Most of last night’s episode was devoted to re-discovering that (a) Hershel, who’s maybe two beard-inches away from turning into Edmund Gwenn in “Miracle on 34th Street,” is a kindly old man and effective amateur GP, and (b) Rick and Carl have a bond, as dads and sons are wont to do. The Governor had a cameo too at the very end. Now we wait in suspense to find out whether Michonne kills him in the mid-season finale or the season finale when the show returns in the spring.
I’m too annoyed to review the rest properly. One of the most rightly celebrated things about the show is the writers’ willingness to kill off core characters (except for precious-pony Rick), yet when it came time last night for Glenn to shuffle off to the big pizza parlor in the sky, he got a hokey, lame-ass last-second reprieve. What did I miss? Everyone else was dropping like flies. He was lying on the cell floor, sweating, delirious, and suddenly yakking up the blood and fluid that’s spelled the imminent end for everyone else with the plague. He seemed seconds from death. Then Hershel jammed the breathing tube down his throat and suddenly we cut to Glenn, cleaned up, unconscious, still intubated, but seemingly on the mend and headed for a full recovery thanks to the drugs scavenged by Daryl and Michonne. What? What sort of drug did they find at the pharmacy that’s going to bring people back from the brink of drowning in their own blood? Did we cure Ebola when I wasn’t looking? I thought these people had a sinister post-apocalyptic strain of hemorrhagic fever, as lethal as Spanish flu; turns out no, it’s really just an unusually bloody cold or something. A little NyQuil and antibiotics will fix you right up. We didn’t even get the requisite “why, God, why” screaming fit from Maggie when she saw Glenn struggling for life. Whatever.
I find myself debating whether these recent comments from George Romero are proof that he’s the Yoda of the zombie genre, possessed of surpassing wisdom, or that he’s an egomaniac jealous of the show’s staggering success:
Being the father of zombies how do you feel about that?
It feels like I don’t have a horse in the race. They asked me to do a couple of episodes of The Walking Dead but I didn’t want to be a part of it. Basically it’s just a soap opera with a zombie occasionally. I always used the zombie as a character for satire or a political criticism and I find that missing in what’s happening now.
In Night of the Living Dead, what did you want zombies to represent: Vietnam, racial tension, the threat of communism…?
A lot has been said about that. I think the zombies could be anything. They could be a hurricane or a tornado. It’s not about the zombies. The important thing to me is the way the people react to this horrible situation, misbehave, make mistakes and screw themselves up.
Pro: Too often “The Walking Dead” is indeed “a soap opera with a zombie occasionally.” Con: If you saw “Land of the Dead,” you know how schmucky Romero’s brand of political criticism can be. Also, if you’re going to tout the allegedly trenchant social commentary in your own films, the correct answer when someone asks you what the zombies in your masterpiece stand for shouldn’t be “[they] could be anything.” The way he ends up describing the virtues of NOTLD makes it sound, in fact, like he values the film because it’s … kind of a soap opera. Hello?
I’ll leave you with this post at EW, which tries to put the show’s mind-boggling success among adults aged 18 to 49 in perspective. James Hibberd ran the numbers and discovered that, if you include seven days of DVR playbacks in your ratings calculations, the only shows on television to do better in that demographic than TWD over the past 10 years — 10 years — are “Desperate Housewives” in 2004-05 and “American Idol” in 2007-08. Which is fitting: One’s a soap opera, the other’s a show where the stars are ruthlessly eliminated week after week. That’s America’s formula for ratings magic, apparently. Rick should cover “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the series finale just to bring everything full circle.