The Walking Dead is a little different from a lot of shows on TV. Instead of having to overcome its initial awkwardness to find its own, The Walking Dead peaked with is pilot, which was all but perfection. In hindsight, perhaps there was nowhere to go but down after that inspired pilot. For the rest of the truncated first season, well, we spun our wheels a lot. There were occasional moments of brilliance, but the show was never able to recapture the magic. Finally, we ended the season with a ridiculous trip to the CDC. It was a fun enough ride, but ultimately a little disappointing.
But hey, things have to be looking up now, right? I mean, the writers and the show-runner have been replaced, so with any luck The Walking Dead will return with a renewed sense of purpose and a storyline the hews a little closer to the comic.
Now that was a little bit more like it.
The ninety minute premier, while still not on par with the pilot, was solid, scary, and entertaining. The highlight of the episode was at the beginning, with the RV dead in the water and everyone hiding under cars from a fairly massive herd of zombies. There were things I didn’t like about the sequence (none of the zombies smelled food?), but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t tense and scary. Most of the scares came from Andrea and T Dog, both of whom missed the memo about hiding. Andrea was distracted in trying to learn how to reassemble a pistol, while T Dog was just… well, being T Dog, and losing a significant amount of blood in the process.
Andrea gave us an excellent, claustrophobic scene inside the RV. She hides out in the tiny bathroom with a handful of gun parts, while a curious zombie checks out their home on wheels. Of course, she drops a part right before the zombie leaves. After much bashing on the flimsy bathroom door, Andrea takes out the zed with a brutal screwdriver strike through the eye. Nice! The ever-hapless T Dog has to be rescued by Darryl, who simply covers them both with some convenient nearby bodies.
Speaking of bodies and screwdriver kills, I am continually impressed by the makeup effects on this show. The zombies look absolutely incredible. Hopefully they keep this up, as I heard some whispers of budget cuts for the show.
The excellent zombie horde scene put in motion the remainder of the episode’s plot, as little Sophia pokes her head out just a little too soon, and is chased into the woods by a pair of zombies. Rick is hot on the trail, and manages to help Sophia hide while he silently dispatches the zombies with a big rock. Unfortunately, when he returns to the group, Sophia is nowhere to be found. The search ends with Carl getting injured and the story folding back into the story from the comic, at least in part.
The resulting search for Sophia yields some fairly nice character moments. My favorite of the bunch was a showdown between Andrea and Dale over Andrea’s gun. Dale swiped it because he’s worried she’ll try to off herself, while Andrea reveals some simmering anger toward Dale for not letting her die at the CDC. It’s a pretty nice scene, and quite a diversion from the Dale/Andrea pairing in the comic. I’m curious to see where this goes next.
Dale gets another great scene with T Dog, where he explains that he fixed the RV a day ago, but hasn’t told anyone. Why? Because he doesn’t want people to start thinking about abandoning Sophia. Nicely done.
We also get quite a bit of Shane and Lori interaction, which was a little strange. Lori seems pretty okay with Shane, while Shane is on the defensive and acting like a victim. He even has the audacity to ask her what she thinks was going down back at the CDC. Gee, Shane, seemed like a pretty obvious attempted rape to me. I’m definitely interested to see how the Shane situation shakes out, since he’s shaping up to be one of the more interesting characters on the show.
One thing I don’t care for in the amount of time Rick is spending in monologues. He had two tonight, the first via a radio message to Morgan, and the second an audible prayer to Jesus, complete with bloody Jesus statue in the foreground. It’s almost like the show really wants a narrator, but wants to go about it in a non-traditional manner. It’s not working for me, so I really hope this doesn’t turn into a motif. I also have to wonder if someone else might be listening to that radio. Specifically: Merle, who might just be out for revenge after being abandoned in downtown Atlanta.
All in all, I’m pretty happy with last night’s episode, and have a lot more faith in the show. Word on the street is the next episode is pretty strong too. Hopefully AMC can keep it going.
- Where all those tools Bear Grylls branded? Yeesh
- I love the hillbilly autopsy,but man did the sound guys go overboard
- Suicide victim in the tent has a “No excuse for domestic violence” pin
- God, there were a lot of zombie commercials
- So the wife beater was also a child molester? Laying it on pretty thick, aren’t we?
- In the comic, Andrea is easily the best shot of the group. The show seems to be toying with this quite a lot.