Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lazy, lazy, lazy

The cold open for The Walking Dead's "18 Miles Out" was a lazy writer's trick.  By flash forwarding to some zombie lumbering goodness, the writers tease the action so that they could fall back on the talky talky again.  It was a promise to have some good stuff later on.  Again, I ask thee, why not just have it all be good stuff?  The flash forward technique worked better in the Shane and the Haircut episode because it was demonstrating his journey--here he is at point C, and he got there through points A and B.  But in "18," I can't see any other purpose than to grab attention.  Lazy.  After the cold open, we get Rick and Shane talking it out. As much as I love Jon Berenthal's sullen 14 year old act when Shane's getting talked at, that scene felt looong.

Another talking it out scene was great-Andrea finally calls Lori out.  If anybody else felt the same way I did, it gave the internal "Yes! Finally!" feeling that showed that within the workings of the story other characters feel about Lori the same way the audience does.  The scene itself had tons of tension because it took place at the same time that Maggie and Beth were screaming at each other.  Nice touch, that.  We got plenty of their back and forth, and witnessing every moment of it was not necessary. We know what's going on, so their fight as background noise was perfect.

I got the feeling with the female characters that there was a lot of talking past each other-that while they were expressing their points of view, they weren't necessarily making the arguments in the way that the other person would understand.  For example, Lori should have known that telling Andrea "the men will take care of it," is the opposite of the right thing to say, even if that's what she believes.  That's good writing-that's real life.  We don't always know the right thing to say.

No Glen, no T-Dog, no Dale, no Herschel, no Carol, no Carl, no Daryl.  Gutsy choice to narrow the focus that way, but how much more mileage can they get out of the main triangle?  Personally, I would quit talking about it, and just show it.  Shane does something to help Lori.  Gives Rick the uh-huh, that was me, look.  Rick looks pained.  Something scares Lori, she seeks out Shane.  Rick looks pained. Rick undermines Shane, Shane looks like a sullen 14 year old. Rick feels guilty, looks pained. I joke, but I really think that the same goals can be attained through events rather than conversations.

For example, (ha! transition) the whole fight scene clearly showed what the characters' goals and attitudes are.  Shane is ready and willing to kill.  Rick is willing go to bat for "the right thing." Shane would kill his friend, Rick would not.  They didn't have to yell out, "I'm going to kill you!" "I'm going to look like I'm leaving you but I'm really not!" "I feel guilty I was ready to bash your head in but you came back for me!"

So, back to the cold open, how to fix that?  I would have tried to find a way to intercut the conversation between Rick and Shane and their fight.  Granted, this might pull all the fizz out of the fight scene, but I wonder if it could have been done in such a way that the bit of conversation just prior to the cut to the fight could illuminate the goal of the character at that time.

Nice character moment when Randall kills the walker-hey, he's got moxie!  Wait!  Is he a dangerous thug?  We don't know!  Also, I thought I espied some real fear there with Shane in the bus.  He is mortal, after all.
Then there was his reflected image in the window, all bloodied and gray, and very walker-like.  Foreshadowing?  With his singlemindedness, is he like a walker?  What does it MEAN?

18 was a better than average episode with only one really problematic scene. I didn't find the Beth storyline particularly compelling except that it showed how off-kilter Andrea is from the rest of the group.  Otherwise, we've already been down this road. Now, what to do with Randall?

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