The Walking Dead: The Grove

Posted on March 17, 2014

Melissa McBride in AMC’s The Walking Dead


When we don’t do a review of The Walking Dead’s latest episode, we get more messages asking us why than we do comments on any actual Walking Dead posts we ever manage to put up. In other words, this post will get less comments on it than the amount of emails, tweets and posts last week that asked us if we had given up on it. Of all the shows we’ve recapped/reviewed, TWD is the only one which apparently has a large group of people dying to not talk about it. And we honestly had no intention of writing this review either, until about ten minutes ago, but we’re still watching every week, so figured we might as well try and pull our thoughts together. Without making this about us (probably way too late on that), we just haven’t been able to work up any excitement for this show, despite the fact that they’re doing some of the best work in the series right now.

But before we get to last night’s drama-fest, a word about last week’s embarrassingly bad episode with Darryl and Beth. Actually several words: It takes some seriously shitty scripting to get us to want to see Darryl dead by the end of an episode, but the entire hour seemed designed to highlight just how idiotic he and Beth really are – and how pointless this entire world is. Without getting too far into the weeds of things, what really set us off was – oddly enough – Beth’s golf shirt. We’re costume-oriented. Sue us. But costuming is important, dammit.

Everyone walks around this world in filthy, ragged clothes all the time; this world that is pretty much stocked to the rafters with en endless supply of clothing. It’s always been one of those details that annoyed the shit out of us because it makes no logical sense for everyone to be walking around in filthy clothing, risking all kinds of infections and skin diseases in the Georgia heat. They can’t take many showers, but there’s no reason any of them can’t change their clothes.The lack of costuming also annoys us from a film-making perspective because you have an opportunity to put the characters in an endless array of ironic costumes, from goofy t-shirts to janitor’s overalls to Christmas sweaters.  In the books, when they moved into the prison, everyone started wearing the orange prison overalls because there were so many on hand and they were clean. Ironic costuming that actually made story sense. A group of people trying desperately to survive, all dressed like prisoners. That would’ve looked awesome onscreen; especially if you gave each character a little twist, like Darryl cutting off the sleeves or Beth cutting the pants into shorts. Sure, the grey-brown palette that literally EVERYONE in the cast sports drives home a message of hopelessness, but after awhile it just makes everyone look a little emo. So when Beth finally demonstrated common sense and realized she was in a store with racks of clothing just waiting to be taken, we thought, “FINALLY,” as she put on a clean shirt – which then got drenched in zombie blood mere minutes later. We threw up our hands. The message was loud and clear: There’s no point in putting on a clean shirt. There’s no hope in this world. Well that’s kinda horseshit, because Beth went weeks in a filthy outfit that never got drenched in blood, but the minute she put on something clean…

Look. We know we shouldn’t obsess over things like this, but costuming, as we hope we’ve established by now, is a very important way of telling the story and Beth’s drenched golf shirt pretty much summed up everything we find wrong about the way this story is being told. Don’t even get us started on the idiocy of the two of them getting drunk on moonshine alone in the woods and then burning down a cabin full of supplies just because they felt like it. Sorry, Georgia backwoods! You’re probably gonna burn down (except not) because two idiots who can’t change a shirt without screwing it up had an existential crisis!

Feh. Now you see why we don’t rush to write up a review anymore.

So you’d think we’d have hated last night’s episode for being so dark. But there’s a difference, in our minds, between “dark” and “hopeless.” “Dark” is when you put a bullet in a little girl’s head because she (in the understatement of the series) “can’t be around people anymore,” due to a dangerous and untreatable sociopathy. “Hopeless” would’ve been Carol or Tyreese figuring it wasn’t worth it anymore and putting bullets in all their heads. Or Tyreese killing Carol after her confession. But because Tyreese found it in himself to forgive Carol, and because the episode ended with the threesome heading off to sanctuary, we didn’t find Carol’s actions to be without hope. On the contrary, killing Lizzie was an act of survival on her part. Where there’s life, there’s hope. Fighting to survive is an innately optimistic act. Shooting that little girl meant Carol and Tyreese could live another day and pass Judith on to another set of caretakers before they themselves die.

So no, we didn’t object at all to last night’s darkness. If anything, it was one of the better episodes in a long time. The first half dragged a bit because neither of those little girls are good enough actresses to carry such a storyline, but once they were dead, and it was just Carol and Tyreese alone in the dark, the story came alive to us. What interests us now is if Tyreese really has forgiven her or if he’s making a strategic decision about his own survival, knowing he can’t really make it on his own with a baby.

Granted, we still feel like we’re at something of a remove from all this drama. Up until last night’s episode, we weren’t even sure what those girls’ names were and while Tyreese struggled mightily to forgive Carol for Karen’s murder, we struggled mightily to remember just who the hell she was. The show is doing cleanup on a bunch of plotlines that failed to resonate because we were all paying attention to the main characters (who keep doing nothing or keep doing the same stupid things). If we have any … wait for it … hope at all for the future of the show, it’s that they’re going to put most of the crap of the past behind them and MOVE THE F ON, which is all we’ve ever really asked for. They don’t have to set up house in the suburbs and start making babies, but we have to feel that these characters are all moving toward a goal of some sort.

Anyway, that’s where we stand now. We’re just glad they’ve managed to keep the Governor dead.


[Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC]

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