Melanie and I have been rewatching AMC’s The Walking Dead, and we’re now halfway done.
Read what we thought of the show’s second episode, “Tell It to the Frogs.” It’s a doozie. As always, spoilers lie within. If you can’t handle that, stay out.
I’m pretty confident that this will go down as being the best episode of the series. It has everything, everything, I look for in a post-zombie-apocalyptic setting. A racially diverse group of people barely getting along. Great characters. A severed head opening its eyes and gurgling.
The acting in this episode is outstanding. Particularly by the prinicples. Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Shane (Jon Bernthal), and Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) knock it out of the park. Dale and Glenn also shine on the sidelines. The performance of the hour, however, goes to Michael Rooker. As Merle, Rooker opens the show with a rant so wild, crazy and desperate, you would almost believe he had been locked and handcuffed on a rooftop with the ominous moans and clamouring of zombies nearby.
This whole episode is fantastic. Even the lulls are interesting. There’s so much going on just in the eyes of the actors. Mel and I are in agreement about the greatness of this episode, so instead of dividing what we agreed on versus disagreed, I’ll be pointing out our favourite parts.
My Favourite Parts:
Aside from the opening sequence, where Merle goes from incoherent mumblings, to shock, to bargaining with God, to finally a self-reliant rage against God, there are several other quality moments to this particular episode.
First is when Rick reunites with his family. The scene, which I’ve probably seen 4 times now, still gives me goosebumps (even as I write about it now). I don’t know if it’s because I’m a (relatively) new father myself, or that I’ve always been drawn to Father-Child moments in television, but the love and relief in his eyes as he falls to the ground in joy with Carl in his arms is breathtaking. It’s as good a piece of art as any film or TV Show I’ve watched, in my opinion. To repurpose a line from Bill O’Reilly, there’s no words here. We see everything that Rick, Lori, Shane, Carl and even some of the other survivors are feeling, in their eyes, and their body language. I fucking love it when this is done, and works, like it does here.
Another favourite moment, or moments really, is the growing bond between Shane and Carl. It’s something that wasn’t really explored in the early issues of the comic book. And should the show ever take the same path… it will work so much better. Shane’s such an interesting character on the show at this point. He’s just trying to build the family he wasn’t ever able to have in the old world. He’s making the right decisions. Seriously, Comic Book Shane is a fuck-up, constantly making the wrong survival choices, and letting jealousy cloud his judgement. TV Shane makes responsible choices, and even when he loses his cool near episode’s end… he’s still doing the right thing. In the world they’re living in, Ed needed to be beaten to within an inch of his life. He wasn’t going to understand any other language.
|I felt like destroying something that was an asshole, beautiful.
Finally, we have Lori. I think this episode is as interesting as her character is going to get. She’s a major part of the greatness of the reunion. We see pretty much every high and low emotion one can have on her face in the span of a few seconds. Throughout her interactions with Rick, we can see how much she wants to tell him about her mistake. Then we see her fly into Shane, over his lie about Rick being dead. At this point, we can’t tell if Shane was right to lie or not, but we do get to see in his eyes just how hurt he is, now that he’s basically lost that family that he always wanted.
Mel’s Favourite Part:
The opening with Merle was quality. Mel said, “[he] was a fucker and I was glad to see him left up on the roof… but still, watching him writhe around and beg Jesus to show him the way was uncomfortable…” In other words… fucking awesome. But that’s still only second place to her high point of the show: the ending.
The entire sequence cutting back and forth–from the stairwell and rooftop, to the banks of the quarry with Shane showing Ed what being an asshole will get you in the new world order–is fantastic. The music is perfect, even if it is a soundalike of John Murphy’s song used during Cillian Murphy’s (or Nick Cage’s) rampage from 28 Days Later (or Kick-Ass). The show peaks at the very end, though, as we slow pan through first the hacksaw, then the severed hand, and then the still clasped handcuffs hanging every so ominously from that random piece of re-bar as Daryl lets out a pained squeal.
In a word:
This particular episode was directed by Gweneth Horder-Payton, who along with some other movies and series, worked as 1st Assistant Director on 36 episodes of The Shield, and directed 5 of them. One of them being “Of Mice and Lem”, the second last episode of Season 5*. I can’t praise the work done there enough, and it clearly continues on here. She obviously knows how to squeeze even more talent out of an already talented cast.
|Holy Shit. That was fucktastic.
*If you’ve seen The Shield you know why everything leading up to the end of Season 5 is amazing. If you haven’t… go buy the DVDs. Now..