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September 3, 2015

'The Walking Dead' Season 2 Premiere Recap

by Mike Ryan, posted Oct 17th 2011 11:30AM
The Walking Dead Season 2 Premiere RecapI like 'The Walking Dead' again. This comes after not liking 'The Walking Dead' at the end of last season (which I harped on way too much over at Vanity Fair last season) after really liking 'The Walking Dead' when it premiered. But, you see, I still feel a bit burned from last season's debacle. What started as a nuanced and (somewhat) realistic approach to an outbreak that left most of the population of Earth as non-sentient monsters, quickly deteriorated into absolute nonsense. Look, say what you will about 'Lost,' but at least its plot point about a mysterious bunker played out over the course of more than an entire season. 'The Walking Dead' decided to pull off its version of The Hatch (no joke, I really feel the Center for Disease Control was a ripoff of The Hatch -- way more on that right here) – from its discovery to its destruction – in two episodes. It's as if the same virus from the plot of 'The Walking Dead' somehow infected the show itself. (And, as we know, that virus claimed some causalities.) Regardless, whatever the problems were at the end of the last season ... I'm, cautiously, giving the second season another chance. And after watching last night's episode ... I'm, cautiously, optimistic.

Oh, speaking of the Center for Disease Control: For being such a big plot point at the end of the first season, it's not at all shown in the "let's get you caught up on what's going on" montage – and it's barely even mentioned. All things considered, this is probably for the best. One look at that godforsaken place and I could envision hundreds of thousands of viewers sighing, "Oh, that place," followed by watching 'Saving Private Ryan' over on TNT. Luckily, for us, the show has rebooted in a sense. We are back to basics.

The best thing that could happen to 'The Walking Dead' was to have its budget cut -- which, it appears, has led to smaller sets, smaller ideas and more importance on the characters. (Though, one of the opening shots of the stalled traffic out of Atlanta was ... not great.) I'm sorry to keep harping on that ridiculous C.D.C. plot, but compare that bloated mess to what we saw in this episode as far as tension. When the walkers make their way through on the highway, there was real tension. I couldn't help to put myself in that situation and it was terrifying. This was impossible to do by the end of last season. The reason 'The Walking Dead' works as a television series is the realism. Once the plot becomes preposterous – it's not different than any other lame ass zombie movie. 'The Walking Dead' was better than that. But then it wasn't. Now, it appears that it is again.

I've never seen a zombie gutted before. I can honestly say that I'm fairly sure that I never really ever wanted to see a zombie gutted. I am 100 percent sure that I never want to see a zombie gutted ever again -- but I have a feeling that I will someday see something worse over the course of this season. But that's a huge strength of 'The Walking Dead,' the gore doesn't take you out of the realism of the show. Last season, before things went haywire, possibly the most graphic scene was when the group covered themselves with zombie entrails in order to pass by their would-be-attackers unnoticed. The overuse of gore isn't a problem – it was the overuse of plot.

Here's how simple last night episode was: Sophia (Madison Lintz) is missing in the woods after being under the care of Rick (Andrew Lincoln). Rick and the rest of the group try to find her -- which, yes, leads Rick and Daryl (easily the best character on this show -- more on that another time) to gutting that aforementioned walker, making sure that it didn't find Sophia first. And until the last scene of the episode, that was the plot. But, when you have good characters, that's all that matters.

Two things I learned from last night's episode: zombies apparently still attend church services and never, under any circumstances, approach a deer in the middle of the woods. Seriously, I thought that there was no longer any cognitive brain activity going on once a human is infected. Why are these walkers still attending religious ceremonies? I guess a case could be made that they're just there, but it really looked like they were in the middle of their prayer service – well, at least until some food walked into the church.

Poor Carl (also, I love that his name is Carl and not Dakota or Ferrari or something), all he wanted to do was pet a deer. I remember in the early '80s there was a "special episode" of 'Silver Spoons' that presented pretty much the exact same starting scenario. Well, instead of Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal and Chandler Riggs it was Joel Higgins, John Houseman and Ricky Schroder. Ricky Schroder as Ricky Stratton, shot the deer, then had to be counseled because he felt so bad for killing another living creature. Carl tried to pet the deer, and, instead, Carl wound up shot. As it turns out, Ricky Stratton had the better plan.

You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.

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still wondering where is sophia?

October 29 2011 at 6:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Read the comic book so I kinda knew the last scene was about to happen. This will lead them to the family at a farmhouse.
Overall, I didn't care for the premiere. 3/4 of the episode was about searching for a girl that most people can easily predict will evetually be found. I think the loss of Durabont as showrunner is already showing its effects in the very first episode. Hopes the rest of the season will improve.

October 17 2011 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hollandcl's comment

The problem with your statement, is that Durabont was Still with the show when they shot the first couple of episodes. So your conjecture is wrong,

October 18 2011 at 12:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Debbie Bitz

Dude, you realize this is a fantasy show, television and there really doesn't have to have any "realism" in it?

October 17 2011 at 12:56 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Debbie Bitz's comment
Mike Ryan

What? Really? I am so confused!

Look, it doesn't *have* to, but it does. And that's what I like about it.

October 17 2011 at 1:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mike Ryan's comment
Debbie Bitz

Apologies, Mike, I didn't mean to come off so rude sounding. Please forgive.

October 17 2011 at 2:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

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