“Evie/Joe” is an odd start to Tales of the Walking Dead, delivering an odd-couple rom-com with a fair helping of silliness.
This recap of Tales of the Walking Dead season 1, episode 1, “Evie/Joe”, contains spoilers.
Well, that was bizarre, wasn’t it?
I’ve said this plenty of times before, but there is no weirder show anywhere in the TV landscape, network or streaming, than The Walking Dead. No show that I’m aware of has fluctuated so much in quality and been so consistently able to reinvent itself, both for the better and, often, for the worse. No show has spawned so many spin-offs that ran the gamut from generally pointless to better than the flagship series to utterly abominable – and that’s just five seasons of Fear the Walking Dead. The less said about The Walking Dead: World Beyond the better.
Tales of the Walking Dead season 1, episode 1 recap
But people have often asked how this series is still ironically alive, and the answer is right above you. That willingness to change, branch out, try new things, and even radically change old ones means something; it’s creative CPR to resuscitate the corpse of a once-great brand when all else has failed. You can’t rely on The Walking Dead to be anything other than weird. But blimey, you can rely on it for that.
It’s fitting, then, that the premiere of Tales of the Walking Dead, “Evie/Joe”, is a knockabout rom-com starring Terry Crews as a lonely doomsday prepper and Olivia Munn as a vegan capoeira master. I mean, why not, at this point?
But for all its radical deviations in the established tone and style, “Evie/Joe” accomplishes something in one episode that has sometimes been failed at across multiple seasons in the series – it introduces and develops characters with actual depth. Set about a year after the end of the world, it hones in on that particular slice of the population who were uniquely qualified to thrive in the apocalypse, just as they’re beginning to realize that perhaps they’re not entirely better off alone.
Both Evie and Joe have idealistic romances of their own that they’ve clung to over the last twelve months; Joe’s is a poetic online correspondence with a fellow prepper, while Evie’s is a new-age therapeutic arrangement with a man who angrily paints people he hates. Both have deluded themselves, to some extent, that if they can reunite with these connections to their previous lives, they can continue as they were, but what they’re both really looking for is closure and with it the permission to live forwards rather than idling on pause.
“Evie/Joe” utilizes a lot of worn-out rom-com tropes – two lonely people who believe they’re fated to be with others gradually soften, despite the fact they have little in common at first (he’s a muscular traditionalist, she’s a new age hippie type). Crews and Munn are both fine, even good in spots, but I never bought into them romantically. I did, though, see how their individual perspectives evolved because of their proximity to each other, so perhaps that’s just as good. The truth at the core of the relationship is better than the overtly silly context it exists within. I almost wish these two had been introduced in something more serious or morally challenging.
But here we are. If anything, an anthology format is a good excuse for the overly familiar universe of The Walking Dead to be approached from an unusual angle; for usually serious topics to be made light of, and for the audience to know that they don’t need to wait six seasons to find out a little more about what makes the characters tick. Some of the hardcore fanbase will hate this episode, so it leading the charge is worthy of respect, at the very least. How it bodes for the rest of the episodes in this collection is anyone’s guess.