Episode 740: Give and Take

Zombie Cliche Lookout: Keeping the Pressure On

Surviving the zombies apocalypse is all about balance. It’s about balancing risk and reward. It’s about balancing your stress. You have to balance the added security of joining up with others with the added stress of having to keep them fed. The survival pressure is absolutely relentless, which is why it’s so important to savor ever small victory, with the understanding that another setback is likely on the horizon.

This also holds true from a meta perspective. In telling a zombie survival story, you have to strike a balance between keeping characters in danger, but not completely overwhelming them. They have to have something to keep them going beyond narrative necessity (e.g. plot armor).

About this Episode:

Yeah, that’s a pretty big key, right? I mean, hilariously oversized to the point of being completely impractical. That is also, to the best of my knowledge, the only key made by LEGO that’s available. I shouldn’t have put it in the comic, but when I was looking for a key prop, that’s the first thing I found and I thought it was hilarious. Sure, it looks like it would unlock a giant door from the middle ages and not, say, start a panel truck in 2017, but I have to use what I have available, right?

Discussion Question: Keeping the Pressure On?

As we’ve discussed a time or two in this comic, it’s a narrative necessity to keep characters in zombie stories on their toes. They can’t have too many wins, and they can’t feel too safe for too long. In fact, the only time they should really feel safe at all is when they’re getting setup for another big, painful setback.

I think this is a staple of the horror genre, but I imagine is shows up elsewhere. What other types of stories are characters constantly kept a hair’s breath away from complete failure?



Typo alert: “important to savor ever small victory” ever–>every 😀

Only one for today, Dave, looking fairly good. 😀


Yep, that’s a hilariously oversized key, but hey, if it works, use it! 😀

One of these days, TLG is going to come out with better looking keys, or one would hope so, anyway. They do have to weigh up the practicalities of having it fit properly into a minifig’s hand, and yet not have look too out of proportion for the role they want it used in.

Barb defeated three zombies, are two more really going to be that much trouble? Or are there more off-screen we can’t see yet? 😀

I also wonder what Clark is having to deal with, being the one who presumably started the diversion! 😀


Perfectly fine with the key. Oversized tools is, too me, very “LEGO”. I also love the oversized phone. Makes me laugh every time I see it LOL… And there is another key from some LEGO Elves set I think. It’s just as big as yours LOL.

About today’s question I think about an animated sport series like Captain Tsubasa. You could have the best team in the country, you’ll struggle in every game LOL… Still winning, but struggling no matter what… (Injuries to key players, strong opponents, overcoming cheating,…).


I dread to think where the zombie was hiding that key.

I was watching an episode of the new MacGyver earlier and it was exactly as you described. Constant crises, as soon one was solved we were thrown into next one . So I guess I’d nominate action-adventure stories.

A hero can’t have it too easy. If the audience doesn’t believe there’s any chance of failure, there’s no drama.

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Disscussion Question:

Short answer, any story that wants to keep up suspense. There has to be some ballence though, if you never give the characters a break then you can actually exhast your audiance. Its like being on a roller coaster for over 30 min. At some point excitement turns to ‘just end and get it over with already’


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