TWD S4 Ep. 2: “Infected” by Dusty

Shawn chimed in with his thoughts on this episode here.  You should really read it.

What I’m drinking: Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale.  Honestly, not as great as I hoped it would be.  Not nearly as pumpkiny as some others I’ve had.  But it’s still pretty good.

Six things that annoyed me:

1. With everyone on high alert for zombie noises, I find it hard to believe that anyone could not notice a zombie walking around in the prison, making all his little hard-to-ignore zombie noises.  “What’s that snarling and wet gnashing noise?”  “Just the wind, I suppose.  Lay your head back down, nameless person.  Life is perfect here in this dank prison, and things will never, ever change.” Then lots of biting and gurgling and me shaking my head.

2. Things I don’t care about: the deep-breathing techniques of children as they see their father get stabbed in the head.
That might sound heartless, but I’ll refer back to something I said last week: I don’t know these new characters.  I don’t really care about them at this point.  A fat bearded guy gets bit?  Oh well.  These things happen.  I didn’t know he had daughters, so I find it hard to suddenly generate any sadness that these girls have lost their father, when I didn’t even know they existed 20 minutes ago.
Killing non-characters is a lazy way to drive drama and try to evoke emotion.  And maybe it works on some people, but I really just don’t care.
This is pretty indicative of a problem I’ve had with these first two episodes.  There are a ton of new people that I feel like I should know, yet I have no idea who any of them are.  From the first episode, I know that D’Angelo Barksdale is a doctor.  And yet, when they needed someone to explain the fast-acting death-flu, they get another guy to explain it, while D’Angelo sits in the background looking concerned.  Is this new guy a doctor?  I guess he must be.  All I know is that the one guy I know for sure is a doctor is standing there with his mouth shut.  And that makes no sense to me.  They could kill 10 new people per episode for the rest of the season, and I could not find it in my heart to care about any of them.
Reading back over that, it does sound pretty heartless.  Oh well.  I guess I really am a monster, after all.  I am them.  They are me, and I am them.

3. Why did they stop tending to the fence?  I know, I know, they had sick people.  But making sure the fence didn’t cave in is a pretty big part of the safety of others, and yet they just kept letting the zombies pile up until they hit a critical mass.  That should not have happened.  I’ll tell you this right now: the council is doing a piss-poor job at keeping people safe.

4. I guess just anyone can burn two people in the middle of the day without anyone noticing.  (For the record, the smart money is on Carl.  You take away a budding sociopath’s gun, and he’ll find other ways to do terrible things.  Or maybe one of the new people has a history of arson.  It’s entirely possible.)

5. Really not subtle with the symbolism this year when it comes to Rick’s character.  The killing pigs scene this week was a bit too obvious of a way to show that he is back to being willing to kill again.  Farmer Rick is back to Killing Rick.  We get it.  Try making it a bit less obvious, please.  A lot of your viewers are pretty intelligent, and some of this feels a little insulting.  While he was burning his clothes, he may as well have screamed, “I have thrown these things behind me and am reverting back to my old ways!”

6.  I like to think that Tyreese (or anyone in this world) is more intelligent than to follow a trail of blood with no weapons drawn.  Those flowers won’t protect you, buddy.  I should know.  I’ve tried it in multiple times in Dead Rising.

Four things I liked:

1. It has only been two episodes, but I like that they’ve dialed up the action so far.  It’s almost as if the writers are sitting around saying, “Can we get at least two scenes an episode where zombies attack without much rhyme or reason?”  I am completely on board with this.  Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this zombie action dialed back in future episodes, but, for now, I’m a fan.

2. Hearing Beth sing a Tom Waits song.  That’s two for the series so far (“Hold On” showed up last season, and “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” this week).  Not sure who the Tom Waits fan is: a writer or the music supervisor or the actress who plays Beth (Emily Kinney), but I’m a big fan of it.  Hope to hear more in the future.  Maybe find a way for a zombie to recite “9th and Hennepin”?  Just spitballing here.

3. Introducing a new, non-zombie threat to the survivors.  It’s an interesting little addition to the world.  It’s not just zombies you have to fear: it’s everything.  I’m not sure where they’re going with this flu scare (it may well be over now, and they’ll spend a bunch of time dealing with their little firestarter), but I like it while it’s here.

4. This is not so much something I liked, as much as it is something new we have learned about the zombies in this world.  We learned that the zombies will eat animals (pigs and rats, at the very least).  In the Romero world, we didn’t learn this until the underwhelming (to say the least) Survival of the Dead.

Final thoughts:

Some pretty big leaps in logic, and some terrible decision-making by a lot of characters.  Still, there was a decent amount of action here, and the plot seems to be moving forward.  It’s not like season 2, where we watched the characters sit around in a farmhouse all day.  Through two episodes, there have been constant threats.  Some of it may be illogical, but at least it’s interesting.