Tales of The Walking Dead, “Joe/Evie,” (television review)

After a sudden loss forces reclusive, former Ohio State football player, Joe, out into a world under populated by “toe-tags,” it’s not long before he meets an unorthodox companion.

Written by Maya Goldsmith and Ben Sokolowski and directed by 

Ron Underwood (Tremors,) the pilot episode of the latest spin-off, Tales of the Walking Dead, immediately capitalized on what they’ve always done best: giving the audience characters to root for, and propelling the narrative forward not by plot, but by characters. Having said that, we learn more about Joe, and since the audience was introduced to him first, that’s understandable. The episode was mostly told through his POV, so the fact that the audience doesn’t learn as much about his counterpart shouldn’t be too surprising. However, Olivia Munn’s Evie was more subtle and, in many ways, Joe’s antithesis. The dynamic between the two could almost be called a foil, though not one forged in animosity or rancor. Rather, it was one built on friendship, respect, and like-minded goals– desires which exceeded mere survival. 

“No one believed this could happen. No one ever thinks bad things will happen. But I was prepared.”

According to some reviewers, the best part of the hour were the performances by Terry Crews (America’s Got Talent, Brooklyn Nine-Nine,) and Olivia Munn (The Newsroom;) that their dynamic was an interesting one; and that they made it fun to watch. To an extent, I agree. But whereas the latter shone through, the performances of Crews left much to be desired. Hers felt authentic and emotive, while his ran only surface deep. And I dislike writing critical reviews, especially in regard to those I normally enjoy and respect, but there was an overall lack of feeling and depth to Crews’ dialogue, as well as his body language. It mostly felt flat, although there were a couple scenes that did scream authenticy. Those didn’t feel rushed or simply rehearsed. Those felt REAL. I only wish I could say the same about the bulk of his performances. 

Joe/Evie could have been improved upon simply by omitting the USHLDBSCRD subplot. Or they could’ve used the basis of it, and then significantly altered it for the better. Doing so wouldn’t have changed the trajectory of Joe’s journey, and the end result would’ve been impactful. It could’ve been relatively epic in scope, if the middle section had been thought out more, instead of relying on a certain social commentary we’ve all seen before, albeit not on The Walking Dead. I did appreciate said commentary because, despite its commonalities, it’s something to take heed of, even in the apocalypse –maybe especially during the apocalypse– but I wanted to see something slightly more unique and clever; something we’ve never seen before. I was expecting some profound moments between Joe and Evie, a sense of self-discovery which could, perhaps, say something powerful about the human condition. 

“Well, then you just became my involuntary chauffeur. Once you get me to wherever I need to go, you can take off. Besides… it’s not a request.”

And look, I dig isolation stories. I like the premise of individualized narratives that can easily be watched as standalones, without having to be familiar with the franchise or to have watched all eleven seasons of the flagship series. I also like that the anthology will expand the Walking Dead’s world. I’m encouraged by the fact that, if Tales

does well, they could potentially return to Joe, Evie, or any of the other characters, really. What I didn’t like was that Joe/Evie ended abruptly, with basically zero information of where the duo went from here. 

It would’ve worked better if the episode

was longer. 

Rating: 2.5/5 stars 

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