Why is the Penultimate (besides The Empire Strikes Back) Always a Let-Down?

Structurally, the answer is simple: the writer(s) must raise the stakes and provide our protagonists, heroes or anti-heroes, with seemingly inevitable motivations that lead them to irrevocable choices.

You know, I can delay my gratification (e.g., I have a Galaxy S3 and a pre-Retina MacBook Pro with OSX 10.7.5), but there were segments of this episode which, while providing some nice character beats, were simply not necessary. I mean, if Beth can be absent for how many episodes, and if we can get concurrent plot lines delivered later as flashbacks, then a certain subset of characters (Group B) could have been left where they were.

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All of that miniature rant was a way of asking: was it just me, or did it seem like there were commercials every five minutes? This episode passed by all too quickly, and not in a good way: "Oh, what, it's already 8:26?–8:47?–well, sh*t!"

Vague spoilers below.

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So, some potential new alliances, an obvious double-cross (as obvious as what was going to happen to Carol last week after squeezing between those loosely chained doors), one to two potentially not-so-obvious double-crosses (medicine and dosage—dosage—dosage!).

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There was also a reminder to always be wary of those who seem the weakest or most conflicted (unless we're talking about Eugene [well, for a couple more seasons]), not to mention a herd that's seemingly never going to notice Group B's (ahem) confab.

Last, the most annoying, least useful new character had better gotten a Tetanus shot the day before the zombipocalypse began, 'cause that was, indeed, "just a flesh wound."

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Then again, as I was finally able to catch the lectionary readings–Romans 6.4; Ezekiel 37.7; Mattew 27.52; Revelation 9.6; Luke 24.5— I can't imagine what new life, what re-joined bone and sinews, what re-inspired existence that character is expecting.

Then-again-redux, I think Luke 9:59-62 would have been more fitting:

And to another he said, "Follow me." But he replied, "[Lord], let me go first and bury my father."

But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God."

And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home."

[To him] Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

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More fitting, you know, if this particular character could quit with the Markan "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani."

Next week had better be epic. That said, given the commercial break flashback featuring Judith and Maggie, I wonder if the wee tyke is going to make it beyond the mid-season finale.

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Sundry notes:

  1. Were those strawberries a Firefly shout-out? Also, if I were attending that man's "respiratory crisis," I'd have been suspicious by how quickly it ended as a certain someone sauntered past.
  2. After the Talking Dead quiz, when that added bit of trivia revealed how men usually know they are falling in love after three dates, while women don't know until the fourteenth date, my partner, wondered aloud: "And how's that explain lesbians?" Cue the U-Haul joke. And that made me dread for Tara next week, what with how optimistic and constructive she was trying to be this episode.

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