The Walking Dead: “Secrets”

Posted on November 21, 2011

One thing you can’t say about the writers of this show is that they’re somehow obscure with their themes. “Secrets” is the title and thus, the narrative is suddenly flooded with them. We thought this was a good-to-excellent episode, with some much-needed emotional payoffs and some small plot and character developments that felt like something new was being added to the story. But we still can’t shake the feeling that everyone in the story is pretty much standing around waiting for something to happen.

On the Rick & Lori front, the cards are out on the table. In this case, almost literally, as Lori leaves a ton of morning after pill packaging laying around to serve as a method of informing Rick he’s going to be a daddy. It’s not foremost among their problems, but the Grimes marriage has some serious issues with communication. At any rate, Rick now knows about Shane, news to which he responds by revealing that he always knew on some level, which is really the only response left to the writers that prevents Rick from looking like a total moron. We had to laugh at Lori’s mortified “Was it that obvious?!?” to Dale. Honey, you two were fucking in the woods about 100 yards from the camp. It’s a little late to be concerned about discretion.

We’re glad that Rick and Lori have aired the dirty Shane laundry but we found ourselves pretty bored at the debate about whether to bring a child into this world. It’s a worthy debate to have, but we’ve been treated to minor variations on this exact argument in about a half-dozen scenes now. At this point, characters are just restating their positions to each other. This show has always had a problem with characters standing around talking way too much, but that problem is about to reach epic proportions if we’re entering a phase where characters stand around repeating themselves to each other.

Worse, it didn’t feel like there was any resolution to the rather pressing question of Lori’s pregnancy. She had the best argument for not going through with it (i.e., it’s dangerous, oh, and also, I don’t want to), but as is so often the case when TV or the movies has a character facing the question of terminating her pregnancy, she simply decides not to, with very little reasoning given as to why. Lori and Rick are mostly on the same page that Lori’s pregnancy would be dangerous to her, plus Lori has serious doubts that it would be a good idea to bring a child into a world where he or she will most likely have a short, brutal, terror-filled life, so… Lori decides to remain pregnant. Alrighty then.

And what’s frustrating is, in the middle of this debate that Lori and Rick are having, they managed to come right up to the line of asking the major question that has to be asked and then backed away from it once again. Namely: what are we fighting for here? What is the end goal? Subsistence living? Re-forming a society? If Rick and Lori plan on having the baby, then what life do they want for that baby and how are they going about making that happen? Is Ft. Benning still a plan? Obviously they can’t stay at Hershel’s much longer, but the longer they go (“they” being the group and not just Rick and Lori) without having this somewhat essential conversation, the less real this story seems to us.

This is another of our issues with the show this season: it’s in serious need of some world-building. After several episodes there, we still don’t know why Hershel’s farm is a zombie-free oasis, where everyone can roam for acres without any fear of stumbling upon a walker. In fact, after countless scenes reiterating the need to be as quiet as possible so as not to attract any walkers, the group inexplicably decides to waste their bullets – which we would assume are in limited supply – with gleeful abandon. It’s great that they’re finally working as a unit and training people to survive, but we’re 12 hours into this story and we only know what a couple of counties in Georgia look like. We’re getting antsy.

Granted, it doesn’t look like we’re going to be at Hershel’s much longer because that place is a powder keg ready to blow and we don’t just mean the barn full of undead friends and family members. The group has gone through some fundamental shifts, making them more volatile and less likely to be welcome to stay by the extremely paranoid and xenophobic Hershel. For one, there’s the whole Shane and Andrea thing. He’s nuts; she’s halfway there, and this is triggering Dale’s God complex and kicking it into overdrive. Seriously, Andrea comes off bitter and irritating in this story (and that “Andrea gains the power of self confidence!” moment with the gun was embarrassingly lame), but Dale sticking his nose into everyone else’s business is getting more and more annoying with each week. We find ourselves going back and forth on the idea of his benevolence. Is he doing what’s best for the group and the individuals in it, or is he something of a moralistic control freak? Either way, it takes a lot for someone to make us take Shane’s side in an argument, but Dale managed to do it – even when Shane wound up making crazy-ass veiled threats. It’s bad enough he gave Glen shit for sleeping with Maggie, but he essentially asked Shane to leave for sleeping with Andrea and inserted himself into Lori’s marital problems. Dale needs to back down and let people conduct what’s left of their personal lives without his input.

In fact, looking back on it in the light of day, all this fretting over who’s pregnant and who’s sleeping with each other really strikes us as bizarre in light of the many, many unanswered questions in their lives. The world has ended, no one knows what to do next, one child was shot (although suddenly up and about) and another is still missing (and her supposed survival has become extremely silly and unlikely) and people are bickering over abortion and who’s sleeping with whom. We don’t know if that’s supposed to serve as a commentary on the basic fecklessness of people or whether it’s just the writers lapsing into soap opera storytelling because they’ve convinced themselves they can’t move the story too quickly for some reason, but while we’re happy the Grimeses are moving forward a bit in their story, the overall story is really not moving at all, to our frustration.



[Photo Credit: AMC]

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