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TV That Matters: The Walking Dead, Homeland, Parks and Recreation

By: Matt ErnColumnist

The Walking Dead- “Walk With Me” Grade: A- The first appearance of The Governor this week also marks the first time I’ve cared about the show in a while. He’s exactly the sort of villain the show needs and I can’t wait to see how dark this season can potentially get now that he’s been introduced. My favorite part of the show has always been seeing the ways different groups of survivors with different ideologies interact; and I can’t wait for The Governor and Rick to get acquainted. Andrea and Michonne are captured/rescued by The Governor who takes them back to Woodbury, a heavily guarded community that he presides over. By imposing strict curfews and compiling plenty of heavy artillery, The Governor has created a nice little society. It provides safety to its residents but as we see at the end of the episode, The Governor is masterfully manipulating everyone. He kills the group of National Guard soldiers and then returns to tell his citizens that they were dead already, killed because they lacked the strong defenses he’s provided in Woodbury. Also making a notable appearance this week is Daryl’s brother Merle who’s been missing since early in the first season. Merle is quickly employed by The Governor to sweet talk Andrea and try and find the location of Rick’s group. I can only hope that this happens sooner than later, because even “this is not a Democracy anymore” Rick’s bound to have a problem with The Governor’s brand of leadership. I mean, the episode ends with a shot of him staring at tons of severed heads floating in tanks which is a pretty good sign of what’s to come.

Homeland- “Q&A” Grade: B+ When all the twists and CIA stings are stripped away from “Homeland” it’s really a show about the relationship between two people at heart: Carrie and Brody. Even though they only get to share a scene together every several episodes, it’s those moments that define “Homeland” and show that there’s a lot of heart involved in it, not just “24-esque” plot twists about terrorists. “Q&A” is one of those episodes. The CIA has detained Brody for questioning and Carrie believes she’s the only one with a connection to him strong enough to yield a confession. Once the two of them get into a room together the memories quickly start boiling to the surface- their weekend in the cabin, the support group they attended, their bond over having served in Iraq and knowing what it was really like over there. Carrie may be interrogating Brody but she’s also professed her love to him, which sounds like a clichéd plot and yet it works on “Homeland” because the relationship between them feels so real. Brody’s decision to inform the CIA and help them catch Nazir is one of the first predictable things the show has done, but it works within the context of an episode anchored in his relationship with Carrie. Here plot takes a small hit for the sake of terrific character development but it still makes for compelling TV. What stops this from being a stellar episode is the business with Dana’s date with Finn, the Vice President’s son. While out joyriding and trying to lose Finn’s secret service escort, the two hit a pedestrian and flee the scene. It’s a strange sort of thing for the show to do that doesn’t really quite fit, similar to what happens to Landry and Tyra in the second season of “Friday Night Lights.” It’s still unclear exactly how much of the show is going to focus on this strange subplot, but let’s hope it gets resolved quickly.

Parks and Recreation- “Halloween Surprise” Grade: A Where to even begin with an episode like this, an episode packed with huge emotional payoffs and some of the best character development the show has ever done? Smartly enough the Halloween premise is dropped by the end of the first act when Ann and Leslie scare Jerry causing him to have a heart attack. Meanwhile Ben finds out that he has a chance to work on another campaign, this time down in Florida. But taking the job would mean putting off moving in with Leslie and furthering their life plan together. It doesn’t take much deliberation for Ben to decide that Leslie is the most important thing in his life and he returns to Pawnee to propose to Leslie at the end of the episode. The proposal is perfect in a way that only “Parks” could achieve and is the most heartfelt moment the show has done since Andy and April’s surprise wedding back in season 3. In many ways “Halloween Surprise” is a return to form of the classic episodes and the emotional investments that made us love these characters and the town of Pawnee. But with the proposal out of the way, lots of other good stuff happened this episode too. Faced with the news that her plans with Ben may be put on hold, Leslie’s knee-jerk reaction is to hold a benefit auction for Jerry’s hospital bills so that he can still live out his own dreams for his future. The auction sequences are pretty funny, and when they don’t raise the money Leslie hoped they would she gets a lesson in the uncertainty of the future from Jerry. Ron has some big moments as he discovers that maybe he doesn’t want to be alone anymore. After ruining Halloween for Diane’s kids he realizes that he’s willing to make sacrifices for a relationship and open up to another person in an intimate way. A family is one of the last things associated with Ron in the past, but it may be exactly what he needs. And Ron’s not the only one furthering himself this episode- Andy is continuing to train for the police academy by sharpening his observational skills, and Tom has finally come up with a sensible business venture (renting dress clothes to adolescents that are quickly growing and changing sizes).

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