Again picking up where we left off, Rick Grimes and his survivors have escaped, leaving the hopeless white, racist redneck Merle (played brilliantly by Michael Rooker) chained up and left to die. While Grimes wife, Lori is getting busy with her new beau, her husband’s best friend, in their own separate camp. Last weeks instalment in this terrific series, established a new morality whereby people get their just desserts for being the pigs they are.
However in this episode however we see our characters struggling to come to terms with harsh ethical decisions and new moral rules they have come up with. In a world where morality should play no part, morals are more important than ever and the value for human life is most integral to everyones survival. So with this in mind the motivations of the character played by Jon Bernthal, Shane, who is longing after a relationship with Lori Grimes become somewhat more than simple physical attraction. And as we see from Merle’s grim babbling, which superbly opens the episode, as he struggles to break free from his incarceration, this is now about survival.
As the two groups unite, Tell It To the Frogs truly gets under the skin of how desperate the situation is getting. The reunion of Grimes and his wife and son Carl gives the episode a whole emotional netting against the grimness. However the dynamics in the camp are far from settled, there is a tension in the air which you could cut with a knife.
The fires can’t to be too bright in the evening and Shane & Lori exchange nervous glances as they try to maintain that what has happened between them quiet. There is also a debate within the camp as to whether what they did with Merle was right. the idea of informing Merle’s equally repugnant brother doesn’t seem like fair game to many of the other group members. It is left to Grimes, which places more friction between him and the rest of the survivors as well as heightening the guilt of leaving a man to die.
The discussions are often quite poignant but melodramatic as Darabont’s writing often is. Here he is collaborating with two other writers but I don’t know how much is him. Still, the moral debates seem to have the tropes of Darabont in there. I genuinely don’t have a problem with melodrama and placing it within the context of a horror story is something I find to be quite a bold thing to do.
The tensions get even worse when a zombie arrives in the nearby camp, seen crouching down over a dead deer, munching on the carcass. Once again reinforcing the idea that everything around them is unsafe and things are closing in. Lori also accuses Shane for wrongly telling her that Rick was dead, it is unknown as of yet whether he did this with the best intentions. Shane is getting uncomfortably close to the Grimes son, taking over the patriarchal duties and his attempts to shift Rick out of the picture suggest that he does want more out of Lori.
The writers also bring in a plot element that one of the characters in the camp is a wife beater and like Merle, he is punished with a brutal beating. For what reason yet I am unsure this will most likely have effect in the next episode. It perhaps best fits in with the twisted moral universe which is now inhabited by the characters.
However with the best intentions in mind Rick goes to back to find Merle along with three others, taking four bullets with them just incase they don’t manage a safe return. A pleasant reference to Darabont’s underrated horror The Mist. However when they get there they discover something truly shocking, it is a great cliffhanger moment to end the episode as we see Merle has freed himself by sawing off his own hand. This shows gets better and better, a shame there is only 3 episodes to go.