Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Late Bloomer: 'The Walking Dead' Newbie

*If you're not caught up on The Walking Dead, you probably shouldn't read this*

Do you remember when you first started watching The Walking Dead? Remember how you felt about the adaptation from comic to television? Or how you reacted to characters like Shane and Lori and Daryl when you first met them? I do, because I just started watching The Walking Dead a few days ago.

For me, The Walking Dead was one of those shows that you know you should be watching, but you just aren't. Everyone else was raving about it constantly, and losing their collective minds at least once a season on social media, while I quietly sat around hate-watching Bones (or something) instead. I should have been watching. I am a huge fan of the zombie genre, and I've even read (and really loved) the comics, so I should have been part of the foaming-at-the-mouth, raving, Walking Dead lunatics. I can't explain why I didn't watch it; I just didn't. Recently, some of our most beloved friends came into town. They're traveling performers, so we only get to see them once or twice a year depending on their schedule. We went out to dinner with a group of them this past Sunday, and (since we hadn't seen them all year) accepted their offer to join the group for the Walking Dead season finale afterward. So there we were: Eight full grown adults crammed into a cozy RV with three snuggly dogs and a flat screen, and without warning, I was hooked. The next day, I began binge watching The Walking Dead. As I type this, I've just started the third season. So, take a trip down memory lane, and chuckle knowingly at my naivete, as I quickly run down my thoughts about the show before I hit 'play' on the paused episode in front of me:

For me, all but three of the people in this photo are alive.
Let's start by trying to put this into better perspective: I just recently met Beth. In fact, she's a tertiary character at best right now. Simply going on what I've seen thus far, I'd quantify her as pretty weak and one of the most likely to be eaten by the end of this season. Now, having seen 'Coda' on Sunday, I know that doesn't happen, and that's actually one of the things I like about this show. No one is safe. No one is automatically zombie food. The characters develop. Their personalities change based on the serious shit they've been through. They evolve. I love that. It's a sign of really good writing, and an indication that the writers are not only invested in the story, but that they're trying to take in the whole scope of the situation (the big picture, as it were) when writing individual episodes.

This group has run into a lot of challenges and roadblocks that encompass more than just the risen dead. Interpersonal issues, sickness, pregnancy, and mental illness are among the things survivors would have to face, and it's good to see that these are being addressed in the show. As I said, I'm not completely caught up yet, so here's a few quick thoughts I have so far:

1. Rick - I like Rick, and I really like that he's been getting harder and harder as the seasons progress. In the leadership position he's in, given their circumstances, it makes sense that he would be slowly losing his softer, more emotional side. I really like that as season 2 ended, and season 3 began, he started exhibiting more and more of the traits Shane had developed when he was the alpha male in the group. It plays on the pressure and stress of trying to wrangle and protect a group of vastly different people in a high risk, dangerous situation. I'm interested to see just how cold and calculated Rick's going to get as the show progresses.

2. Lori - I hate Lori. She's weak and whiny and all but bloody useless. Nearly every piece of sexist dialogue in this show has come from her (and that's taking both Ed and Merle into account). She's also the only character that has remained completely unchanged since the first time we meet her. Her personality hasn't grown or developed at all, and she is still almost completely dependent on the men she somehow continues to attract in order to survive. I hope she dies soon, and I hope it's not in some ridiculously emotional, stereotypically girly sort of way (though I suspect it will be).

3. Daryl - Yep, I love Daryl. That was probably a given at this point (I've seen the memes, I know I'm not alone). He's a badass, and I desperately want one of my very own. I do not, despite how this is apparently a big deal among internet speculators, give two shits about his sexual orientation. Nor do I understand those who do.

4. Carl - I'm not usually one for kids, so I'm a bit surprised that I don't hate him as much as I thought I would. He is, however, a ticking time bomb of stupid that is going to get people killed unless he grows the fuck up with a quickness. I do like that as he's growing up around all the death and zombies and whatnot, that he's quickly becoming a tiny sociopath. It makes sense, and I'm interested to see how he turns out.

5. Michonne - I cannot express enough happiness that this character, with her pet walkers, has shown up. I adore her, and (like Daryl) desperately want one of my very own.

So there you have it. I'm sure plenty of you got some chuckles in while reading this. More of you probably shook your heads and muttered something about "just wait til __ happens!" Whichever way you took this, I hope it helped you remember what it was like when the show was shiny and new, and I look forward to getting completely caught up so my friends will stop looking at me with the same condescending smiles one might give a three year old learning to read for the first time.


  1. I laughed out loud when you mentioned hate-watching Bones, haha. Oh man, love it.

    Your first experience was much like my own! And it sounds so freaking cool to be smushed up in an RV with a bunch of friends watching a show. That must have been an awesome experience.

    Fans generally seem to all-around hate Lori! I wanted to like her but... guh. There was just something. Something I couldn't accept. And man, Michonne's little pets freaked me out sooo badly when I first saw her. Here is this terribly awesome, badass woman who just has a feeling of being an overall dark and sinister character, but you know she's not. Loved that moment.

    So excited for you to keep going!

  2. Ugh. Lori. I do love how even though you know someone is going to die (normally with the finales) it STILL catches you by surprise! A perfect example was the episode from Sunday. You knew it was going to happen, you probably even figured out who, but it was still a punch to the gut.