I cannot count the number of times this season when, about 15 to 30 minutes into an episode of The Walking Dead, I vowed to stop watching the series. I have been beyond frustrated with the season, ever since they got to that damn farm. All they do on that farm is argue and debate and complain and whine.
Yet I am still watching. Still hoping that *the next scene* is when the series will become exciting and enjoyable again – only to have the next scene be two characters walking from the house to the camp and arguing with each other about something inconsequential. There seems to be maybe 2 good (occasionally *great*) scenes per episode, and the rest is just awful.
I understand the characters are rather 2-dimensional (they are based on the comic book counterparts, after all), and I don’t really have a problem with that. 2-dimensional characters can be entirely satisfactory if they are put into situations where something *real* is at stake. But put 2-dimensional characters on a farm where they are relatively safe (*why* they are safe on this farm, I am not entirely sure of) and comfortable, and their problems get pretty shallow and insignificant pretty quick.
So, after 3 paragraphs of setup, I get to the point of this post – I am going to state how I would have improved this week’s episode.
First, a quick recap of the episode – spoilers abound for anyone who hasn’t seen it.
-we see Bow & Arrow Guy (I’m not good at remembering the names of the characters on this show), beating up the wayfaring stranger kid. To get information out of him. I don’t know why the kid is withholding info, but he is – until he gets beat up enough to divulge that there’s a group of about 30 guys in another group, and they’re men of questionable morals.
-the kid of the group (who is a total pain in the ass this episode – made worse by his awful, awful acting) keeps showing up in scenes where he’s told by everyone else not to be showing up in (why is nobody keeping an eye on this kid?). He’s ignorant and rebellious, and steals a pistol and goes walkabout until he comes across a walker who is stuck in the mud. He throws rocks like a girl and, with Fake Stakes Brain (a syndrome I just invented where a character does something so ridiculous and stupid and so obviously wrong and out of character that it is done ONLY to create fake stakes), gets within touching distance of the walker, and almost gets deadened. He leaves the walker alone and runs off.
-Everyone argues and debates and questions and wonders and debates some more about whether they should kill the wayfaring kid. It is a foregone conclusion that they will kill him (psyche!!!), but still the whole episode is wasted on them discussing whether it should be done. Dale, the only one who wants them to NOT kill the kid, walks off in a huff and ends up getting deadened by a walker (on this so-called supposedly *safe* farm? Huh?) The kid sees that the walker is the foot-stuck-in-the-mud one he had come upon (and subsequently realeased from the mud), and by the end of the episode, blames himself, it is assumed.
-Sheriff can’t go through with killing the wayfaring kid because the way the rebellious boy tells his dad to shoot Wayfarer, Dad is suddenly horrified and ashamed by what he was about to do.
That’s about it… But let me emphasize how much time was spent this episode with them debating whether to kill or not to kill.
It was another intolerably long and argument-infested episode where really nothing much happened, except in that one scene where Dale died.
So, here’s how I’d improve the episode (and the series):
– start with gun pointed at the head of the wayfaring kid, in the barn (we can allude, if we must, to the debates they’ve had about whether to kill him or not). He’s about to be shot. In his panic, he divulges the info about the other gang.
-Dale comes in, pleading not to kill him – we get the whole argument (and the point it was trying to convey) over in one scene. They refuse and Dale walks off, stating he’ll not be a party to this (just like in the actual episode).
– Before Dale leaves, the rebellious kid shows up (through a line of dialogue we learn that he’s not supposed to be there, and has been a pain in the ass today) and is sent to his room *where he stays for the rest of his time on the farm*.
-Sheriff shoots wayfaring kid. He is dead. (If future episodes require the wayfarer *not* to be dead, then he doesn’t get shot – but it’s not because Sheriff can’t do it, it’s because they get side-tracked by the Dale Gets Attacked By Walker Situation).
– The walker kills Dale (just like in the actual episode – although I have issues about how that happened – how did the walker sneak up on Dale?). The group realizes that the farm is not safe, and they hastily pack and leave the farm. Some can choose to remain. Who remains? Any characters from the dozen or so on the farm who haven’t spoken a line of dialogue in the past four episodes – I’m looking at you Black Guy and at you, Other Younger Male Guy Who Is Part of The Farm Family, and at you, Suicide Girl.
-The rest of the episdoe (about 20 minutes more, I figure) is about them adjusting to being back on the road again.
-If we must (and only if there is a later payoff for the kid’s guilt), we can see in flashback (while they’re on the road), the rebellious kid coming across the walker and setting him free – the same one who killed Dale.
-Something exciting and future-plot-relevant happens on the road, as the final act of the episode, that makes us eager for what might happen next episode.