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The Walking Dead: "Alone" (Season 4, Episode 13)

We see some of this show’s strengths return to the fore this week. Specifically, they know how to do a theme for an episode, stringing it across multiple characters and scenes, even if they do bludgeon you with it at times. Second, they do killer set pieces. You won’t find much in the way of TV that does it better.

 

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The Walking Dead: "After" (Season 4, Episode 9)

AMC’s hit zombie show is back from its holiday vacation, and the verdict is Not Bad.

 

Good, actually. There was even humor. This show has trouble with story arcs, but it’s got real visual flair and knows how to deliver on individual episodes. Perhaps I’m overly appreciative after watching Helix, but then… For God’s sake, people, I’ve been watching Helix!  

 

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The Walking Dead: "Dead Weight" (Season 4, Episode 7)

Well, that was pointless, now wasn’t it?

The Governor goes from psychopath to sad loser surrounded by lazy walkers to family man and back to psychopath, all in the span of 1.25 episodes. Why? I guess because there were two episodes to kill. Maybe next week’s slam-bang action will give me second thoughts, but at this point I’m seriously unimpressed with the whole Governor arc. And yes, that retroactively extends all the way back to the third season.

It’s dead weight.

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The Walking Dead: "Internment" (Season 4, Episode 5)

Well that was one gory, boring, exciting, confusing gross-out of a memorable episode, wasn’t it? Just when it had me going “Meh,” it lurched up like a walker itself and started shambling right and left in impressively gnarly fashion. The first half was pretty unmemorable, the second half memorable indeed. But it also included some things I don’t want to remember.

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The Walking Dead: "30 Days Without an Accident" (Season 4, Episode 1)

Let’s see, a bucolic life in prison, it’s raining zombies, and twin tragedies to round all that out. All in all, a quite effective hour of television to launch the medium's gross savant of a series.

We open with a lovely picture of some plants, birds sweetly chirping in the background. Rick splashes his face with water from a barrel. Then he tends the soil. It’s a minute of paradise until he takes off his headphones and hears all the walkers snarling along the outer gate of the prison yard. The contrast is nicely staged.

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The Walking Dead: "Welcome to the Tombs" (Season 3, Episode 16)

Well, that was different.

Dramatically, you could say it worked. Thematic resolution of a sort occurred, and in real life, things often do end with a whimper rather than a true bang. Still, the sense of proportion seemed off in a couple of places. Basically, Rick and Co. came up with a rather weak plan, but triumphed anyway because the Governor went nuts.

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The Walking Dead: "Prey" (Season 3, Episode 14), "This Sorrowful Life" (Season 3, Episode 15)

One kind of weak episode followed by one kind of strong episode. Yin and Yang. Peanut butter and chocolate. That sort of thing. The bottom line is that zombies are back drop and this show lives and dies by characterization. The weak episode focused on Andrea and the Governor, who have become tiresome. The strong episode focused on black-sheep brother Merle, who was a breath of fresh air.

“Prey”

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The Walking Dead: “Arrow on the Doorpost” (Season 2, Episode 13)

My dinner with the Governor.

That’s pretty much this episode, which revolves around a meeting Andrea arranged between Rick and the Big G to try and settle their differences. Since we all know the Governor is a deeply disturbed man who will still want to kill Rick and Company no matter what they agree to (as he’s killed others), it’s inevitably anticlimactic. It does serve to move the story along. It’s just not the Emmy winning confrontation the writers seem to think it is.

In short, it’s milked.

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The Walking Dead: “I Ain’t a Judas” (Season 2, Episode 11) & “Clear” (Season 2, Episode 12)

Man. More and more I don’t really know what to make of this show anymore. At times it’s astoundingly written, it definitely holds your interest, and yet… There’s a streak of sadism that keeps peeking through that I’m not so enchanted with. Maybe that’s just inevitable if you keep a zombie movie going past its two hour cinematic running time. Or maybe it’s just me. But I did find “Clear” in particular to be both brilliant and disturbing.

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