'The Walking Dead' Season 1, Episode 2 Recap
by Jason Hughes, posted Nov 8th 2010 8:30AM
['The Walking Dead' - 'Guts']
Last week, the creators of 'The Walking Dead' eased us into this post-apocalyptic world where the dead have risen and destroyed civilization. This time, they threw us into the deep end. The squeamish out there may have gotten about as bad a test as they're likely to see in this second installment, very appropriately called 'Guts.'
Rick took some very important steps toward becoming a leader in this new reality, while we expanded the cast a little further. Let's just say the voice on the other end of that radio in the tank wasn't alone, though he sure wished he was by the end of the episode.
Lots of commotion and loud noises brings zombies in, and as we saw, Rick had quite a collection growing around him. That's not good for anybody. Well, except for those of us watching.
I know from the comic series that the sheer mass of zombies we saw in this episode isn't going to be the norm. In fact, the level of gore in general thus far isn't the norm for 'The Walking Dead.' It's always there, and there will be more stomach churning scenes like the "organ donor," but this is a story about people. Sometimes, as we saw with the character of Merle, we can be our own worst enemies.
Having a white supremacist in a post-apocalyptic setting with black people is nothing new, but it's still handled well. Merle shows us that even though the worst horror imaginable is happening all around them, quite literally, he's still not able to get beyond his small-minded prejudices. The writing kept him consistent with those people, though. Even when he was trying to be nice to T-Dog, to get free of Rick's cuffing him to the fixtures on the roof, he was trying to reasonably explain that even though "your kind" and "my kind" shouldn't be mixing, that doesn't mean they can't work together.
Even though it's still clearly racist, it's a level of conviction that takes him a little beyond the stereotype and makes him almost a rounded character. This is good, because I'm confident we haven't seen the last of him. I think T-Dog won't be happy to see him. Maybe old Merle will get rescued by a helicopter. If he does break free of the cuffs, he's going to find the door off of the rooftop locked, but this can go two ways. I see it as T-Dog, racked with guilt and shame, locking it to protect Merle from the hordes of zombies that are going to get into the building.
But it could have been T-Dog, racked with shame and guilt, locking Merle on the roof in the hopes that he'll surely die or be trapped up there forever. That way is more cowardice and the writers left it to our interpretation for now. We're only just now getting to know some of these characters. First impressions?
Andrea comes across as a very ordinary but capable woman. She wasn't as gun savvy as she would have liked and is still thinking in the rules of the pre-zombie world, as evidenced by her concerns about shoplifting. Jacqui is quiet and reserved, but seems like she'll come through when needed. She also kept a level head throughout the proceedings, providing essential information.
Merle is clearly driven by emotion, but also showed a shrewd and manipulative side. As written so far, he looks villainous through and through, which really made me wonder what kind of a person he's been up to this point with the group. Did his race hatred just erupt here, or has everyone been tolerating it because he's big and strong and he'd been cooperating up to this point?
T-Dog has a temper he clearly can't always keep control of, but he also has a good heart and genuinely seems to care about the people around him. He wants to do what's right, and when he couldn't do right by Merle, despite everything that happened, he looked crushed by it. And then there's Glenn. Glenn, the smart aleck on the other end of the radio. He may be the brightest light in the cast so far.
He cracks jokes to lighten the mood, and probably help himself stay calm, but is brave enough to face the horrors of the streets of Atlanta covered in zombie guts alongside Rick. He took on the very dangerous task of being the diversion to lure as many of the dead away from the department store everyone else was in. That final scene of him roaring in a sports car down the same road Rick rode a horse into Atlanta on summed up his personality perfectly.
That zombie walk scene with Rick and Glenn through the streets of Atlanta was frightening enough, but when the thunder started to roll, we all felt the same sense of dread and fear the characters did. Is this going to work? What can they possibly do if the rain washes off the smell and they're surrounded by zombies?
Twice in one episode, Rick and Glenn managed to escape zombies by running aggressively and swinging a weapon. It got Rick out of the tank and into the department store, and it got the both of them into the truck that collectively saved all of them.
This episode was the action climax to emphasize how horrible a shape the world is in. Help isn't coming any time soon. The helicopter is a tease that someone is organized out there, but that doesn't mean it's the government. Now that we've seen how bad it is, and how dangerous it is, it's time to slow things down and take the time to get to know these survivors.
As we've seen with Merle, just because the dead have risen doesn't mean we dropped all of our baggage to run away from them. It's still here, and with nerves frayed and people on edge, it's just waiting to erupt.
'The Walking Dead' airs Sundays at 10PM ET on AMC.
|Bring it on! I want more blood and guts!||429 (60.9%)|
|I barely even notice the gore.||225 (32.0%)|
|If it stays this intense (and gross), I may have to stop watching.||34 (4.8%)|
|It's too much for me!||16 (2.3%)|
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