7
Nov
2010
The Walking Dead: Season 1, Episode 2
Guts.
Jordan
Before the premiere of The Walking Dead, I had already heard that the second episode was a disappointment after the very solid pilot. I thought last week was very good, and while I did not hate "Guts" as much as I worried I might, it was certainly not as strong an outing.

The episode opens in the survivor's camp we saw briefly last week, and its clear from the start that this is the "character's being introduced" episode after the pilot was mostly Andrew Lincoln by himself. We meet Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) who is trying to repair his RV (and let's guess if that'll be important later). We also meet Amy (Emma Bell), and see Shane and Loria again when he pops out and scares her in the woods, and then they have sex for which she feels the need to remove her wedding ring. First off, jumping out and scaring someone in the woods is never ok, but during the zombie apocalypse that shit is punishable by death. Think about it: if someone jumps out at you, and that person might be a zombie, you have every license to just murder them.

Back in the tank where we left Rick, he is guided out of his situation by Glenn (the solid Steven Yeun), who will heretofore be referred to on this blog as Short Round. It was a good introduction to the best new character in the episode to have Short Round save Rick by guiding him out of the tank, but after the hopelessness of the end of the last episode, it felt like a fairly easy solution to what the pilot had set up as a pretty desperate situation. However, Rick still hasn't learned his lesson about gunshots attracting zombies, and so soon he and his new band of survivors are trapped in a department store, Dawn of the Dead style. We quickly meet the insane, racist Merle Dixon, who is the type of character that doesn't exist anywhere in the real world and is only around to cause tension. I think even the most hardened racist would probably make an exception in terms of survival during the zombie apocalypse (though maybe I'm being too optimistic). He wastes bullets needlessly firing off the roof, is a complete misogynist, and beats T-Dog (which is a ridiculous name, and is ridicuously overacted by Robert Singleton). It doesn't make any sense that anyone would have let them into this group in the first place. He is exactly the kind of person you don't want around you in the zombie apocalypse, which is the only reason he is on this show. I understand why they didn't kill him on the show (though I think it would have been morally interesting to at least discuss killing the dangerous crazy person who held them all at gunpoint and beat T-Dog just for being black), but I don't understand why there was even the question of uncuffing him. He should have been left. He's fucking crazy, and a danger to everyone around him.

The rest of the group is pretty broadly drawn this week, from Morales (Juan Pareja) who mostly just stands there, to Jacqui (Jeryl Prescott Sales, who is a distractingly spastic actress), and finalyl Andrea, who is the most well drawn character outside of Short Round, if only because we know that Amy is her sister. An escape plan of the grossest proportions is hatched when Rick surmises that zombies rely on their sense of smell and he hacks up a defunct zombie and smears the guts of the title all over he and Glenn so they can walk down the street to the moving vans that can get them to safety. This is a shockingly disgusting scene on a show that gets away with a surprising amount of gore, even for cable. The zombies are disgusting, and we've already seen a rat, a horse, and now a man torn to shreds, intestines and all on display. I did like the touch of Rick getting to know the guy before hacking him up, showing that he still cares about humanity and all, but doing it in a surprisingly effective way. This episode is chock full of some terrible dialogue, but like last week, The Walking Dead seems particularly adept at catching the small moments of tragedy that occur in a world overtaken by death and the dead. The sequence is suspenseful, even though its been done a thousand times before, and leads to Glenn providing a distraction by driving a car with the alarm going off to distract the horde while Rick gets everyone else out.

There's the hint of a moral quandary, when the camp gets a splice of an update from T-Dog that lets them know the group is trapped, and Amy argues for mounting a rescue until Shane shuts her down, refusing to sacrifice anyone else in a futile attempt to save them, but its brought up and promptly dropped without a true debate. This show will likely be full of moral quandaries, and I hope in the future there's a little more weight given to both sides of the ethical situation instead of lip service paid to the opposing views.

"Guts" was a disappointing second outing, sure, but it was saddled with a lot of exposition, a ton of character introductions, and a lot of plot to get thorugh in 42 minutes. The cinematography was still excellent, Glenn seems like a fun character, and some future conflicts were already set up (though I hope Merle dies very, very soon. He is a drag on the whole show, and certainly lowered the grade for this episode) ot be paid off in the coming weeks. But after the pilot, I'm willing to hope that "Guts" was more of a misstep than a sign that the show peaked early. I am stil lexcited for the remaining for episodes in The Walking Dead's first season, and can't wait to see where the show is going next.

Grade: B-

Notes:

-Its always strange to me when in zombie movies people don't call the creatures "zombies." Here, they are "Walkers," which is a decent term (and better than the oft used "the infected"), but still rings false. Either everyone on this show has never seen a zombie movie (which is possible, I guess. Maybe they don't exist in the show's universe), or they need to start calling them zombies, and fast.

-"Bright side? It'll be the fall that kills us."

-It seems like these zombies are already learning how to use tools. How advanced will their methods get?
Tags: The Walking Dead
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