Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Melissa Suzanne McBride, Lauren Cohan, Madison Lintz, IronE Singleton, James Allen McCune, Scott Wilson, Emily Kinney, Jane McNeill
Writer: David Leslie Johnson
Director: Guy Ferland
Network: AMC, airs Sunday nights
Original Telecast: November 13, 2011
In the fifth episode of THE WALKING DEAD Season 2, “Chupacabra,” Daryl (Norman Reedus) takes some damage as he continues the search for the still-missing Sophia, (Madison Lintz), Glenn (Steven Yeun) gets abuse from Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Rick (Andrew Lincoln) doesn’t take Shane’s (Jon Bernthal) criticism lightly, and Merle (Michael Rooker) helps Daryl (Norman Reedus) rediscover his inner hillbilly.
The episode kicks off with a flashback to when Shane and Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) were on the road and witnessing the bombing of Atlanta with napalm. It does make for a picturesque spectacle, but it’s also meaningless. Flashbacks are usually there to provide essential background on character or plot, illuminate something that was once murky or unknown, or otherwise contrast with present-day events. This flashback does nothing but provide some explosions for the pre-credits sequence, and that’s not much help.
There are certainly a few highlights this week, including a pleasant bit with Rick and Shane that showcases the ease and history of their friendship sadly colored by what they’ve been through and the philosophical gulf growing between them, and a brief moment between Glenn and Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn). Sadly, Andrea (Laurie Holden) is a character from the comic book that has been very poorly served. In the comics, she’s such an empowered and capable woman, but in the show she is annoying, self-pitying, and now stubborn and dangerous in shooting Daryl just because she wants to defy Dale and everyone by showing she can act on her own. Well done, Andrea, you’re setting women back by leaps and bounds every week.
We also have yet another episode where the zombies have receded even further into the background than they really should, although there are still signs of unlife. Daryl does battle two of them that thankfully don’t jog this time around, which is also the action-packed payoff to something teased in last week’s “next episode” preview: the return of Merle (Michael Rooker). Except of course it’s not the return of Merle at all, but merely Daryl’s older brother chiding him in a vision of self-doubt that’s one of the more over-used cheats in television. Nice though it is to see him back and stirring up trouble in Daryl’s psyche, it would be much better to have him back in the flesh, and presumably that will happen soon.
Ultimately, this is another talky episode covering well-mined territory – the need to move on or keep searching for Sophia, the struggle between Rick and Hershel (Scott Wilson) concerning their respective authority, Shane’s bit about eschewing emotion – and then things pick up in the final moments as Glenn invites Maggie to a hayloft rendezvous via a scrawled note. As soon as the all-too-obvious “something’s going to happen” music kicks in and Maggie rushes to stop him, fans of the comic book series know all too well where this is heading. Next week we may be in for a little more excitement…and some more talking too.
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Article: TV Review – THE WALKING DEAD – Season 2 Premiere – “Chupacabra”