The Walking Dead: “Claimed” Review **SPOILERS**

25 Feb
The Walking Dead: “Claimed” Review **SPOILERS**

*Disclaimer: Every time I start my first review for a different Tv show, I will provide a brief evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses, its context, and/or the little things that grab my attention each week that keeps me watching.

{{What The Walking Dead has done to my life on Sundays is truly unfair. A show that innocently enough piloted with an honest cop and an infested hospital, the journey to humanity and survival has spiraled in all sorts of directions in all sorts of entertaining ways. Based off the hit comic series by Robert Kirkman, this weekly television event has garnered an historic following with a few Golden Globe, People’s Choice and Primetime Emmy awards on the side. There’s a lot to love, perhaps even too much to love in fact considering how Frank Darabont and crew have found a way to faithfully recapture the character likeness and general tone of the comic books on screen. The struggle for a reason and a purpose to live has created a dynamic that has grown stronger each season, with the inclusion of blue collar folks with good intentions and past-riddled psychopaths with ideas and prospects a little more heinous. It’s also what makes it so addictive. Fans of the series can’t stop talking about the moral consequences of each person’s actions throughout each episode. It only helps that the zombie aspect helps to set up and round out an intense atmosphere layered with nail-biting, savage, and most importantly unexpected action scenes waiting to catch us by surprise at any moment. Some say that this show is overrated, that it fails to maintain the interest of its general demographic because it focuses too much on the intangibles of a zombie apocalypse rather than orchestrate more walker exterminating and character deaths. Let me be the first to tell you that The Walking Dead wouldn’t be as great as it is now without its intangibles.}}

The Review:

Luckily for me, “Claimed” is the first Walking Dead episode I get the pleasure of writing about, because it doesn’t demonstrate a whole lot of intangibles, two-sided characters, or action (well, maybe that last part is a lie.) If anything, the episode as a whole zones in on two separate groups instead of trying to juggle everyone in typical meandering TV drama fashion. That’s great, really. I’ve grown accustomed to new showrunner Scott Gimple’s game of life in the post-apocalyptic wilderness, particularly because it helps get the gears in motion for this season following the the tedium of the prison fiasco. We need the Ricks and the Daryls and the Carols of the world to be split up, at least right now. And quite honestly, The Walking Dead is always a better watch when the main characters aren’t living under one roof for too long.

If you absolutely loved everything there is to appreciate in “After,” well you’re probably gonna just like this one here. With the attention almost squarely fixed on Rick’s group (including Carl and Michonne,) we are again witnessing Carl age beyond his years, Rick regaining his pre-prison war strength, and Michonne try to put the past behind her. The difference between the two aforementioned installments is that “After” never missed a beat and nailed the tone of this group immediately following the battle with the Governor. “Claimed” does its job in keeping the spirited nature of not turning back and relishing the opportunity of another living breath in this world, but it was certainly inconsistent in execution.

For starters, Michonne’s attempt at reaching out to Carl through humor and recollection was too forced. We all know she shares a solid rapport with him and they’ve already begun get along just fine. Even Rick said he can’t be a father and a best friend because of how he’s acknowledged her friendship with Carl. But first of all, I could never agree with the little game she played with him in the house they raided about her son. Couldn’t she have just told him what his name was and if she had any more kids? They opened up to each so easily before, so I found this to be a bit weird that Michonne was being so suddenly protective with her previous life. I also refuse to use her breakout in “After” as an excuse, because it mainly pertained to her own personal release rather than that of her former loved ones. And like I mentioned before, the humor stuff was off too. I understand Carl’s indifference lately, but that yellow cream or whatever it was she spewed all over her mouth to resemble a zombie wasn’t going to amuse anybody. On top of that it felt out of character. True, Michonne’s son was only three years old when he died, but you’d think the glaring age difference between Andre and Carl would encourage her to impose a different approach for laughs. I guess his laughing inside counts, but again the best course of action for her is to be herself around others and not the caring mother and loving wife she was before. I’ve seen it before a hundred times on television, and I’d hate to see it now.

Here’s where the episode really took off. With these two out on a supply run, we were left watching Rick sleep off his pain while a dangerously widespread group of thugs burst into his new home and played house. Obviously outnumbered, he goes totally covert in his attempts to escape in time to warn the others before they could get harmed. Filmed in just a few subtle camera angles and shots, the evasion leaves you on the edge of your seat as he dodges a few close calls and a bathroom mate before he’s cleared. This style of cinematography also gives us a viable sense of suspense, especially during the fight between the two bandits over the bed Rick so happened to be hiding under. I couldn’t help but let my grasp of action thriller movie cliches go and assume he’d be caught at some point, and most of that is credit to the brilliant directing and the quiet tension it continually developed. Leave it to AMC to avoid the use of a soundtrack and let Rick’s inherent breathing and in-and-out chatter from the strangers do all the work for the sake of a good old-fashioned set-piece.

While it’s a bit of a shame that we never found out who they are or which side their intentions lay, those bad guys still stole the group’s house, so it’s not premature to assume that they’ll be back in another episode. This makes it easier for us as viewers to believe in the setting and the circumstances these characters are being thrust into. What I never understood about the prison, specifically the lack of outside threats besides the Governor and his group, is what I took to the bank here. It only makes sense that Rick’s group has to keep moving to stay safe, even though they’ll probably take over the house that Carl and Michonne raided. And even though they almost coincidentally found the same train tracks that the other groups crossed, it’s a great sign that a reunion of some sorts is coming soon. Anyone recognize how easily Carl lost the joy in his conversation with Michonne in their house because he mentioned Judith? Well, I’d love to see him recapture it by finding her and the rest of Carol’s group.

He’s not the only one who yearns for the sight of a loved one, as Glenn’s search for Maggie leads him passed out inside an army truck three hours away from the prison. This is where we get the chance to see Tara realize where her priorities should lie, but more importantly we get to see Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) have his fifteen minutes for the first time this week. A man with an agenda, Ford brings along Rosita Espinosa and Dr. Eugene Porter for assistance in his plight to “save the world” by planning to head down to Washington D.C. to create a cure for the zombie infestation. If there’s anything immediately eye-catching about him, it has to be the wife beater and the burning red hair. Do me a solid and google him and Duke Nukem side by side.

All jokes aside, he’s definitely a keeper in this world. His unsurprising ability to dispatch the walkers, honest demeanor, and confidence in a humanity without zombies are all plusses. You can’t blame Glenn for throwing the first punch at Ford for his insistence, but you also can’t discount the possibility that he’s only trying to do what’s best for this group as a whole by sticking together. The man is instantly likeable, and lacks everything but a heart of gold. His motivations are clear cut, but with a tad touch of tunnel vision as he refrains from admiring the love and care others may have for the ones either living or dead. At the end of the day, the guy just wants to survive this hell hole and become a hero. If the Governor wanted to avenge his daughter’s death through redemption for the human race rather than retribution for his own sins, he’d be Ford. Cudlitz deserves all the credit for this one, though. Behind all the machismo lies a performance that truly opens our eyes to the fact that there are those who have narrow-minded intentions that AREN’T malicious. Well done, Cudlitz. Well done.

However, It’s unfortunate that on the basis of storytelling we had to face some deficiencies within this group as well. Can the real doctor Eugene please stand up? Good. Now explain to millions of nationwide viewers why you decided to fend off the swarming array of walkers by yourself, knowing that the rest of the group’s attention was laid on the fight between Glenn and Ford? And also, why would you take the only automatic rifle in your range and shoot aimlessly at the truck, rendering it inoperative? It’s too late in the series for people like this. It’s just not plausible. Knowing Ford well enough already, I think it’d be safe to assume that he’d teach these people how to use a gun, let alone how to aim for the head. But I guess that’s just wishful thinking. And where’s Dr. Porter’s knife? You mean to tell me that THIS guy has this miraculous cure to save the world in D.C., but doesn’t have the wherewithal or the basic knowledge that these walkers are collectively deadly? I’m not saying that he should’ve gone and killed off the whole hoard that way, and I’m certainly not making a case that it wasn’t wise for him with the rifle. But at the very least he could’ve ran off and warned the others a little more promptly (softly crying out “guys!” does not count.) And if he’s acting as dumb as he looks (which he was,) why is he saying that he’s smarter than Ford just because he’s aware that heading back towards the Prison vicinity may pose less of a threat? Maybe it’s the straight walk or the awkward tone of voice, but I’m not convinced that the fate of the world should rest in his hands at all.

It’s good that we know now that Glenn and everyone else here is heading back. Maybe they’ll have a run-in with one of the groups at some point, even though it’s extremely unlikely as it seems. Regardless, we deserve to watch Glenn let his emotions drive his search for Maggie, to witness his official confirmation of her life or death. If anything, it makes it that much more exciting since we already know she’s alive. You gotta love a world where phone calls, texts and any other form of outside communication doesn’t exist.

The Verdict:
It’s undoubtedly strange that Michonne tried so needlessly hard to connect with Carl, despite the fact that she’s already been able to for a while now. It’s even stranger that this Dr. Porter lacks common sense, yet could be responsible for the end of all things walking dead. But if any avid fan of this series knows, sometimes you gotta give and take. The characters all know that, and we are especially mindful of that distinction with some of this season’s episodes. “Claimed” is not consistent, coherent or emotionally strong enough to hold up with most of what we’ve seen that side of last year in The Walking Dead, but it did have one hell of a thrilling in-house exile for Rick, and Sgt. Abraham Ford is one hell of a fresh face.

Rating: 8

+ Rick’s (barely) successful flee from the bandits
+ Cudlitz making an instant impression as Sgt. Ford
+ Glenn’s determination to find Maggie makes for an interesting new side to the character
– Carl and Michonne interplay a bit off
– Michonne’s trying too hard to forget her past
– Not sold on Dr. Eugene Porter at all, whatsoever

1 Comment

Posted by on February 25, 2014 in amc, The Walking Dead, TV, TV reviews, Uncategorized


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One response to “The Walking Dead: “Claimed” Review **SPOILERS**

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