The Walking Dead is back this week with another gruesome albeit nonsensical plot line. The seem to be playing with some fun themes and building an interesting world, although they keep forgetting there own rules — could this leave to problems? When we last left Rick Grimes he was stuck in a tank with zombies feeding outside and his one hope was a voice on the radio. How are things in zombified Atlanta this week?
- Director: Michelle McLaren
- Writer: Frank Darabont
- Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Emma Bell, Frances Cobb, Jeffrey DeMunn, Laurie Holden, Keith Allen Hayes, Lennie James
In a world now taken over by the walking dead, everyone has to fund some kind of a way to survive. Rick makes a run for it. A group of survivors in a department store look for a way out. Shane and Lori find a little alone time among the mushrooms.
- De-pendant: Lori’s moment in the woods with Shane, showing that while Rick may be gone, he’s definitely not forgotten, was a great touch. We can only imagine how things are going to shake out in episode 3, now that Rick’s back among the decidedly living.
- Rick the Humanitarian: Rick continues to have some very humane and touching moments to remind us that the zombies used to be people, not just mindless eating machines…
- The Gift of Gross: …immediately followed by Rick driving an axe into the re-deaded zombie’s torso in order to get at that tasty, tasty dead guy reek. Seriously, if the first episode made you run for the toilet, the second will really do the trick, especially since the group of survivors are just as revolted as you, none of them more so than poor Rick and Glenn.
- Tests of Character: The show is really doing an effective job of establishing the characters without having them introduce themselves or do something stupid. Rick’s leadership, Glenn’s practicality, Andrea’s fragility…all very well established in subtle ways that make sense.
- The Zombie Track and Field Event: The third act, featuring Glen and Rick among the zombies, is a truly great moment of suspense from a show that’s already established it’s happy to eat anybody. We don’t envy them, even if they do have nerves of steel.
- Glenn Hunts the Snark: One thing that definitely improved this episode was Glenn, who is a perpetual Gloomy Gus and smart-ass, and earns it because he’s the one doing all the insanely dangerous stuff. He’s going to be fun, we can tell.
- Cast of Six Degrees of Separation: Although the show went out of its way to cast unknowns (our hero, Andrew Lincoln, is actually British), it is nice to see Michael Rooker, who will, despite his long and storied career, never live down eating that chocolate covered pretzel in Mallrats, and Laurie Holden, who was on The X-Files way back when, in featured roles.
- Born To Be Wild: We have to admit, we love a show that doesn’t feel the need to end on a cliffhanger, especially since the ending shot is, after an hour of tension and gore, so hilarious and uplifting. There are upsides to the zombie apocalypse, if you’ve got a sports car handy.
- Convenient Knowledge: We’re waffling on whether this makes sense or not, because we guess you would bring along somebody who knows the city, but Jackie suddenly spouting off architectural knowledge and then justifying it by saying she worked for the city planner…what? Really? You can’t just have Glenn poke around the building?
- Put Down the T-Dog: A note to Iron-E Singleton, portraying T-Dog: dude, calm down. Seriously. When you overact among a cast playing down their reactions, it kind of pops out. Especially when you start trying to portray “nervous wreck”.
- Just Chillaxin’: We know that all the cast are probably going to become relevant in fairly short order in the next episode, but while Glenn is out doing things, and Andrea serves as an emotional link back to the camp of survivors, Morales, T-Dog, Jackie, and Merle seem to exist mostly to be dead weight.
- Yee-Haw! Have I Mentioned I’m a Redneck Today?: And we’ve also got to call out how Merle is written, at least when he’s first introduced. It’s like the writing staff decided they needed to get all the redneck stereotypes out of the way, and they also needed to bring in the jerk from every zombie movie that gets drunk with power and acts like a total d-bag, and just stuffed it all into one character. Even the excuse for his behavior (the coke Rick throws off the roof) seems kind of canned and lame. The racism and sexism are both obvious and clumsy, and his little speech, that we know Rick is going to interrupt by rearranging his face, goes on way too long.
But on the bright side, he’s left handcuffed on a roof surrounded by zombies, so that should do wonders for his personality.
A solid, if not brilliant, follow-up to the pilot, and one that makes us look forward to Episode 3.
The Walking Dead airs on AMC Sundays, 10pmET/9pmCT
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments!