The Walking Dead: "Tell It To The Frogs"

So far, this show's had a perfect batting average; a great mix of storytelling, character nuance, and viscera. Episode Three holds up to the previous two, although it's a little light on Hot Zombie Action for my taste. But I'm still in – in fact, I'm totally involved now, and just found out that the show's first season will only have six episodes. Damn you, AMC! (Shaking my fist at the sky)

As the episode revs up, we're back on the roof with Redneck Merle – Merle, as we recall, ended up handcuffed to a pipe on the roof of a department store in the middle of zombie-ridden Atlanta, left behind by the Merry Band of Survivors basically for being a racist. He was pretty pissed at the end of the ep last week -- now he's terrified and mewling like a baby. Ha! That's what you get, Merle. He gets even more panicky when he sees that the zombies from the streets below have made their up through the department store, and are clawing at the padlocked access door, eager to get to him. They're hankering for some Merle Tartare. He really should pull a Franco from 127 Hours and find a way to hack of that arm so he can get the hell out of there. But if he doesn't, I won't feel bad. If you saw the previous episode, you know Merle deserves what he gets. Next time, Merle, trying being a little less assholian. (I prefer to live in a world where it's ok for jerks to get eaten by zombies. I can think of at least five people from work that totally deserve to be zombie sushi.)

and... opening credits.

Back at the camp in the woods. Everyone going about their morning activities. Lori Grimes is cutting her son's hair, idly hanging out with her husband's best friend Shane, whom she's sleeping with. I really don't like this dude. I'm sure by the end of this episode, this show will play me like a fiddle and do something to make me feel empathy for him, but at the moment, he's still a cross between an alpha dog and a weasel in my book. An alpha weasel.

No time to dwell on that, though, because the Atlanta contingent returns to camp from their wacky adventures in Zombieopolis! And Deputy Grimes steps out of the truck! And his son and wife see him and get all excited! And Shane is standing in the rear with an expression that says: Um.

Big hugging reunion for the husband, wife and son, while Shane looks on. Is it me, or did things just get awkward?

That night, Grimes and Lori have special private mommy and daddy time. It's all very romantic. Everyone knows that the hottest sex is always post-apocalypse, am I right? Holla! P.S. So far, Lori seems pretty cool with not telling Grimes she's been sleeping with his best friend. Is there ever a good time for that?

Everyone's sitting around camp the next day when sounds of a ruckus emerge from the woods – finally. (This episode has been light on gory violence so far. Don't get me wrong, I like the human element of this show and all... but without zombie hacking, it does lose some luster.) The crew heads into the woods and discovers a wayward zombie feasting on a deer. Graphically. Like, gristle in the teeth. The survivors discover him and beat him into a paste. Again, graphically. GREAT shot where the old man of the group splats his head wide open like a melon. Sweet! But hey, someone points out, this is the first time a zombie has wandered this close to their camp. Bad!

After they kill the zombie, there's more rustling in the woods. But this time it's Darryl, Redneck Merle's brother, who's been hunting. It becomes clear right away that Darryl is tied with his brother in the Asshole Race. And he doesn't handle the news about his brother's abandonment well. Duh.

Since Grimes is Mr. Good Guy, he decides to go back to Atlanta – not just to rescue a racist handcuffed on a roof, but to retrieve a dufflebag he left in the middle of town when he was outrunning zombies. The bag has a bunch of handy guns, as well as a walkie-talkie that's his lifeline back to Morgan and Duane, the father and son who took him in during the first episode.

You know, Grimes's nobility may get a little annoying here in a bit. Sure, it's part of the show's premise, watching how people change when civilization crumbles: do you look out for yourself or help others? Do you save people that don't deserve saving, or do you say screw the others, and sleep with your best friend's wife? And Grimes is the hero, after all. But still. You have a son, Dude. Seriously, you’re going back into Zombie Times Square? Is that smart?

Not only does he go back, he takes Glenn, Merle's brother Darryl, and T-Dog with him. Back to Atlanta.

After they leave, big-time drama unfolds at the camp. Lori finds Shane hanging out with her son Carl, looking for frogs by the lake. After sending Carl back up the hill, Lori rails on Shane -– she essentially dumps him hard, now that her hubby is back. At first, she acts like a bit of a bitch; but then, it turns out that Shane was the one who told Lori her husband was dead in the first place, before the zombie uprising! Hmm. Still. She's acting a little too bitchy. Like she has no responsibility for this little triangle they're now in. Shane tries to explain how he's feeling to her, and her response? "Tell it to the frogs." Zing!

While that's happening, there's an even bigger conflict brewing nearby. Three of the other women are washing clothes at the water's edge while Ed, another fat and surly jerk, lounges nearby, smoking. The women are vaguely disgruntled about the fact that, even at the end of the world, they're the ones doing chores, while the men sit on their asses. Ed moseys on down to see what the womenfolk are laughing about, when they should be busy scrubbing out his tidy-whities. "You oughta focus on yer work... this ain't no comedy club." Nice. Ed ratchets up his jerk quotient a few more levels, and there's a big throwdown as the women stand up for themselves and Ed tries to drag his wife away from the others for some old-fashioned spousal abuse. Shane, still feeling screwed over by Lori, charges in and unleashes some hard rage all over Ed, beating him into the dirt. It's an incredibly intense scene that ends with Ed being cradled by the wife he likes to beat as the others look on – and Shane is surprised at what he just did. It would be a hardcore scene even without the end-of-the-world context.

In town, Grimes and his buddies carefully make their way through Atlanta again, picking their way past the occasional errant zombie. They climb back up through the department store they barely escaped from the day before, prepared to free Merle from his handcuffs. But when they get there, Merle's gone! Well, that's not completely true. Lying on the roof is a bloody hacksaw... and Merle's hand. GAH!!

End credits.

Scenes from next week: Everybody's fighting – survivors are fighting each other at the camp, survivors in the city are fighting with a new faction, and everyone's fighting with the zombies, who are slowly, relentlessly closing in on everyone. Looks like less Oprah drama and more brainsplattering next week. Good.

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