In addition to zombies, the survivors have to deal with racial tensions, class issues, gender inequities, relationship problems, and basic primate behavior. Even in its slowest episode to date, Walking Dead buries 95% of contemporary television.

And we still get some zombie mayhem.

Title: “Tell It to the Frogs”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Written by Frank Darabont, from the graphic series by Robert Kirkman

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes
Steven Yuen as Glenn
Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon
Jon Bernthal as Shane
Emma Bell as Amy
Laurie Holden as Andrea
IronE Singleton as T-Dog
Jeffrey DeMunn as Dale
Jeryl Prescott as Jacqui
Norman Reedus as Darryl Dixon
Melissa Suzanne Mcbride as Carol
Adam Minarovich as Ed
Juan Gabriel Pareja as Morales
Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes

Additional cast and crew information may be found here.

Premise

Rick gets reunited with his family, and we learn more about the survivor’s camp.

A small party returns to Atlanta to rescue Merle, Rick’s guns, and the walkie-talkie.

High Point

I really like the way the show handles the relationships among the characters, and how these relate to the society the survivors are trying to build and maintain. Rick’s return did not devolve into histrionics, but we knew what each character was thinking and feeling. Both Lori and Shane have problematic responses.

Shane lays down the law with Ed (which raises the issue of what, exactly, the law is in a zombie apocalypse), and we applaud. Yet we must recognize he’s also motivated by frustration, the threat to his position in the group, and his basic primate need to impress the other women, now that Lori has rejected him. The women, for their part, have an intelligent discussion about the division of labor. This isn’t Lord of the Flies, but it gives us a fairly accurate depiction of how humans might behave under these circumstances.

I also rather liked the discussion of how they were going to explain Merle’s fate to his brother.

Low Points

1. The submoronic posts at the imdb about how Lori is a whore Wait, that’s not the show’s fault.

2. No sooner does redneck Merle receive some depth, then we get a very one-dimensional presentation of Ed.

3. The survivors’ camp has security, but it still feels remarkably like a campout, instead of a last encampment against creeping destruction.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 The show takes some new directions—for itself, not for television or literature generally—as it examines the pressures of sustaining some kind of society.

Effects: 6/6.

Story: 4/6 The story kept me interested and, despite the fact that this episode emphasize character, I moved very quickly. I want to be careful about drawing conclusions before we know everything, but I had some trouble seeing how Merle (however crazy he had become) could saw off his own hand but not that handcuff. It’s not as though the zombies ever made it through.

Acting: 5/6. Against some rather anguished characters and performances, Jeffrey DeMunn proves wonderfully and entertainingly understated as Dale. The group contains a few people you really would want around in the event of civilization collapsing.

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6.

In total, “Tell It to the Frogs” receives 34/42