Review – The Walking Dead: Season 1 Episode 3

cross-posted at Simply Television

Many people found this to be the slowest episode of the three so far – only three zombie sightings! But it gets better with every strongly-recommended re-watch; I found a lot of hidden gems during mine.  This episode has been referred to as the “landing” episode, the one where the ensemble reunites and gets its bearings, and to an extent, its division of labor. We become familiar with the new home base and with the remaining ensemble characters, to varying degrees.

I loved that Merle went through the 5 stages of grief when confronting the very real possibility of being taken by the zombies on the Atlanta rooftop. Denial, bargaining, anger (he had those two switched), depression, and acceptance – or action, depending on your point of view. Maybe he accepted the fact that he had to hack off his hand? If only he had known that he was safe from the zombies. If he survives, is it possible that he will become even nastier?

The reveal that Shane told Laurie her husband died put a whole different spin on every scene with Shane and with Laurie. A rewatch reveals that what she is thinking is NOT what we THOUGHT she was thinking when she saw her husband and then looked at Shane. “I barely got them out” – so, did Shane lie to Laurie to get her to leave, or to get her to leave with him? I expect we shall learn, at least from his point of view, as the story continues to unfold.

Ed. We hate Ed. And he’s not even Merle’s brother. We were warned that Merle’s brother was no treat, so when we met Ed and his selfishness with his campfire, and horrible way with his wife, it would have been easy to think that he was Merle’s brother. “Mind your own business for once” – seriously? In this new world? Sorry, that can’t happen, especially about something like a fire big enough to draw the attention of walkers. Eejit. And he just keeps getting worse.

Rick, on the other hand, is wonderful. He thanks Carol for her kindness in doing the washing; we like Rick. He is a hero. He is willing to leave his newly-reunited family to go back to Atlanta, and even has no fewer than three reasons to do so. Not only does he want to rescue Horrible Merle but he has guns, ammo, and tools to pick up, and his friend Morgan to save from entering Atlanta. But here’s an interesting question: Rick is a good person who has held on to his humanity.  But if he had lived through what the others did instead of sleeping through it, would he still be as good a person? Are we going to see his humanity slip away as his ordeal catches up with what the rest have already faced?

When a walker does show up near camp, our gang has to beat it to “death.” But ewww the head still moves – “gotta be the brain, don’t y’all know nothin?” is our introduction to Daryl. Thanks for the zombie lesson, Daryl. Yes, Daryl is a problem, but sorry, Ed is worse.

Poor Glenn has a bad time this episode. He gets yelled at – AGAIN – for bringing trouble to his friends; in this case, it is the car alarm and its potential for summoning walkers. He gets dragged into another mission. And . . . he loses his beloved car. I am slightly uncomfortable with how they are dealing with Glenn, it is getting dangerously close to being stereotypical, but I am hoping this will be adjusted in the coming episodes.

We learned a little more about Dale in this episode, and I laughed out loud at his “I don’t like lending my tools” line. He really is not that far off from the “On Golden Pond” slam that Darryl made about him and his hat. I thought it was really interesting to note that he and the mechanic were bargaining with Rick. This may be a small community, but there is no community property and it is no family.

My favorite scene of insight into the characters, though, was the scene in the quarry during which the women listed the machines they missed:

Carol: “I do miss my Maytag.” (laundry is a big part of her life)
Andrea: “I miss my Benz, my sat nav.” (she had a well-paying job and traveled)
Jacqui: “I miss my coffee maker with dual drip filter and built-in grinder, honey.” (she had the money to enjoy some of the better things)
Amy: “my computer; texting.” (she’s young)
Andrea: “I miss my vibrator.”
Carol: “Me too.” (she may be battered but she hasn’t completely abandoned her self-worth)

Shane’s brutal beat-down of Ed was satisfying if disturbing, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out in future episodes. The music (subtle as ever) was relentless, and continued exquisitely to the rooftop scene. Kudos to Norman Reedus as Daryl for the pitch-perfect rage and anguish upon finding Merle’s hand . . . but no Merle.

Favorite lines (besides the episode title – Tell it to the Frogs): “How we ended up getting all the Hattie McDaniel work …” and the women’s missed objects discussion, of course.

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