Every morning we address the important topic of something big, significant, funny, weird, etc. that happened while we were lying on the couch in front of the TV last night. Today we're glad that the heretofore listless season of The Walking Dead got interesting last night.
AMC's zombiepocalypse show is, sadly, not as interesting as it could be. In its defense, making a television show about relentless terror and flight is pretty hard -- the narrative structure works fine for Robert Kirkman's swiftly paced comic series, but TV shows don't function quite the same way. Still, it could be better. The show has managed to pull off some pretty scary and bleakly fascinating moments, but it's never quite clicked as a fully realized series. Until maybe last night?
We're almost halfway through the second season (last night was episode 5 of 13) and so far it's been a bunch of sitting in dark rooms and crying, walking in the woods trying to find a MacGuffin in human girl form, and boringly trite religious wondering. Ho hum. All pretty dull for a show that's ostensibly about freaking zombies eating mostly everyone in the world. But then last night two things happened that promise for an exciting second half of the season (hopefully).
1. Norman Reedus' Daryl had a series of scenes that maybe served to put him back into the vague villain seat, rather than the misunderstood hillbilly with a heart of gold. There's been precious little internal conflict amongst our core group of survivors, save some pointless arguing over the blonde lady's gun, but now that Daryl is getting ghost advice from his maybe-dead brother (Michael Rooker, back again!) and making zombie ear necklaces for himself like a whacked out Vietnam vet, maybe the group dynamic will become a little more charged. Gooo, Reedus!
2. The idyllic farm started to become a pretty sinister place. It's been obvious that something was going to go wrong at Veterinary Acres, because nothing in the post-undead world could be that perfect. But at long last we now know just what form that unpleasantness might take: Zombies! Yes, ol' Doc Hershel is keeping a horde of zombies trapped in his barn, we discovered at the very end of last night's episode, for what strange purpose we don't yet know. Our guess is that he's hoping to cure them, maybe they're friends and family, but maybe it's something more sinister! Either way we're eager to find out, and really it's been all season and this is the first nail-biter cliffhanger of an ending so far. Also, the farm's mostly unspoken 'no sex' rule seems to be coming into play in creepy form, as Hershel is getting suspicious about his daughter and 'that Asian boy' (are old small town doctors in rural Georgia really using the term 'Asian'?), the very same Asian boy (the show's most likable character, Glenn) who discovered the zombie barn. The tension has finally begun to mount and what's been a season about shaking fists at god and, again, walking in the woods, might blessedly turn into something tense and bracing. We hope Hershel turns out to be crazier than crazy.
Of course The Walking Dead could squander these good opportunities and make the same mistake Lost ultimately did, which was to assume that we cared more about the sappy motivations of the characters than we did about the cool nuts and bolts of the bigger story, but this morning we have hope it will not. We've had enough of Grimes and his hero complex, we're done with blonde lady looking stricken on porches, no more to Shane being a grumplepuss in need of a nap! We've now got a barn full of zombies on a conservative anti-sex nightmare farm. Run with it, guys! Make this show as creepy as you can.