Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer DVR Dump: The Walking Dead 1.03: "Tell it to the Frogs"

“Maybe we got a second chance. Not many people get that.”

I was liking “Tell it to the Frogs” until close to the episode’s end. There was some good character work, we got to see a little more about the survivors’ way of life, and there was some good soapy drama with the Rick/Lori/Shane triangle. And there was some gore, but not as much as the first two episodes. That was a bit of a welcome respite. Then the writing staff had to go and prove again that not only are they incapable of writing realistic women, they are incapable of putting a show on the air that isn’t horribly misogynistic. Although I might be too hard on them. I’ve never read the graphic novels on which the show is based, so it could be a problem with the source material. Never before have I seen a portrayal of women on television that made me as irrationally angry as this one. And I’m not usually one to go on feminist rants, either. I grew up with a mother who was a very good example that women can do whatever they put their minds to, and it never occurred to me that there was anything I couldn’t do because I’m female. So I never really felt the need to go all crusader about it. So you know this must have been really bad.

The episode opens with a view of Dixon, still handcuffed on the roof of the department store building in Atlanta. He’s mumbling to himself, and of course everything he’s saying is horribly offensive. And most of it, I think, is directed at T-Dog. All of a sudden he switches to pulling at the handcuffs and desperately pleading. The door to the stairwell cracks open, and zombies try to push their way through. The chain T-Dog locked on the door holds, but Dixon is really cracking. He tries to use a belt to reach a gun, although he doesn’t seem to be having much luck. On the drive back to the survivors’ camp, Morales warns Rick that Dixon has a brother who will probably be the only person at all upset that Dixon was left behind.

At the survivors’ camp, Shane is trying to be all fatherly to Carl. It’s hard to say if it’s because he wants to get in Lori’s good graces so he can keep getting into her pants, or if it’s because he genuinely likes the kid. He and Rick were best friends, so he’s certainly spent time with Carl before. I’d imagine it’s probably some of both. He wants to take Carl to catch frogs- he thinks it might be some nice variety to their diet, apparently. Although he could just be kidding. The conversation is interrupted by Glenn driving into camp in his sports car with the alarm going off. This pisses off some of the survivors who think that the sound will draw zombies, but it doesn’t seem like they’re in immediate danger. Then the construction truck pulls up. Rick is the last to step out of the truck, of course, because we’ve got to build up the suspense for the big reunion with Lori and Carl. The reunion is pretty great. Rick and Carl run to each other, and Rick picks up Carl in a big hug. Lori is extremely happy and surprised to see him. Shane’s reaction is essentially “oh shit.” The fact that he was banging his best friend’s wife is so going to catch up to him. While not quite as epic, I thought the reunion of sisters Andrea and Amy was pretty sweet, too.

That night, Rick and Lori snuggle together in a tent, and Rick tells Lori about how he knew she and Carl were alive because the photo albums were missing from their house. Lori just keeps apologizing for everything. Rick probably thinks she’s apologizing for leaving town, but we viewers know she’s apologizing for a lot more than Rick can imagine right now. Lori shows Rick the photo album, and there is so much guilty subtext on Lori’s part in this scene that the writers might as well be hitting us over the head with it. Rick thinks this is a second chance, and he takes his wedding ring back from Lori. It was on the chain that also holds her locket. I suppose it was the ring that gave Shane only momentary pause in the woods last episode. Speaking of Shane, he’s all alone and emo on watch duty while his best friend and his lover get re-acquainted. Oh poor Shane. I’m holding up a sarcasm sign right now for all of you Sheldon Coopers who need it.

The next morning, Glenn is really upset as the survivors strip the sweet sports car he loved driving so much. They need the gas to run the camp generators. Rick and Lori, meanwhile, have gone right back into their former bickering ways. Rick wants to take a group back to rescue Dixon, and Lori thinks that’s a horrible idea. Their argument is interrupted when they hear Carl scream. He’s running back to camp with a group of survivors, and he’s very scared. It turns out a zombie is munching on a dead deer just outside of camp. Rick and the other men beat the zombie to re-death while Amy and Andrea look on. Andrea looks kind of turned on by the violence, which is just creepy. It turns out Dixon’s brother Daryl had been hunting the deer, and he’s not happy that the zombie has now tainted it and made it unfit to eat. He’s even more unhappy when he finds out about his brother’s fate. He gets really belligerent, and Shane and Rick have to go into police mode to subdue him. They work perfectly in synch, and it’s obvious they’ve been partners for a long time.

Just because they work well together doesn’t mean they have to be getting along, though. Shane is extremely pissed at Rick when Rick reveals his plan to go back to Atlanta for Dixon. It’s a bit hard to tell the real reason for Shane’s unhappiness with this. It could be Lori- Rick just came back and took her away from Shane, and now Rick is leaving again. But this time, because Lori knows Rick is still alive, Shane’s not going to be spending any quality time with her. It could also be worry for the camp, which is the actual reason Shane gives. Glenn, Daryl, and T-Dog all want to go on the mission, and Shane is worried about what will happen to the camp if they lose four men. Rick comes up with a new excuse for wanting to leave (besides his guilt over leaving Dixon behind). He left his bag of guns in the street in front of the department store, and the camp could use more weapons. There’s also his walkie talkie, which he was supposed to use to get in contact with the father and son who helped him out in the pilot episode. Soon enough, the group heads for Atlanta.

Shane takes Carl frog catching like he promised, and it’s really more of a silly game in the quarry than actual frog hunting. Meanwhile, the women are sitting at the edge of the water doing laundry and bitching about having to do all the work. This is what made me really start to get fed up about the woman hating on this show. Can you have the women be any more stereotypical? The women start laughing about missing their vibrators (yes, the dialogue really is that bad), and Carol’s husband Ed gives her a hard time about how she should be working instead of laughing. Even many of the men are caricatures in this show, I guess.

Meanwhile, Lori is furious that Shane took Carl away from the main camp, and she completely cuts him off. She doesn’t want Shane to have any more contact with herself or Carl. Apparently Shane told her Rick died, so I guess I can understand why she’d be pissed at him. On the other side of the quarry, Ed is trying to get violent with Carol, and the other women are trying to protect Carol. Shane and Ed have a history (Shane chastised Ed for making too large a fire earlier in the episode), so Shane uses the situation to take out his frustrations over the Lori. Shane beats the crap out of Ed, although he stops short of actually killing him. Carol just cries and snivels and runs back to Ed as soon as Shane stops beating him. It’s really kind of sickening, and it’s not a convincing performance at all. The episode ends with quite the surprise in Atlanta. The four men reach the roof of the department store building to find that Dixon is no longer there. All that’s left are the handcuffs and Dixon’s sawed-off hand.

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