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"The Walking Dead" - "Home": Home Is Where The Pain Is, And It Might Not Be Such A Bad Idea If I Never, Never Went Home Again

By TK | TV Reviews | February 19, 2013 | Comments ()


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Finally we begin the downward slope of this season’s arc. Throughout this third season of “The Walking Dead,” we’ve seen these two disparate groups demonstrate their similarities and their differences, we’ve seen their leaders rise and fall, their lieutenants fight for their position and standing, and their supporters break away and hold fast. And it’s been part of the inexorable march towards the final conflict. That there would be such a conflict was never in doubt; the only question was where it would start, and who would start it.

The problem, of course, is that the show has stumbled a few times en route to this battle, and this episode, while overall a decent one, was not without its share of stumbles. The glaring one, of course, is Rick’s mental breakdown and hallucinatory trip to Crazytown. Now, I’ll say this for Andrew Lincoln — he’s acting his ass off for these sequences. But they’re so hammily presented, and with such obvious intent, that it detracts from what could be a solid character development tool. Instead, he’s staggering around on some sort of sweaty, deep-woods vision quest, where he knows how damn crazy he’s become, and yet continues with the crazy. That self-awareness and the ensuing lack of subtlety make the entire affair less affecting and more annoying.

Of course, that entire plot thread is merely the justification for a couple of other ones to slowly begin to move and re-solidify. Perhaps one of the more unusual stories and journeys has been Glenn’s, and this week was another solid performance from Steven Yuen. He’s got a lot going on right now, and the exploration of both his difficulty understanding how to lead as well as his insecurities regarding Maggie and her experiences at Woodbury were surprisingly astute. There’s a certain prurience to his rage, something bordering on a twisted kind of jealousy that is awful and stomach-turning, yet also very human, and Glenn is teetering on that edge. While I wasn’t crazy about the moments of silent treatment from Maggie, her eventual confrontation with Glenn, an unflinching staredown that was equal parts sadness, anger and bitter disappointment, was another solid turn by Lauren Cohen.

There were other pieces to this week’s puzzle that were completely and utterly predictable, some of which were enjoyable in spite of that, and some of which were simply tedious. Daryl and Merle’s adventure — was there ever any doubt as to how it was going to end? I suppose the only x-factor was whether or not Merle would live or die, but frankly Michael Rooker’s performances have been too deliciously psychotic to let go of quite yet. Whether or not that will result in a successful redemptive arc — and whether or not that’s even something we’d want — remains to be seen. Merle’s been quite successful as one of the darker grays of the moral spectrum of “The Walking Dead,” and I’m not certain he isn’t better avoiding the side of the better angels. Yet there’s a newfound joy in watching Daryl and Merle 2.0, now that Daryl has established himself as a wholly realized character with a strong moral code and sense of compassion, and watching the interplay between them was rather fun.

What was decidedly not fun was, of course, Andrea, who continues to be weakly written, ineffectual, and tedious. She continues to be nothing more than a sap, a sucker, a lazily constructed character who exists primarily as an opportunity to demonstrate the conniving nature of The Governor. Now, on the one hand that’s fine — because David Morrissey had yet another excellent episode, showing all of his myriad faces throughout the episode — the manipulative bully when dealing with the spineless Milton, the smooth-talking operator when dealing with Andrea, and the psychopathic lunatic when storming the prison. Yet Andrea’s continued, pathetic dependency and gullibility has exited the land of pathetic and is now flat-out stupid. So while she serves as an excellent prop for Morrissey to act around, she’s become the character I’d most like to see get a zombie to the face.

Overall, the episode was one that I enjoyed as long as I don’t think about it too deeply. It was fairly gripping, well-paced, and the episode’s climax was a balls-out doozy replete with extended gun battles and zombies-as-crowd-control. But if I think about it too deeply, then we’re forced to begin to contemplate the ones left behind. The stories that didn’t get told. And when that happens, things start to come apart. I felt a little pang at the death of Axel, another secondary character slain in the name of emotional manipulation. It’s typical “Walking Dead” — give us a little nugget, a little moment where a character becomes just interesting enough, just charming enough, to make us feel that pang when he abruptly dies. Then there’s Beth, who lives but is little more than the pretty white girl version of T-Dog, a barely-realized background character who pops up periodically simply to remind us of her existence.

But the two most egregiously insulting plot lines for this week belong to Michonne and Tyrese. For Michonne, I’m starting to think that the writers feel that if they simply have a black woman who kicks a lot of ass, that’s somehow enlightened of them, regardless of the fact that she is utterly devoid of personality or charisma. Michonne glowers and cuts zombies up, and then even when she finds someone who agrees with her (Glenn, this time around), she still just glowers. She has about as much depth and intensity as the sword trapped to her back — she’s beautiful, deadly, and completely inert when not engaged in violence. As for Tyrese? His insult was in some ways worse, for despite an episode that focused on smaller character vignettes and digging into each character’s persona, Tyrese and his crew were literally completely ignored, as if they randomly ceased to exist for a day. Sometimes, I think “The Walking Dead” should just kill off 50 percent of the cast and focus on no more than 7 or 8 people, because working with any larger a group is too steep a hill for the writers to climb.

“Home” was an episode that was relatively solid, with a couple of goofy missteps that built up to an absolutely riveting climax, even if the road to that climax felt forced at times. This arc that has been building all season long is finally on the downward slope, with the differences between the groups having solidified and the battle lines being drawn. The show continues to stagger under the weight of its own ambitions, yet it keeps us drawn in as well because what it does well, it does so well. If there is one thing we’ve learned, it’s that “The Walking Dead” does conflict and bloodshed well, and as such these final episodes have great promise. If the show could only learn how to fully realize each character, it could make this season’s sure-to-be-bloody end that much more satisfying.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Falstaff

    I definitely thought it was Herschel on Walker Triscuits time.

  • Stony Tony

    I think something nobody is talking about is the parallels and signs pointing towards the governor's definite and obvious downfall. First off, during the scene of the assault on the army, Gov says "never waste a bullet". He's gone from that mentality to wasting entire CLIPS. Rick used to try and save everyone and be the best person he could, but now he has turned people away and will likely suffer, if only for a little while. Both Rick and the Gov have been going insane and that battle at the end was the focal point for their insanity. Rick was snapped out of his, while it furthered the Governor's crazy power-lust.

    Also, MERLE AND DYRLE KICK ASS. I'm hoping greatly for Merle to come around, and I really think he will. He is the type of guy willing to cut off his own hand to survive, so I'd imagine he has realized he just needs to shut the fuck up to live. Props to Dyrle for doing the right thing. He's been my favorite character the entire series and i'm happy he has only improved.

  • John G.

    Why did the Governor leave when he did? He could have easily beaten them right then and there. Send in the walkers, as people have to stand up to run, shoot them. The End. Did they provide at least some explanation for this, that I missed, or was it just "welp, better get out of here before we don't have a show anymore."

  • Ozioma

    I think that ambush was to take out as many as possible, and also get them to waste their precious ammo trying to defend themselves from both the militia and the zombies. And also: to scare the fuck out of them. To let them know that the Governor can show up at any time, and that he has the resources to plow through their fences (IIRC, he's got at least two fucking tanks back in Woodbury) and unleash zombies on them whenever the hell he feels like it. He doesn't want it to end quickly: he wants them to suffer first.

  • DarthCorleone

    Yeah, I was also questioning their giving up the immense tactical advantage that they had. Granted, they did lose their sniper in the tower, and Darryl and Merle showed up, but it seemed to me like they still had superior positioning. Assuming the zombies in that van were going to do the job is like Blofeld leaving Bond alone with the shark.

  • Puppybrite

    Yeah, reminded me of the old Adam West Batman where the villain sets up an elaborate killing device and then promptly leaves the premises.

  • John W

    It's amazing this show has done as well as it has considering all the different show runners and inconsistency of the writers.

    I don't even know why they bothered to introduce Michonne and Tyrese if they're not going to use them.

  • VonnegutSlut

    I suppose it's incredibly naive of me to say this, but I just can't believe how ham-fistedly the writers continue to handle Michonne & Tyrese...I mean, can they truly think that they're doing a bang-up job when it comes to them? Hell, for that matter, are they that ignorant of what the entire community of "Walking Dead-ites" (haha, deadites) are saying about their performance (the writers, not the actors)--and that's from people who actually LIKE the show.

    I know it's been much maligned pretty much everywhere, but comparing Michonne from the source material to Michonne from the show is just fucking painful. If the writers have even a passing familiarity with the comics, you'd think at least one of them would take a look around the room and say, "What in the holy crotchety FUCK are we doing here?!?!?!" At the very least, where is Robert Kirkman in all this? Is this why Glen Mazzara was fired? I just--I don't even know.

    I still like the show but, right now, I am just completely, entirely bumfuzzled.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Someone said Chris Hardwick referred to Andrea as "smart" on Talking Dead this week so I'm thinking the writers don't get it.

  • VonnegutSlut

    I would LOVE to know exactly in what context it was that Hardwick referred to Andrea as "smart." I don't doubt that he said it at all--I'd just get a kick outta exactly how big of an idiot he is depending on what prompted him to spew that dipshittery.

    I mean, if we're grading on a curve & the object is bedhopping your way through every raging psychopath who happens to wave his dick in your direction, then, yeah: Andrea's a goddamn genius.

    Otherwise, not so much.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Man, I love that post... the second paragraph especially.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I admit that this is second hand info. I don't watch it so I don't know exactly what was said.

  • That guy is a brainless cheerleader who should be brought on the show and promptly be turned into zombie chow.

  • DarthCorleone

    I like Hardwick o.k. just because he does advance the causes of good genre work and nerdery, but I don't watch Talking Dead either, beyond having seen a couple episodes. I saw someone recently promoting the show as a place for honest discussion about the episodes, but they are far from that, as critique along the lines of what we're saying - the sort of discussion that would actually be GOOD for the show - is never touched.

  • ghisent

    Talking Dead isn't about critique. It's an hour of knob polishing. Occasionally funny, sometimes interesting knob polishing, but knob polishing nonetheless. You're never going to hear them actually point out flaws in the show.

    That's what the internet is for.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I only need 10 minutes for knob polishing. 5 if I'm focused.

  • DeltaJuliet

    I actually refuse to watch Talking Dead because of him. He annoys the FUCK out of me.

  • Just focus on his adams apple bouncing up and down.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I actually like him. What he's done with the Nerdist channel on youtube is pretty cool and his celebrity bowling is great, but he's a paid shill on the Talking Dead. He's not to be paid any attention to.

  • John G.

    That's what he's paid to do. You're not going to get criticism on that show. It's a show designed to cheerlead.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I have major problems with the show but GD IT I can't stop watching!! I'm hate watching now.

    1) The gunfight was over the top ridiculous, if only for the shear number of misses involved. Except Axel, but a body that gets hit 30 times doesn't make up for the fact that every other meaningful shot misses horribly.

    2) The fact that Merle is an in your face, insulting racist to everyone except those inside Woodbury (Caesar for one) pisses me off. maybe he was a racist in there but I seem to remember him being more the team player than anything.

    3) As exemplified by New Glenn, once a character in a leadership role starts talking, they immediately lose the ability to listen. It's like once they take that step and accept some semblance of responsibility or authority for the group, they instantly disregard what any other characters have to say. Dictators 4 lyf!!!

  • I so agree on the gunfight. It also drove me nuts that no one could hit the guy in the tower for so long--he was out in the open there. Meanwhile, the assault rifle spray was everywhere, except when Sophia ran to cover--everyone conveniently stopped shooting.

  • Alex00

    Not to mention the fact that these people stand around all day lazily taking head shots at zombies like it's no big deal and suddenly they can't hit stationary targets to save there lives.

  • Uriah_Creep

    That's the most annoying thing: every bullet (or arrow) meant for a zombie is a video game-quality head shot, and yet no one can hit a godamn stationary human target.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Hey, but it knocked the crazy out of Rick apparently. Bleh evs.

    If they have so many damn bullets I would suggest practicing.

  • Bert_McGurt

    I'd also questioned the effectiveness of Axel's body as a shield against multiple rounds of assault-rifle fire. Granted there's a number of variables in play there, but still...

  • lowercase_ryan

    or the empty file cabinet Maggie was hiding behind lol

  • Bert_McGurt

    It looked about as sturdy as the barriers Axel and Carol were setting up prior to the invasion.

    Kind of reminds me of the classic Western cliche where they take cover behind the recently overturned wooden card tables...

  • logan

    honestly this is a pretty good TV show, the acting is good, for the most part the writing is solid except for a few clunkers, zombie in the well, and the show tries to look at an impossible situation in a realistic manner. To me where it fails is that its too black and white in its characterization. We have the good people, Ricks group versus the bad people which is basically everyone they meet.

    How about meeting some people that aren't rapists, thieves and killers?

    Maybe some people that are just cautious and scared once in awhile? Maybe that they could talk with, trade with and move on? To me the show and the comic went "Mad Max" too quick.

    As for killing off minor characters hell TV has been doing that for years. Where have you guys been? Heck every time the boys on Bonanaza got a GF she died or got killed.

  • ZombieMrsSmith

    Thanks for the Tyrese mention, I was completely confused as to what had happened to him and his group. Do we just assume they are locked up in their prison space, patiently waiting to hear Rick's final decision that he's kicking them out for good?

  • DarthCorleone

    While Rick was ranting at Ghost-Lori, I believe Tyreese shouted that they were leaving.

  • LMAO

  • Wednesday

    I'm hating the bad case of the stupids that Rick got in this episode. He and Lori were at each other's throats till she died. Now her ghost is some inspirational symbol that he has to chase? Ridiculous.

    This show is all about the pragmatic decisions that have to be made despite the emotional consequences. We saw a child shoot his mother because it was the right thing to do. And yet nobody questions that it's OK to wait for Rick to come out of his hallucinatory funk.

  • DeltaJuliet

    I read it as he is trying to assuage his guilt, more so that being inspired by her. I think he feels horrible that she feebly tried to reconcile near the end, he blew her off, and then she suddenly died. That can be hard to make right in your head, believe me.

  • Ted Zancha

    There was a little too much talking in this episode. And this show does not usually do talking well. I'm not saying I need big action set pieces or hordes of zombies at all times. But when this show starts to slow down, it reminds me of how much I truly hate some of these characters.

    I've been trying to figure out why this show gets under my skin so much. Why I cant just sit back and enjoy it. For awhile I thought it was because the comics were so good. But even the comics have the occasional misstep.

    I think you have mentioned it before TK, but I think what frustrates me so much is that there is a hell of a lot of potential for this show. Glen, Maggie, Daryl, Merle (and now Hershel, Carol, Carl and Tyrese) are all so wonderful. But the focus is on these poorly put together stories and unrealized characters is mind boggling.

    I totally agree that they should just get rid of a bunch of characters.

    Also, I think it's just a running joke for the writers to kill off likeable side characters that is just starting to get some depth. I found Axel creepy until a minute before his death. And what happens when he gets some depth? He is literally filled with bullets.

  • Axel's death caught me by surprise. I guess I should've seen it coming, but I thought they were setting him up to be a creeper or rapist or something. So the show still managed to shock me, if only momentarily.

  • lonolove

    That happens in the graphic novel (not that that could be any guide for the show, off the rails as it is...) and I definitely mistook his 'character development' last night for him being about to attack Carol. I'm kind of relieved they killed him.

  • DeltaJuliet

    Ha! I thought the same thing. I actually turned to my husband and said "oooh, I hope he doesn't try to rape Carol or turn out to be a pedophile". I guess they set us all up!
    Of course, when he got shot in the head, I again turned to my husband and said "Oh, they went that way with it instead". I mean, it was going to be one or the other, and once they killed him I was surprised, and yet not.

  • kushiro -

    There WAS a prisoner who turned out to be a psycho, but it wasn't Axel. Axel turned out to be a decent fella, if a bit socially inept.

  • lonolove

    I figured they were blending traits from a variety of characters that they cut or skipped over...I kind of thought that T-Dogg 2.0 was supposed to be a Tyrese stand-in...it's so hard to tell where they are going with the show. Hahaha.

  • Blake

    + 1. I was thinking exactly the same thing (especially consider the comics).

  • I really wish this show would find a groove and go with it. Before the mid-season break, things were really headed in a decent direction--any missteps could generally be forgiven. But these two newest episodes have gone from bad to worse. The first forty-five minutes seemed deliberately slow (and frankly, a bit boring), set up for the big boom at the end. Overall, it was a hot mess. I just don't care about Rick's hallucinatory breakdown. It also feels like the people we actually do care about are systematically broken down to the point we don't care. For instance, Maggie and Glenn have been great together, built up from timid, weaker people into strong individuals and a couple we like together. Now, they have this thing between them, and for the most part they're not speaking to each other. Of the characters we're left with, Hershel is the only one who is maintaining mental strength, but he is physically weak--I expect to see him killed off before too long.
    Merle and Daryl were the one bright light this episode. I enjoyed that even though they were brothers brought back together, the changes they've both been through individually played out in their dynamic together. And who knows, Merle could find a way to fit into the group. He seemed anxious to prove himself at the end--to show both Daryl and Rick he could be a good guy, at least for a few minutes.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I so hope you're right about Merle. I want the Dixon boys in charge. I LOVED when Daryl called him small minded. Aside from being the truth it gave me hope that Merle can be saved.

  • That said, I look forward to your insights every week :)

  • Ted Zancha

    Hear, hear. I look forward to Tuesdays just to see the reviews and discuss the episodes with everyone.

  • John G.

    Here, here? where? do you mean "hear hear?"

  • Ted Zancha

    Edited. Thanks. I'm really tired.

  • DarthCorleone

    Regarding Tyreese, I thought that the end of the previous episode implied that they left the prison completely in response to Rick's freakout. (I assume they will be back.)

  • ljridley

    According to creator-guy (whose name I should know but don't), Tyrese & Co. are not in the prison, but might still show up. I hope so, because why get that actor, then give him nothing to do?

  • Blake

    I expect we will see Tyrese early in next week's episode. Rick is going to need help and it will be a good way for the writers to work him into the group.

    But then this episode was a bit of a clusterf%#^, so who can say.

  • Bodhi

    Once again, I screamed out loud when Hop Along Herschel was in danger. I don't know why, but I care about him about a zillion times more than most of the other characters. I know that Rick is the Main Guy, but I just don't care about his meltdown. (I read the books, so I know how the original story line goes)

  • Puddin

    Hop Along Herschel--I call band name!

  • DarthCorleone

    "That self-awareness and the ensuing lack of subtlety make the entire affair less affecting and more annoying."

    Thank you. Exactly my opinion on the depiction of Rick's insanity.

  • Puddin

    Andrew Garfield?

  • Blake

    Zombie Spiderman would be an awesome addition T.W.D.

  • Puddin

    No way, Zombie Spidey would suck. He wouldn't have any of his spidey senses. He would be a plain, boring old zombie. Now Spidey VERSUS zombies--let's talk.

  • Blake

    Not if Marvel is an indicator:

    http://marvel.com/universe/Spi...

  • Blake

    Tyrese and the gang could have been locked up after Rick's breakdown which explain their total absence.

    So long Axel... Creepy as you were.

    Lori is worse then a Zombie at least you can kill them and they stay dead.

  • Puddin

    Fucking Lori can't even get being a zombie right. We hate fucking Lori.

  • Seriously. GO AWAY, LORI!

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