“The Walking Dead” has craft and atmosphere; if only the characters weren’t so insufferably earnest and dense. This recap contains spoilers for “The Walking Dead” Season Two, episode 5, “Chupacabra.” Read at your own risk.
There were huge revelations on Sunday’s episode of “The Walking Dead,” including a tantalizing hint that the missing girl Sophie might still be alive, and a climactic reveal that the courtly old religious veterinarian Hershel (Scott Greene) was keeping captured zombies alive inside his barn, presumably in hopes of one day curing them. There was another big revelation last week in the form of a surprise pregnancy, Lori’s.
But that’s not enough to stave off charges that “The Walking Dead” is taking a Hamburger Helper approach to TV drama, padding out meager amounts of dramatic meat with bags of bland dramatic stuffing. Sophie has been missing for the entire season; Carl has been bedridden since the end of episode two; Lori found out about her pregnancy last week but still hasn’t told Rick; etc. If you added up the screen time devoted to the genuinely interesting elements, they might total maybe ten minutes per episode, if that. The rest is wandering, suffering, and talking, talking, talking, courtesy of characters who are for the most part so naive and/or irritating that if you were watching them on a big screen at a drive-in movie theater, you’d cheer for them to be eaten.
The “WTF?” count in my “Walking Dead” notebook is nearing 200 by now, and this week’s installment, “Chupacabra”, added a few more, including the cutesy back-and-forth between end-of-the-world sex buddies Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Laurie Cohen), complete with scribbled dinner-table notes; the protracted sequence of the wounded Daryl (Norman Reedus) falling down that cliff, then climbing up, then falling again; and that somebody-please-kill-all-these-stupid-characters moment when Andrea (Lauren Holden) mistook the returning Daryl for a zombie and winged him across the temple with a rifle shot. (I’m sure the producers didn’t intend this as a “You can’t trust women with guns” moment, but given the male-dominated power structure on this series, that’s how it played.)
You can read the rest of Matt’s recap here at Salon.
Matt Zoller Seitz is publisher of Press Play.