Red Herring: A Quasi-Review of The Walking Dead’s “Clear”


Here, we see Rick, Carl and Michonne embark upon their mission to get to the end of this week’s script.

SPOILER ALERT: This blog is hardly about “Clear,” the 12th episode in the 3rd season of The Walking Dead. I loved this episode, but if you want a review of it, plenty of other people have done so, and they love doing reviews, which possibly means they write them better than I do. And hey! Those reviews probably have ads that will lead you down a rabbit-hole of consumerism, which is way cool. I’m a jealous, spiteful man.

What I want to focus on in this “review” is that, while I’ve been a fan of this show since the first episode, and like the “boring” episodes more than the all-out brawls, I don’t think I’ve ever been more fully invested in the show than I was during this episode.

Basically (and to not actually spoil the show too much for people who don’t watch it immediately), this episode’s a supply run. Oh sure, there are finer points: character development, storyline resolution, zombie-killing. But at its core, this one’s just about going out and getting some stones to throw at The Governor’s tanks. And sweet Sisters of Mercy, did that ever set me alight!

See, I have some manner of nervous condition where, upon seeing movies or shows where people are creating stockpiles of things like weapons or bottles of old soda or match sticks, I start feeling a little fancier, more alive. I almost feel like I’m making the stockpile, gathering the supplies in a fantastic montage that might or might not have music. Doesn’t matter if it has music, really. I’m not there for the music, unless I’m stockpiling albums. Which I used to do.

At one point or another in my life, I’ve had collections of various things. The first one was He-Man & The Masters of the Universe, which was actually a profoundly shitty cartoon that I loved, yet never got to watch because I was possibly too dumb at age 3 to know how to find it on my TV.

It was an affection I acquired almost entirely from the commercials, showing the action figures being figures of action in magnificent set pieces that I could never recreate near the backdoor of my house in Stoughton, Massachusetts. Maybe, oh maybe, had I lived there just a few more years, I could’ve taken them to the edge of the backyard, where I could’ve really dug into the guts of my He-Man-playing experience…and maybe gotten abducted and sealed inside a welded drum. Whatever.

Moving forward, there were wrestling figures. Then newer, smaller wrestling figures that actually had a little bit of articulation to them, so that when Hulk Hogan wanted to slam a bitch, that could happen in a way that didn’t look like a boy was trying to make two pieces of painted, rubber men 69 each other. I think I bought my last wrestling figure when I was 24…maybe.

But by the time I bought that last figure, it resembled more of a last kiss than a passionate affair with the object of my obsession. Before I read comic books, I collected comic book trading cards. Then I actually started collecting comics before selling them all to move onto video games, which I subsequently traded to collect a number of lethal, bladed weapons.

Turns out, there’s actually a pretty short shelf-life for the novelty of collecting swords and stuff, at least as a primary collection. Or, as another possible reason for this silliness, my will to collect bloomed to find many more suns in its sky. I went back to comic books, maintained a monstrous VHS, then DVD collection, started collecting drugs and alcohol in my belly, cologne, movie ticket stubs. Little heavens, each of them, and little hells as they meant ever less.

Almost all the things I have now, I don’t even have. Those things are a thousand miles away, in a room where the light hasn’t been turned on in 2 years and no one cares about them. Safely stored, bagged and boxed, on a shelf in the closet that has no doors because I took them off to give myself slightly more room for these things. The VHS tapes are decaying, the books and knives are dusty. The chair’s broken.

Here, I have a pair of very sentimental brass knucks, given to me by a girl I thought was going to love me. I have a very small cardboard box of things: a letter and a postcard from my friend in Australia, the three travel-sized New Testament + Psalms & Proverbs copies that I managed to have handed to me at different times in the same day, by different people in different places.

I have a broken hemp necklace given to me by my friend Carly over a decade ago. It never matched the rest of my wardrobe, but I never took it off. It endured years of showers, sweats, roughhousing, some sex, tangle-fights with hair and years of just being, and then it fell apart. And then I picked it up and put it in the box.

Rare coins, unused transit tokens for places I’ve loved or would love to love, some weird condoms that are so old they would be considered bullets if my dick was a gun and sex was Russian Roulette. I have those things and now they’re the only collection I still love. And even they sit in a closet.

So I watched “Clear,” as I faithfully watch every episode of The Walking Dead, and didn’t expect anything more than to be entertained for 43 minutes, ’cause I don’t do commercials. But then it became very apparent that this supply run wasn’t going to be like the one where they went to a pharmacy and I was hoping they’d gleefully dance out of the place with wheelbarrows of narcotics…oh, and that pregnancy test. No, “Clear” set out to re-ignite that spark in my mind. The one that wants.

If you’re a big-time horror fan, think of the gun shop scene in the original Dawn of the Dead. Or, even better, think of the hardware store scene in Phantasm II, where Reggie makes the quadruple-barreled shotgun. “Clear” was this, except it was a whole episode of this. I’ve heard there were booby traps and mental breakdowns and emotional salvations, too, but…supply run.

They have other shows that feed this, too and I hate them. There’s some show where people buy hundreds of dollars of garbage at grocery stores, yet they pay next to nothing by scamming the system with a type of couponing psychosis I couldn’t even begin to fathom. I really do hate that show, and always think (often aloud), “why the fuck does anyone need 500 bottles of Powerade? Is this person in a race to get the most diabetes?” But then, maybe for just a few seconds, they show this person’s stash room, and it’s like someone opened a hole in the world and objectively proved to me that I was going to work out all right. Subdued, sedated, satiated. To me, those few seconds are the trace amounts of nutrients in a dinner of poison.

There are doomsday preppers with food that’s shelf-stable for 15 years, hundreds of pounds of it neatly tucked away in a bunker. There are multiple series devoted solely to showing just how well-stocked people’s lives are, their legion of cars with seats of solid gold that somehow doesn’t get hot in the sun while these creeps are buying everything in the mall to just put it…somewhere. One of their ten homes, maybe. Fuck these people. Here, I am not a jealous man. There’s a supply run, there’s a collection, and then there’s just ridiculous excess.

I think, maybe, the idea I have of the supply run is the sense that what I get will be a finite quantity that will assuredly be depleted, and there will be an honest need in me to want again. It’s certainly not some strange fantasy that I will have the concept of desire stripped from me by safety and security. Stability is as close as I ever want to get; safety and security are true vices that want nothing more but to get tighter.

Sometimes it’s called the thrill of the hunt. Other times, it’s called Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Sometimes it’s kept in check, and then other times yet see it unfurl so voraciously that it consumes an entire life, an entire family. Mostly, it’s that virus-like thing of us that wants to have something, truly have it so that we can control it, dominate it, exhaust it and then discard it when the fear of losing it is gone, when it’s no longer enough. By and large, the only things I fear losing anymore are memories, and so I keep my little cardboard box. But every now and then…oh man, a supply run.

I got chills writing it one more time.


About xtopherjacques

I'm an unreliable narrator, which is supposed to be the fun of it. I'd imagine it's a lot more fun to be led off a cliff if it feels like a circus until it happens. Oh, I'm an average guy; I respirate and dream. Here, I'll talk a lot about both. There will likely be too much talk about bodily fluids of varying viscosities for one's liking, but I refuse to change that until it bores me. Thankfully, I also have healthy obsessions with foods (it might get weird), body washes and obscure media. I also talk a lot about my house being haunted and possessed, neither being true. All of those things should keep this all interesting enough. I sure hope so.

Posted on 03/14/2013, in Horror Links/Commentaries, Realization Through Coincidence and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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