Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Look Back on The Walking Dead Episode "Spend" aka When Jennifer Lynch Killed Noah

Two weeks ago an episode of the Walking Dead ("Spend") was emotional, gory, and just all around good TVcinema. It was also a glimpse of what zombie horror used to be; gory social commentary. I'm not going to pretend that all zombie horror was as poignant as the Dead Trilogy or gory like Fulci but fewer and fewer zombie films reflect these ideas or sentiment. The Walking Dead has also reached a point where things have changed in a narrative sense. Normally this show operates on surprising a mainstream audience with the horrors of a zombie apocalypse, but since Rick and his gang reached Alexandria the show has switched from surprise to suspense and it's gotten really exciting.
The problem with surprise is that we experience what the characters are experiencing, which means it's only effective for a brief moment and often applied to cliff hangers. In the Walking Dead's case every group of people they've encountered so far has had a surprise waiting for them (Like: cannibalism, a tyrant ruler, or a building full of zombies they believe can be saved). This season however they've come across good honest people, who have been removed from the zombie hordes. The dilemma this time comes in the form of our beloved heroes. We've spent 4 seasons watching these people slowly lose their humanity and now we actually get to stand them up next to "normal" people and see how far they've actually fallen. A good example is Carol. Carol was beaten by her late husband and it made an impact on her emotionally. So what will happen when she learns another woman in town is going through the same thing? We already know she's willing to kill people for the good of the group; she burned a sick couple that were her friends, surly she will kill a stranger... Right? That is suspense in the works.
Now I'd be doing a disservice if I didn't bring up the fact that the direction of this episode brilliantly assisted the suspense. Framing a shot is so important, whether you notice it or not, it effects the way you feel. So below I've posted some of the stills from episode "Spend", these were all pulled from the awesome We Geek Girls.

Relationships are portrayed by where people sit, who they face, and who separates them.
Think about the characters goals and then consider what this image is saying.

Another example of visual narrative using character placement. This time Maggie standing behind the banisters gives the image of imprisonment, as the rails become her bars.

~The pictures below depict a major spoiler and major gore~

This probably the most memorable scene from the episode. Or the hardest to forget for some people.

Thank you Greg Nicotero (Master of special effects and true horror nerd)

This is easily the coolest kill on the whole show so far but what really made this scene feel real was the performances given by Steven Yeun and Tyler James Williams. Not my favorite actors ever, or even on the show but the director sure got the best performances from them.
So who is this director? And why aren't I giving them credit? Those were the questions I directed at the internet 2 weeks ago. When "Spend" started the first thing I noticed was the name Jennifer Lynch.

This photo is titled "Grateful" from Jennifer Lynch's Twitter

Now I realize most people couldn't careless about who directed what (if you're reading this I'm guessing you might) but this episode had an interesting contributor.
Yes, Jennifer Lynch is the daughter of Art-house horror legend David Lynch. Honestly, up until last weeks episode this was about all I knew about her. Oh, and that she directed "Surveillance", which I've yet to see... Anyway my point is that maybe we owe it to ourselves to look into her work, since bringing us a truly awesome episode of the Walking Dead has turned out to be a very hard task and she may be the first to get this very polarized crowd behind a single episode.

"A surgeon becomes obsessed with the seductive woman he once had an affair with. Refusing to accept that she has moved on, he amputates her limbs and holds her captive in his mansion."

Boxing Helena is listed as Jennifer Lynch's directorial debut. With the description on IMDB and the picture I found via a Google search, I can now say I need to see this film. This one image has so much of what I love about film in it that I know I'll be buying the a copy within the week. I mean given what the brief synopsis says about this film, it already paints a picture of misguided love and obsession. A rich man who has everything and feels entitled to everything, I could go on and on already... So I think it's safe to say I'll start here with Jennifer's career.

- Lord Battle

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