Likable Characters Save an Uninspired Start



The Walking Dead universe grows with a fourth series set in the zombie apocalypse. Tales of the Walking Dead differs as an anthology where each episode tells a different story. The premiere, “Evie/Joe”, starts off on a middling footing with interesting characters but a lackluster plot. Terry Crews and Olivia Munn work as a mismatched pair on a road trip. Their quirky personalities even out the lack of blood, guts, and surprises.

We first see Joe (Crews) in a well-stocked underground bunker filled with food and supplies. A calendar notes four hundred and two days since “the end”. He’s got a Doberman called Gilligan for company. Joe, an Ohio State fan, passes time watching old football games and doing Sudoku puzzles. He wakes up at night for bathroom breaks outside the bunker.

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Joe reads a printout of online chats with another doomsday prepper. “USHLDBSCRD” shared his end-of-the-world philosophy. Joe takes Gilligan outside after the dog wets the bed that night. An alarm rings as walkers approach. Joe activates a pitchfork fence that surrounds them and impales the zombies. One gets through and attacks Gilligan. A heartbroken Joe kills them but loses his beloved dog.

A montage follows of a lonely Joe getting bored and listless. He goes through his chat logs. USHLDBSCRD lives somewhere near Flint, Michigan. Joe packs up an electric motorcycle and sidecar with supplies. He hits the road in search of his online soulmate.

Joe runs over tire spikes in the road. He’s then yanked up a tree in a net booby trap. Evie (Munn) promises to cut him down as he long as he cuffs himself. She kills an approaching walker and blesses him after the deed. A duct-taped Joe listens to Evie’s spiritualist, new age banter. She puts a crystal amulet around his neck to balance his angry vibes. Evie plans to take his motorcycle for her own search. It has a kill switch that only Joe can operate.

Joe and Evie Hit the Road

Joe and Evie hit the road. She rides in the sidecar while holding a gun on him. An annoyed Joe listens to Charlie Pride on his headphones. She sings along loudly as they traverse Ohio. A montage of postcards follows as they drive through towns. Evie looks through Joe’s backpack their first night in the woods. She gets a kick out of his “puppies and poetry.” Evie sleeps with a sloth stuffed animal.

They’re awakened in their second night by walkers. Evie lets Joe loose to help fight. She does a cartwheel kick to save him from getting bit. Turns out that Evie is a hippie who knows Capoeira. They get back on the road. Crossing Michigan until they settle again in an abandoned warehouse.

Joe finds a bottle of whiskey, but Evie doesn’t drink. She’s into marijuana and plant-based highs. Evie is looking for her husband, Steve. They separated before the world fell. He paints pictures of things and people he hates. Evie hopes he hasn’t painted her. She’s deduced from Joe’s logs the location of his online friend.

Joe starts the motorcycle the next morning. He leaves it running when Evie calls him into the warehouse. They go outside to find a lamb tied to a rock, and someone driving the bike away. Joe chases him down with her gun. It’s not loaded when he tries to fire.

A furious Joe walks on a riverbank while Evie follows with the lamb. He can’t believe the gun wasn’t loaded. Evie retorts she despises violence. Joe finally explodes in anger. He knows why Steve dumped her. Joe yells that Steve has definitely painted her. A hurt Evie says Joe has never really lived life. He was always locked away in his bunker. Joe drops an f-bomb and leaves her.

Joe walks the river until coming to a house he recognizes from USHLDBSCRD’s chats. He yells at a camera as walkers close. A hatch opens and he jumps in. Sandra (Kersti Bryan) awaits at the bottom. Joe introduces himself as “DotTheEye”. He’s overjoyed to finally meet her in person.

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Sandra takes him into her elaborate and stocked bunker. She brings him some brownies. Then tells him she needs to change and put on some makeup. Joe starts to hallucinate from the laced dessert. Meanwhile, Evie and the lamb find Steve’s cabin. She sees many angry paintings of distorted faces, but a beautiful one of her. Steve is nowhere to be found.

Sandra returns wearing garish clown makeup. She zip ties Joe’s hands. He recoils in horror as she starts to interrogate him. Sandra thinks he wants to steal her supplies. She slices his neck in rage. Sandra removes Joe’s watch. She has a watch collection of others she’s killed. Her camera alerts that someone is outside.

Sandra ties Joe to a pole in her store room. She wipes off the makeup then goes outside to greet Evie. Sandra leads Evie downstairs into the bunker. Evie ties up the lamb and inquires where’s Joe. Sandra pretends not to know him. She offers a brownie snack. Evie munches away. She calmly states that you should never give someone an edible without telling them. Evie knows Sandra is lying.

Sandra runs at Evie with a cleaver. Evie kicks her away spectacularly. She hears Joe screaming for help. She grabs the cleaver and races to the store room. Evie cuts Joe loose, but Sandra enters with a spear. Joe throws the cleaver into her chest. They close the bunker on Sandra’s walker hands.

Evie and Joe spend the night on a covered bridge. Joe thanks Evie for coming back. He admits she was right. He was a lonely man that always hid away. Evie says he can start anew. The world is messed up but still beautiful. They embrace as friends and companions. Joe decides to call the lamb “Skipper.” They walk together into the unknown.

Standard Logic Failings

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“Evie/Joe” has the standard logic failings that plague The Walking Dead franchises. It’s unbelievable that a doomsday prepper like Joe wouldn’t be armed to the teeth. The fact he embarks without a firearm is ridiculous. His meeting Evie is an aw-shucks sweet set-up. I can buy she’s a martial arts expert. How did they fix the flat tires on the motorcycle? It’s also laughable that anyone would leave a vehicle running without staying nearby. Evie does say during their argument that Joe could have left at any time. That makes sense. Most men wouldn’t leave Olivia Munn and a lamb. It’s also nuts they didn’t loot Sandra’s bunker. You need willing suspension of disbelief in the zombie apocalypse.

Sandra’s homicidal response and Steve’s absence was expected. The episode puts Joe and Evie together for a continuing storyline. Steve’s out there, along with the bike, for them to find. I can’t fathom how the lamb plays out. It remains to be seen when these characters will be revisited. Joe and Evie will undoubtedly be romantic by that point. Tales of the Walking Dead disappoints initially with a dearth of hardcore zombie violence. Later episodes look to be more action-packed. The premiere holds your interest with likable newcomers. It’s a moderate success because you want further adventures of Joe and Evie.

Tales of the Walking Dead is produced by AMC studios. New episodes premiere Sunday nights on AMC. The following week’s episode is available immediately after on AMC+.

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