The Walking Dead Persists in Disappointing

So anyway, I watched the rest of this week's The Walking Dead and... well, yikes.

On last week's Avod the DiveMistress and myself got into a discussion about how terrible The Walking Dead's second episode was - most notably because of the character of Merle, the racist sexist violent redneck stereotype who everyone left to die on the top of the building. This week opens well, with a glance at Michael Rooker's desperate struggle for survival, in which he proves more intelligent than either character in the film Saw:

By using his clothes to grab the item of his salvation. Which would lead me to give the character (and by extension, the writers) a lot of credit. If the next scene featuring Merle's predicament wasn't so ungodly stupid. Here, in three images, is the crux of that stupidity:

This is, of course, a reference to Saw/Watchmen/Mad Max. So let's see just what The Walking Dead got wrong by taking a look at those scenes, shall we?

First up, Mad Max:

Now here are the relevant panels from Watchmen:

Now, what's the key similarity between those two scenes? That's right, it's the acknowledgement that while it's possible to cut through a handcuff chain with a hacksaw, a temporal limitation makes that an untenable option.

Or I could be less intentionally obtuse, and just say that when you're about to burn to death, you don't have time to use a hacksaw for its intended purpose - because that is what hacksaws are for. They're for cutting through small pieces of metal, such as chains or pipes. The only reason the characters in Saw didn't just cut through the chains holding them was because those chains were unusually thick, and their hacksaws were unusually shoddy.

Neither is the case here. This is a close-up of of the handcuff chain:

Note that is hasn't been nicked or bent. Merle didn't attempt to cut the chain and fail, he immediately decided to chop off his hand. If the writers have any sense they'll try to explain this away by having Merle, when he next appears, explain that he wasn't able to cut through the chain, or that he panicked - but none of those explanations will make sense. You don't get a tool in your hand that would allow you to escape and then use it in a much less practical way than the purpose for which it was designed.

This is the equivalent of Merle finding a blowtorch and using it to melt his hand rather than the chain. Or finding some bolt-cutters and using them to chop his hand to pieces. Hell, this is the equivalent of find the key to a locked door and then using it to try and scratch a hole in the wood rather than just opening the lock.

The kick, of course, is that this is such an easy fix. Just don't put a hacksaw within Merle's reach. Make the only item he could reach be a serrated hunting knife. Now that puts the character in the bad position the writers wanted, without asking them to believe the he's the stupidest man in the whole world.

Although, even then, there's no reason to cut your whole hand off. Cutting off your thumb (and thumb assembly down to the wrist, of course) would allow you to slip quite easily out of a set of handcuffs - and has the additional benefit both of being a far more survivable wound, and being something that would occur to the average person - unlike, say, my Saw solution of cutting off the heel of your foot to minimize bleeding while allowing you to slide your foot out of the ankle-cuff.

I'm almost excited to see where this show is going - because it might turn out worse than the comic. Which would be quite an accomplishment.

1 comment:

ezekiel said...

Thank you. Just started watching the show. Googled "walking dead merle hacksaw" to see what others thought. I think even if he couldn't have cut through the handcuffs, he probably could have cut through the metal that one of the cuffs was attached to. Sigh.

Maybe it's resolved in the fourth episode.