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!