EPISODE REVIEW: Walking Dead: "Chupacabra" (Season 2, Episode 5)



Something is definitely out of place on the farm. More about that later. This is another generally good episode, but I’d be remiss, in light of my criticisms of Falling Skies, if I didn’t note that the missing Sophia situation is being milked. It’s not a critical flaw at the moment, but it is what it is.

We open with yet another flashback to pre-Apocalypse times. This time it’s Shane, Lori and Carl trapped in a huge traffic jam as everyone tries to figure out what is happening. Not even the Emergency Broadcast System is working on the radio. Helicopters keep passing overhead, which leads to a truly chilling visual. When Shane and Lori venture out to try and see more, they see Atlanta on fire, with helicopters dropping more ordnance. It’s a good scene in a depressing show.

We open up with yet another day’s plan in the search for Sophia. Darryl’s discoveries last episode mean Sophia could be farther east than they thought, so new grids are drawn up. One of the farm people, a young’un by the name of Jimmy, asks to help look. He says he has Hershel’s permission. He’s also never done much with a gun, but would like to have one. Darryl, the woodsy comedian strikes again: “And people in hell want Slurpees.”

During the search, Rick and Shane have a locker room conversation about girls (and women) Shane scored in high school. It leads into the growing breach between Rick and Shane when Shane says nostalgia isn’t doing anyone any good. To be blunt, Shane wants to abandon the search. And he makes a decent enough factual case, pointing out that even in the pre-Apocalypse world, if the search for a child went over 72 hours, you were looking for a body. He points out all the injuries and misfortunes that have happened. And he says Rick keeps spreading them thinner and thinner.

As if to prove his point, we see Darryl alone on a horse scouting along the top of a ridge. He nails a squirrel with an arrow. After retrieving his prize, he notices an object below. It turns out to be Sophia’s doll. But shortly thereafter, a snake spooks his horse. Darryl is thrown and rolls down the ridge, bouncing off some rocks to land in the stream below. No matter how woodsy you are, that’s got to hurt, especially when you impale yourself on the left side with one of your own arrows. Darryl makes a makeshift tourniquet. Looking around, it’s a long, rocky climb out, but at least he’s able to use a stick to sift the stream and find his crossbow.

Back at the farm, Glen is freaked out that Lori hasn’t told Rick or Shane that she’s pregnant. Hershel is peeved that Darryl took a horse without asking, and that Jimmy lied to them. Seems the young’un didn’t have his permission to join the search. The whole patriarch thing is taking a continual tack toward the obsessive. And good old Rick is beginning to doubt himself as well—what if Shane is right?

Darryl makes it halfway up the ridge, loses his grip and falls back. Even as post-Apocalyptic life goes, he’s having a truly crappy day. He has a hallucination about Merle. Big brother is one nasty white trash piece of work, and he’s preying on Darryl’s uncertainty about fitting in with the more genteel folk. Since it’s his hallucination, obviously Darryl has those feelings. Merle goads him into action, too. He must have been one mean big brother, but it’s clear where some of Darryl’s resourcefulness comes from.

The hallucination ends with Merle kicking Darryl. In reality, that’s a walker gnawing on Darryl’s boot. Darryl comes to in time to beat it to death with his stick after a nasty tussle. Another walker is coming up fast. Darryl rips the arrow out of his side, loads the crossbow and takes care of business. He then eats his squirrel from earlier for sustenance. Slices off the two walkers’ ears and makes a necklace out of them, too. Nothing like an ear necklace to set the mood for a life-and-death struggle with Mother Nature. Darryl starts climbing again. Merle rags on him all the way.

Old mechanic Dale has tonight’s runner up line for humor. Glen returns one of his books and says he’s sorry it took so long. Dale says he’s sorry: “If I’d have known the world was ending, I’d have brought better books.” Andrea has taken his post atop the RV. She suddenly cries “Walker!” Four men folk grab sharp objects and race across the field toward it. But Andrea really wants to take that shot even if Dale is telling her no. The thing is, she waits until the men reach it.

Gun safety point: Don’t fire a gun if you’re not sure what you’re shooting. Andrea can see the four men have stopped in front of the walker, that they’re not freaking out. The situation appears to be under control. She shoots anyway.

Second gun safety point: If you aren’t a trained sniper, and you just have to take that long distance shot anyway, don’t wait until your allies have converged on the target. Historically, it’s called friendly fire. And it was a real possibility since her aim isn’t actually good enough to take out the target.

To make a long story short, the “walker” was dirty, filthy, bleeding Darryl staggering like a wounded man often does. Fortunately, Andrea only creased the side of his head. I cringed that anyone presumably competent enough to stand watch on the RV took that shot at all. Time for bad boy Shane to take her license away. Instead, Shane follows up with Rick: “Darryl almost died for a doll.” He’s ready to make hard choices, and that conflict is going to come to a head sooner or later.

Kindly veterinarian Hershel is definitely weirding me out now. Lori and Carol are cooking dinner as a show of thanks, and Hershel wants to know why he wasn’t told. He also gives a lecture to Maggie about her friendship with the Asian boy. Maggie says she’s a little old for that conversation. And she is. That Asian boy (Glen) drops several notches further in Hershel’s esteem at dinner when he asks if someone can play the nice guitar he found. Of course it belonged to Otis. And we’re reliably informed he was good with it.

The young folk are at it again. Maggie passes Glen a note that says “tonight, where?” Glen scribbles on it and passes it back. Meanwhile, Carol takes dinner to Darryl. Contrary to hallucination Merle’s claim that they all laugh at Darryl, she gives him a kiss on the cheek. Also tells him he’s done more for Sophia than her father ever did. Which those of us who watched last season can vouch for—Sophia’s father was a wife beating, jackass cliché out of central casting. He may have even given the walkers indigestion.

After the women finish washing the dishes (Dammit! Men don’t do their share around the house even after the world ends!), Maggie reads Glen’s response. She blanches. He’s off to meet her in the barn. The hayloft to be specific. She runs to stop him, but he’s already in the hayloft noticing a nasty smell. His flashlight finds a bunch of walkers snarling below. Maggie arrives and tells him “You weren’t supposed to see this.”

You think?

So there’s something quite twisted going on at this farm. Based on Rick’s conversations with Hershel last episode, I’d wager either these are relatives and friends and Hershel is awaiting those clever ER folks finding a cure, or Hershel’s ideas about God are several Da Vincis short of a Last Supper.

All in all, still pretty entertaining, even if they are milking the lost Sophia bit. Even when it’s slow and talky, they’ll slip in some pithy dialogue.

Will Conservatives Like This?

They should. Woodsy Darryl certainly demonstrated self-reliance tonight, which I believe is a conservative virtue. God only knows what to make of zombie family values, so I won’t try. And yeah, there was one bit where nasty redneck Merle denigrated Darryl for hanging out with pansies, a bad word, and Democrats. But you have to be thin-skinned to worry about stuff like that.