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The Walking Dead - Season 2, Episode 5: "Chupacabra" TV Episode Review

Written by James Ferguson and Steve Pattee

Official Site


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Directed by Guy Ferland
Written by David Leslie Johnson
2011, Rated TV-14
Episode premiered on November 13th, 2011

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Jon Bernthal as Shane
Sarah Wayne Collins as Lori Grimes
Laurie Holden as Andrea
Jeffrey DeMunn as Dale
Steven Yeun as Glenn
Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
Scott Wilson as Herchel Greene
IronE Singleton as T-Dog
Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon

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Warning! This discussion contains spoilers!

James Ferguson: The second season of AMC’s The Walking Dead shuffles along to its mid-season finale with the latest episode Chupacapra.  Dale goes on a vision quest and sees his brother Merle.  Shane tries to talk some reality with Rick.  Andrea makes a grave mistake.  The barn is a’ rockin’ and you definitely don’t want to come a’ knockin’.

Another week, another pointless opening flashback.  This week opened up with a scene with Shane and Lori on the road stuck in traffic.  They see a group of helicopters dropping napalm on a nearby city.  Seriously, what purpose do these flashbacks serve in this show? Between this and the pointless repeated discussions about life, it’s like the writers are just trying to stretch each episode for time.

Steve Pattee: Ha! I instantly thought of you when the show opened with a flashback, but I actually enjoyed this one. It wasn’t a cheat like the prior ones were, but rather a pretty powerful moment on the lengths the government was willing to go through to stop the spread of the zombies. I don’t mind flashbacks like this that show some back-story on how the characters might have first come into contact with each other. It’s the ones like where Carl is told his daddy was shot. That adds nothing to the story.

JF: I disagree completely.  These are entirely unnecessary and this one was just as bad as all the others.  I thought it was already pretty clear what lengths the government would go to by the fact that there were tanks all over the place and that CDC guy blew the building up.  We get it. Times are tough.

The opening credits ruined the surprise of Michael Rooker’s character Merle’s return.  This happened all the time on shows like Buffy or Angel where there would be a great guest appearance that would come in later on but it was ruined by the actor’s name in the opening credits.  I get it that you need to give credit to actors and stuff, but for story reasons can’t you keep that to the end if it’s a surprise?

SP: That credit pissed me off. Not just because Rooker’s role (which I actually really liked, but I’ll get into that in a minute), but every fan I’ve talked to have anxiously been waiting for his return. It was a piss poor decision to not just putting his name on the beginning credits (ruining the surprise), but also utilizing him the way they did after putting his name up front. A goddamn hallucination? Really? If you put his name up top, you better damn well use him proper, and they failed.

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JF: I agree that the return was a letdown.  Although Merle was only in two episodes, he made such an impression that fans have been anxiously awaiting his return.  It should have been something major, with him showing up to really shake things up in the group or even become a villain.  Instead we got a lame hallucination.  

SP: That said, I’m a Rooker fanboy, so I was pleased to see him in that limited role regardless. It showed the extremely dysfunctional relationship of Merle and Daryl and the scenes with the two makes me hope that they are planting a seed for Merle’s ultimate return. Daryl is still battling some demons with what Rick did to his brother, so things are about to get interesting.

JF: I think the Merle hallucination could go one of two ways for Daryl.  Either he rebels against his brother and proves to him that he’s changed, showing compassion for the likes of Carol and Sophia and becoming one with the group or he’s going to embrace the person he once was and return to the redneck hunter who collects zombie ears.  I have a feeling it’ll end up being the former.  If this was the comic, I’d bet on the latter.

SP: On a related note, while I was happy to see some dead love for Daryl, what the heck were those two zombies doing in the woods? I am a firm proponent of the suspension of disbelief when watching a movie or TV show, but the chances of those two coming up on an injured Daryl in the middle of nowhere was just a bit much. (Although I was happy to see them, and one of the deaths was pretty fantastic.)

JF: Plus, why was that one just chomping at his shoes?  What a stupid zombie.  You stumble upon a live piece of meat just laying there and you bite into the shoes?

SP: It definitely wasn’t good for his teeth, and you know a zombie needs good choppers to maintain his diet.

JF: What was up with that kid from Herchel’s group appearing out of nowhere?  “Hey!  You haven’t seen me in the past few days you’ve been hanging around the farm, but I want to help shoot zombies.  The old guy said it was okay.”

SP: Where the hell did that come from? He pops in, says he’s going to help, they say okay, and you never see him again. That was weird. Like someone higher up called in a favor and the actor was given some screen time. It didn’t deter my enjoyment of the episode any, but it certainly was one of the weirder moments of the show.

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JF: Shane continues to show that he’s the one that should be leading the group. He gives Rick a much needed reality check about the Sophia situation that is quickly ignored.  He’s totally right though. In the old world, you had a max of 72 hours to find a missing kid, then you’re looking for a body.  Now that there are zombies everywhere, do you really think that they’ll be any luckier after that time has passed?

SP: Shane breaking it down to Rick in the woods was nothing short of awesome. Rick asked for honesty and boy did he get it. Shane laid it out brutally, and it was something Henry Highhorse needed to hear. I was giving Shane high-fives in my head.

JF: Rick feels responsible for Sophia, but if the dumb girl just followed directions she wouldn’t be in this mess.  At this point, she better be a zombie or return with the Hide and Seek World Champion trophy.

SP: I wish they would hurry up and find her dead body already and just kill this subplot.

JF: In other news, Andrea continues to be an uppity bitch.  I guess now she knows why they didn’t want her to have a gun.  She gets one back and despite EVERYONE else telling her not to shoot, she goes ahead and gives Daryl a head wound.  She has become my most hated character, knocking Lori out of the top spot.

SP: I’m going to go out on a limb and say the chances of her and Daryl hooking up have pretty much gone out the window.

JF: Despite my hatred for her, she did bring up a good point.  When she was on the trailer, she told Dale something like “I don’t want to do laundry anymore.  I want to defend the camp.”  It’s like since the world has gone to hell, all equal rights have been thrown out the window.  The men hunt and protect everyone and the women cook and do laundry.  While some may say that’s the way things are supposed to be, it certainly doesn’t make sense for women to suddenly lose all of their civil rights.

SP: Not to get all theological, but I’m wondering if this is intended to show that when the world goes to shit, man will go back to ways of his ancestors, where men are the hunters and women are the gatherers. Or it could be something else altogether. Let’s face it, Andrea is trying to kill team members, Lori spends the majority of her time bitching and Carol is just there in the background.  Right now, the women on the show are pretty much useless except for washing clothes and making babies.

JF: Is it just me or is Dale a total Debbie Downer on this show?  Andrea can’t have guns.  T-Dog can’t complain about things.  Glenn can’t have sex.  The world has gone to shit, old man!  Forget about your moral fiber and what you thought was right.  Get with the times!  Shane should have a sit-down with Dale to tell him what’s what.  

SP: Well, he is right about Andrea can’t be trusted with a weapon, but coming down on Glenn for the sexing? That was absurd. At least Glenn shut him up and made him think before he left the camper (presumably to get more sex).

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JF: And we finally get to the barn!  This is something I’ve been waiting for since the moment they stepped foot on Herchel’s farm.  Hopefully this brings in some much needed tension for the next episode and gives us the action we’ve been waiting for all season long.

SP: This exceeded of my expectations, and where the writers failed with the return of Merle, they more than made up for it with the reveal of what resides in the barn. It’s one thing for someone just to stumble upon that madness, but it’s quite another when you go there looking for love. Hot damn, someone has some explaining to do.

JF: The folks at Let’s Be Friends Again just posted a great comic that sums up my feelings on the second season so far.  There’s been a lot of sitting around and talking about the same crap over and over again.  The beauty of the comic book was that it dealt with all that drama at a quick pace but it never let you forget that these people are surrounded by zombies and that they could die at any minute.  The writers of the show seem to have forgotten that and are trying to make a dull character drama.  That’s not why we’re watching the show.  

SP: That comic is brilliant and I suspect does sum it up for a lot of people. Not for me, though. Not yet, anyway. I admit that I really am tired of Rick and Lori’s relationship discussions because they are so incredibly lame. But having not read too many of the comics, I’m enjoying getting to know the other characters some. Even so, I don’t know how much longer I’ll defend the show because when you have someone like Greg Nicotero on the set, you damn well sure better use him more than two or three zombies a week.

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Video, Audio and Special Features:

Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a TV episode.

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James: 2 Stars
Steve: 3 stars


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Click on a cover to read more episode reviews of The Walking Dead: Season 2.




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About The Author
Steve Pattee
Author: Steve Pattee
Administrator, US Editor
He's the puppet master. You don't see him, but he pulls the strings that gets things done. He's the silent partner. He's black ops. If you notice his presence, it's the last thing you'll notice — because now you're dead. He's the shadow you thought you saw in that dark alleyway. You can have a conversation with him, and when you turn around to offer him a cup of coffee, he's already gone.
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