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'Walking Dead' recap: Not everyone can be a genius

"The Walking Dead" has seen people from many walks of life shuffle onto its stage, but no matter how clean-cut or down-and-dirty they have been, generally they've displayed a fair amount of common sense. It's probably fair to say that a zombie epidemic would have a Darwinian culling effect on the population. But that's not to say that all the idiots died. And on Sunday's episode, "Claimed," we found a few of them.

In the aftermath of the prison's destruction, the surviving main players continue to follow concurrent but separate narratives. While we got no updates on Carol, Daryl or Tyreese this week, we did see Rick, Carl and Michonne further cement their familial dynamic and Glenn and Tara get to know our new cast members, Abraham Ford, Dr. Eugene Porter and Rosita (a.k.a. The Tomb Raider Lady).

Porter, the be-mulleted scientist on his way to Washington, D.C., apparently to sort this whole zombie mess out, would seem to be the most important character introduced on the series to date. Come on, the man claims he knows what's going on! However, there were many signs that he was just the first of the many idiots brought onto this episode.

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First, it's hard to believe any scientist with the personal grooming habits of Kenny Powers would be able to figure out the source of the zombie plague. And second, there's his poor choice in how he actually deals with real zombies standing in front of him. While Glenn and Abraham were busy settling their differences with an old-fashioned wrastlin' match by the side of a cornfield, Porter chose to handle the approaching zombies with a machine gun. He didn't alert anyone, he just grabbed the gun and started firing. And it was obvious immediately that he had no idea what he was doing. He even shot through the transport's fuel-line, incapacitating the truck.

Abraham, who with his mustache and macho posturing has the potential to be the Ron Swanson of "The Walking Dead," seemed blind to Porter's obvious lack of common sense and fashion savvy. A man can be good at killing zombies, but that doesn't mean he should be leading a crew. Here's hoping cooler heads prevail when this group reaches Washington.

As for Rosita, the midriff-baring cohort of Porter and Ford, the only thing to wonder is how she seems to be the only person showering and washing those shorts on a regular basis.

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Meanwhile, Carl and Michonne went out on a supply run and we got our first glimpse of the new, smiley Michonne. After glowering through most of the last season and a half, it's striking to see her attempting jokes with Carl and finally revealing aspects of her past. She had a 3-year-old son when the zombie crisis began, for instance. It's a smart move to open the character up, especially if we're going to be spending more time with her. A brooding cipher gets you only so far before you need something to emotionally connect with.

And because we now know more about Michonne, we can fully appreciate one of the most tragic images in the series so far, when she discovered a family that had lain themselves down in bed and then died by gunshots in order to avoid becoming zombies. The simple tragedy of it, contrasted with the innocent decorations of what was once a child's room, is heartbreaking. And another example of the quiet moments that the series excels at when it wants to.

Less interesting was Rick's encounter with the episode's other idiots. While napping in an upstairs bedroom, his temporary refuge gets infiltrated by a group of unidentified hooligans. The kind of guys who will kill one another over the use of the best bed in the house. Rick, still recovering, can't handle direct confrontation, so he hides under the bed. And from there, the scenario plays out, with Rick doing his best to get out of the house without getting caught.

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Although well directed, the sequence didn't seem to add much to our understanding of Rick or move the story forward in any significant way. And it opened up a lot of questions, such as why no one in the house heard Rick and one of the hoodlums scuffling to the death in an upstairs bathroom. Was their hearing impaired from all the gun fighting? Did they just not care?

The episode's closing moments seemed to put Rick and company on the same path as Tyreese and Carol -- headed to a place where sanctuary was being offered to all. Here's hoping the people running the town are smarter than the new people we met in "Claimed."

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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