Is The Walking Dead the New Lost?

If the first episode of The Walking Dead was characterized by reverence toward the lost people, and the second was characterized by the inhumanity of those left behind, then the third episode, "Tell It to the Frogs," struck a welcome middle ground as our camp of survivors began to develop a rough societal framework reminiscent of the early days of, dare I say, Lost?

You're flinching at the comparison, I know. But doesn't it seem apt to say -- especially after everyone clamored over whether The Event might be the next Lost (whatever that means, it is not) -- The Walking Dead shares at least some of characteristics that made the first season of the departed, genre favorite so charming.* The Walking Dead, in "Frogs" particularly, is grounded in the same kind of reluctant microcosm, though obviously formed under different circumstances.

It's not only the rag-tag-group-of-survivors-all-dealing-with-their-drama element that smacks of Lost -- though some familiar archetypes are definitely being invoked in that arena. It's the hierarchy of roles that the survivors, as they fight over squirrel meat, car alarms and general domestic abuses, are beginning to flesh out. For example, Grimes -- who this week reunited with his son, wife and partner (the latter two have been sleeping together) -- is stepping into the camp leader role, dictating morality as, in the end of the episode, he decides to return to fallen Atlanta for a left-behind survivor. And in that role, he certainly shows hints of Jack Shephard's familiar God-complex. "I found you, didn't I?" he asks wife Lori, who responds by quietly calling attention to his cockiness.

(Another great Grimes line? After Daryl throws a loop of squirrels at the sheriff for leaving his brother shackled to a rooftop, he says: "I'd like to have a calm discussion on this topic. Do you think we can manage that?")

Grimes' partner, Shane Walsh, seems to be emerging as a sort of rival to Grimes' leader -- especially considering the square rejection he's handed by Grimes' wife near the episode's end: both she and her son are, from this point on, off limits, which seems sad and a touch extreme in a village where role models and frog-catching coaches are limited. But Walsh's role is not to be frog-catching coach, as he proves when he steps in to settle a nearly camp-wide domestic dispute in Grimes' absence -- a dispute that proves, as camp-mates rush to aid, that the high premium the survivors place on life isn't eroding as quickly as the gentle zombie-dispatch technique did. (A noise moratorium now dictates bludgeoning. No more CG blood spatters for you!)

But in an episode very nearly devoid of that type of violence (except for the incident with the forfeit venison) the characters really drove the story, which was what was charming, to me at least, about Lost's first season.

Final, unrelated-to-the-thesis thoughts: I was surprised the two camps were reunited so early, though now that Grimes has left on his crusade to Atlanta, I suppose the tension will return. And I definitely wouldn't mind seeing Morgan and Duane (the father and son from the premiere episode) enveloped into the band of survivors.

*Yes, angry comic fan. I know the comic started a year before Lost did. PREEMPTED!



Comments

  • NP says:

    Gosh I hope it's not the new _Lost_. I don't want to start hating it after two seasons.

  • Furious D says:

    If it really does become the new Lost the writers are going to have to start pulling inexplicable mystery plot twists out of their collective ass whenever they write themselves into a dead end, which will be often, and then say anyone who complains about the lack of coherent answers is just too stupid to "get it."

  • PDC1987 says:

    Furious D - Surely you realize 'The Walking Dead' is based on a comic series of the same name, right? It started in 2003 and is still running, the show's writers are pulling from 7 years of brilliant pre-existing source material. Thus there will be no "writing themselves in to a dead end," let alone often. Nice try.

  • CheddarWerth says:

    I believe the basis for all 'stranded and forced into some sort of hierarchy to survive' genre probably started with The Lord of the Flies. Complete with a scary unkown "Monster" that the camps are battling against. Just sayin'.

  • CheddarWerth says:

    My bad. This whole internet scripting thing escapes me.

  • Alexandre says:

    Well, I think that is possible. "LOST" was a phenomenous because had good characters and great drama. And seams like "The Walking Dead" had this stuffs too. If it continuous in this way... could be the new LOST and be success public and critical, yes.

  • Simple Minds says:

    But hasn't it already veered away from the source material after only three episodes?

  • Shell says:

    I did really get in "The Walking Dead" until episode 3 (ie: the one with the frogs) last night. The first two struck me as very slow, and I couldn't really get into the characters. After watching the show last night, I found that the core group(s) are a fascinating bunch, and I care about them, so I will be watching next week and the week(s) after for sure.
    The problem with the Romero "Dead" films after, say, "Day of the Dead" is that the living (as opposed to the zombies) characters are mostly a bore. What is so great about the original "Dawn of the Dead" is that I always care about Roger, Peter, Fly-Boy & Frannie, no matter how many times that I have seen it.

  • Shell says:

    I meant that I DID NOT get into the show until last night.

  • Furious D says:

    PDC1987- I was making fun of Lost and what Walking Dead would have to do to be the new Lost.
    Sheesh, when I have to explain the joke it loses the point.

  • Anonymous says:

    Have to say I'm disappointed in this show so far. It's as if someone said, "Let's make a zombie version of The Stand, but with worse actors, no tension, no surprises, characters no one cares about, wooden dialogue, glacial pacing, ham-fisted PC preachiness...oh, and by the third episode, the zombies will be hardly there at all."

  • urwhatuis says:

    i can't get into this show - i've tried - i love zombies but, this show is a bore! i don't care about the characters, love the zombie make up though...

  • Wellie says:

    The dialogue on this show can get awfully clunky. From the over-the-top-racist-screed by Merle during a supply raid last week, to the no-wominfolk-r-gunna-tell-me-to-do-laundry wife beater this week the writers seem to be pretty bad at writing bad guys with any nuance. Or when they do try for nuance it comes off as flat-out-ridiculous: the racist brother Dixon making "On Golden Pond" references - wha?
    Also: If I survived a zombie apocalypse and had to hang out around a campfire w/ a dude who's big insight is that "words can be meager things..." I might consider trying my chances with the zombies.

  • casting couch says:

    I don't remember so many rednecks featuring in LOST.

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