Perhaps it would be possible to have a “calm discussion” on the topic of The Walking Dead. But our obsessive enthusiasm for the AMC zombie drama is so great that it requires two recappers—Jeff Jensen and Dan Snierson—to pick its delicious brain. Yes, “words can be meager things,” to quote deep-thinking Dale—but hopefully our “Totally Walking Dead” duo can croak wisely about “Tell It To The Frogs”…
JEFF: The Walking Dead’s third episode brought Rick Grimes to One RV Hill, the survivor camp led by "friend" and fellow lawman Shane Walsh--illicit lover of Lori, wannabe father to Carl, and enthusiastic connoisseur of Cajun-style frog legs. We were better introduced to people only fleetingly seen in previous episodes. Dale, an older man with an On Golden Pond hat, wise and grizzled. Jim, the taciturn, tool-stingy grease monkey. Amy, mushroom-picking, mermaid-loving sister to tough but gun-ignorant Andrea, who last night proved capable of sharing delightfully blunt TMI and standing up to pigs like Ed, a nasty traditionalist who lords over his meek wife and quiet daughter. If last week was sensational for being a thrilling Zombie Horror Picture Show, this week--full of tense fireside chats and tearful pillow talk, nostalgic banter about pre-apocalypse culinary (and carnal) pleasures and debate about knotty moral conundrums--was riveting for emphasizing different values.
DAN: The show demonstrated its capacity for producing provocative, poignant human drama as well as chills, thrills and entrail spills. Last week was like white-knuckling your way through videogames like Left 4 Dead or Resident Evil. This week felt like a season 1 episode of Lost (fear of the boogeyman in the woods, figuring out how to make do with limited resources, power struggles in the new order). "Tell It To The Frogs" also doted on the emotional ramifications of Rick's arrival at camp—and the guilt/relief/uncertainty it triggered in Lori and Shane. So yes, not much reveling in zombie gore--though we did get the spectacle of a walker pigging out on deer guts (Bambi buffet!) and his subsequent, glorious decapitation.
JEFF: And that wasn't even enough to kill that plague-carrying man-thing! As squirrel-hunting hawkeye Darrell noted, you have to brain them--and so he shot the zombie through the eye. I bellowed a bloodthirsty "OH YEAH!" like a drunk Canadian at a hockey game.
DAN: I know—you did it right in my ear, accent and all. Were you really drunk?
JEFF: We'll share the secrets of our Walking Dead drinking game at a later date. To business! We opened on Merle, who last week had been handcuffed to a pipe and abandoned to Atlanta’s revenant ravagers. We found the boisterous bigot sunblasted and dehydrated, muttering through the pleasant memory of punching an uppity Army officer. Then: Panic. I’m gonna be Zombie Casserole if I don’t get outta these cuffs! He looked to the sky and made proffers to Jesus. I know I’m a hideously foul frog—but deliver me from evil, I’ll become a prince. With the walkers clawing at the door, Merle was even more manically motivated--and then he saw the handsaw. I felt for Merle—for his profound, all-around "disorientation,” to use one of the episode’s key buzzwords--and we were meant to. It was an effective set-up for a discussion about the value of human life, even a seemingly worthless one.
DAN: You’re right. And I was manipulated into even feeling a smidge of compassion for Merle's equally charm-challenged Darrell (who surely has another brother Darrell). As expected, he did not take the news about his left-for-dead sibling well and had to be (illegally) choke-holded into "a calm discussion on the topic." But we have to talk about The Grimes Family Reunion sequence, complete with... heartwarming music! The show has already made a name for itself with some gooey moments--but not this kind.
NEXT: Time to reconsider the "Lori is unlikable" line of thought?