THE WALKING DEAD Post Mortem: Home
Warning: Spoilers run amok in this post-mortem.
Greetings zombie lovers and fans of Axel’s bullet riddled corpse. On The Walking Dead one thing is for certain: characters are going to bite it, and in “Home”, it was poor ole Axel’s turn at the meat grinder. As it turns out though, he really wasn’t that bad of dude and with Daryl out of the picture Carol was actually starting to warm up to him as well; everything was going good until The Governor permanently salted his game…via head shot.
“Home” was a slight improvement over the lackluster season premier. There were few powerful individual scenes scattered throughout the episode, all of Daryl and Merle’s stuff was uniformly excellent: “you lost your hand because you’re simple-minded piece of shit!”, as was Maggie and Glenn confrontation in the prison cell. But, once again, there were far too many repetitive scenes. Glenn and Hershel had the exact same conversation, worded only slightly differently, at least twice in the episode. And Rick and Hershel had their umpteenth conversation about Rick’s craziness.
It was the same over in Woodbury, Andrea and The Governor’s scenes together, as well as the scenes between The Governor Milton had an air of… familiarity…about them. I’d seen all this before during the first half of season 3, and I felt like I was college professor grading essays and realizing that one student had pretty reworded another students essay in an attempt to pass it off as their own. I thought the show had left this bad habit of rehashing the same arguments over and over again behind in the second season, but unfortunately, it looks like I was wrong. The last ten minutes the episode truly came to life, with The Governor launching his surprise attack against the prison.
This was A+ television; thrilling, dark, suspenseful, and shocking. The action was frantic and intense, the Walker Bomb was amazing, and most importantly, Michonne and Daryl were sufficiently badass throughout the fracas. However, here’s the problem: would the ending be as great, or as shocking, if the entire episode would have been filled with action and zombie killing? Of course not, but does that really justify the tediously slow pace up until that point? Yes and no. Yes, the episode had a relatively slow burn that allowed for the audience to lower their defenses so that when Axel was shot it was a jarring and surprising moment. But the fact remains, when were forced to spend time with these character when they are not killing zombies are each other, more often than not, it becomes repetitive and boring.
Much like Glenn, The Walking Dead really doesn’t need to be super complex for it to work as an entertainment. However if we are resigning ourselves to the fact that show functions best as a pure entertainment, then another problem emerges because The Walking Dead clearly wants to be more than mere entertainment. And I feel this schism between what TWD really needs to be, and what the writers want The Walking Dead to be is the source of the show’s continual shortcomings.
Right now, the writers need to focus on solving the issues with pacing, character development, and narrative structure before The Walking Dead will be able to ascend to the next echelon of television greatness. They’ve done a very good job at distracting us from the show’s weaknesses this season, and that’s no insult. The inter-cutting between the prison and Woodbury story-lines, a compelling antagonist in The Governor, the introduction of Michonne…this has all been compelling stuff, but the show still has some fundamental problems they need to address before it can truly evolve.