The Walking Dead 1.03: Tell It to the Frogs

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Broadcast Date: 14 November 2010
Director: Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Writers: Charles H. Eglee, Jack LoGiudice, and Frank Darabont
Cast: Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeffrey DeMunn, Laurie Holden, Andrew Lincoln, Chandler Riggs, and Steven Yeun


© Copyright AMC Studios

© Copyright AMC Studios

Dale: “Words can be meagre things. Sometimes they fall short.”

“Tell It to the Frogs” is an odd episode in that I spent most of the hour waiting for it to start. You wouldn’t believe the amount of time I invested in front of my computer trying to figure out why. After wasting half a day staring at a blank document, I realized I was thirsty, so I poured myself a glass of water. Six hours later, I got hungry and ate a Pizza Pocket. Then I took a nap. When I returned to my keyboard refreshed, it occurred to me my endless non-adventure could apparently make an instalment of AMC’s The Walking Dead.

I suspect I might have felt differently if I’d experienced this third chapter, in which Rick reaches camp and a lot of nothing happens, as part of a DVD set. With home video in mind, the writers have adapted their narrative to an audience that can watch every episode back to back. The danger with this popular approach is the fate of the series remains in the hands of its initial viewers, the ones scratching their heads after seven days of anticipation and exclaiming, “That’s it?!”

You’re Boss Down There, I’m Boss Up Here

Mind you, “Tell It to the Frogs” isn’t, by any means, bad or superfluous. Without the week’s worth of build-up in my head, I might have appreciated the intense cold open, in which Merle does what everyone predicted last week, except in a different state of mind. I might have identified his plight as a distillation of post-apocalyptic existence, noting that the character starts off daydreaming about his petty exploits, but, with no one left around to blame, soon finds himself stripped of his societal misconceptions, forced to confront his true worth: “I’m being punished. I know that. Mumble. Mumble. Mumble.”

I might have linked Merle’s bygone attachments to similar attitudes at the camp, contrasting Dale’s reluctance to share his tools with Glenn’s car getting taken apart because he never claimed full ownership of it. Of course, I also would’ve criticised everyone turning a blind eye to child abuse and the absurdity of assigning tasks according to gender, though, by the same token, I might have pointed out the women’s hypocrisy, seeing as none of them complained when only the boys risked their lives to confront the camp’s undead visitor.

The emerging theme, I might have written, is that salvation lies in letting go of the old world order. Take, for example, my two best friends, Glenn and Morgan (not to be confused with X-Files writer extraordinaire Glen Morgan), the thrill one gets from a high-speed joyride and the fortitude the other exhibits in trying to take down his zombie wife. Now compare their resourcefulness to that of Lori, who refuses to eat frog legs and can’t spend a night with her husband without wheeling out the dysfunctions of Christmas past.

To be fair, I don’t imagine too many people would delight in their spouse going back to a ghoul-infested necropolis to save a bigot who’ll likely return the favour by getting the rescue party killed. When she married Rick, Lori probably thought his sense of duty would translate into complete devotion to his family, not realizing she’d have to share his heroism with the entire county (and the last vestiges of humanity). In many ways, Shane is a better match for her. The man looks after his own first and foremost, or so I would’ve remarked.

Another element I might have discussed is Shane’s leadership, which boils down to a teaspoon of heart, three cups of reason, and a truckload of pent-up aggression. The deputy sure likes to intimidate his charges. That his requests often prove sensible (even as he beats Ed to a pulp) strikes me as incidental. As such, I might have surmised that Rick’s return threatens more than an icky affair with Lori and that, without a sense of authority to temper his rage, Shane would likely lose his connection to the camp, perhaps even his humanity.

Regrettably, I was too hungry to notice any of these themes and dynamics, let alone write about them in a tongue-in-cheek review of exactly 1,037 words. When I watch primetime TV, I expect the broadcast equivalent of a full meal with a small appetiser and dessert every week, not a six-course feast spread over a month and a half. Don’t get me wrong. “Tell It to the Frogs” was scrumptious, and I’ve no doubt the next serving will burst with flavours, but, dang it, I wanted my zombie protein this week!

© Copyright AMC Studios

© Copyright AMC Studios

Bits and Pieces of Glenn’s Car

  • Driving the chirping car into camp was a total brain-fart moment for Glenn. Given their newly revealed sense of smell, I wonder if zombies would eat a brain after such a stinker.
  • Rick’s reunion with Carl didn’t move me the way I’d hoped. If walkers ate my heart, they’d get a zombie brain freeze.
  • All things considered, Daryl took the news about his brother rather well. I expected a mini race war of sorts, and I don’t mean two boys arguing over their Micro Machines track.
  • I’m relieved neither Rick nor the writers forgot about Morgan.
  • Death toll so far: still zero. Number of digits Merle lost for nothing: four. He only needed to cut off his thumb.

Quotes

Lori: “I would rather eat Miss Piggy. Yes, that came out wrong.”
Accidental double entendre aside, food is food, lady!

Shane: “Why would you risk your life for a douche-bag like Merle Dixon? […] The guy wouldn’t give you a glass of water if you were dying of thirst!”
Rick: “What he would or wouldn’t do doesn’t interest me. I can’t let a man die of thirst.”
This exchange says so much about the two characters and the awesomeness of the show as a whole.

Carl: “Everything that’s happened to him so far, nothing’s killed him yet.”
Knock on wood, yo.

Jacqui: “I’m beginning to question the division of labour here.”
Pff! Silly women and their inability to question the division of labour at an earlier, equally suspicious time!

My stomach’s growling.

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Category: The Walking Dead, Verdict: 3.0 | Tags:

          
Editor in Chief / Movie Critic: When he started this site, Dimitri never thought he'd be writing blurbs about himself in the third person. In his other life, he works as a writer, translator, and editor for various publications in print and online. His motto is, "Have pen, will travel."