Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Walking Dead Season 4 review, Episodes 6-7

Wow, that was fast. I already said in my last review that the return of the Governor bodes ill. And it does, but not for the characters. It's the show that immediately suffers. To get it out of the way, that's not Morrissey's fault. He does the best with the material he's given as the Governor. It's just that it's written so badly. The writing, to return my full circle together with the show, is why I review only two episodes this time. Both of them revolve around the Governor and a new set of bland secondary characters I give a shit about, and they manage to be completely meaningless by making the aforementioned full circle.
Is it a hobo? Is it a governor? It is HOBO GOVERNOR!
The plot, just in case you've already forgotten it, was that the Governor was left behind by his cronies after his slight mass-murdering outburst at the end of last season, which easily ranks as the most senseless act committed by any character of the show. In a rare fit of sense, the others agreed and deserted him. He then wanders the wild for nine months or thereabouts, evading zombies by the power of slapstick (seriously, the zombies just fall over when he stumbles by). This seems to show he reached a low, as if he was anywhere near something high in, like, ever. He then chances upon a family that managed to survive the last two years like it was still the first days of the apocalypse, retaining the kind of naivite that is usually reserved for stupid plot twists. Alas, this is one.

Including this child. BE CONCERNED, IT'S A CHILD.
The Governor then spills the beans (literally), just because he can, and helps the family out by retrieving a backgammon game from the next floor up in the building. "You seem like a guy who can handle himself", police chick says, while the Governor drools and generally looks like he'll either drop dead or start a mass-murdering killing spree any second. Generally, the dialogue in that sequence reaches currently not aimed at levels of stupidity. But let's just accept this, as the Governor becomes badass once more, but this time vulnerable because he grieves for his lost family. He even looks at a picture to prove this.
They stored all the screenplays in that building.
When he wants to leave, the family suddenly decides to come with him because he's the plot, and going where the plot is is the thing you do in such a show. Before, he killed Grampa, who turned into a zombie after succumbing to lung cancer, which was supposed to be formative for the character relations, but the little girl is on board with him by the end of the episode, calling him daddy, so don't worry, any serious character development is safely avoided. After this feat, he falls in a pit and murders zombies in the most badassery way possible until it is revelaed that the pit was dug by Martinez, the guy who deserted him earlier. End episode 6. 
"Are you fucking serious?"
Turns out, Martinez has a camp of his own, in which he takes the Governor in on the condition that he accepts him as a leader. Wait, what? Man, you deserted this guy BECAUSE HE GUNNED DOWN SEVERAL PEOPLE NOT FOLLOWING HIS ORDERS. DO YOU THINK THIS IS CLEVER? Apparantly, Martinez does, and accordingly, his days are numbered. The Governor doesn't really like the camp since it's not safe, but it's a home, and he's all family man now. While playing golf with Martinez, he gets annoyed at the obvious Woodbury references and kills Martinez (told ya), at which point one of his military buddies takes control. Said pair of buddies includes a tank driver, who has a tank here. Comic fans know where this is headed; I expected this to happen in season 3, but obviously AMC decided the set was to expensive to be tanked down so early and that several episodes of talking are just what the fans want.
Poor, poor Martinez. You'd stand better chances in this show if you were white.
On a supply run, the new leader doesn't want to shoot guys in another camp they find to take their stuff, so they instead hunt some squirrels, Darryl-style. Upon coming back the camp was raided by someone else, everyone dead and the supplies gone. The Governor totally agrees with the tank driver, who is furious they didn't engage in slaughtering innocents themselves. He then takes the next logical step, murders the leader and throws in with the other guy. He then begins preparing the assault on the prison, with the rationale to take it for his new "family". And with that, we're back at the end of episode 5, with the Governor staring at the prison. Seriously, all this could have been compressed to a ten minutes montage, because all the development of the Governor in these two episodes IS COMPLETELY NEGATED by the end of episode 7. He's exactly the same as before. Are you fucking kidding me, The Walking Dead? Why did we need two episodes of superflous plot twists for that? 
Shut up, plot, and die like a man.
On the positive side, the show's creators are still very good at ambience details and action scenes. While the stumbling Hobo Governor is simply ridiculous and best forgotten, the rest of the time they manage this stuff pretty well. Plus, the severed heads from the bodies with their signs displaying their crimes are very ominous. It's a bit early for Negan, but that would be his style. Could be interesting to unite the Governor and the prison against a common, much more evil foe, but I doubt the plot's going for that. Also very nice how the Governor starts to create a new fishtank for his fallen enemies, only in larger scale. Very nice. 
Really subtle.
In general, however, the characters remain the show's weakest point. The dialogues are crinchworthy most of the time, bordering the stupid, nonsenical and unintentionally comical in turn. Generally, there's way too much dialogue for a post-apocalyptical setting. I don't want characters sitting around telling each other how affected they are by the events. I want to SEE that they are. Else, I could read a book. They generally did a very good job with Carl doing this, but for almost none of the other characters. Four seasons in, many of them still are total blanks. Who's Beth? She sings pretty. Maggie? She's Glenn's girl. Glenn? The Asian guy. Darryl? Your pet redneck. Bob? He drinks. Hershel? He's Jesus. They have a really limited set of characters, yet they don't manage to develop any of them beside Rick and Carl (who, however, also pretty much made a circle and are back at their season-3-premiere-personalities). The big reveal that Carol killed the sick people becomes much less interesting when you realize that it could have been ANYONE. We simply don't know enough about these characters to say whether or not they would do something like that. Which is why the series continues to fall flat.

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