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The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is a drama about a zombie apocalypse. It is based on the 2003 Image Comics series. AMC 2010-???


Episode 2 - Guts

8 March 2013

Credit AMC

Synopsis: Glenn helps Rick reach the inside of a department store where other survivors are gathered. Rick has brought a lot of Walkers to the outside of the store though. He also handcuffs racist Merle who was beating up T-Dog. Rick comes up with a plan to reach a truck which could drive them out of the city.

The Good: This was a strong follow up to the first episode. It was certainly a different direction to go in but it was good.

The tension was strong throughout. It's not easy to make a TV show dramatic so early on because viewers have an expectation that the story is still being built. Yet I thought the sense of danger which the Walkers pose was kept strong all the way through this. That includes the opening scene with Lori in the forest. The use of silence is so effective with zombies, it's almost impossible to not be hooked on seeing what is going to break it.

Last episode saw Rick go through familiar feeling zombie scenes of discovery. This week also felt familiar, much more like a generic horror story as the zombies surround him and his new friends in a department store. Despite the familiarity it felt like a wise change of pace. Where last week was all about suspense and fall out this was more the direct scary consequences which Rick missed out on.

The story played out in a sensible manner with the zombie threat slowly escalating and Rick managing to play hero and figure a way to get them all out of the mess he had made. I really liked the details of the story as they played out. The "dinner bell" analogy for how noise draws the walkers to an area makes sense. It adds a good dimension to the mythology of this world where silence will be key to survival but as we know creates a nervy environment. Rick of course learnt a lesson about sound last week and used it to good effect here with the car alarm drawing Walkers away from the building.

Then there was Glenn telling everyone clearly why he didn't want them all following him down into the sewers. I loved that comment. Here is a man who has learnt how to survive and has thought through where his vulnerabilities are when crawling through a confined space. I so appreciated that attention to detail, it made him seem more real and the threat seem more real too. The Walker they found down there gave off a most inhuman wheezing noise which was pretty creepy. It was interesting to see him eating rats as well. That gives us a clearer picture of how they survive.

The plan to chop up a corpse and use it to fool the Walkers was clever and horrific. Again the gruesomeness of it, the shocked reactions and Glenn throwing up were all good moments. They all helped build this picture of what people are forced to do to survive in this world. Of course nothing quite sold that like T-Dog screaming at his friends to not leave him behind (see Best Moment). The conflict between racist Merle and his mixed race friends was an interesting one. It certainly provided some nice conflict amongst the survivors as they fretted over the Walkers.

Rick of course stepped in to be the hero and give the speech about how their old racial quarrels mean nothing now. It was a little cliched and it seemed presumptuous for Rick to be lecturing people who have been surviving for much longer than him. But I think his position as a policeman lends itself to this kind of leadership and so far he is playing the role earnestly enough.

Although it was brief I actually liked Shane refusing to go help the people who had gone to Atlanta. Again it showed good detail to have someone point out the obvious. If humanity is going to survive hibernating until the Walkers start to die off isn't a bad idea.

Finally I liked the ending where Glenn squeals with delight at being able to flaw his sports car down an empty highway. The show definitely needs to inject a little fun into this world of misery.

The Bad: I know Andrew Lincoln (Rick) from British TV shows and I began to notice his accent here more than in the first episode. It does make some of his lines seem less convincing than they should be. As I hinted at in "The Good" his morality edged toward cliché at times but it wasn't a big deal.

Meanwhile his wife and best friend were getting busy in a forest. The only blatantly "made for TV" moment was the pregnant pause they both took when her wedding ring stood between them and sex.

The Unknown: None of the new characters (aside from Merle) really stood out as individuals. They didn't display particularly defining characteristics or give off much of an impression. In a way that was a strength because it kept the show feeling gritty. There was no slick Hollywood production to their presentation. There was nothing particularly cliched about who they were. No one cried "You don't understand man you weren't there!" No one talked about how their wife was taken right from their arms etc. However it's equally possible that the lack of characterisation will continue going forward and is a weakness of the writing. We shall see.

I hinted at this question last time but didn't ask it. How long was Rick in the hospital? It can't have been that long can it if he had no food? Yet his wife and best friend are already hooking up? Were they up to something before the zombification happened?

Walkers don't climb apparently. Glenn seemed fairly confident that once he and Rick ascended the ladder, the Walkers wouldn't follow. We later saw them climbing a smaller fence so an explanation for this would have been nice.

Best Moment: The survivors rush to get in position for Rick to rescue them. T-Dog has to waste precious time in unlocking Merle's handcuffs. He rushes angrily back to help and accidentally drops the keys down a hole. Conflicted and apologetic T-Dog leaves him but in a final act of mercy he wastes more valuable time to lock the entrance to the roof to protect Merle from the Walkers. Then T-Dog runs down the stairs screaming "Don't leave me! Don't leave me!"

The dilemma of the handcuffs was really well executed. T-Dog had so little time to act and once the keys were gone he had no choice. But it was his screams that really stuck with me. Nothing could convey the horror of the world the survivors live in than the panic in his voice. As he screamed "Don't leave me" it really struck me how he felt imagining seeing his friends drive away and leaving him to be eaten to death. A fantastic moment.

Just to put a cherry on that his fellow survivors all look at his suspiciously when Merle doesn't reappear. He tells them that he dropped the key but they are all wondering if he left a man to die. They can understand why he might have done but that drop of mistrust between people who desperately need each other was another lovely touch.

Conclusion: A strong episode. It cranked up the tension and misery well. It played out like a good horror movie and to keep that fear level up from week one was a real achievement. The show feels a little rough around the edges but in a way that helps the authenticity.



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