The Walking Dead 'Nebraska' Recap & Review
As a fan of the comic book series, the television version of The Walking Dead is difficult for me to judge on its own merits, but for the rest of season two, I’m damn well going to try. Before the hiatus, Shane had just opened up the barn, killing all of the Walkers within. That included the sweet, innocent Sophia, whom the rest of our motley crew had spent the entirety of the season up to that point looking for. It was an expertly staged scene, as many of the season’s plotlines came to a head in one explosive moment.
Now, in Season 2's opener ‘Nebraska,’ we have to deal with the fallout of that moment. While it was to be expected that it be a grief-filled episode, ‘Nebraska’ actually does a pretty good job of giving its characters stuff to do besides mope around. Rick and Glenn set off to find Hershel when his daughter falls sick, while the rest of the gang sets to burnin’ and buryin’ the various zombified corpses they’ve got lying around.
The Walking Dead is a frustrating show for me, because while it’s good, it’s never quite as good as I want it to be. Part of this is its wildly decompressed pace, (for instance, the fact that they spent seven episodes looking for a missing girl, or two episodes trying to heal Carl after he got shot) but the bigger issue is some of the characterizations. People are always acting in ways that suit the plot, rather than their own viewpoints or any sense of internal logic. For instance, Lori in this episode. While we are all used to Lori acting irrationally, her decision in this episode to drive off on her own to bring Rick back (pretty much immediately after he left to get Hershel) didn’t really make any sense. Add in the silly (and not that well-staged) car accident, and you get a pretty laughable subplot.
The other issue that people often level against the show is that it doesn’t have enough zombies. While I tend to disagree with this criticism on the whole, (it would be exhausting if the zombies were constantly attacking, and nothing would get a chance to develop) I did start to feel that in this episode, especially when Rick and Glenn got to town. I know there were some budget cuts, but would it really be that hard to at least have some walkers shambling around off in the distance? When they got there, the town was completely deserted. Where did all those people go? It stands to reason that some of them would still be walking around in an undead state. Plus, I want to start seeing the zombies become commonplace. So far, the show seems to think that each zombie encounter needs to be a Big Deal, but in the world of The Walking Dead, it makes more sense that dispatching the walkers would start to become effortless over time. I think it’s time to start seeing that, and we don’t get to see that if the zombies aren’t a constant presence.
However, like I said, this episode did do a number of things right. First of all, I feel like they really stepped up the camera work for this one. There were a lot of great wide shots that really brought home the dilemma that our heroes were in following the barn massacre, and it lent a grief-laden tone to the proceedings without having to give us scene after scene of Carol crying. Although, do be fair, we still got a decent number of those. I also really enjoyed the last big scene of the episode, as Rick, Glenn, and Hershel encountered two new faces, Dave and Tony, at the bar in town. Dave and Tony seem like nice enough guys, despite being rather crude, and Dave asks Rick if he and his crew can join them at the farm. They’ve been travelling for a long time, he says, and they need somewhere safe. Rick, somewhat understandably, says no, and things begin to get heated, culminating in Rick putting bullets in both of his new friends.
What I loved about this scene was the moral ambiguity, the grey-area nature of the situation that Rick and his friends find themselves in. Rick knows that his impulse should be to help other survivors, but his first priority is his family (which, at this point, consists of pretty much everyone at the farm). While we can understand Rick’s impulse not to bring strangers, who may or may not be trustworthy, back to his group, this is the first scene of the series that really begins to delve into the difficult decisions that someone like Rick would have to make to keep his people safe. I’m gonna be really upset if Dave and Tony turn out to have been scumbags, as it’s much more interesting if they were in the same situation as Rick, just tyring to protect the ones they love.
‘Nebraska’ had some other interesting stuff, as Glenn and Maggie’s relationship moved forward, much to Glenn’s confusion, and Shane’s behavior becomes more and more erratic and unpredictable. I hope that the series gets off the farm soon, because I feel like a change of setting could invigorate the show, injecting new possibilities and situations instead of risking getting stale. There’s only five episodes left this season, and I have no doubt that some crazy stuff is gonna go down. While it may seem like I’m down on the show, I really am excited to see where it goes, especially considering that I know how much cool stuff there is in the comic for them to draw on. Here’s hoping that for the next five weeks, The Walking Dead stops shambling around, and goes for the jugular.