'Walking Dead' Recap: Maggie, Daryl, Bob -- a study in hair
Even when he was guzzling NyQuil in a hobo cave, Bob didn't quite look like Bob at the opening of Sunday's The Walking Dead. I didn't even recognize him during the flashback preface. And yet, the only major difference between Then Bob and Now Bob (suddenly one of my fave characters -- if only because he won't let a little thing like the zombie apocalypse get in the way of his seduction techniques) was his HAIR. He had a mid-'80s baby 'fro going early; now, apparently after a visit to the prison SuperCuts, he's rocking a tight Denzel 'do. Bob has never looked better, which is convenient now that he's also turned into a hunky charmer smooching Sasha, Tyreese's sister.
After that preface -- and perhaps because these connecting episodes are all tease and scant payoff, dividing restless Dead Nation into "this rocks!" vs. "this blows!" camps -- I kept obssessing about everyone's hair. (I'm also fascinated by TEETH, especially Maggie, who is obviously more concerned about scrounging Crest Whitestrips than canned goods.) When people rip on The Walking Dead, it often has to do with the intrusion of fantasy into reality -- where are they finding all this specific ammo? why is the lawn in some yards still manicured? -- which is always a flimsy argument since the whole comic-book premise is preposterous. It's a tough tightrope to walk -- you need some anchoring in truth, but you also have to make a monster movie.
For the most part, The Walking Dead is particularly good at making you feel THIS COULD TOTALLY HAPPEN. That said, one of the biggest liberties the show takes, at least with specific characters, especially when they're becoming important, is hair. Sgt. Abraham Ford is a fire-hued blockhead. Michonne's loner persona is defined by her dreadlocks. Carol has the sensible feminist pixie.
Lauren Cohan is a knockout, of course, and her character of Maggie has increasingly become more sexualized. Not just in a warrior sense, but also beauty wise. It doesn't make sense -- the further she gets into oblivion, the hotter she looks -- except from a business standpoint. People tune in for Maggie, so let's keep giving them a reason. At the end of last night's "Alone" ep -- Maggie, Sasha and Bob are headed to Terminus, a maybe-sanctuary where the rest of the cast presumably awaits -- Cohan's character was covered in blood. But man, her hair and teeth looked fabulous!!
Daryl Dixon's makeover is a bigger problem. Arguably the show's most popular character -- and a barometer of its success -- the crossbow-toting stud was originally fair-haired, all grunts and muscle and backwoods honor. But it seems he found some Grecian Formula or a can of shoe polish, because Daryl is raven-haired now, with those dreamy wisps perfectly framing his piercing renegade eyes. Although ratings for TWD have been robust -- it's still the most popular show on cable -- Twitter has been increasingly peppered this year with people giving up on the series. The pacing is a problem, although the second half of Season 4 has been better than the first, even sans the One-Eyed Gov. But Daryl's 'do is an issue: As last night's installment ended -- just as he was falling for Caterwauling Beth, she was whisked away in a funereal limo (you had to be there) -- Daryl was encircled by a bunch of bad guys. The scene felt off, wrong. It wasn't compelling; it was tiresome. Who knows? Maybe it was because Daryl looked like Clooney amidst the hoi polloi, tipping a once-brutal show too far into Hollywood, too far from its gritty, ahem, roots.