Tuesday, July 22, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

New life breathes into ‘Walking Dead’

decicco column sig

By
From page B1 | March 21, 2014 |

AMC’s “The Walking Dead” has turned a corner this season and it’s for the better. (Spoilers follow.)

While last fall’s eight-episode chunk of the show’s fourth year felt like it was repairing the damage from a conflict that never came the previous season, this year’s latter half has dropped some of the program’s best episodes.

Look no further than Sunday’s “The Grove,” a harrowing look at child mental illness in the zombie apocalypse. It explored not the immediate danger of the walkers, but got into the juicier meat the show has not always served well.

After a series of events that showed Lizzie, 11, had a tenuous grasp on reality, she went too far, slaying her own sister without fear of what came next. Instead, she demonstrated once and for all to her guardians, Carol and Tyreese, that she could not distinguish between human life and zombie reanimation.

By posing a bigger threat to everyone than any zombie or disease and with the proper resources to help someone in such desperate need, Carol (Melissa McBride) led Lizzie into a meadow of flowers and shot her in the back of the head.

It was a tough episode to shake, especially the “Of Mice and Men”-esque overtones in the Lizzie story. While “The Walking Dead” is often about the immediacy of the threat posed by zombies and handles that action well, it has struggled dramatically. This episode was an exception, as are other recent installments.

The program walks a tightrope between action and drama, promising the thrill of zombies while doing an imperfect job at hitting emotional and mental notes that seem genuine. The languid pacing of season two owed to the fact that the characters were undercooked and their motivations questionable. The third season promised a conflict between the Prison and Woodbury gangs, but all fans got was The Governor stumbling around inside the dark prison before massacring his own people.

However, the second half of this fourth season is some of the show’s best work.

It’s nigh on impossible to insist anyone would want to continue to exist in a world where the stakes are so unforgiving, morose and absolute. As one of the better stories during the aimless second season showed, mistrusting outsiders is necessary because one never knows who lies around the next corner to rob, steal or murder for weapons, food or land.

More than showing the stakes, however, “Walking Dead” has given us bits about the characters and their pasts this year, something it’s hesitated to do before. One recent episode saw Daryl, the show’s brooding, hunky archer, delve into his past in a way that had never been illuminated before. Michonne, meanwhile, a woman who guarded her secrets carefully after feeling death, tough choices and isolation, revealed some of her deepest secrets.

The character development is owed to the direction show runner Scott M. Gimple has taken the show. Gimple penned some of its best episodes, including the ones in which Shane shoots Otis, Daryl’s brother, Merle’s death, Morgan’s return and, wouldn’t you know it, sweet, troubled Lizzie meeting her end.

Gimple has helped steer the show in a more emotionally honest direction, asking viewers to invest deeper in the characters by giving them more depth and dimension. Suddenly, they’re not interchangeable pieces in a plot machine, but characters whose fragile existence is much more dire and palpable. In previous seasons, fans joked that character development was tantamount to imminent death.

He has not yet shown a “Game of Thrones” taste for killing characters, but Gimple and his writers have invested deeper in characters who we’ve watched through numerous life experiences in the zombie wasteland of Georgia, but only glimpsed their anguish.

While some fans lament this season’s glacial pace, it’s worth it to know these people better. “The Grove” gave us familiar “Walking Dead” tropes – showing an idyllic situation and ripping it away – but never has the crash back to reality been so painful and gruesome.

While fans have walked through many a peak and valley with the “The Walking Dead” characters, infusing the latest batch of episodes with flourishes of history and insight are enough to keep fans invested in a setting even as horrific and incontrovertible as the zombie apocalypse.

To read more of Nick DeCicco’s blogs, visit http://dailyrepublic.typepad.com/forthoseabouttorock. Follow him on Twitter @ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Weather for Tuesday, July 22, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

 
Library friends set spring book sale

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5

 
 
Carpenters training center set to expand in Fairfield

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

Man, woman, comic and dance contest primed for box office

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Polk first to file for Fairfield council

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5

Rockville Trails hike on August calendar

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
Groups plan Zombie Run to raise college scholarship cash

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

Governor signs 2 bills by Frazier into law

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5

 
Video chair exercise class returns to senior center

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

2 Vacaville homes hit by gunfire

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
Mayor’s Commission on Crime to host forum

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

.

US / World

Detroit retirees vote in favor of pension cuts

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Clinton: US, Europe should get tough on Russia

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment

Gaza death toll rises as truce effort intensifies

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Israeli aircraft hit more than 70 targets in Gaza

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Rebels release train with bodies from downed jet

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Afghan vet who fought wounded gets Medal of Honor

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Hopkins pays $190M in pelvis exam pix settlement

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Ex-teacher convicted of pushing wife off cliff

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Full-contact youth football practices restricted

By The Associated Press | From Page:

BART police enforce stretching ban at stations

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Obama back to California for Democratic campaigns

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Report: Retaliation by supervisors common at VA

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Law blocks some brown lawn fees during droughts

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
California won’t send troops to Mexican border

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Murder charges filed in California bank robbery

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Cause of deaths in FedEx truck-bus crash released

By The Associated Press | From Page:

California reduces deportations for minor crimes

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Official: State can send inmates to medical site

By The Associated Press | From Page:

.

Opinion

 
Walmart donation benefits Meals on Wheels

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

Batson’s column on Mideast peace is wrong

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: July 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

 
.

Entertainment

Love and Manson guest on ‘Sons of Anarchy’

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
‘Fargo’ gets 2nd season on FX with new cast, crime

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Box office top 20: ‘Apes’ holds reign with $36.3M

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
TVGrid July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Hugo Perez Elite Training Camp to be held in Vallejo

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

 
Duvall, Kontos help Giants beat Phillies

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Lady Vols coach wants a stronger finishing touch

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Gail Goestenkors quits WNBA job, enters hoops hall

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Chamberlain’s arm and beard fitting in with Tigers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

This date in sports history for Tuesday, July 22, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Big 12 commish’s dire warning about pending change

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Big Papi passes Yaz with 453rd career home run

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Chargers bolt into camp with high hopes

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Broncos primed for another super run

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Seattle says what happened last season is history

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Tony Stewart riding high from sprint car victory

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Head of 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics resigns

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
6 South Americans refuse to return to Donetsk club

By The Associated Press | From Page:

BMC, Team-Garmin Sharp back for USA Pro Challenge

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Tour leader Nibali: A ‘flag-bearer’ against doping

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Witness: Sterling needs Clippers sale to pay debts

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Jeter turns small part of attention to business

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Raiders enter camp with ‘chip’ on shoulders

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

49ers start fresh after forgettable offseason

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Cain heads to DL with elbow injury

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Business

Microsoft makes design central to its future

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Allergan to cut 1,500 employees in restructuring

By The Associated Press | From Page:

.

Obituaries

Shirley T. ‘Mac’ McFadden

By Nancy Green | From Page: A5

 
.

Comics

Zits july 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Bridge July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Blondie July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Cryptoquote July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Beetle Bailey July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C. July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Crossword July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Baldo July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sudoku July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth July 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5