It makes me happy to be able to say that from “The Walking Dead’s” pilot episode until the recent midseason premiere, I have never missed an installment. Since I began this blog last month, I have been waiting to post on what is one of the three best show’s on television.
Willing Suspension of Disbelief
For all TV programs, the ability to make us suspend our disbelief and become absorbed into the world of the series is crucial to the viewer’s enjoyment. For a show like “The Walking Dead,” whose premise is a physical impossibility, this is even more important.
It is for this reason that the opening scene of “No Way Out” was so disappointing. Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and Sasha Williams (Sonequa Martin-Green), driving in a gasoline tanker, come up on a roadblock consisting of seven armed men on motorcycles. An overhead shot shows that there is plenty of room on the shoulder for them to pass around the roadblock if they just hit the gas and swerve to the right. If they had one imagines they would have been fired at and pursued. Yet when one considers that the men on the bikes undoubtedly meant them harm, logic dictated that they would take this chance. Even if they had no room to pass on the shoulder, simply attempting to plowing through the roadblock would have been smarter than what they decided to do instead.
I was left incredulous by the series of events that began when the three characters brought their truck to a stop. After being commanded to do so, they got out of the vehicle. If they had opened fire at some pre-arranged signal, they may have reduced the odds against them from 3 vs. 7 to 3 vs. 4 before the bad guys, followers of “Negan,” even had a chance to fire back. They instead handed over their firearms upon a demand being made that they do so.
What was a silly scene was redeemed to some degree by its climax. Daryl is taken to the back of the gasoline tanker by one of the villains. While out of camera he kills his escort, arms himself with an RPG and ends the lives of the reaming six of Negan’s men in a huge explosion. The special effect was both very convincing and satisfying. Seeing the smoldering severed head of the leader of the group lying on the charred ground as the smoke clears was the proverbial cherry on top.
I now move on to some random observations. The toddler playing Judith Grimes had a legitimate look of fear on her face as she was carried through a mass of walkers. I am certain the director of the episode had mixed feelings when she or he looked at the dailies and it occurred to her or him that the young thespian playing Judith was too young to understand that the zombies were just extras.
Sam and Jessie Anderson
Having words spoken to Sam Anderson (Major Dodson) about walkers by Carol Peletier, portrayed by Melissa McBride, in an effort to scare him, come back to Sam at a particularly bad time was a very creative touch. Although Sam is just a boy, his wussyness was infuriating! I was surprised to see key character Jessie Anderson (Alexandra Breckenridge) die as a consequence of Sam’s meltdown.
To say that the special effect walker makeup on display during this scene and others was better than on any previous episode of the show does not go far enough. It was as good as anything I have ever seen in a Hollywood movie.
In the show’s climax, our little group of heroes takes on a seemingly endless hoard of walkers. That such a small number of people, regardless of how determined or experienced in zombie fighting, would even engage in such a fight volunarily let alone win it was too farfetched for me and took me out of the episode to some degree. The installment’s final scene, in which the walkers stroll into a burning pond en masse and catch fire was cinematic! It also struck me as curious at first. “The Walking Dead” has almost always stayed true to the standard zombie movie conventions set during the course of over four decades of film making. A major one is that zombies are afraid of fire. Seeing the walkers walk into the flames voluntarily shocked me. It was later pointed out to me that it was established in an earlier episode that the zombies in the universe of “The Walking Dead” are in fact attracted to fire.
Overall, I would say that “No Way Out” was typical fare for “The Walking Dead.” By this I mean it was entertaining and well worth the investment of an hour’s time. I am counting the days until the next installment of the show. Check back in with my blog a few days after it airs for my opinion of the episode.
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