When The Walking Dead premiered in 2010, it was the highest rated episode in AMC's history. But the numbers quickly declined, which led the network to slice a hefty chunk of the zombie program's budget when it was renewed for a second season. Thankfully, wayward viewers eventually gave the program a second chance, and AMC increased the show's budget going into the third season.
But even though AMC is spending about three million dollars per episode, budgetary concerns are still a major issue for any television network. So, in order to make their dollars stretch a little further, AMC, like every major network, writes a few episodes every season that are specifically designed to save a little cash. Non-essential characters and special effects are kept to a minimum, and the writers try to set the episode indoors or on a single set in order to keep production costs down. Penny-pinching Hollywood producers call these Bottle Episodes.
And last night's episode of The Walking Dead was definitely a bottle episode.
I'm not complaining, though. While most of the other episodes are packed with never-ending gunfights and zombie decapitations, character specific episodes like "Clear" are a lifeboat. And this chapter in particular got us reacquainted with Rick, which is good because some of us had taken to calling him “Rick the dick.”
And, even though this season's overall storyline wasn't progressed, “Clear” did have some a few important moments.
Here's a flyby:
Michonne May Finally Be on Rick's Good Side
Rick has always had a problem with Michonne. Sure, she's never done anything to specifically betray him, and she's extraordinarily effective when it comes to slicing off zombie heads, but that hasn't stopped Rick from holding an incoherent grudge. However, after going on a little road trip with Rick and Carl, she may have finally won over Commander Grimes.
Rick, Carl, and Michonne head back to Rick's old stomping grounds in search of firepower for their upcoming war with The Governor. I'm not exactly sure why this crew was assembled, considering that Rick doesn't exactly trust Michonne, but it's probably safe to assume that Danai Gurira, the actress who plays Michonne, makes less money than most of the other actors.
Bottle episode, remember?
The crew discovers that the sheriff station has been looted and decides to check a few of the local businesses for forgotten weaponry. But it's only after Carl and Michonne go off on a little side mission to retrieve a crib for baby Grimes that Michonne receives Carl's official stamp of approval. And apparently that stamp carries a lot of weight with Rick.
Carl Is Still the Show's Worst Character
Forgive me if this is insensitive, but I really wish a zombie would just eat Carl's face.
His character makes no sense anymore. Rick is constantly putting him in harm's way, which sends mixed messages about Rick's motivation. But the worst part is that Carl's character has no depth. Child actors typically have difficulty portraying complicated emotions, which is fair because they're children. But the writers of The Walking Dead are constantly giving Carl lines that a child wouldn't say. So, his character is simultaneously flat and schizophrenic.
It would be better for everyone if he turned into zombie food.
Rick Might Not Be Crazy Anymore
I touched on this during last week's wrap-up, but we've now managed to make it through two entire episodes without Rick seeing a premonition of his dead wife. So he might be on the home stretch to mental health.
Though, it's probably safe to assume that Rick's craziness will crop up at the most inopportune time.
Morgan Makes a Comeback
Morgan was part of the reason that the first season was so successful. The scenes where Rick would attempt to make radio contact served as a kind of internal dialog, and without them Rick has slowly started losing his humanity. But, as it turns out, Rick's humanity is in far better shape than Morgan's.
When Rick, Carl, and Michonne finally stroll into Rick's hometown, they discover that the whole city has been booby trapped (side note: I think this might be the first time that I've used the word booby without my editor removing it). The traps are the work of Morgan, who spends his days casually butchering zombies.
When Rick originally left his hometown to search for Lori, Morgan Jones was holed up in an old house with his son, Duane. Morgan couldn't bring himself to abandon his homestead, because his wife, Jenny, was one of the local walkers. Unfortunately, his inability to leave, or kill Jenny, eventually led to Duane's death. These days, Morgan atones for his past sins by dedicating his life to a scorched earth campaign against the zombies.
Rick spends a little time trying to recruit Morgan into Team Grimes, but like most Army recruiters, his argument was unconvincing. So the trio leaves without Jones, but with a few sacks of Morgan's guns.
Hopefully, one of those guns will deliver a bullet to The Governor's only working eyeball.
Date: March 4, 2013