What ‘The Walking Dead’ Can Teach ‘Homeland’ About Plot Twists

The Walking Dead Plot Departure

Latest episode breaks from current narrative in a bracing way; 'Homeland,' take note

The Walking Dead” and “Homeland” keep providing coincidental compare-and-contrast opportunities this season, and the former’s detour to focus on a single character was a case in point – one that reflected well on the AMC drama.

“Homeland,” of course, used its third episode to update viewers, sort of, on what’s been happening with Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis). (WARNING: Spoilers ahead)  The character was then absent for an extended stretch — taking a break at what looks like the worst Club Med ever —  before being reintroduced into the narrative by Sunday’s cliffhanger, adding considerable “oof” to a show that still hasn’t fully recovered from its second-season creative tailspin, and risks tripping over its multiple twists.

By contrast, “Walking Dead” (and warning: More Spoilers ahead) cleverly teased the return of the Governor (David Morrissey) the previous week, then went full-Morrissey on Nov. 17, with an episode bringing the audience up to speed on where he’s been since the community he headed fell apart amid hails of gunfire and questionable decision-making. Plus, we’ve been reminded there’s really no easy way to pack and ship one’s collection of pickled zombie heads.

Buoyed by Morrissey’s performance, Sunday’s episode introduced the Governor to a small group of survivors, and connected him to a young girl who, understandably, is suffering emotional torment because of the world having gone to hell around her. That’s a particularly clever wrinkle, given the loss of his own daughter, with the question of whether he can save this surrogate providing perhaps a path toward redemption for those abundant sins of the past – or, alternately, utter madness and damnation.

There were other small touches of note, too, like the fact not everyone has figured out head blows is the way to incapacitate the zombies – or can explain why that works.

Foremost, this break from all the regular characters very neatly leads back toward that closing scene when the Governor showed up outside the prison, inviting all sorts of speculation and tension regarding what has happened (and who might have been lost) in between.

In short, the show exercised the freedom to throw in such an interlude in a way that didn’t detract from the main plot, but rather — by clearly building toward something bigger — promises to significantly enhance it. That’s a fairly stark departure from “Homeland’s” Brody breather, which raised more questions than it answered, other than garnering some value from Lewis, what with his name still in the credits all season.

Admittedly, “Walking Dead’s” explosive ratings make it easy to ascribe all sorts of genius to its various flourishes, but it’s never a given going in that the audience is going to respond favorably when you the rest of the show on hold for a week.

Time will ultimately tell how well it all meshes together on both fronts, but so far, it looks like “Dead’s” latest revision to its creative brain trust keeps clicking on all cylinders, while “Homeland,” with apologies to the Beatles, still has a ways to go to get back home.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 9

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. butcher, baker, candlestick maker

  2. Darryn says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this season and episodes 5 and 6 have been favorites. It just keeps getting better. The redemption of the Governor makes for a very interesting moral study. Just prior to this we have the banishment of Carol for committing murder. Justifiable? Maybe to some. But Rick acted as judge and jury. Carol showed no remorse for her deed. If, as Morrissey has claimed in a recent interview, that the Governor character has seemingly forgone his desire for revenge and is genuine in his feelings for the new “family” that has accepted him, can he be redeemed? We are not talking about our present American society but one that has been figuratively (and literally) torn apart. I am intrigued by the direction. There may not be the kind of violent showdown we expect. The Walking Dead always comes up with something unexpected.

  3. Ben says:

    as a fan from the beginning, I was glued to my seat during the last episode. ever since the start of this season, everyone I know who watches TWD had the same question on their mind: where is the governor? To those who say it was boring I ask, any more boring than the nearly season long stay at the farm and search for Sophia? this episode also raises questions about the governors state of mind at the end of the previous episode where he’s standing outside the prison…. is he still with the little group of survivors (plus, how is martinez going to react to running into the governor, and how will the governor handle having been abandoned by his 2 cohorts. really looking forward to the next ep! plus, I’m still holding out hope, that sometime in future episodes they flash back to the beginning of the zombie apocolypse.

  4. Aimee says:

    I understand what they were trying to do but personally I thought the episode of The Walking Dead was boring and didn’t accomplish what they wanted. I ended up fast forwarding through a lot of it. Also, as Trish states, I am not falling for it. After every “nice” thing the Governor did I said to myself “nope, still hate him.”

  5. Trish says:

    Really? From a psychotic mass murderer to the “nice guy” not buying it TWD, Mr. Gimple please make this season a success!

  6. disappointed says:

    I found the show too slow. The food truck would have been broken into long ago. And~yes, not knowing how to kill a walker. The naeivity of their small family would have succumbed. to either. gangs of pilagers or walkes the first year. There were some good moments, but I was disappointed

  7. Jen Ludwick says:

    I, too, thought the episode was brilliant. I was stoked to see the Governor return as he’s one of my favorite characters. Not that I loved watching him kill innocent people, but he brings a great distraction from the main group which can get old at times. And David Morrissey is becoming one of my favorites.

    Homeland, on the other hand, is becoming harder each week to tune into. I’m still holding out hope it’ll turn around.

  8. Bella says:

    This episode was riveting, I couldn’t tear myself away from the TV, I like this new story plot it gives us a little break away from Rick and the gang to see how others are doing in the apocalypse. Love this show

  9. worst episode says:

    This episode was so boring. I don’t care enough about the governor to want to watch an entire, long, drawn out episode about him.

    Also, really? Those survivors have made it this long without learning how to kill zombies? I’m not buying it. Even if they rarely left the apartment, there would’ve been walkers in the apartment building by now that needed to be put down. TWD can be really misogynist at times.

More TV News from Variety