thing ( when he was in the zombie church) and immediatley after that his son was shot…. So I understand him he did give about a gallon of blood to save his son and that takes a while to bounce back from….I hope to see him come back to the way he was last season. As for Andrea, she is just pathetic.

  • I’ve stopped watching after the first episode this season due to the amount of crying scenes; I just love to read the snark from TLo though.  Can someone tell me how many crying scenes were in this episode?

    Wait, in fact, TLo, I have a request: can you guys do a count of crying scenes in each episode in your write up?  Purtyplease?

    • I don’t recall any crying at all in this episode.  oh wait…maybe andrea cried a little when she shot Darryl.  Not much though, really.  She felt bad, but she didn’t fall apart.

      • Anonymous

        She didnt cry, I did, but she didnt…..

      • Anonymous

        Lori was sobbing in the room with her son over the pregnancy.

      • For me, after the third tear, I consider that crying.  Yeah I know, I’m brutal like that.

  • Anonymous

    My favorite parts were Darryl’s hallucinations of his brother Merle. We a great insight to their relationship without it being heavyhanded or overdone or written as a pity party. It’s clear the 2 brothers love and care for each other. However, assuming an accurate portrayal, Merle was never equipped to raise his brother properly. It’s interesting Darryl does have some issues with his brother, but there doesn’t seem to be any real emotional baggage. Merle was a dick and was as far away from a role model as you can get. Darryl is the only person merle cares about. Darryl know s this. end of story.

  • Anonymous

    I think at this point for the show to move forward, Rick has to find out about Shane and Laurie. It’s needs to happen and let the chips fall where they may from there. Part of Rick’s role and part of the show stagnating a bit is he still thinks he has the perfect little family life to protect here. Anymore dancing around this piece of backstory is silly at this point. For this show to move forward that needs to be dealt with and resolved. 

    As for Carol, she is just a bit too calm for a woman whose daughter is lost in the woods. I think the more interesting thing the writers could have done is examine if she’s given up on Sophia returning. I would think a Mother in a world gone mad whose little girl is lost would be out searching for her and not hanging laundry and making cakes. I would think she’d be more of a “Ripley” in this situation than a timid meek lamb. It’s a major missed opportunity for the writers there to take the character arc of a beaten abused woman and turn her into something different when her daughter was threatened. Let’s see Carol out there killing zombies looking for her daughter. Let’s see her save Rick or Darryl from an attack. For this show to grow the characters need to complete some interesting arc’s. They’ve missed a doozy of an arc with her this season. 

    That said, it’s a very good show. There are moments where I remember what watching LOST felt like. They’re not there yet, but they get close sometimes. 

    Deal with the Rick/Laurie/Shane bullshit already and let some of the other characters change and grow due to the circumstances and we have something. As for the women being shown to do “woman” things I agree with TLO. It’s why not turning Carol into a take no prisoners zombie killer hell bent on finding her daughter is a big mistake. What would have been amazing TV is Carol finding a zombie Sophie and killing her with her own hands. That’s how you go from being a good show to a great one. 

  • Mariah J

    As someone who read the comics I’m aghast at what they’ve done to Andrea…she’s pretty much irredeemable at this point.

  • Anonymous

    i thought it was a great show last night.  hershell is so interesting to me & creepy too.  the barn, dear god the barn.  last year i could barely put up with daryl, this year cant get enough. 

  • R. L.

    Yes, this was the best all season thus far. Now I can’t wait to find out more.

  • Anonymous

    This was  an overall good episode that gave me hope (heh, there’s that word again) that things will be moving forward.  So many explosive pieces are finally in place there’s no way we can not have some serious showdowns in the near future.  In a stunning reversal of last season, they seem to be doing better at building the newly created characters than working with the existing ones.  Daryl is one of the most sympathetic characters — at least for now.  Andrea, on the other hand, is pretty much a laughing stock.  Who would put a gun in her hands now?

    Anxiously awaiting further developments.  Now they just need to wrap up this triangle and find Sophia.

  • Anonymous

    For all that you guys liked this… I think I’m going to tune back in when/if I stop feeling like the writers just kinda don’t like women.

  • I think the division of labor has more to do with falling into familiar patterns in times of crisis.  Laurie and Carol were stay-at-home moms and these are the things they did on a daily basis.  We really don’t have enough of Glenn, Dale and T-Dog’s backstory to know what they would normally be doing.  Daryl, Shane and Rick were men of action so they are out there taking care of business.  Andrea, on the other hand, is taking the wrong approach to trying to take back some of what she’s lost.  She wants to feel stronger and thinks having a gun is the way to do it.

    • Anonymous

      I see the women doing things like laundry because if they don’t do it there would be no clean clothes to wear.  I get the feeling the men would wear their clothes until they rot off their bodies.

  • Anonymous

    I love the feeling of being back in high school English class again! This analysis and EVERY Mad Men episode, it is so nice to actually THINK while watching and after the show is over. Tom Robinson is the Mockingbird, Rick is Hope, Shane is Pragmatism, Herschel (sorry, I’m from Seattle, so to me, Herschel is a Sea Lion) is . . . nuts — this is all just wonderful!

    Darryl and Glen are my favourites, but I have to admit, except for the sheer stupidity of the characters, I think they are well written and acted. Darryl is wonderful, isn’t he? This whole apocalpse seems to be a big therapy session for him.

    I will defend the women a bit in how they have taken on the stereotypical roles, but personally, I would need to keep busy doing something. Although how Carol can’t be out there looking for her daughter more, I don’t quite understand.

  • Jenna Ledford-Millerd

    This is my first time to comment, but I just have to say that one of the shining examples of why I adore this blog was your summation of the incident with Andrea. Right after she shot Daryl, I begrudgingly muttered, “of course, you give the woman a gun and she damn near kills a good guy.”

  • Anonymous

    I have not watched the episode but the bit about Hershel resonates with me. There seems to be so much people like that these days. People who believe in unicorns not because they have evidence for their existence but simply because they think unicorns are pretty. Anything that is good must be true, anything that is not is false. And if you dare to disagree, they will stone you.

  • I’m not bothered by how the “womenfolk” act (Well, except Andrea… OMG don’t get me started on Andrea), in the sense that they resumed the “housewife” duties. While, yes, the guys SHOULD chip in, the American standard idea of “normal” is still for women to be the homemakers, like it or not, and some women actually enjoy that… what bigger sense of comfort is there, then, for the two moms of the group to try and make their living situation “homey”? (Although I’ll argue that it’s more Carol wanting to do it, and Lori not wanting Carol to have to do all the work.) I don’t say this as a justification for the writers, just what I suspect the line of thinking is. It’s a small bit of normalcy to cling to, and I assume there’s something soothing in it. Just like Carol finding comfort in cooking in a “real kitchen” again – it’s something she used to do (by choice or by a-hole husband’s force), it’s comforting, and it’s certainly a distraction from the reality they’re living in. So for me, it makes sense for the characters.

    Of course, the counter to this argument of comfort and routine was Shane’s best point of the whole episode – that this nostalgia for what used to be is a dangerous drug, because what used to be will NEVER be again, and to keep distracting yourself with the rosy tint of yesteryear is to be blind to what’s happening NOW. No better example of this was the incredibly awkward “family dinner” that was intended to be a uniting meal of thanks to Herschel’s group.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with you. Plus Carol has said she’s keeping busy on purpose, it helps her with her worry over Sofia. Perfectly understandable. Someone needs to sanitize, nurse and launder. It makes just as much sense for Carol and Lori to do this as it makes for Shane, Rick and Daryl to be using weapons. It’s what their experience is and what they can best contribute. 

  • I liked last night’s episode because I like Daryl, but I’m so, so tired of so much of this show. I’m tired of the search for Sophia. I’m tired of Rick vs. Shane. I’m tired of basically every character except for Daryl, Dale and Maggie (and I wish that Glen, who used to be my favorite, would become interesting again).

    I’ve been trying to find an insightful and intelligent way to say this, but I can’t, so here we go: Andrea fucking sucks. Plain and simple.

  • Anonymous

    It was a good episode last night and you could just see the whole Andrea shooting Daryl thing coming form a mile away.  She’s just annoyingly stupid.  I must have missed something last night because I don;t recall hearing or seeing the explanation that herschel is keeping a barn full of walkers so they can be cured someday.  I have sensed something sinister from the intro of his character and I don’t think that is the real reason for the secret barn full of dead folks.  Someone help me out, where did that explanation occur?
    And I agree with the frustration of the womenfolk being pushed into these servile positions while some of the guys just trut around doing very little but talking aobut how many gals they banged in high school. (Yeah Shane, I’m talking about you!0

    • It did not occur in this episode.  It’s the explanation from the comic book.

    • Carey Cauthen

      There is no explanation yet. That was the big cliffhanger that will be explored in episodes to come.

  • Anonymous

    I want Andrea to die in a fire.  And take Dale with her.  Give me more of Darryl. 

  • Everyone in this episode was just infuriatingly moronic, except for Daryl.  I am not even sure I can keep watching it anymore.  I despise Andrea, Lori is unbelievably having a dilemma about Shane, Rick by all rights deserves to lose leadership of the group to Daryl, who doesn’t even want it, Dale is too sanctimonious for his own good, and while I sympathize with Glen, Dale was right about him being stupid to follow his dick over the good of the group.  Yes, Hershel is wrong-headed in his zombie preservation, but he’s right about Rick’s group: too stupid to live.

  • ooops…you should have marked this one with a spoiler alert….

  • Kristi H.

    Oh, another thing.  I’m kind of liking the Daryl/Carol dynamic.  I think
    he really likes her and she may be the only one who can see what a
    truly good person he is underneath all the redneck-ery.  I think I
    detected the faintest bit of a smile on his face after she kissed him
    and told him he was every bit as good a man as Rick and Shane.

    Also, lucky for him he had those boots on.

    • Anonymous

      You know I wondered about that, whether he got bit or not.  It would suck if he did.

    • Anonymous

      I think he sees her as a mother figure, maybe one he never had…….and she sees in him a little boy acting more mature & grown-up than their leaders.

  • OMG,  loved this episode.  The scenes with Daryl were so excruciating to watch.  I had to fast forward through scenes more in this episode than any other!

  • Anonymous

    Darryl makes this show! He is such a cool bad-ass! Love, love, love him…. the others, not so much.

  • Anonymous

    In dining news, looks like Squirrel Tartar is in this year.

  • I have waited to read these posts until I am caught up with the show, and I am definitely disappointed in the handling of the women as characters.  Lori was never my favorite but I have a place in my heart for Andrea, who in the comics thrived.  Much of her badassness seems to have been taken over by Darryl.

    But am I getting this right from you TLo?  Am I to understand you’ve read and are possibly continuing to read the comic?  Because that warms my heart right up.

  • Anonymous

    I realllly miss getting AMC.

  • Anonymous

    1. Did the zombie gnaw on Darryl’s leg before he came to?
    2. Seems like this season they aren’t too afraid of being contaminated by zombie bacteria or blood or whatever. When Andrea killed the zombie in the trailer, she was covered. There was another killing scene where the person had to get zombie guts on them. Did I miss something where we found out it is harder to be contaminated by zombies than we thought?

  • Anonymous

    Wow, I can’t remember a show where I loathed all the female characters so much. To be accurate, I loathe Andrea and Lori who tend to be extremely self-centered and stupid. I wish the writers would be a bit more creative with the female characters. 

    Right from the get-go I figured Hershel was up to no good. I still don’t think his intentions are as noble, albeit idiotic, as keeping the zombies alive in case they can some day be cured. I could be completely off the mark but I think something more sinister is afoot. Then again his strong stance against guns would make sense if he is ultimately hoping all humanity will be saved. Why make sure no one is to shoot a gun while on his property? Don’t kill anyone, they’re still people. On the other hand, his “It’s a wonder you people have survived this long” statement might very well prove he thought these people were too idiotic to handle firearms. Enter Andrea.

    Rick is a horrible leader and it’s annoying to see how he will put the whole group in jeopardy for one person or one goal. Get a grip! And Shane is becoming less interesting with each new episode. Now Daryl is the dude to watch and apparently he’s on bad-ass dude. He gets wounded (and shot!) and keeps on ticking. Good episode. Hope this trend continues even though I’d like to give both Lori and Andrea a good shaking.

  • The writing still suffers.  The scenes with Glen and the young woman are excruciatingly unrealistic and just plain bad.  

  • At my house hold we call Darryl “The Redneck Ninja”

  • Agree on all accounts. Darryl’s so bad-ass awesome, love it!

  • Anonymous

    Really enjoyed this one, and your recap (as always). I wasn’t as annoyed with the missing girl plot this time since it was actually used to have interesting things happen with Darryl. Looking forward to whatever’s coming!

  • Anonymous

    Darryl is the best reason to watch this show this season.  We thought he was going all mushy and soft last ep – ahahahahahahaha! Bringing Merle back as his hallucination was an awesome move to get into Darryl’s mind.  I look forward to seeing him get all medieval on Rick because you know that’s coming.
    We’ve known Herschel had a secret and with a barn off limits, kind of figured out there were zombies in there but seeing them, the number of them, was pretty shocking.  This isn’t just a couple of family members but a herd.  Herschel is definitely dangerous in a different way but an even more scary way.  Blind clinging to the past is the worst thing a person can do when their world has turned upsidedown.  Even if Rick’s group is more heathen, they are better equipped even with their stupidity to survive in the long-term.  Herschel will get zombie chowed.
    I have been pissed all season about the role of the women on the show.  Either being complaining bitches or passive servants.  Hell, the only one with real balls is Sophia, out there living on sardines and sleeping in cupboards.  And that’s a sad commentary.  Even The Stand, which also reduced most of the women to childbearing caretakers, had female characters with wider, more real boundaries.

  • Norman Reedus is just naturally badass and hot!!!!

  • To be fair, a lot of the bad things that have happened have not really been Rick’s fault but more because they left the group. Darryl is still freaking badass though.