Walking Dead Recap: A Crossbow to the Brain

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Walking Dead Recap:  A crossbow to the brain

Season 1/Episode 3: Tell It To The Frogs

Note:  I was like a zombie with a half-attached jaw after starting my Monday with a largely unsuccessful dentist’s appointment. That’s my excuse for getting this to you late and short.  My apologies. Next week will be different.

This week’s episode started off with panoramic views of Merle Dixon still handcuffed and trapped on the Atlanta department store roof.   

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(Photo: Courtesy of AMC)

T-bone padlocked the roof door before abandoning him, but it’s looking like that won’t keep the undead at bay for long…

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We eat rednecks for dinner! (Photo: Courtesy of AMC)

At least he won’t be missed by anyone but his brother, Daryl.  Unlike Rick, who’s been missed by wife, Lori, and son, Carl.  After being told Rick was dead, their reunion at the RV camp is a happy and well done one, with Calles, Lincoln and Riggs all stepping up to the plate acting chops-wise. 
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Grimes Family Reunion (Photo: Courtesy of AMC)

Although Lori’s wracked with guilt about her indiscretions with Shane, she’s not ambivalent about her feelings for Rick.  “I really thought I’d never see you again. I’m so sorry,” she tells him in lieu of a confession.  Shane’s also wracked, but maybe more with frustration at his own crap luck than guilt.

The next morning at camp, the reunited Grimes clan and their not so merry band of fellow survivors are going about their domestic camping chores when Carl finds a zombie eating a raw deer continental breakfast. They kill him without ammo, which takes a lot of time and manpower.  Daryl finally shows up with a bunch of squirrel meat, just in time to finish the zombie off by shooting his already decapitated head with a crossbow.  Shane and Rick then tell Daryl his brother’s handcuffed to a roof back in Atlanta.  Daryl goes ballistic but, to his credit, does not get all racialist.  He’s going to rescue his brother, dagnabbit. T-Bone and Rick, feeling responsible, volunteer to go with.  Lori and Shane are both incredulously pissed at this development.  “Why would you risk your life for a douchebag like Meryl Dixon?” Shane asks.  Rick brings up the lost bag of guns they now desperately need to bolster his argument and manages to coax Glenn into joining them as well. 

Left behind daddy-less again, Carl goes frog catching with Shane.  Lori’s none too happy about it.  The Grimes family is now off limits to him, especially since Shane was the one who told her Rick was dead.  Oof.  And just when the guy was showing shades of likeability.  Daryl Dixon’s turning out to be pretty likeable too, what with his squirrel catchin’, cross-bowin’, and sass talk.  He brings an “ugly skank” zombie to another crossbow end as the Merle Dixon Rescue Crew make their way through the department store. 

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The Merle Dixon Rescue Crew (Photo: Courtesy of AMC)

Back at the RV camp, Andrea tells off survivor Ed for beating his wife, Carol.  Ed calls her “a college educated cooze,” then hits Carol in front of everyone so they’ll know exactly where he’s coming from.  This gives Shane a good excuse to drop a frustration relieving solid beat down on Ed that leaves him near death.  But he can’t be nearly as badly done in as Merle, who puts the survive in survivor when the closing shot reveals he cut off his own hand to escape from the roof to parts of Atlanta unknown. 

With the exception of the introduction of Ed, who seems like another 2D redneck character cut from the same cloth as Merle Dixon, I thought this was another solid episode.  Other than Ed, the casting was the real standout for me this time, with Steve Yuen’s Glenn, Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon, and Chandler Riggs’ Carl all turning in fun and moving back up performances to Andrew Lincoln’s still stand up Rick Grimes.  And, even though he’s kind of a stereotypical trope, I can’t wait to see what happens to Merle.  I hope for his sake he manages to find some more meth and that it’s not that difficult to snort with one hand.  What did you guys think? What are you liking or not liking so much now that we’re halfway through the 1st Season?

Comments

  1. I love the comic series and watched the premiere with my wife. She liked it, but it was this episode that turned her around — she’s enjoying the character interplay and the whole Lori-Shane-Rick triangle. And she likes Glen too!

    This gets my vote as best comic-other media adaptation ever.

  2. I think Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker are both great character actors. I can see them bringing a lot of nuance and depth to what could easily be a pair of straight up antagonists.

    The one thing I really don’t get is that Merle had to saw his hand off. That casing wasn’t anything serious. He honestly could have kicked the bolt off and slid the cuff over it, and it seems clear the geeks never made it through the door so he should have had time to cut either the chain or the bolt with the saw.

  3. I gotta agree with Owen, the only thing in this episode that bugged me was the whole “Merle cut his hand off” shock ending. Once again, it seemed like a cheap way to get to plot point #8.

    Don’t get me wrong, story-wise I think it’s a fantastic element, and sets up all sorts of interesting character interplays for the future, between Merle and daryl and the protagonists. It’s the execution>/i> that was half-assed. If the point was to show there was no other way out than self-mutilation, then the set pieces should have been chosen differently to show Merle handcuffed to a massive, solid-steel pipr or something equally impervious to a hacksaw.

    Other than that bit, I enjoyed the episode. The pace was slower than I was expecting, but the characterizxations made up for it, especially since there are so many different characters to profile. And yes, the Ed character was totally 2D, but man, did it feel good to watch him take a beating. Does that make me a bad person?

  4. (Ugh, sorry for the typos and ef’d up formatting above. Too bad you can’t edit your own comments here)

  5. It was the 1st episode where the acting was actually decent. The 1st two episodes the acting was not…the best. But this one it seemed everyone was confident in the premise….

  6. john layman says:

    It’s a fantastic series. Every episode so far has been riveting. I can’t wait to own this shit on Blu Ray.

  7. boxxy says:

    Yeah i enjoyed it quite a bit but i already kind of miss the slow pace of the first episode. 45 minutes might be a little short. The hour long premiere had great moments of contemplation and silence that were really special for tv. Now that its full of characters, everyone has to get their little plot moving. It’s a small complain though as it is overall a very satisfying adaptation of the comics.

    If the series goes on a few years it will be interesting to see how they manage the passing of time/seasons and the kids growing up at nomal pace Vs. the comicbook.

  8. brandon says:

    I took the ending to mean he was taken ie someone else cut off his hand.

    I think the series is okay but not great. There just isnt enough danger on screen to the humans. No one has been surprised attacked and eaten yet.

    It kind of feels like just camping which isnt too apocalyptic.

    They’ve nailed the character interactions. Now if they can just nail the horror aspect we would have something amazing.

  9. john layman says:

    You complain too much, Brandon.

  10. it drove amanda and I crazy that they kept going to the ground floor of the department store and standing right there taunting the zombies[ 3 times they did that] instead of staying out of their sight…it pulled us out of the episode.

  11. maija says:

    This was the first episode I’ve seen of the series. It wasn’t bad, but I can’t say I found it riveting. There was a lot of expository dead wood. And I agree about the weak, nonsensical device of Merle cutting off his hand. There weren’t even any tool marks on the cuffs. I was also distracted by the obvious unlikelihood of frogs in that sterile quarry pond.

    The show is also not going to win any awards for music or sound! The Lifetime Network “A Very Special Family Reunion” music playing during the mushy family scenes was just annoying, but the similar upbeat music playing while Ed was getting the crap beaten out of him was mind-boggling! Then the dialogue and sound fx were not mixed well to the music so the whole mess just sounded muddy. I guess most of the big budget went to zombie make-up and not to sound or a composer.

  12. maija says:

    Oh yeah, and when the zombies were pushing against the door, the cliché foley sound for a metal door *opening* (often used for jail cell doors) can be heard, even though the door isn’t opening. I expect there will be liberal use of the Wilhelm scream during the next zombie fight.

  13. brandon says:

    @Layman

    come on, let it off your chest – you know you are upset that there aren’t enough cats in the episodes. lol

  14. If Merle Dixon survives, I think there will be plenty of foreshadowing of what eventually happens to Rick when he loses his hand. It could be interesting.

  15. Shannon OLeary says:

    it seems like there’s a general consensus from me, @dara nagari, @william owen, et al that the character development is finally catching up to fill up the relatively slow pace darabont takes for a horror show.

    @brandon – whoa! it hadn’t even occurred to me that someone else cut off his hand. i agree with others like @ william owen that the sawed off appendage was an unecessary device. and yet.. i’m pulled in by it in all of its hackneyed-ness!

    also, as @jimmy palmiotti and @maiji pointed out, there needs to be more attention paid to continunity and strategy during zombie battling scenes. i’m going to be paying attention to that as i recap next week’s ep.

  16. Ah, the plot thickens (insert that Far Side cartoon where the detective standing over the dead guy has found a closet full of ducks).

  17. John Dominguez says:

    So far this show is great when it sticks to the Kirkman canon. When it focuses on the new characters and situations it has struggled. I also really hated the fence climbing zombie of episode 2. Climb the fence, then 10 seconds later the fence collapses under the weight of the other zombies. Keep to the Romero zombie rules, Frank! On a positive note, I hope to see most of the new and background characters turn into zombie fodder. I half thought Amy was going to bite it (drumroll please) at the campfire scene this week.

    JD

  18. Joe Lawler says:

    “If Merle Dixon survives, I think there will be plenty of foreshadowing of what eventually happens to Rick when he loses his hand. It could be interesting.”

    My guess is that won’t end up happening to Rick. Robert Kirkman has made statements about regretting it, since it makes a lot of situations more difficult for the character.

    More importantly, there is almost no way to make a missing hand look good in live action. They always end up wearing long sleeves, one slightly longer than the other, with an unusually swollen wrist.

    Since Michael Rooker isn’t billed as a regular, my guess is they won’t have to deal with those problems for long.

  19. Shannon OLeary says:

    I predict that Merle Dixon will become the first of the new cast to get infected. Then Daryl will have to take him out with the crossbow!

  20. Hey Matthew,

    Merle Dixon will survive and he’s comming back as the Governor. You read here first.

  21. Pedro Bouça says:

    Merle Dixon is… KGBeast!

  22. jay m says:

    @Alistair look dude its cool that you believe that and all but its impossible considering that would diverge a bit to far from the plot considering he has a name and Merle and Daryl although great great additions to the story weren’t in the comic so it just cant happen sorry

  23. what crossbow did Daryl use??

  24. anyone know??

  25. anyone!?

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