The Walking Dead: “Nebraska”

Walking Dead shambles back for the rest of its second season. We feel the repercussions from the last episode, meet some disturbing new characters, and once again ponder why the writers have to have someone make a stupid, out-of-character move in order to keep the plot going.

That complaint aside, they’ve given us a worthy successor to the mid-season finale, one of the season’s finiest episodes.

Title: “Nebraska”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Clark Johnson.
Written by Evan T. Reilly, from the graphic series by Robert Kirkman

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes
Jon Bernthal as Shane
Scott Wilson as Herschel Greene
Laurie Holden as Andrea
Jeffrey DeMunn as Dale
Steven Yeun as Glenn
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene
Norman Reedus as Darryl
IronE Singleton as T-Dog
Melissa Suzanne McBride as Carol Peletier
Emily Kinney as Beth Green
Hane McNeill as Patricia
James Allen McCune as Jimmy
Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes
Michael Raymond-James as Suspicious Traveller
Aaron Munoz as Tony

Additional cast and crew information may be found here

Premise

The group deals with the consequences of the last episode’s massacre and revelations, with some grieving openly and some retreating emotionally. Shane and Glenn look for Herschel, who returns to alcohol after years of sober reasoning. They find him—and two more survivors who arouse immediate suspicion.

Lori, meanwhile, leaves her son alone and heads to town for no really compelling reason. Naturally, she juggles with a map while driving through zombie territory and crashes her car.

High Point

Most of this episode features plausible (in context) human drama and convincing psychological developments. The Walking Dead works best when it emphasizes the dilemmas of its living characters. The zombies— Walkers? Lame-brains? Why has no one in the world of the show heard of zombies?—appear, of course, but they’re not center stage.

We learn more about the larger world, and the news doesn’t sound promising.

Low Points

The episode features a lot of convincing drama, but Lori’s boneheaded decision—one she’s just warned her husband about—and haphazard handling of her plan seems out of character. Once again, the writers have someone behave stupidly so as to advance the plot.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 We’re not seeing anything startling new, but we have wandered from the graphic novel’s plot.

Effects: 6/6

Story: 4/6 We get hints again of the show’s possible direction: humans, under this kind of pressure, can be far more dangerous than zombies. You can predict what zombies are going to do.

Acting: 5/6 Melissa McBride and Scott Wilson have some of their finest moments to date, while Jon Bernthal continues to give us a man who may be beyond recovery. Michael Raymond-James and Aaron Munoz’s brief appearances are memorable and subtly chilling.

Emotional Response: 5/6 The episode handled this very well, save for one significant development. The tension in the bar rivals anything that we’ve experienced with the Walkers themselves.

Production: 5/6

Overall: 5/6 The last two episodes have demonstrated that all is not lost for Season Two.

In total, “Nebraska” receives 33/42

5 replies on “The Walking Dead: “Nebraska””

  1. J_W_W says:

    Rick is such a badass.

    As boneheaded as Lori’s decision was, Rick’s decision was cold, calculated, and rational. There was really no other way for them to end that confrontation other than the way Rick did it.

    The scene reminded me a bit of the basement bar scene in Inglorious Basterds as far as tension buildup goes, and that’s saying something as I think the scene in Basterds may be the tensest scene ever filmed.

  2. rickyjames says:

    Totally agree, except for Lori acting like a writer’s puppet this was as an exceptional an episode as the last one. Of particular note to me was the careful pacing, covering just a few hours. After such a climactic scene at the barn, it was a true joy to see actual real-time response of how everyone dealt with the aftermath in a slow-paced, believable manner. Everybody lined up at the burial could have been a Norman Rockwell shot (or TWD’s version of the classic BSG “last supper” cast photo), with all perfectly positioned to accentuate their particular role in the group.

    The saloon shootout was in its own way as good as the barn shootout . “I hear Nebraska’s nice…” gets my vote as an instant classic tough-guy line. The best part is Glenn getting on-the-job training on how to be a leader from somebody who truly is. Usually life lessons like that tend to be fatal to the clueless and overly trusting.

    With such loving attention paid to cinematography and visuals, it remains stunning to me how badly this show needs a continuity editor when they do action scenes. Do not attempt this if you want to maintain willing suspension of disbelief, but if you run the shootout scenes (both the bard and to a lesser extent the saloon) you will find some really glaring positioning errors of the actor’s limbs between shots. Sophie exhibits three vastly different arm/body positions, showing a third one at the beginning of this ep. And Rick’s hand locations in the bar mirror during the revese angle shots are totally different from where they are the front facial ones.

    But hey, it’s basic cable show on a basic cable budget and they are doing a GREAT job!

    • rickyjames says:

      One more note – you are absolutely correct that Melissa McBride got a chance to shine here, my high point of the ep from the all important character development standpoint. What is really spooky psychologically is that as abused woman Carol she is drawn to the shadows of Shane (who explicitly bested her previous domineering husband in a previous ep) instead of allowing herself to go to the light that Daryl represents – and Daryl is a head case in his own right, so we’re really on the dark end of the spectrum here. Add to the mix that both Hershel and Rick have admitted to each other as leaders that all their faith and hope are gone – wow. I know that we gotta have zombies in every single ep and looks like it’s Lori-trapped-in-a-cage where we get it next, but this show has set up the potential for exceptionally great psychological tension that is its true calling. Let’s hope it focusses on THAT and doesn’t get lost in the woods, figuratively as well as literally.

      • J_W_W says:

        I agree that Daryl is awesome and is the best choice for Carol to move to. Great insight on that point.

        I love Daryl’s character. He’s such a Zen-Redneck.

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