We can all agree that Season 5 of The Walking Dead has been really, really ridiculously good looking. However, I can’t help but begin to think that the show may beginning to like the smell of its own rotting farts just a bit too much. There is definitely the sense of a lack of effort in “Self Help,” and it is a reminder that this show will need to continue to bring its A game (much like last week’s “Slabtown”), and focus more on character development, exciting plot twists and bringing the spirit of the comic books to the small screen.
The formula of Season 5 has been to draw from some of the comics richest scenes, and apply them in quite conspicuous situations. So far, that formula has worked wonders. It has become standard for a show to start a season months in advance, avoiding the responsibility of filling in the blanks of what happened between seasons, but The Walking Dead has been impressive thus far by staying balls to the wall throughout each episode. “Self-Help” is about as far as you can get from that.
I’m surprised at how lame this week’s installment was, simply because of the gravity that the bad news at the end of the episode carried. The whole episode was full of foreshadowing for something big to happen, and we were entirely disappointed to find out that it could have been set-up so much more dynamically. Instead, what we get is a bunch of uncharacteristic actions taken by probably the least entertaining story of the ones TWD could have chosen from. From the get-go, “Self Help” is littered with lazy writing holes. We compiled a list of over ten instances we went, “Now why the hell would ___ do that?” A horror series can only immerse its viewers if they can give credence that an environment like that can exist and if the people within it act hypothetically believable. And I’m sorry, but choosing to chow down on toilet water when they knew there was a fire truck with water in it across the street, or wasting said water on shredding zombies. Although, that was pretty damn cool.
Where we do get some quality in “Self Help” is the fleshing out of Abraham’s backstory. I love the short flashbacks, and the polarizing topic of “did Abraham go too far?” easily sparks up a debate. Abraham’s late wife, Ellen, simply wasn’t about that life, or ready to face the harsh realities of survival. The sad end of his family’s tale ties in perfectly to Eugene’s big fat lie. There’s a lot to be said about a man willing to bust the crap out of his mangled hands just to kill some walkers – without wearing gloves. Why is Abraham in such a rush to get to DC, even while ignoring impossible odds against him? It’s a far stretch, but maybe that hand isn’t gonna be around much longer, ala [some guy in] the comic books.
Director Ernest Dickerson has directed some of the series’ greatest episodes in Season 2, including: the introduction of the Greene family, Shane’s junkyard showdown with Rick, and the Season 2 barn-burner finale – so why is this episode so painfully uninteresting? A lot of it had to do with tone; there were far too many Shaun of the Dead-type moments where the show made fun of itself instead of putting us in a suspenseful mood. Eugene is a completely laughable character, and the fact that two-thirds of voters on TalkingDead (and a herd of those on social media, too) were so shocked that this idiot could hold the answer to humanity’s end was just as laughable as his Tennessee Tophat.
Hush Comics gives “Self Help” a D+ for its zombie crawl pacing and a general lack of logic used by the characters in what should be a life or death environment. Even though we laughed our fair share at Eugene’s hilarity, there was simply no substantial development other than the obvious one to make us excited about the episode as a whole. Despite the harsh review, this episode doesn’t ruin the series, the season, or even my evening. It still opens up philosophical discussion and it still entertains. There are still tiny details for eagle-eyed fans to spot (for example, Eugene’s choice of literature, HG Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come), and mouthful of comic book lines brought to life. I’m glad the cat is finally out of the bag on this one, and we can move forward.
This week’s The Walking Dead “Alone” continued to set up for our survivors to find the Terminus camp. With the absence of Rick, Carl, Michonne, Tyreese, Carol and the three girls, and only three episodes left, it left one to wonder how epic this Terminus place is going to be. Clearly it won’t happen in the next episode, which leaves two possible episodes to wrap up all this set up. Let’s hope all this build up is epic. The only way for that to happen is for Terminus to NOT be the answer to the comic’s Alexandria compound. It would be to predictable for comic fans, and a let down for television audiences in the long run. What do I think it should be? Give me a week to answer that question.
The episode begins with the story of Bob. Before the prison, he had survived the death of two previous groups, was alone on the road and got drunk off of Nyquil. Times are tough when the apocalypse happens. In his travels, he built a little house, found a truck trailer to sleep on top of, and eventually is picked up by Daryl and Glenn. Daryl asked him the all informative three questions, “How many walkers have you killed?”,”How many people have you killed?”,”Why?” Bob tells him he killed one person because she asked him to. This intro was very short, but it’s hard not to care about Bob. He is a man just trying to cope. The lack of dialogue was great, because for once, TWD was able to show instead of tell. When he is asked if he has any questions, he tells them it doesn’t matter who they are. In the end, no one wants to be alone.
The convenience of the Bob getting bitten over his bandage on his shoulder was a little irritating. As was Maggie overhearing Bob and Sasha’s conversation about Glenn being dead. Also, wasn’t it nice that the one town Sasha decided to stay in, Maggie was also there? It seemed too tidy considering how long everyone else has been separated.
Then there is the heart wrenching stuff. Beth and Daryl. Daryl and Beth. Baryl. Yeah, fan fiction with that little name will be crashing the net in a few hours to days here. And I don’t mind. Has Carol been getting hotter every season? Yes, but she also kinda killed some people, or at the least burned their bodies. She is no longer the woman who needed a Cherokee Rose. And Beth kinda saved Daryl. So yes, I will be a fangirl for those two. This episode did a wonderful job of making us invested in them. Turns out he likes her singing. And he likes her. She changed him, which he proves when he stares into her eyes when she questions why he changed. Their scenes also gave the best line of the season. When they find a stash of food in a mortuary home they stumble upon, Daryl says, “Peanut butter and Jelly, diet soda, and pig’s feet. That’s a white trash brunch right there.” If someone isn’t going to market Daryl Dixon’s Pigs Feet, I will. All their scenes were very sweet.
But nothing is permanent. After a scare of walkers that turned out to be a one-eyed dog (if you don’t watch The Talking Dead, the dog only has one eye because he lost the one saving his owner from a carjacker), walkers really do invade the home. In the wake of the scare, Beth runs and Daryl leads the hoard to the basement morgue. In one of the stirring moments of this season, Daryl used the examination tables to block the walkers into the room. It is many a close call. Does it seem likely that a table with wheels would hold a large group of zombies off? No, but it does seem likely that Daryl would be able to get out of it. But the big “What the fuck?!” moment came when Daryl runs outside, finds Beth’s bag and sees a car peeling away. Who kidnaps people in the apocalypse? Who would ruin BARYL?! WHY???
Ahem, anyway, the other plot of the episode was mediocre at best. Sasha acts like a bitch about finding Glenn and Terminus. She argues and mopes. Bob is a good guy trying to cheer her up, but there is only so much he can do. Maggie leaves them behind to find Terminus and eventually the others follow her. Maggie had a major gross out moment where she killed a walker and used its guts to write a note to Glenn on the side of a shed. It dawned upon me this episode that nobody uses hand sanitizer. They all touch really gross things and then eat with their hands. Ew. Too much time was spent focusing on Sasha. She may be a tool, being used to make us to like Bob, but on the flip side, I already liked him. He kisses Sasha to show her that there is hope in a world that she is afraid of. She is really just afraid of finding out Tyreese is dead, which is understandable, but she reacts in such an adverse way. More time could have been spent on Glenn, Mullet-Boy and friends, or even the show-runner, Rick, Carl and Michonne.
The most important scenes came at the end of the episode. In the town Sasha decides to settle in alone, she finds the best loft apartment in Georgia. Then she finds Maggie (coincidently). Sasha and Maggie have their own zombie hoard to fight. Armed with a sharp stick and a “No Parking” sign, the women easily defeat the walkers. It was a little Buffy-esque and a reminder of the Buffy/Faith tag team. No doubt I was lovin’ that.
However, once Sasha saw the walkers outside and away from where she was, why should she run outside, and she had none of her bags? She is a woman who acts before she thinks. It is amazing she survived this long with that train of thought. Maggie gives the speech to Sasha that finally turns her attitude around. The moral being that hope still does exist. They catch up with Bob, who really isn’t alone anymore, which was a nice little wrap up to the beginning.
Daryl continues to look for Beth and sets down in the middle of a fork in a road. Not to mention right by the train tracks. Then the same biker gang Rick ran into surrounds him. Daryl is forced to join them, but probably had a better chance of doing so then someone who wasn’t wearing biker attire. I think it is of note that the actor who plays Joe the leader, Jeff Kober, rarely plays a good guy. Perhaps this is the group the comic book fans have been ready to eat. I mean, meet. *wink*
Finally, we see Glenn. And he sees the map to Terminus. It all starts to come together. What can all this lead to? Thoughts for the remainder of the season wonder if this will culminate into something worthwhile. Who will die? Will it be Daryl with the foreshadowing of him sleeping in a casket? Or, will he survive in the biker gang and never look back? Is Beth a goner? Where the heck is Rick? There are still a lot of questions without a single answer of where we are heading.
Hush Comics gives “Alone” a B. It was slow beginning with too much emphasis on Sasha rather than Bob. The perk was the chemistry between Beth and Daryl as well as the real terror of the walkers entering their new found sanctuary. But it still seems so far away from a way to wrap up the season with them all in the same group again.
So many questions and so little time! Last December, the first half of season 4 of The Walking Dead wrapped up with the raid on the prison. Oh, did I say not to continue reading if you have not seen season 4 yet? Take caution, this is only if A) you have seen season 4 or B) you haven’t, but don’t really want to watch 8 hours of quality television.
Here is what has happened so far:
The displaced people of Woodbury made nice with our group in the prison. Rick chatted up a lady in the woods and narrowly missed being fed to her husband. Glenn and Maggie were almost pregnant. Carl wasn’t allowed to use his gun. Carol was teaching knife skills to tiny children secretly. Michonne looked for The Governor on her horse. Then supplies ran short. They went on a run. A helicopter came through the ceiling of a convenience store and an alcohol bottle broke a entire shelving unit. Then people died. Survivors at the prison realized that the walkers on the outside of the fence were being fed rats. Then a survivor died of the flu and starting chowing down. Then people died. Rick farmed, and then he quit when he realized his pigs probably caused the flu. Tyreese got flirty with Karen, the crazy lady from the Woodbury crew. Then he found her body burnt along with a man’s burnt body outside. Tyreese raged out. The group then quarantined the fluers vs. the non-fluers. Maggie cried that Glenn was a fluer. Beth got told her she still had a job to do. Carl and Hershel went the woods to look for elderberries. Daryl, Bob (a newcomer), Michonne and Tyreese went to look for meds at a vet. Bob found his medicine: liquor. Daryl got real mad. Then they got stuck in a herd of walkers. Tyreese beat his way out with a hammer. Rick investigated the burnt bodies. Carol confessed. Then they went on a run and Rick kicked Carol out of the group and gave her a station wagon. Some of the fluers became walkers. Hershel gave a speech, killed a walker and cried. Meanwhile, The Governor was sad and alone. Then he found some girls. Then he had sex with one next to her kid. Then they joined a group. Then he killed their leaders and became the new leader. They raided the prison. Hershel died. The Governor died. Lots of people died. And we were all sad.
How do the events of the TV show line up with the comic books:
Up to the mid-season finale, The Walking Dead has done a great job of separating the story in all mediums, giving even the most well-read fans their money’s worth when watching. Many of the characters in the comic books are represented in the television show, but a lot of the context that brought them together has changed drastically. However, it’s our theory that, with the show moving so quickly, there will be a lot more content borrowed from the other forms of The Walking Dead.
Here are some of the most noticeable differences, separated by the rag-tag groups that split off at the end of “Too Far Gone:”
Rickand Carl Grimes:
In the show: Rick and Carl have left the prison totally defeated emotionally. Rick spent most of the first half of Season 4 protecting Carl from the dangers of the outside, but during the calamity of the gate collapse, Carl went Rambo on the walkers to earn Rick’s respect. They leave the prison together (without Judith!). Rick is badly wounded.
In other literature: Pretty much exactly the same thing. The only difference is that, along with the loss of Judith, he saw his wife Lori get murdered right in front of him. He then proceeded to go insane, with the phone and the whole shi-bang. Oh yeah, Rick also lost his freaking hand!
Predictions: This will be Koooooaaarrrrlll’s (Carl’s) coming out party. In the books, this was a big moment for Lil Rambo, as he was forced to care for an ill Rick. Couple that with Chandler Briggs’ puberty growth spurt, and you will have one temperamental young man.
In the show: In a fashion that only a bad-ass ninja like her can have, Michonne was busy hacking and slashing every single walker in sight, alone.
In the comics: Most of the comics focused on Rick & Carl. Michonne emerged to save them from an attack, as they drove off together and met back up with the others.
Predictions: Hopefully it will be more of the same, and Michonne will mow down every walker in between herself and the Grimes. They’ll need all the help they can get. But because the show can get so deep, it would be good to see some introspective stuff from Michonne. Who was she? Who is she now? Why did she cry about the baby? And who were the men who were her zombie slaves? Maybe now is the time to find out.
Glenn and the bus full of useless strangers:
In the show: Still recovering from whatever gross disease was making people bleed out of their eyeballs, Maggie had put Glenn on the bus. Seemingly, Glenn is in the best spot, but we all know that everybody in the apocalypse is useless. Plus, the bus was shot at as it sped away.
In the comics: Glenn and Maggie had actually taken off early with Dale and Andrea, making a retreat to Herschel’s old farm (which was not burned down).
Predictions: There’s no doubt in our minds that the bus full of useless people will become zombie fodder. Glenn will be forced to get himself out of a sticky situation again, but there’s no way they let him die.
Tyreese, Sasha, Bob and the little girls training for a role in the remake of The Professional.
In the show: It looked like Tyreese went off on his own, but he could have tried to follow Lizzie and Mika. Meanwhile, Sasha and Bob ran off together in a separate direction.
In the comics: Tyreese was the one who was beheaded by Michonne’s sword in the comics. He was also MIchonne’s lover. Sasha was not in the comics. Bob stayed at Woodbury and we have seen him since. The little girls seem to be the equivalent of Ben and Billy from the comics, a pair of brother’s who were a little odd.
Predictions: Tyreese has a leadership quality about him that has yet to be banked on. Now that he is separate from the group, he may channel his inner Rick, especially if he is with the girls. He may try to take on a father role to them. Bob seems like he has a lot of development left in the show. We think it is possible he will be the cause of a lot more pain for our survivors. Sasha doesn’t seem long for the world. If Tyreese is to have any development, his overbearing sister will have to die. We also believe that the little girl named Lizzie, the one who is a little more cuckoo will come clean about being the real murderer of Karen. And maybe she will kill her younger sister.
Beth and Daryl:
In the show: Daryl and Beth escaped the carnage together. It’s almost too convenient for Beth, who has been after Daryl’s loins for over a full season now.
In the comics: Not applicable. Neither are in the comics.
Predictions: Daryl keeps everybody safe – well, everybody who looks to him for protection (RIP Merle), but something tells me that Daryl pushes her away; she will react similarly to the way Carol did in the comics. Carol, after being rejected by Rick when she offered to be shared by him and Lori (awwwwkward) and being cheated on by Tyreese, jumped into the loving arms of a zombie. Besides, AMC has already announced that there will be Daryl-centric episode happening. Between Daryl and us, there’s no reason to let Beth become a third-wheel.
In the show: Speaking of Carol… she is such a different person in the show vs. the comics and even a different version of herself than when we met her. Last time we saw her, she had packed up her station wagon with a lot of gas cans and was on her way to find a different group after she admitted to killing and burning the bodies of Karen and David. Also, she felt like it needed to be done and didn’t feel very remorseful.
In the comics: Well, Carol never escaped prison, or even made it to the stand-off. As said earlier, she asked to join the marriage of Lori and Rick and when she was rejected, walked right up to a walker and made out with it, subsequently, getting her face eaten off in front of the group.
Predictions: Carol will be at the Alexandria Safe Zone (rumored to be called “The Sanctuary” in the show). It is the next place we go in the comic series and only makes sense that will be our next stop. But with the way Carol left, not to mention the fact Melissa McBride has been making the late night circuit, we know that wan’t the last of Carol Peletier.
Question 1: Is Judith alive?
Hush Comics as a whole are torn on this issue, but we feel that Judith has nothing to offer to the story, and she (similar to Lori) was removed from the situation in a way that allowed The Walking Dead to stay on television.
Question 2: Who is the next core character to die?
According to an article from Comicbooks.com, the next character to die will be “somebody who hasn’t died yet in the comics.” Now, this narrows it down to: Maggie, Rick, Carl and Michonne. The most believable of that list is Maggie. Knowing TWD, I think there’s a play on words. I think that this implies that somebody who isn’t in the comics at all. And this list is much more interesting: Beth, Sasha, Daryl (yeah right!) and the two little girls.
Question 3: Where do we go from here?
Well, that’s the big question. This time, there’s no RV to the rescue and no Greene farm to go back to. Right now, we have several main characters all on the road, and all alone. Maybe they’ll head to Nebraska? The logical answer is that they will find a remote village, maybe by the name of Alexandria. However, I kind of hope that they take their time. The real fear in the apocalypse is the open road.
Question 4: Who else will join the ranks of the Survivors?
Abraham, Eugene and Rosita will definitely be making their debut this season. The trio were an integral part of the group in the comics, so I expect them to be great additions to the show.
Want to know more? Check it out this video AMC released. It gives the audience some scenes that make us speculate even more. And don’t forget to watch The Walking Dead tonight on AMC!
All credit for pictures and videos are credited to AMC Television.