California Literary Review

The Walking Dead Recap: Chupacabra (Season 2, Episode 5)

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November 14th, 2011 at 5:50 pm

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Following last week’s romantic gestures, last night’s episode of The Walking Dead treated us to some frustrating reversion. Shane won’t quit harping on his duty to Lori and Carl; Andrea manages to take one step forward and two steps back. We finally get another dose of Merle’s vicious hatred (though not in the way you’d expect); Glenn’s turning into a teenage boy; and Hershel is turning out to be not at all what we expected.

The Walking Dead S02E05 dinner

AWKWARD. Photo credit: Gene Page/AMC

In their search for Sophia, Rick and Shane begin to reminisce about Shane’s many high school conquests. But Shane’s moodiness gets the better of him and this shortly turns into a bitter argument. “It’s like we’re old folk,” Shane says. “The people in our stories are all dead.” There was a similar, and better done, moment in the new version of Dawn of the Dead: “That fat chick at the Dairy Queen? Dead,” explains one character to another, who responds petulantly, “Yeah, that sucks too.” Tropes from other TV and movies are continuing to pop up here, and though we get it – it’s all been done before! – it could really be done better here. Shane refuses to believe Sophia is still alive; and what’s worse, he can’t let go of his displaced protectiveness toward Lori and Carl.

The Walking Dead S02E05 Glenn and Maggie

Really, Glenn? Photo credit: Gene Page/AMC

In yet another male bonding session gone horribly wrong, Glenn admits to Dale that he slept with Maggie – and Dale responds the way any good southerner would: “How would her father feel about this?” Poor Glenn, whose self-composure we got a brilliant taste of in the first season when we first heard his voice as Rick’s savior, is reverting to a teenage boy. “Are all the women on their periods? First she’s mean to me, then she wants to have sex with me, then she’s mean to me again,” he laments. This could be poignant; Glenn is, after all, only in his late teens or early twenties, and as he explains, he could die tomorrow. It ends up being obnoxious.

The Walking Dead S02E05 Daryl

Well, now you look like a redneck freak. Photo credit: Gene Page/AMC

Daryl, who in the last episode brought Carol a rose and said comforting words, gets thrown from his horse and tossed down a ravine. The multiple falls do a real number on his already overstressed brain, and who does he see, but Merle? Merle equipped with two hands and spewing vitriol, telling Daryl that everyone’s laughing at him behind his back, to be a man and shoot Rick in the head. This trope was interesting when Nate Fisher hallucinated Nathaniel for the first few seasons of Six Feet Under. Now, over on Showtime, Dexter consults with his dead father nearly every episode (Michael C. Hall is apparently drawn to characters who see dead people), and it’s getting a little old. Trust me, I understand: you don’t get Michael Rooker on your show and then just kill him off. But we’re ready for this season to kick it up a notch, and giving him to us in a vision is not going to placate us.

The Walking Dead S02E05 Daryl and Merle

The brothers grim. Photo credit: Gene Page/AMC

Meanwhile, Hershel finds out Daryl stole a horse and that Rick let one of “Hershel’s people” join them in the search. “You control your people, I’ll control mine,” says the old man. There are a few too many “control”s in that sentence. It’s a fact of life that when things go to hell, authoritarian personalities have a heyday – the Walking Dead novels are particularly interesting not because of the walkers but because of the surviving humans. For all his initial compassion and apparently sincere desire to help the needy survivors, Hershel gets just a little spookier every episode.

The Walking Dead S02E05 Glenn zombies

They don’t want brains, they want better episodes of The Walking Dead. Photo credit: Gene Page/AMC

Basically, what AMC has given us, at nearly halfway through the season, is character reversion instead of character development. No one’s changing for the better, and no one’s changes for the worse are that interesting. What Glenn finds in the hay loft while searching for booty will add a little spice to the plot, but there are still seven episodes left in the season and audiences are flocking to better fodder. AMC had better step up its game.

  • Not Andy M.

    Good guys going bad is not character reversion. It’s when you take a character who has demonstrated things in the past, then changed or evolved as a character, then go back and have them do something the new version of them would never do.

    Examples would be Hon Solo (went from being a greedy pirate to risking his life for the rebellion) and Walter White from Breaking Bad (who is taking the opposite route; going from a good guy to a bad guy). No matter which way they go, it’s still development.

    I just wanted to point this out. I’m two episodes behind and don’t feel any inkling whatsoever to catch up. I mean, it’s just not exciting to be looking for a missing girl and getting medical supplies for 7 episodes. That is not riveting. It was at first, but not for 7 hours. I feel like this season has gotten progressively worse and worse and the reviewer is spot on.

  • Shadow

    @Not Andy M,
    Mate, you gotta catch up, the season is starting to get excellent in these last 2 episodes *4 and 5*, and 6 is going to deliver! I was sad at first because, this show, being my fav. was starting to get somewhat slow and boring, but damn, AMC is really showing who’s the boss now. It’s getting as intriguing, exciting, beautiful, mysterious and action packed as the last season!
    Keep it up AMC! <3

  • http://calitreview.com Julia Rhodes

    Don’t get me wrong. I love Breaking Bad. I love Mad Men. I love characters who go from good to bad to worse, back to good, then fall off the wagon again. The aforementioned shows manage to feature characters whose plights actually stay interesting, though. By “reversion,” I’m thinking of Glenn’s teenage-boy behavior, Shane’s inability to let go (which I suppose could be referred to as “stagnation” rather than “reversion”…and could perhaps be applied to the show as a whole atm), and Daryl’s vision – which is, on the surface, a reversion to his life pre-apocalypse. I realize that Merle’s appearance is a way to portray Daryl defeating his demons…and yet I can’t muster any particular joy at this. The show’s getting slower and slower. I have dwindling hopes, still. I’ve read (and loved) the books, and I think there’s a chance AMC can fix it…I just don’t like this 12-episode format for this series.

  • Maggie

    I think you may have missed the point when “Shane won’t quit harping on his duty to Lori and Carl” That wasn’t about duty. That was him, justifying to himself, what he did to Otis. As for Daryl, that was the confrontation before the confrontation. Merle will be back and Daryl is going to have to face him as a changed man. Clue yourself in.

  • Wes

    Wow thats SPOT on! Every episode Im like did they find the girl yet, did they find the girl yet? Just to be disappointed with yet another… The Talking Dead episode… They strayed so far away from the comic books, that I just starting convincing myself that this an alternative reality if Shane never died.

    But really this is getting too boring for me now. GET THE GIRL OR JUST LET HER DIE OFF! Seriously for “the most anticipated TV show of the year” this is surely turning into a lackluster of a show.

    YAWN… Wake me up when the real action starts.

  • Jeanette

    This is a okay season but it seems like it is getting better. There is a a lot more mystery then action.

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