By Fashion and Entertainment Editor Joe Lamour
Last week, we welcomed The Walking Dead back with a chorus of hurrays, whoas and ewwws. Our newly assembled roundtable covered the highs (Michonne and all the beheading;), the lows (Lori, of course; an axe to the shin came in a close second), and usual stuff we’ve all come to expect: the usual lack of dialogue for T-Dog. Jeannie and I could only recall a single word and some noises (“Woo!”) this episode, but commenter Pellnore retained more:
You guys might have missed some of T-Dog’s input. For one he was talking about acquiring fresh water for the group. He also said some stuff when they were on the move. Not a whole lot but he wasn’t completely silent.
After reading Pellinore’s comment, I fuzzily recall that he spoke some additional dialogue, but I also wanted to know why I couldn’t remember anything else he said other than that woo. Compare him to other characters, since I could recall more said by others. Since I couldn’t find a script for the episode yet, I watched the episode again to see what we all missed, and how his lines stack up to other minor characters, like Carol and Beth. In related news, you may now refer to me as “that person”:
Jeannie and I were so so wrong. T-Dog actually spoke throughout the first half of the episode. It is less than Carol and Beth (and I imagine, any other character). He suggested a route that Rick rebukes immediately (because remember, “This is no longer a democracy.”). He then asks for a moment to get water for the group, which Rick allows him to do. Following that, he speaks the aforementioned “woo!” we have heard countless other excited black men say just that way in entertainment made for the critical masses. It’s like a car alarm now. (I sense a YouTube compilation coming.) He also mentions water, again, at the campfire. Maybe he worked sanitation? Who knows.
But, this I know: literally all the other minor characters had something of substance to say: Carol awkwardly flirted with Daryl; Beth sang at the campfire, which served as a happy and welcome change of mood (till Rick pooed all over it by mentioning zombie killing again). Beth also tells Lori that having the baby at the prison would be “safe”–her zombie relatives and friends from Season 2 flashing beyond her eyes. And this is my point.
T-Dog has been on the show one season longer than Beth. Can you tell me anything about him? I mean anything. Did he have a wife, or girlfriend, or a guy he lived with that he called his “roommate”? What did he do prior to meeting the group? The Walking Dead wiki posits he used to be a locksmith, but even the hub of all Walking Dead info has no clue.
We know Carol was a stay-at-home mom with an abusive husband, and (hopefully) we all cheered when that asshat was eaten alive in Season 1. We know that Beth was suicidal after the dealing with death on the farm in Season 2 so much, and all at once. We know the group has a veterinarian (well it seems they used to), a cop, two moms, a hillbilly with a horrible family, and various women and non-white people whose previous lives don’t matter. This, in a show about what it means to be alive, apparently.
Some may think it’s unfair to list how many lines characters have in an episode that started with a silent eight minutes, but remember, all the characters had the same amount of time to speak. In a show that clearly doesn’t think a certain character is important, why include him at all? I think it may be time to admit that he was added at the last second because the group needed some color, which is a solution to one of the problems that television casting has, but not the other, larger problem: substance. T-Dog couldn’t say any of Beth or Carol’s lines (I’m laughing to myself now as I imagine him asking Daryl if he “wants to fool around”).
Frankly, any time he speaks something that any other character could say, I’m just going to get angrier. I mean, even Carl could speak his lines–I’m sure he can read a map now that he can use a silencer.