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Walking Dead: Claimed

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Walking Dead Claimed

Walking Dead cranked up the tension this week, with Rick’s stealthy standoff and Tara and Glenn learning more about the strange crew that rescued them.

Rick, Michonne, and Carl have a little domestic bliss, with Carl and Michonne joking about soy milk over dry cereal. It’s all fun and games until someone accidentally mentions his (presumed) dead baby sister. Rick suggests they hang out at the house for a while until they figure things out, so Michonne and Carl head out for supplies while Rick rests to recover from his injuries.

For a second there I was thinking that maybe life wouldn’t be so bad post zombie apocalypse. The walkers aren’t really that much of a threat to people prepared to deal with them (and who take the time to build some basic defenses). With no bills to pay, you’d make your living scavenging and growing your own food, and spend your days gardening and reading. It seems kind of nice. Rick has the same idea, falling asleep reading Jack London stories.

Meanwhile, Carl and Michonne continue bonding. We see a new side of Michonne, one who declares, “I’m done taking breaks.” I think she means taking breaks from running away from people and working to make it on her own. She’s dedicated to being part of a group now, to regaining her own lost humanity. The change happened at that moment the other week when she saw a walker that looked like her, then she snapped and killed off her walker followers.

Now we’re seeing the results of that change. She smiles and jokes and misses soy milk. She tries to cheer up gloomy Carl by guzzling spray cheese and pretending to be a zombie. She even confides in him about her past and her lost child. It isn’t that this change in her has made her suddenly willing to share that secret…as she tells Carl, the change is that it isn’t a secret anymore.

Their adventure in the house takes a dark turn, though. It’s a very bright, cheerful house, and the walls are covered with paintings in primary colors, depicting things like bunnies playing in a meadow. But then Michonne discovers a portrait that’s been altered at some point since it was first made. The face of a pretty girl has been carved with angry slashes and bloody symbols. The incongruity with the otherwise idyllic house is jarring.

Michonne moves into an unopened room, finding a small bathroom. Did anyone else notice that the bathroom mirror was all fogged up? I thought this meant someone was in there, but I guess not. She finds a room with an entire family lying on beds, dead. With the end approaching, they couldn’t face what was happening. The mother killed all her kids, then shot herself. It’s a devastating horror, and Michonne doesn’t let Carl see it.

Rick is awakened by voices arguing, and someone apparently being murdered. He gave Carl his gun, so Rick is unarmed, forcing him to hide under the bed. The guys who have invaded the house are total assholes, just unquestionably bad. They’ve already killed someone, and can’t even take a nap without strangling each other. They find one of Michonne’s shirts and immediately start discussing raping her.

It was actually kind of cool to have a situation that’s so black and white. There’s no moral ambiguity, no empathy with these douchebags. Just sheer terror because Rick is hiding under a bed. The tension kept going up, first as one of them sleeps on the bed, then when one falls down and sees Rick as they’re fighting. What an awesome plot device: he saw Rick but lost consciousness before he could say anything. Now Rick has to escape or kill that guy before he wakes up.

That whole set up with Rick stealthing through the house trying to escape was amazing. He eventually kills a guy in the bathroom (dude was sitting on the toilet, but with his pants up? Would have been a crazy fight if he’d had his pants around his ankles the whole time. A little Pulp Fiction homage). With that guy’s machine gun, Rick gets outside, and there’s yet another tense moment, finally defused by the dead guy in the house coming back as a walker and freaking out the whole scumbag crew. This gives Rick a chance to divert the returning Michonne and Carl and escape.

They wander some train tracks and find a sign for Terminus (“Those who arrive survive”). Looking like a lot of people are heading for Terminus.

On the other side of the plot tracks, Glenn and Tara are riding in the back of an army truck with a strange trio. This crew is so bizarre that it took me a while to figure out what was going on. They’re so over the top and hilariously clichéd, they are actually parodies of cheesy action movie characters.

You’ve got Sergeant Handlebar, who does clichéd action guy stuff when he kills walkers with a crowbar (but notice his sweet action moves don’t work all that well). You’ve got Lt. Midriff, a gorgeous woman in perfect makeup and earrings wearing implausibly sexy clothes despite the living hell going on around her. Then you’ve got Professor Mullet, the only man who knows how to stop the zombies and save the world. He talks in stilted hyperintellectual nerd speak and has no clue how to use a gun.

Now this is obviously the show’s writers (and of course, Kirkman before them) playing with action movie tropes. But at the same time, can’t you imagine people acting like that in a post-apocalyptic world? I doubt Professor Mullet knows anything important. Sergeant Handlebar (ok, Abraham Ford) probably knows this too, but it would feel good to be “on a mission.” To feel like you’re saving the world. To maybe have a chance and a purpose. Everyone discarded their old selves when the world ended and became new characters. These guys just happen to have picked theirs from an 80s action movie.

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Posted by on Sunday, February 23rd, 2014. Filed under Dark TV, Headline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.