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Fear the Walking Dead: Cobalt

FTWD - Cobalt

“Show, don’t tell.”  How many times have you heard this phrase used to describe one of the most basic rules of storytelling.  It’s far more effective to show the audience an action than to have someone tell the audience about it.  Here’s another one: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  So why then does Fear the Walking Dead insist on having characters tell us everything that it should be showing us?  Because it’s a lot cheaper to have an actor in a chair describe the fall of Los Angeles than it is to film it.

The sales pitch for Fear the Walking Dead was that the spin-off show was going to cover the part of the story that the original show skipped over; the start of the zombie apocalypse.  There’s a lot of potential in that premise if you can get the details right.  The challenge is to portray the fall of civilization in a way which is believable.  The zombie threat, which is slow and disorganized, has to somehow overwhelm the most powerful military in all of human history.

We have seen how our government reacts to an outbreak of something like Ebola.  While controversial decisions were made, we saw that for the most part our institutions handled a real life epidemic effectively.  So in order for the fall of those institutions to be believable, the zombie threat had to be more difficult to handle than Ebola.  It’s got to spread so fast that the medical community and the military and anyone else who might be useful in combating it, have to be caught of guard.

Orrrrrrrr there’s another option.  It’s less plausible but easier to write.  Instead of explaining how slow-moving zombies with no ability to strategize toppled a powerful nation, you could just write it so that everyone who might prevent a zombie apocalypse is really bad at their job.   Like Kim Davis bad.  They are not just incompetent, but malicious. In fact they are all so committed to an evil conspiracy that they can barely contain themselves.  Their malice is constantly bubbling up to the surface so that only an idiot – like, say, Travis – wouldn’t immediately put two and two together.

The conspiracy angle has plagued Fear the Walking Dead since the pilot.  It’s just so hard to swallow.  As the show has continued, the evil conspiracy has become more and more central to the story.  In this episode, the military’s big plan is revealed.  At oh-nine-hundred hours, they are going to initiate evacuation procedures referred to as “cobalt”.  Not surprisingly, these procedures include “humanely” killing everyone who isn’t in the military.

What is the possible advantage of “Cobalt”?  Why protect the citizenry behind a fence at all if you just plan to kill them anyway?  Why not keep the useful ones?  Certainly, if someone is infected you don’t want to risk contamination.  But a suburb full of innocent American citizens, all completely healthy having passed medical screenings within the last 24 hours?  Why on earth would you want to kill them?  This plan – which is at the center of the resolution of the show’s first season, doesn’t make a lick of sense.

But it’s about as reasonable as anything else that happened during this episode.

We started the hour off with Ophelia trying to turn the locals against their captors.  She’s not wrong to distrust the armed men who absconded with her mother in the middle of the night.  But open defiance is just incredibly stupid.  Her boyfriend, Adams, manages to convince her to bring it down a notch.  She repays this favor by taking the soldier to her father, Daniel.

Daniel says he’s going to trade Adams for his wife.  But that’s idiotic.  Daniel is outnumbered and outgunned and he knows it.  His real plan is to torture Adams for intel that will help him rescue his wife from the medical facility.  And also Nick, although I’m not sure why anyone would want to rescue Nick.  Maddy goes along with the plan because Nick is her son so if anyone was going to try to rescue him, it would have to be her.

Here’s the thing.  Adams seems like a nice enough guy.  He spills the beans on code word “cobalt” after Daniel carves up his arm.  But seeing as how he knows that the soldiers are just going to kill everyone in the morning anyway, why wouldn’t he have warned them right from the get-go.  He doesn’t seem to be down with the “kill the innocents” plan.  But he needed to undergo torture in order for the show to meet its scheduled run time.

This is also when Adams delivers a monologue describing the fall of Los Angeles and how the zombies overpowered military forces and were locked in a stadium.  Wow.  That sounds really cool.  Someone should really make a TV show about that!  You know, the show Fear the Walking Dead was supposed to be.

Meanwhile Chris and Alicia set up shop in the abandoned house of wealthy neighbors and killed time playing dress-up.  The fact that the show alluded to a potential romance between the two kids probably means we are stuck with Chris and Alicia in season two.  Dammit.  The two teens then decide to steal a couple of pages from the script for Zombieland and smash the place up.  I’m sure this was in some way essential to the overall story and not just a way to stretch the episode to fit the allotted time.

Despite the fact that Travis has every reason to distrust Moyers at this point, he goes running to the military man for help.  Moyers agrees to take Travis to see his ex-wife at the medical facility.  Just like Maddie’s trip into town last week, Travis never actually makes it to his destination.  Instead, the unit comes across a zombie which Moyers makes Travis shoot.  Since Travis is completely useless, he can’t shoot the former waitress after he reads he name tag.  Travis then sits in the military vehicle while the soldiers fight some zombies mostly off-camera.

Although Travis never makes it to the medical facility, we get a few glimpses inside.  Of course it looks like a hospital by way of Silence of the Lambs.  When the episode opens, we see poor, pathetic Doug – the one person in the world more worthless than Travis – being broken down by a smooth-talker named Strand.  All of Doug’s blubbering gets him carted away presumably never to return.

Later, when Nick is showing signs of a fever, the guards come for him too.  But Strand cuts a deal to keep Nick around.  He later explains to Nick that he knows the world has gone topsy-turvy and that he is going to need someone with Nick’s “set of skills” to execute his grand plan.  Aside from stealing morphine drips and mussing his hair, I wasn’t aware Nick had a skill set.  If you ask me, Strand should have kept his cufflinks.

The episode ends with Liza checking up on Grizelda.  Apparently, she has been receiving the kind of treatment that was supposed to accompany Obamacare.  You know a death panel was involved somewhere along the way.  Instead of giving her antibiotics, the doctors have removed her foot which somehow results in her death.  Fortunately, the doctor is on hand to put her down for good with a cattle gun.  Better late than never, Liza got the Cliff’s Notes version on the zombie problem.

With only one episode left in the show’s first season, there is no chance of redemption.  Even if the finale hits on all cylinders, there’s no making up for the massive mis-fire that has been the first five episodes.  And lets face facts, the finale isn’t likely to be much better than what preceded it.  But hey, this Strand guy seems like an interesting character.  Fingers crossed he is a sign of better things to come in season 2.

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Posted on September 27, 2015, in TV, Walking Dead and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

  1. So, the way to stop an epidemic is to just kill EVERYONE? Kinda like throwing the baby out with the bath water, isn’t it? I mean, presumably you want to stop the epidemic so people DON’T die, so killing them kinda defeats the purpose, really. I’m not following this train of logic. Why wouldn’t you just go out and kill the zombies, quarantine some people, and focus on keeping people healthy people alive so they don’t turn into zombies and taking care of the people who inevitably do die before they have a chance to turn? Issue public warnings and instructions of how to spot zombie and take them out and immediately- bam, you’re covered. No epidemic, no apocalypse.
    In retrospect, I think trying to logically explain the origins and process of a zombie apocalypse is actually a pretty bad idea. The whole premise of zombies is illogical to begin with, and in reality, even if zombies COULD exist, it would be easy as fuck to stamp them out- it wouldn’t even take them that long. They’d get eaten by animals, they’d walk off bridges and into holes and rivers and ditches and into road spikes, they’d walk into things and get impaled or burned, they’d putrefy and turn to goo in high heat, they’d get to be like a frost bitten steak in the winter, their lower jaws would detach and biting wouldn’t be possible. The key to enjoying zombie-themed horror is to just suspend disbelief and don’t think too much about it; turn off your brain and just go with it. The more you try to make it conform to patterns and logic and force it into some kind of plausibility, the more the whole thing just falls to pieces. Leaping over the whole story of how and why and just dealing with the aftermath is actually a wise decision.

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    • In fairness, we don’t know who gave the kill order or why. We don’t even know at this point if there is a government. The cobalt order could have been given by Moyers. He may be mad with power. He has given off a crazy “I’m going to kill you all sooner or later” in every single scene so far. But yeah, it doesn’t make any sense at all.

      There’s definitely a certain level of suspension of disbelief required for a zombie show. I’m willing to make the required leaps. I’ll accept that zombies exist and function the way we have seen in countless movies. I’m even willing to excuse a certain amount of stupid behavior because otherwise the zombie threat is pretty easy to deal with even after the apocalypse. In the right hands, you could definitely do a story about the fall of civilization. But it’s harder to do than just having a bunch of characters run through the zombie-infested woods. TWD demonstrates time and again that it doesn’t know how to deal with the little details like time, geography or character motivation. So I had my doubts that the people who botched up the parent show could pull off a spin-off with a higher level of difficulty. The first five episodes have proved that once again they have botched the execution.

      But the episode did introduce the show’s most compelling character to date. Strand is someone who would steal scenes on TWD. So I figure once they are done dealing with the nonsense of the first season and they get a few more interesting characters, FTWD will be virtually indistinguishable from the parent show.

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      • But you wrote that this episode has taken the series “past the point of redemption”. When I say it though, you take the hopeful approach. I don’t think they will get “done with dealing with the nonsense.” I think they’ll just give us more and different nonsense. It’s main flaw is it’s failure to be genuinely entertaining. People forgive stupid plots if they’re being entertained. Like the movie “High Tension”- the plot twist makes it so the previous events you’ve witnessed don’t make any sense, but most people didn’t care. This is both stupid AND boring. Film can only be one or the other- you have to pick. As someone who actually LIKES TWD, I feel like these are actually two extremely different shows that wouldn’t pick up the same fan base if they weren’t connected. In fact, I don’t think this show would find much of an audience at all if it didn’t have a built in one. The things people like about TWD- they aren’t here. One solid character is not enough.

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        • I said the first season was past the point of redemption, not the show.

          I think in the long run, the show will be as good/bad as the parent show once they have had some time to tweak it. The second season of TWD was arguably worse than this season of FTWD. I realize you have a much higher opinion of the parent show than I do. That’s a gulf we’re not going to be able to cross. To my eyes (and those of reviewers I have read) FTWD is not all that different from TWD. It’s just off to a shakier start.

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    • brokencandy said: “I mean, presumably you want to stop the epidemic so people DON’T die, so killing them kinda defeats the purpose, really.”

      BC, sometimes you have to destroy the village in order to save it.

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      • “BC, sometimes you have to destroy the village in order to save it.”

        Why would the military expend the trouble and resources to set up a massive medical operation to treat the sick and injured if they’re just going to kill all the healthy people in the safe-zone?

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        • And if they’re going to kill them, why don’t they just quit dicking around and kill them already? What is the purpose of occupying the neighborhood and upholding a charade for several weeks, using up time and resources, forging relationships that will only distract you from your mission, instead of just doing it right away? Why wouldn’t they simply go in with guns blazing and exterminate them efficiently, no muss no fuss? Why make a simple objective unnecessarily complicated?

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        • Presumably, they didn’t go in there with the intent to kill all the citizens. That’s Plan B. But we’ve been given no reason why Plan B would be required. From everything we have been shown, the zombie threat is well under wraps. Every now and then, they come across one which they shoot in the head with a sniper scope. Moyers even makes a point of saying Hellen Keller could do it with their fancy equipment.

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  2. The annoying part is that the solution was built into the premise. The Walking Dead ‘verse shows two forms of the zombie plague. The first is the form that exists within healthy people and revives them on death. The second is the form carried by the walkers, which is transmitted by bite.

    Now, we know that everybody within the universe carries the first form of the plague. How did they get it? The point at which the entire population becomes infected is the start of your show.

    Showing the infection of the entire population then gives you a method of overwhelming civil institutions. How do you do that? First, make your plague highly infectious and airborne, like measles on steroids. Then, give it a short incubation period. This will not only help with pacing on the show, but would give the authorities far less time to track people down and quarantine them. Now, here’s the important part. People need to be able to transmit the plague before being unable to function. It needs to be the kind of thing that conceals itself. (Again, to prevent quick identification and quarantine.) I’m thinking a “well at breakfast, dead at dinner” style plague.

    So, you’ve infected everyone over a very short period of time. Now it’s time to break the world. People start dying in waves. Not everyone who is infected will die–it’s plausible since there is variation in immunity and our heroes have to come from somewhere–but kill over half of the people who contract the disease. I’m thinking 75 to 80% is nice.

    At that stage, you not only lose infrastructure support, you lose civil services. There’s no way even the US military will be able to put a dent in the chaos because they’ll be stretched too thin.

    The downside, of course, is that over half of your main cast won’t survive the first couple of episodes. (On this show, it would be a bonus.)

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    • Those are exactly the sort of details the showrunners should have worked out from the beginning. It should have been Day 1, step 1. They needed to do a little bit of research on how diseases spread, or at least watch Contagion.

      And the absolutely should have killed off some of the main cast by now. It’s ridiculous that we have gone 5 episodes without a major fatality. Especially when characters have been begging to be zombie chow.

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  3. Seriously. The first episode would be the one that shows the start. I’d have someone die in the beginning, but not revive. (Maybe make one of my leads an ER doctor or paramedic or something.) That would be to establish that the plague hasn’t spread yet. I’d then send everyone to a football game with my Patient Zero. The episode would end with Patient Zero dying alone somewhere and reviving.

    Episode two would start with the sporadic deaths. The authorities don’t know what’s going on yet so they don’t have effective measures in place. Some people are planning to leave the city, others plan to ride it out, still others think it will blow over.

    Episode three: the first wave goes down. This is where widespread quarantine goes into effect. It would not be optional. Emergency services are taxed, but hanging on. The military might be called in to support law enforcement in maintaining the quarantine. The constitutional right to gather would be suspended. Restaurants, cinemas, gathering places, would all be shut Here’s the first of the riots.

    Episode four: the second wave goes down. Here’s where we lose the infrastructure. Power and water go out. People are dying and reviving faster than the authorities are able to deal with them. Those that are left, that is. Soldiers are dying on patrol. Civilians have to work out what to do on their own.

    Episode five: realizing that the city is a death trap, the survivors plan to fight their way out. Then the third wave goes down.

    Episode six: escape for the suburbs! Zombie mayhem! (I’ve conveniently used the plague to set up truly epic head-exploding action.)

    Of course, this is just using their six-episode format. You could take it out to twelve–provided you had good stories with engaging characters–by going to the next stage of the pandemic every other episode.

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    • I’d happily watch your show.

      As you pointed out, if the characters were more engaging, they could have gone in-depth for much longer than six episodes. But execution is key and they have seriously dropped the ball.

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    • It would be kind of like “The Stand” with zombies instead of self-mutating superflu, though. Stephen King did a much better job of credibly dealing with shattering pandemic. Robert Kirkman is on board for this show, isn’t he? I’m surprised that he failed to come up with a better backstory for his universe.

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  4. “Wow. That sounds really cool. Someone should really make a TV show about that! You know, the show Fear the Walking Dead was supposed to be.”

    That made me laugh. I also laughed when that guy, all cool and collected, offered the line about Nick’s skill-set. (I didn’t write it up though! I went into my piece this week intent on knocking it out quickly then got a long phone call right in the middle that queered my mojo. I probably missed some other things I was going to write as well but the phone call was way more important). And the military guy going along with letting Nick stay in exchange for some cufflinks? THIS has value now?

    A lot of the rest of this is, of course, the same gospel I’ve been preaching for a while. As is usually the case, there’s no logic to anything that happened here. What in hell does Daniel think he’s going to be able to gain by torturing Adams (the one guy, btw, who has been nice to them)? And Adams is going to let his comrades massacre his girlfriend and her family? That info has to be tortured out of him? Really?

    Ugh.

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    • It’s getting tough to write about this show because it’s the same thing every week. I have no doubt whatever phone call you may have received was more pressing. A telemarketer would have been a welcome diversion.

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    • The torture thing was weird. I can accept that Daniel’s background would lead him to think torture may be a useful technique. However, it made no sense at the start when Daniel was threatening him and Adams seemed truly scared and willing to tell him what he knew. Daniel basically said “too bad, I’m going to torture you anyway”. Yes, we eventually see Adams was holding out about Cobalt, but that doesn’t explain Daniel’s intention to torture him no matter what.

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  5. I agree with most all of what you and the other commentors had to say. I really want to like this show but every time I try and forgive a plot hole or nonsensical action they dump another on on us. I’ll give season 2 a try to see if they work out the kinks, but if they don’t have their act together by the first few episodes I’ll probably give up on it.

    How long was Rick out for at the beginning of TWD? I can’t imagine someone in a coma surviving on his own without food, water, or medical care more than a few days, maybe a week. Since we are at least 2-3 weeks into FTWD at this point we must be beyond where TWD started.

    I just can’t take the military in this show seriously. It feels much more like how you’d expect civilians to be treated if the Russians or Chinese invaded the US and rounded everyone up. I can accept a secretive government that isn’t necessarily working directly in the public interest, but this is too much. At least they killed off the guy in charge of our groups neighborhood. Though they strongly suggested that the other soldiers may have killed him on purpose. Which means that if they try to carry out Cobalt then we have to wonder what the motivation in killing the leader really was as it seemed that the treatment of civilians was a major reason (along with mistreating the troops). Also, if their plan is to save the military and kill off everyone else then they surely aren’t doing long term planning as the military is overwhelmingly male. Kind of hard to continue the human race without women.

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    • You know how time is on TWD. It’s impossible to determine. I believe Rick was supposed to have been in his coma form months, not days. Apparently someone worked it out that Rick was out for 45 days. I don’t know. How he survived has been a subject of debate for years now. TWD has NEVER been good at details.

      The military plan just makes no sense. There’s no point trying to figure it out. It exists so the good guys will have someone to run from. Other than, you know, ZOMBIES!!!

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      • I should have guessed Rick would have magically been out 1-2 months given that they are also trying to make us believe that the entire series has taken place over less than 2 years.

        I agree about the military in FTWD, but I guess it bugs me because it may be the least believable “group” in either Walking Dead show when they should be the most believable considering it is a real organization and it has been a very short time since society started collapsing. Hopefully once they escape the military won’t have much presence in the show anymore.

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    • “How long was Rick out for at the beginning of TWD? I can’t imagine someone in a coma surviving on his own without food, water, or medical care more than a few days, maybe a week. Since we are at least 2-3 weeks into FTWD at this point we must be beyond where TWD started.”

      Both Glen Mazzara (when he was showrunner) and Robert Kirkman (still on paper an “executive producer”) have publicly stated Rick was in a coma for 3-4 weeks. Erickson, the showrunner of FTWD, said it was about a month. None of the other clues offered in the series line up in any way, not with this and not with one another. There was never any timeline. “About a month” is what’s been said by everyone on the creative end who has expressed a view.

      Rick didn’t have to survive all this time without food, water or treatment though; he’d already been in a coma for weeks before the hospital was overrun. At some point prior to that, probably as a consequence of the growing crisis, the staff had stopped shaving his face–when he awakened, he had about 2 weeks of growth there. If he was in a coma for a month, he could have been there for two weeks, then zombies appear, two more weeks pass, the hospital falls and he wakes up either that day or the next. Any longer without care and he wouldn’t have survived. I’m not sure why people think he spent his entire coma-time sitting alone in an empty hospital; that’s demonstrably not the case. If what I’ve just outlined is correct though–he was shot, was in a coma for two weeks, zombies appear, he remained in a coma for two more weeks, hospital fell, he awakened that day or a day later–then yeah, FTWD has already moved past that point–it’s more than 2 weeks after the zombies appeared.

      If, on the other hand, the creators insisted the zombies began to appear right after Rick was shot, they’d still have a little time.

      But as I’ve said (and demonstrated) a million times, TWD’s creators have never worked from a timeline and both you and I, in these two posts, just put more thought into this matter than they ever have.

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      • That was always the impression I was under- that he was in a coma for about two or three weeks. The greater time lapse was finding and reuniting with his family- that a few additional weeks or a month or two. If it wasn’t more than a couple months total, I’d say that Lori started hooking up with Shane at an inappropriately fast clip. “Oh my god my husband’s dead! I’m so sad! Oh well, let’s fuck!” You’d think that in the grief and confusion and the shock and horror at the world ending, not to mention the basic struggle to survive on a daily basis, getting laid would be the furthest thing from your mind.

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        • TWD would prefer we not speculate about time frames. They really have no idea what happened when. Carl’s grown two feet taller while Judith is still an infant.

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        • “That was always the impression I was under- that he was in a coma for about two or three weeks. The greater time lapse was finding and reuniting with his family- that a few additional weeks or a month or two. If it wasn’t more than a couple months total, I’d say that Lori started hooking up with Shane at an inappropriately fast clip.”

          The big sticking-point here is that the creators threw in a flashback that placed Shane at the hospital at the very moment it was overrun. Meaning he, Lori and Carl hadn’t yet left for Atlanta. Rick awakens within a few hours of the hospital’s fall; if we stretch it, maybe the next day. Any longer and he would have died.

          You’re wrong about what happened after that though.

          Rick awakened, met Morgan and son, spent the night with them then went on to Atlanta the next day. There’s no gap of weeks or months there–it’s all covered in the pilot. He’s in Atlanta and reunited with his family the day after he awakens. That means the entire Lori/Shane affair had to have happened in two days or less and probably only one day.

          It’s worth noting that none of these timeline problems were ported over from the comic. The comic has a coherent timeline. Like every other problem with TWD, this is a tv original.

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        • I know he didn’t stay long with Morgan, I had just thought that it was several days after leaving Morgan that he caught up with the survivors and found his family. It was years ago though, memory is unreliable. I don’t go back and revisit seasons- I enjoy them as they’re happening, but watching them over again is exhausting.

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        • Because the show’s pacing is really bad! 😉

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        • I am really happy that other people were as puzzled by the timeline in relation to Shane and Lori’s affair.

          Honestly, when I first watched the show, I just assumed that they had been having an affair before Rick was shot because I thought the early episodes were sequenced pretty tightly together. Their relationship that allegedly cropped up in the midst of a zombie outbreak didn’t look like it had developed in a matter of days or a couple of weeks, so I figured it was the product of a much longer relationship. That’s also how I interpreted some of the character interactions that were supposed to predate the zombie outbreak–like the opening conversation between Rick and Shane, which I thought featured some significant looks from Shane while Rick discussed his problems with his wife.

          It was only when I rewatched the first season that I realized my interpretation was probably not what the showrunners were going for, especially given some of the conversations that Lori and Shane had after the affair was over. But then I started wondering the same things you all did if that were the case, in regard to how long Rick was out. Either way, things don’t add up.

          In any event, I watched the original show for three seasons before deciding that, though I wanted to like it, I really didn’t need to see anymore of it. I have no intention of watching this latest incarnation because the episodes don’t even sound enjoyably awful, though I do love reading Lebeau’s always hilarious reviews and everybody’s commentary about it. 😀

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        • I don’t know, you might enjoy Carol’s ascension to totally badassery. That’s something that’s gotten positive responses all around. Lebeau had commented on enjoying seeing Liam Neeson as a middle-aged-bordering elderly badass motherfucker in ‘Taken’, and I was thinking about how that’s cool and all but it’s a shame though that they’d never do that with an older female. but that’s kind of what TWD has done with the character of Carol Peletier, and Melissa Mcbride sells it so well that no one questions it: she’s the Liam Neeson of TWD. Her “I’ll tie you to a tree” speech was not so different from the “I will find you, and I will kill you” monologue.

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        • Carol was definitely one of the bright spots for TWD for me in the seasons I watched. Most of the TWD fans I know adore Daryl, and I liked Daryl all right, but truthfully I enjoyed Carol much more. I loved her character’s journey, which surprised me in many ways but also seemed much more natural than some of the other character progressions. (Looking at you, Rick.) McBride really is excellent in that role.

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        • I’ve written some articles about the differences between the comic book and the show before, but Carol and Daryl are two prime examples. So I’ll risk repeating myself here.

          Daryl doesn’t exist in the comic books. So the show has complete creative license over what to do with him. When he started, he was pretty clearly supposed to be Merle’s redneck brother. He was introduced so that someone would be angry about Merle’s absence and to have conflict with T-Dog. I doubt there were any long term plans for the character beyond being a racist who would probably be killed off in season 2. But Norman Reedus brought something more to the character than what was on the page and audiences responded to him. The more popular the character became, the more Reedus was allowed to essentially write his own character which only served to make him more popular. I think something very similar happened with Carol and McBride.

          In the comics, Carol starts off in the same place. But instead of getting stronger, she gets weaker. Ironically, Sophia does not die. She outlives most of the characters who are on the show. I haven’t read the comics in about a year, but I checked the Walking Dead wiki and apparently Sophia is still alive and kicking. Meanwhile, Carol is long gone. After her husband died, Carol started a relationship with Tyreese at the prison. Then Michonne arrived and Tyreese cheated on Carol. Carol was crushed. She gradually lost it. Carl and Sophia played together, so she was naturally close with Rick and Lori. Eventually, Carol started hitting on Lori and trying to form an open marriage with the Grimes family. When Lori rejected her, Carol couldn’t deal. She ended up feeding herself to a zombie as a form of suicide.

          So, comic book Carol was pretty pathetic. I don’t think the show ever intended to take their character in the same direction. But I also don’t think they intended to make her into a warrior woman. Carol is pretty weak throughout season 2. But she and Daryl had some scenes together that amped up Daryl’s bad boy with a heart of gold image. That made Carol kind of cool by association. Reedus and McBride kept adding personal touches and improvisations which once again the audience latched on to. Most of the stuff that initially made the two characters popular probably didn’t come from the writer’s room. But eventually, the writers caught on to what was making these characters popular and started incorporating it into the scripts.

          Which brings me back to FTWD. When TWD first started, Carol and Daryl were not cool. They slowly emerged as stand-out characters over time. The same thing could happen with this show. As it stands right now, the leads are all pretty unsympathetic. But given a chance to tweak the formula, FTWD could develop its own Carols and Daryls. In fact I will be very surprised if that doesn’t happen over time.

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        • “I am really happy that other people were as puzzled by the timeline in relation to Shane and Lori’s affair.”

          TWD is a mess across the board when it comes to this sort of things. The writers never used a timeline. In the comic, Lori, Shane and Carl went to Atlanta a week before the hospital had been overrun. Things got really bad on the outskirts of Atlanta and they ended up in the survivor’s camp. There was no extended Lori/Shane affair; it was a one-time thing in a moment of sadness and hopelessness. Lori and Rick were happily married but Shane had long carried a torch for her and it all just sort of spilled out. A week after Lori had left, the hospital was overrun and Rick awakened, met Morgan then went to Atlanta, just as happened on the tv show.

          The TWD pilot was as direct an adaptation of the comic as one ever sees; maybe not as close as SIN CITY but like that–virtually a straight duplication of the first few issues of the book. It’s a virtual certainty that Frank Darabont intended to use the book’s timeline as well. Lori makes a comment in the pilot, something like “I’ve been saying all week we should put warning signs along the interstate going into town.” That would line up with it perfectly.

          Unfortunately, toward the end of the first season, the writers threw in a flashback that showed Shane at the hospital at the very moment it was being overrun. That precluded any sort of week-long gap there–Rick awakened, stayed with Morgan overnight and went to Atlanta the next day to be reunited with his family. By this point, dialogue had already established that the Lori/Shane affair only began after Shane told Lori that Rick was dead. That meant the entire affair had to happen within a day, two days at the most.

          I’ve written three pieces over the years specifically devoted to the timeline problems (and of course other problems turn up here and there throughout my articles).

          http://cinemarchaeologist.blogspot.com/2012/03/walking-dead-9.html
          http://cinemarchaeologist.blogspot.com/2013/03/walking-dead-26.html
          http://cinemarchaeologist.blogspot.com/2014/08/walking-dead-47.html

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        • The information about the comic book timeline is very helpful! Thank you!

          I have never read them, but I think that sequence of events makes much more sense than what was depicted onscreen, In fact, I can definitely see how Shane’s expressions during the first episode would indicate a man secretly in love with his best friend’s wife.

          Even if they wanted to show Shane in the hospital with Rick for whatever reason but kept the original version of the affair, with it being a one time affair in the midst of a confusing, terrifying situation, that would have seemed less bizarre than what was featured on the show and still would have had potential for dramatic awkwardness. Instead it was almost like Shane and Lori had developed their own mini-marriage in a matter of days.

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        • Cinemarchaeologist is a great resource for TWD. If you’re not reading his write-ups on The Dig, you should check them out. We have a friendly competition between us and I will be the first to admit his articles are usually more insightful than mine. He knows his stuff.

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        • In their sex scene, though, it seemed obviously that they had done it before and they alluded to having to scheme for scenarios to be alone together without being gone for two long. It gave the impression of the affair having been well-established and intense. The paternal bond that Shane developed with Carl and the difficulty of stepping back from it after Rick’s reappearance implied that as well: that he had stepped into Rick’s place of the father-husband-patriarch role, which is why he was not so pleased to find that Rick was alive after all. It stretches credibility a bit to imagine that such an intense web of relationships had been established after simply hooking up a time or two, unless Shane was simply disturbed.

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      • Though that leads me to wonder how Rick could have survived in a coma without someone being there to keep up IV feedings and what not. How long the hospital had been overrun, defunct and abandoned is an even better question than how long was he out. I guess it doesn’t seem too plausible when you think about it, but fortunately, the beginning of TWD kept you distracted enough not to notice. FTWD being so painfully slow and unengaging makes it’s plot holes more nakedly obvious and harder to forgive. It’s not that everything on TWD added up or sat well with me, it’s just that I was being thoroughly entertained, so I didn’t bother dwelling on it. Although the things that stand out to me are usually little details more than plot holes per se, like “why is Andrea wearing a thong? Who keeps Carol’s pixie cut trimmed? Why aren’t there more beards?”

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        • Why are they all driving brand new cars which were built after the zombie apocalypse?

          That one’s easy: Product placement.

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        • “Though that leads me to wonder how Rick could have survived in a coma without someone being there to keep up IV feedings and what not.”

          He DIDN’T survive in a coma like that. The hospital was overrun, he woke up. Probably the same day.

          “FTWD being so painfully slow and unengaging makes it’s plot holes more nakedly obvious and harder to forgive.”

          I don’t think it’s any slower or less engaging than TWD at all. FTWD’s greatest liability is that it’s the same show as the parent, a cut-and-paste job. Lebeau and I have both noted people going on about how FTWD is so obviously inferior to TWD and we’ve both noted the lack of any real grounds for rendering such a judgment. FTWD is what TWD was from season 2 forward. That’s the only difference; it didn’t get that superior first season to hook everyone.

          “Although the things that stand out to me are usually little details more than plot holes per se, like ‘why is Andrea wearing a thong? Who keeps Carol’s pixie cut trimmed? Why aren’t there more beards?’”

          And where do all those hair-care products we never see keep coming from? As for why Andrea was wearing a thong, it’s because Laurie Holden CAN. That’s definitely not a question I ever pondered, just a fact I appreciated. I only wish TWD’s creators had appreciated her for more than that.

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        • I agree the writing is about equally bad but TWD is the better show because they throw in enough zombie encounters and other action set pieces to help distract from it. FTWD is sorely lacking on that front making the writing issues stand out more. I’d be willing to call them about the same once FTWD gets out into the wild (be it the actual wild or the streets of LA) and starts encountering zombie hoards and gangs of other survivors.

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  6. lol, as a woman I’m more pragmatic about the thong- like, you’d travel with a backpack of just your essentials- food, water, weaponry, tools, first aid shit if you’re lucky. Sexy underwear would not be a priority- underwear itself would not be a priority. Plus, I’ve worn them, so I know how they creep up your ass. This is the last thing you want when you have to walk for hours a day, let alone run from a zombie horde and being distracted by your ass floss wedgie.

    Liked by 1 person

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