Less Talking, More Shooting

SPOILER ALERT! Didn’t see Walking Dead on 3/11? Stop reading.

On “The Walking Dead” this week, Shane plots to kill his former best friend and the show’s protaganist, Rick Grimes. He lures him away alone and they stop in a clearing. Instead of just shooting Rick, Shane launches into a bunch of chatty nonsense — and WHAM, Rick has the opportunity to shank Shane. This is a prime example of what’s referred to as evil gloating.

Evil gloating, or as Roger Ebert called it, The Fallacy of the Talking Killer,  is all about bad guys who can’t shut up — and lazy film and TV writers who lean on the technique to build tension.

Outside of Hollywood, people who are going to shoot you don’t deliver a lecture about what they’re thinking and how you’re going to die. No, they just start shooting. How many people have slipped away thinking, “Hey, wait! You didn’t talk before shooting me!”

No. The real world is cold and brutal and things fly at you without any preamble. Even if you did have a chance, you’re probably not going to foil someone intent on getting you. And you won’t even come back as a zombie to even the score.

11 thoughts on “Less Talking, More Shooting

  1. It drove me crazy. It’d be one thing if they played up hesitancy or regret. Maybe that’s what they were going for, but it didn’t play off that way. Instead, it came across as that trope.

    Now, in defense of the writers: that scene I felt was written a little differently than it was directed. Rick in particular noting that if he did it, he’d have to shoot an unarmed man. Both are cops, and Rick knows enough to know that Shane’s already been sloppy enough with his plan that he wouldn’t be so haphazard as to shoot Rick while Rick clearly isn’t in a position to defend himself. So that hesitancy should have played off that he was nervous, things fell apart, and Rick was facing him without his gun, so somebody was going to smell a rat even if he claimed it was the outsider that had shot Rick. But the way they played it off, and with Rick saying he was unarmed but still physically holding his gun, it came off as even dumber than it was on the page.

    And oh my God, am I glad Shane’s gone. I really liked the character and I’ll miss them playing him as a contrast to Rick and a reminder that they’re not in the same world they used to live in, but good Lord, the two of them in the same scene was always awful: heavy breathing, growling, and over-acting. It was so hammy it broke Lent. As actors they brought out the worst in each other, even though it was clear they both thought otherwise.

  2. I, too was glad to see Shane go…I half expected Rick’s son to shout “Shane, come back…”…yes, I looked for a tree stump as some kind of dirty homage…. 😉 I was also ecstatic to see Dale go…I only wish Rick’s son had shot him too…great way to make room for new cast members…!! 😉

    1. It’s my understanding that in the graphic novel, Carl shoots Shane.

      I’m still a huge Daryl fan; you should see him in Boondock Saints if you’ve not already. Funny movie.

  3. I think the “evil gloating” and “talking killer” concepts pertain well to a lot of the print and online editorials that the Times Union management team promulgates. Imagine being tied to a chair while Rex Smith explains in graphic detail how paying more for a smaller newspaper with less local content is good for you and others like like you . . . he could just stick it to you in silence, of course, but the torturous explanations are apparently much more satisfying for him and his minions that the actual act of killing a newspaper . . .

    1. Well, once the printing business kicks in full force, maybe that will mean an infusion of cash for the newspaper.

      An acquaintance of mine attended a Q & A with GRH III recently where he talked extensively about the new printing press and business opportunities it presents. When the new press was announced, the TU (and the Business Review, for that matter) never really made a big deal about outside work, instead focusing on what it will allow them to do with the newspaper.

      I said it before and I said it again: they will now be a printing company that owns a newspaper, not a newspaper that owns a printing press.

      1. Encyclopedia Britannica announced they will no longer print a ‘dead trees’ version, but will be electronic and on-line. I believe their presses will now be used to print the Lake Forest, Glencoe and Winnetka Spotlight newspapers.

        1. I saw that story! Selling people an online subscription to the encyclopedia is not a job I’d want these days.

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