By Matt Ern Columnist
The Walking Dead- “Arrow...”
Maybe it’s because it followed one of the best episodes the series has ever had, but “Arrow on the Doorpost” felt a little lacking to me. Last week’s “Clear” bypassed in the season-long Governor arc and delved deep into a handful of the characters. This week took the opposite route and advanced the Governor-plot, but the character moments felt a little too far and few for me. Andrea set up a meeting between Rick and the Governor. Rick proposes a peaceful boundary that neither camp will cross, and the Governor counters by saying he’s only there to accept Rick’s surrender. He does offer Rick a deal though: turn over Michonne and he’ll leave the prison alone. Rick suspects that even if he turned in Michonne there would be no guarantee the Governor wouldn’t kill the rest of them anyway (the Governor confirms this suspicion at the end of the episode when he outlines his real plan to Milton). But Rick hasn’t made up his mind yet, he’s still considering giving up Michonne to save his people. It’s an interesting quandary for Rick to mull over, but it’s not exactly new territory for the character. The whole season has been about showing the hardened man Rick has become and the mental toll all the tough decisions is taking. One interesting character pairing was Milton and Hershel meeting, but other than that “Arrow on the Doorpost” served up more of the status quo. Merle tries to convince Michonne to join him on a sneak attack on the Governor but she refuses, maybe out of some newfound loyalty to Rick after her trip with him last week to Morgan’s. For better or worse, it seems as though the Governor arc will wrap up shortly. I don’t see it getting stretched out past this season (with only three episodes left). I think it’s safe to say the story has worked better than the Farm last year, but I’m not sure I think it was a grand success either.
Community - “Cooporative”
Thanksgiving in March worked well for Community. Although the episode was a little uneven, it was still one of the better efforts of the season. The Jeff storyline hit home for me. It nailed the important emotional character development that the meeting between Jeff and his father needed, and the comedy worked well thanks to Adam DeVine from “Workaholics.” As far as Jeff’s dad, he’s a lot like Jeff. To him, he did the right thing by abandoning Jeff since his other son turned out too soft. Joel MacHale does a great job delivering Jeff’s speech as he finally confronts his father. The story about the appendicitis scar is so horrifying and strange I’m not sure if it’s amazing or too over-the-top, but I’m glad the show is able to make me feel something again. I’m a little worried that the storyline wrapped up so nicely and quickly, but hopefully Jeff still has a few more daddy issues to work out.Where the episode falters is the Shawshank Redemption parody being done by the rest of the cast. The remaining members of the Study Group trying to escape Shirley’s Thanksgiving seemed like a really ham-handed way to do a prison conceit. The whole thing wore a little thin for me until the end when Abed pointed out some of the more ridiculous aspects of what they were doing and suggested that maybe the parody was more in line with the TV show “Prison Break.” All things considered though, I didn’t think the action at Shirley’s house was particularly funny, which is a big problem for a comedy, no matter how well they pull off a Shawshank homage. That said, this season seems to have finally settled into a comfortable groove. The past two episodes weren’t great by any standard, but they worked much better than the premiere or that horrible convention episode. If the rest of the season can maintain at least this level of quality, I won’t write Community 2.0 off as a complete failure, but it’s still sad to see one of TV’s best sitcoms struggle to even turn out a mediocre episode.