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'The Walking Dead' Season 1, Episode 2 Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted Nov 8th 2010 8:30AM

'The Walking Dead' - 'Guts'['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.

Is 'The Walking Dead' too much for you?
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%)

[Follow Jason @ultraversion21 on Twitter.]

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Robin Pierson

I think the key incident was handled really well. T-Dog's screams made it clear he couldn't waste any more time on Merle. I picked it as the best moment on my podcast this week (thetvcritic.org)

November 09 2010 at 8:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And Metz, you're correct. Four seasons of Lost that were negated by the last two. The show has virtually no rewatch value for me either. But this show isn't a conspiracy show. If they are smart, and Darabont seems to be, they won't get into the "how did this all happen?" stuff with mad scientists and secret labs and Mastermindy villains. It's a disaster movie with the Undead. As alluded to above, it's The Road Warrior with zombies. Good enough for me.

November 09 2010 at 8:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think the pacing is great, with the exception of the longwinded break down of tasks in the sewer scene, which led to nothing anyway.

I echo the other poster's comment. The VERY FIRST undead ghoul we see in Romero's movie used a tool. Not only used a rock, but tried to get into a car window without, saw that using his hands wouldn't work, and looked around for a rock. That actually shows some sense of planning, if very basic. The second movie shows zombies remembering things and acting on that memory. It's all basic stuff, and it's allowed.

Also, too right. Any movie maker can make their own set of rules. As long as they adhere to the rules they set, everything is okay by me.

As for T Dog and the hacksaw. He was in a hurry and didn't want to miss the truck. And they specifically show him accidentally kick the tool bag over. Merle will be out in a jiff.

I think it's a good show thus far. Though I read the comic, I think we've been treated to more action than the comic has. And the comic has largely forgotten the zombies in recent months to focus on other lame aspects. I don't think the show'll do that.

November 09 2010 at 8:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm enjoying this show very much,found the pacing to be just fine.I am very curious to find out what the cause of the zombies is & found it odd that the topic did not come out with our group of survivors in the department store.

November 08 2010 at 9:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Michael's comment

Don't hold your breath on that.

November 09 2010 at 9:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am still waiting to hear one of these Zombies utter the word BRAINS !!!

November 08 2010 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm enjoying the show so far. Although i am a little dissapointed they are using such an old and cliched plot device as "Wife of main character thinks he's dead so she starts sleeping with Main characters Best Friend, and when main character reappears drama ensues."

November 08 2010 at 5:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

hey oh,
look like vampire movies each zombie project has its own rules. Here we have learned 4 very important things: 1) noise attracts them, 2) they know the scent of the living, 3) some are capable of basic tool use, and 4) they don't sprint, but they aren't so slow as you can't be assured of just walking away.

November 08 2010 at 5:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was trying to find a new show that can replace Lost and 24. I've tried the Event and No Ordinary Family these shows is good but not that level, Undercover has underwilmed me. So I decided that Fringe was going to be it for me and that's that. When I read about The Walking Dead I rolled my eyes and said how can you make a series out of zombies that other movies have already cover. But I like to give shows a chance unless the are very dumb (Outsource) and I
sat down a watched it. Episode 1 blew me away, very emotional on every level,the last time a show took all cards are off the table with the very first episode was Lost and 24. Now with Episode 2, this is the BEST NEW SHOW ON TV, for both Network and Cable. Will not find a better show right now. Keep up the good work AMC. I'm been telling all my Lost friends to see this show at once.

November 08 2010 at 4:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Please, all this zombies shouldn't do this zombies shouldn't do that. George A. Romero set the rules for the modern day type of zombie. Darabont also said in an interview he was inspired by Romero and his zombies. As another poster mentioned, NotLD showed ghouls using bricks, rocks and a trowel. In 78' Dawn of the Dead featured zombies continuing to use instruments like a crowbar to break a window, they also would gather in places they went to when living. Romero continued to advance his zombies with Bub in Day of the Dead. So in 40yrs of zombie films, when have you not seen zombies doing these things? Get yourself schooled on Romero and you'll have a grasp at these zombies.

November 08 2010 at 4:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was waiting for the writers to play homage to Mad Max with the scene with Merle on the roof...

"Zombies will be here in 7 minutes. Those cuffs are made of high tensile steel. It'll take you 15 minutes to cut through them with this hacksaw. It'll only take you 5 minutes to hack off your hand. Your choice."

November 08 2010 at 1:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to metz's comment

This is actually a response to your post above... So, you say you can't rewatch Lost because most of the events in that show had nothing to do with the ending... huh?

I think you missed the entire point of Lost. The point was never how it ended, but how it was conducted... much like life. We're all going to die, it's not a matter of how or when we die, as it's not a question of whether... the trick is what was done in life, not right before death. I mean, really, have you ever known anyone who died? Would you define their life by the last 5 minutes before death? Or was their life more about how they lived than how they died? The point of Lost was the journey, not the conclusion.

The Walking Dead is doing for horror what BSG did for Sci-Fi... everything doesn't have to be insipid and solved in 5 minutes... some of us actually enjoy the journey rather than just the conclusion.

I guess if you were watching Lost as a mystery show, sure, there'd be no reason to ever watch it again. If, however, you were watching it as a study in character and drama and science fiction storytelling, a rewatch is pretty necessary to actually get everything in proper context. Similarly, if you just want to see some humans munched on, you're much better off buying Dawn of the Dead on dvd... Then again, I'd say that between that movie and this tv show, the one that will hold up better is the one that's actually dealing with characters and human development, rather than plot points that take us from one human buffet set piece to the next. But it all depends what you want to get out of it.

For example, I'm a big fan of time travel. So, Lost is a pretty important and special thing for me, as it's among the ONLY science fiction that has ever properly dealt with the subject within the constraints of its own story. They never violated their own rules... which is refreshing... and I can appreciate it on that level. When rewatching it am I concerned with the same things I was the first time? No... and that allows me to be concerned with other things that I may have completely missed the first time through. In fact, as a character piece, I think Lost is better rewatching... but then again, I was never only interested in the mysteries, but the quality of storytelling and compelling nature of their characters... otherwise, wouldn't we all be enthralled each week by a new entry into the amazing body of work that was the Forest Whitaker Twilight Zone? Yeah...

November 08 2010 at 11:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think you missed the point of LOST, Mike. It was always ABOUT the mystery up until the producers painted themselves into a corner. Then it was suddenly about Gods and the characters. If you had taken away all the mysteries and twists and conspiracies, you would have had a tepid cheesy overwrought show with people staring at each other longingly and not sayin what they felt. Nobody would have watched that. Now go the other way and take away any of that relationship goo and have them all go at the mysteries in a procedural way. Like they were all variations on Jerry Orbach from L&O. You still have a show. The rest was just smoke from Fric and Frac the producer team.

This show doesn't like it's going o be about that, with the exception of the cheesy wife thing, which I am confident is doomed to die an ignoble death by the end of the six eps. It's a primer on how to survive in an Undead world thus far.

November 09 2010 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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