TV Review: The Walking Dead—”Nebraska”

 Way back in November (yeah, NOVEMBER), I mentioned my belief that the chapters on The Walking Dead were the biggest idiots on the planet. Three episodes later, not much has changed. For the most part, all the characters act pretty stupidly, doing things that any rational human being wouldn’t do. But I think I’ve figured something out this episode. Not only do the writers think the characters are stupid; they also believe WE ARE stupid.

Any context or subtlety within this show is microscopic. The writers think we are dumb, and have to walk us through literally EVERY single character moment or plot detail. For instance, one of the most effective character moments of the episode comes from Carl, as he explains to his mother that he too would have shot Sophia, just like his dad. This is certainly something you wouldn’t want to hear a child talk about, especially in the detached and nonchalant manner he delivered it in. This speaks volumes to just how serious and un-childlike Carl has become as he sees more and more of the zombie world he now presides in. It was smart set up and characterization, very easy to understand and simply enough to grasp. But then, 10 minutes later, Lori spells out everything to Rick in some very stilted and forced dialogue. And that’s the problem with “Nebraska”; almost every element felt forced.

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Shane’s irate and idiotic belief that Hershal knew Sophia was in the barn? Forced. Dale’s sudden and AMAZINGLY accurate discovery that Shane killed Otis? Forced. Lori taking off to “rescue” Rick, well simultaneously running over a walker and careening her car into a ditch? Forced. Characters in The Walking Dead don’t do things because they are the realistic and rational thing to do; they do it to move the damn plot along.

Thankfully, though, that damn plot IS actually moving a long. The show got it self in a rut by focusing on The Search for Sophia for half the season. Now, with that issue effectively felt with, the crew has to move into some new situations. And so far, those situations seem promising. The hands down best season of the night (and possibly this SEASON) was the bar scene, in which Rick, Glenn, and a drunk and grieving Hershal run into a pair of weary travelers from Philly. After an exchange of dialogue, the main guy, Dave (played excellently by Terriers’ Michael Raymond James) asks Rick if the duo (and assumingly , there “buddies” back at camp) could stay at the safe house of the farm. Rick nicely refuses, but it’s pretty apparent the two wouldn’t take no for an answer. The event begins to escalate, but right before it hits its boiling point, Rick did something completely surprising; he shots both of them dead. It was a great way to end the scene and the episode, but I’m guessing the decision won’t bode well for the group. As the preview for next week’s episode depicts, the group that Dave and his obese friend Tony belonged to won’t take lightly to two of their own being shot. They’re going to want bloodshed. The bar scene was everything I ever wanted from The Walking Dead; decent dialogue about life during the zombie apocalypse, lively acting, and events that move the plot forward. It’s a damn shame that this show needs guest stars rather than their own regular cast to deliver these things.

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The other parts of this episode bordered on alright to freaking unbearable. I already commented on Lori this episode, but literally everything she did made no sense. I know it was just a way to move the plot forward for next week, but that doesn’t excuse the stupidity of that scene. I actually really liked Hershal in this episode, mostly due to Scott Wilson’s performance as a man who’s realized just how foolish he’s been, and fights to come to terms with what he has just realized. His conversation with Rick in the bar worked pretty well, in my opinion.

Finally, I want to touch base on Shane. He seemed much more angry and off this episode, ranting at almost everything that happens. One of my favorite parts of this episode has him arguing with Dale, who just stares at him the entire time as Shane rhetorically debates his decisions with himself. That conversation alone shows that even he will find any means to justify himself. Shane’s conversation with Carol, on the other hand, was actually sweet and pointed to a softer, more emotional side of Shane. He’s torn between his morals and survival, which makes him both a useful and dangerous companion. Shane still remains the most interesting character on this show and, moving forward, I hope all these characters can get this type of treatment. Lord knows the characters need it.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

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Loose Thoughts:

*Andrea was the only one who used a weapon when fighting that zombie in the opening…despite the fact that three of the characters at that moment had guns. But no, let’s just let T-Dog curve stomp that bitch! It’s funner that way.

*Why didn’t Maggie answer Glenn when he asked if she knew Sophia was in the barn? Maybe the residents of Hershal farm ARE hiding something…

*The scene between Rick and Lori at the beginning of the episode felt very…over written. We get it, the search for Sophia was a waste of time! Move on already!

*They can’t even use gloves when disposing of zombie corpses? Yuck.

*What lead Dale believe that Shane left Otis to die? You know, other than the writing staff.

*Lori earns the Fucking Stupid Character of the Week Award. You can’t just go off in a zombie infested area with a map and a revolver, hoping to “save” your husband (who was in no danger at all, by the way!)

*I like how the new group called the walkers “lamebrains.” It kind of shows how we’re just witnessing a tiny piece of the overall world, and that different groups have perceived things differently than our motley crew.

*How did the fat guy survive the zombie apocalypse? Haven’t The Walking Dead writers seen Zombieland? Cardio, bro. Anyways, enough fat jokes. For now.

-Matthew