Fellow Liberal Dead-heads, this is Ryne from The Moon is a Dead World. I’ve signed on to do a sort of recap/review of each week’s horror hits, so welcome to DEADtime TV. Again, Kevin Lovell helps out with a review of The Following, and Shawn Savage joins in with a review of The Walking Dead!
The Walking Dead: “After” – Sunday, February 9 at 10 PM
After a long and painful hiatus, The Walking Dead returns. This episode heavily favors Rick and Carl, with a little bit of Michonne, directly after the showdown at the prison. Rick, being wounded pretty badly, is scurrying around with Carl in a desperate search for food and shelter, while Michonne, all on her own, is the last person standing at what remains of the prison. We get a glimpse of The Governor’s lifeless body, as well as the now-zombified severed head of Hershel. When we were first introduced to Michonne, she was very much a loner. Yeah, she had Andrea that she had found tumbling around in the woods, but for some reason she just couldn’t trust other people. We get a little more Michonne back story in this episode, but we’ll talk about that in a second. The change in Michonne appears to be, that she now feels as if she needs a group to survive. It’s made clear by her desperate search for clues as to what exactly happened to the rest of the group.
Rick is injured badly, so when he and Carl finally finds a row of houses for shelter, he basically slips into a coma, and Carl is left to fend for himself. We do get a little bit of “Carl won’t stay in the house” in this episode, and some overall childlike behavior from him, but he manages to keep them safe from attacking zombies, even if he did damn near get himself killed. The basic arc is, Carl feels letdown by his father, blaming him for the fall of the prison, and seems to think that he no longer needs him to survive, but as we learn by the end of the episode, he is just being an angsty teenager, and has a long ways to go before he could ever even consider to make it on his own. Some people consider episodes like this to be boring, but I have to ask them, why are you watching this show? are you watching simply in hopes of catching a little bit of zombie action/gore? If so, why not just pop in a zombie movie. There are plenty to choose from, I can assure you. The Walking Dead is not about the zombies or the gore, it is about the characters. Anyone familiar with the comic series in which this show is based should know that already. I would argue that the talky drama is actually heavier in the comics, personally, so I’m not sure why people are shocked.
Easily the best part of this episode is the Michonne’s surreal back story/dream sequence, that seamlessly weaves in and out of what appears to be reality, to noticeably dreamy. This is one of the best segments of the entire series, in my opinion. The way this was executed was flawless. At first, I legitimately thought it was a flashback, until after making some food, Michonne shoves her sword down inside of a knife block. From that point on, it’s clear that it is a dream sequence, but it’s still extremely effective, blending reality and fantasy. Greg Nicotero directed this episode, and as usual, he makes with the zombie carnage, although it is not the focus of the episode at all, it is well executed when it happens. Nicotero has turned into a great director, and I get excited when I learn that he has handled an upcoming episode. As you’ve probably already heard, there is a horror movie cameo within this episode, in the form of the zombified “Jack” from American Werewolf In London. If you’re not looking for it, though, you will definitely miss it. It is nice to have little references to the horror genre sprinkled in here and there, but I’m glad it’s not some sort of gimmick that they try to force into every episode.
Overall, I think this was a solid return to the series. It’s not as exciting as the mid-season finale, of course, but we should have expected that. The Walking Dead has a long history of coming back from break with a quieter episode. That bothers some people, but to me it makes sense. It can’t all be nonstop hectic. We have to get a breather every now and then. I realize we had a couple of months to cool down after the prison showdown, but I want the writers to ease us back into the universe, rather than bombard us with forced action and gore. Let the story pick back up gradually, and finish out the series on a strong note, rather than throwing everything and the kitchen sink in our faces in every single episode. Don’t worry, though, if you found this episode to be boring, I’m sure things will pick up when it returns this Sunday night. We’re over the halfway mark at this point, so shit’s going to start getting real, so to speak. See you next week.
The Following: “Family Affair” – Monday, February 10 at 9 PM
This Monday, The Following continued its sophomore season with its third episode airing in its normal timeslot and unfortunately hit a series low in ratings for the third consecutive week. I truly hope all of you fellow fans out there are making sure to tune in each week so that there might be some chance of a third season seeing the light of day.
The fourth episode of the second season of The Following titled “Family Affair” focuses most significantly on the progress of Joe Carroll as he makes his way out of hiding and back into the world he knew and was trying to hide from. He and his newest ‘follower’ Mandy sneak into the house of a woman and her children and we discover she is a friend of Carroll’s and willing to assist him in any way he may need. The episode also builds on the secondary cult (so to speak) being led by this Mother and her twin sons and Emma as she hesitantly becomes acquainted with their group and invited to join. Still, she can’thelp but wonder if they are truly what they seem or if they are merely using her as a means to an end in order to finally get a hold of Carroll.
While all of this activity is occurring throughout the episode, we also follow Ryan Hardy as he continues to pursue this case his own way, even though he is no longer involved with the FBI. As a result Hardy finds himself arrested and causing more and more friction between him and the feds, in addition to additional confliction between himself and Mike Weston, a man who really appears to be trying to help him, as well as being one of the few remaining friends Hardy has.
The second season of The Following is currently airing Monday’s at 9/8c on Fox, following all new episodes of Almost Human so make sure to tune into both! –Kevin
Bitten: “Bitten” – Monday, February 10 at 10 PM
This self-titled episode from Bitten gets right down to business: now that bodies have been piling up on the Stonehaven estate, the Danvers family has really come under fire by both the police and townspeople. They’re not quite at the torches-and-pitchforks stage yet, but Bitten sure plays it up like they are. Now that a hunter is missing who had a confrontation with Jeremy earlier this season, there’s a lot of suspicion that those weird Stonehaven people that could potentially be like the Mansons in disguise might have something to do with it.
So the police, also working along the backwoods mentality that dead body on a strange person’s estate means that they most likely killed them and then sloppily left their body to decompose in a secluded area of the woods, devise a property search involving all able and willing residents of the town. Jeremy and Clay don’t like it, but they’ve got to go along with it and help out lest the police come back with a search warrant for the entire house.
Elena and that other dude Nick, who we’re not really familiar with except he has moments of overblown machismo and effeminism, attempt to find the body along with the others. In so doing, Elena is reminded of her first encounter at Stonehaven and what drove her there in the first place. Turns out she was a typist for Clay at a local college, then fell in love and got engaged to her. When Clay brought her to Stonehaven, Jeremy rejected her because she wasn’t a wolf, so in his selfishness, Clay turned her.
It’s nice to have this little backstory to offset the mundane task of searching for a body, because Bitten has been moving very, very slowly and another episode of little activity would have seriously dampened any forward progress. In “Bitten,” the progress is actually backward, but it gives enough story to Elena’s character to warrant spending an episode finding out how she was turned.
It’s a rather unconvincing motive, though, and one that comes with no real conscionable decision. It’s no wonder that Elena is unhappy being called back to relive a moment where someone took advantage of her. Surprisingly, Bitten doesn’t call attention to this much; it simply lets those events take place, which is one of the reasons why the show isn’t very interesting. It rarely forces its characters to interact with each other in dramatic ways, and when it does, it relies on a stereotypical good vs. bad stereotype.
But “Bitten” is entertaining enough telling Elena’s tale to keep the pace of the show from faltering. It’s already been a slow-go throughout Bitten‘s first few episodes; getting this backstory might get some viewers to stick around for a few more episodes. Still, the show is all over the place in terms of plot, sometimes introducing details that play no part in the episode or taking little time to set up a more advanced arc.
Helix: “Survivor Zero” – Friday, February 14 at 10 PM
The cavalry has arrived! Or at least, Dr. Alan Farragut and the rest of the CDC are hoping so. After Balleseros’ antics cause suspicions at Arctic Biosystems, and also alert the strange organization he’s been working for that something is amiss, a new group of people touch down to help try to contain the virus that has caused everyone so much turmoil at the base.
That group is known as Ilaria, led by Constance Sutton (Jeri Ryan), and they certainly mean business. To Alan and the rest of the CDC, Constance is a source that can help them figure out the puzzle of the virus and the vectors; to Hatake and the rest of the Arctic Biosystems base, and expecially Balleseros, she is a mysterious perpetrator of illegal activities who funded the creation of the virus with one goal in mind: “virus and cure,” as she has cemented in everyone’s brains.
But Hatake has yet to uncover a cure; instead, he’s created two viruses and a myriad of infected people, and now Constance has to aid the CDC in finding a cure. Once they do, they’ve all got to die, but she’s got to work through other problems before that happens. Constance is a character that is only quickly introduced. She’s nefarious and two-faced in almost a comical way, so devious that she feels more like a supervillain in a comic than actual person. It’s the way Helix represents her – often nice, and tenaciously demanding.
Still, Constance is a symbol for Helix to use as it sees fit. Since she knows everything that’s going on at Arctic Biosystem, the show can use her to deliver exposition, shed light on mysteries, and create more of them based on her allegiances with other characters. Admittedly, “Survivor Zero” relies on this a bit too much throughout the episode, completely throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the viewer with her entry: she’s in cahoots with Hatake and Balleseros, and also Balleseros separately, and probably her own agenda as well.
The episode tends to focus on Walker as an important jigsaw piece, and in truth, she does represent a different arc for the show – we need to know why her infection is different and why she gets silver eyes all of the sudden. Perhaps by the title, we’re meant to think that Walker is survivor zero, although the more likely fact is that Constance is referenced. Either way, Helix is moving places, and Constance is a good way to get there.
While admittedly flawed, and lacking the characterization of Constance in much the same way as the other characters are, Helix continues to forge ahead with good ideas in mind. There’s a lot going out in every episode, but so far the show has managed to maintain a steady pace of clearing things up and creating more mysteries. “Survivor Zero” keeps things going by adding a character who can potentially explain everything.