TV: The Walking Dead 2.1

Three scary TV shows are premiering this month: Bedlam (Saturdays on BBC America starting 10/1), American Horror Story (Wednesdays on FX starting 10/5) and season two of The Walking Dead (Sundays on AMC starting 10/16). Every week I’ll post recaps shortly after each new episode airs. They’ll be a little different than my movie posts. I’m assuming anyone who’s reading the recap has already seen the episode or isn’t planning to watch. That is to say, *SPOILERS AHEAD.*

Season two of The Walking Dead kicks off with Rick narrating the major points of the first season over the walkie-talkie to Morgan, who most likely isn’t listening. Rick’s Aussie imitation of a southern accent has not improved. He says the CDC guy told him something, but he stops short of saying what it was. I read somewhere that they won’t hold that revelation over our heads for much longer, but honestly if it’s just that Lori is pregnar I’m gonna be seriously pissed.

The gang’s headed to Fort Bennett (or maybe Fort Benning, who knows) for reasons that aren’t immediately clear. Daryl scouts ahead on his massive chopper, which is insanely loud and probably won’t attract any zombie walker attention. Daryl’s a shitty scout: after a few miles they hit a snarl of disabled vehicles that he completely failed to warn them about. They try to weave their way through but the radiator on Dale’s RV busts (again) and they all get stuck until it can be repaired.

As Glenn and Dale fix the cracked hose, I’m struck by several things:

  1. The child actor playing Carl is a spot-on match for the comic book version. I’m glad he and Sophia are getting more screen time, they’re a huge part of the comics.
  2. Lori and Rick are the skinniest couple I’ve ever seen. Combined they look like they weigh less than 200 pounds.
  3. I still can’t believe there’s a character named T-Dog. Seriously, how white does a writer have to be to name the only black guy T-Dog? Then again, the actor playing T-Dizzle is credited as IronE Singleton. Maybe the ridiculous character name is itself a bit of irony. In which case, well played, sir.

Isn't this from that R.E.M. video?

Before long a huge mass of the undead descends on the congested roadway. Rick takes action, telling everyone to hide under the cars. While this is not the worst plan (e.g., “Everybody get naked and light yourselves on fire!”) you have to wonder why he didn’t order everyone into said cars, rather than under them.

The herd wasn’t following the group, they just happened to cross paths. In the comics we’re told they’ll follow a loud noise and keep going in the same direction until something new pulls them away. And any time a walker notices a herd on the move, they’re likely to join up to see what all the fuss is about, making the herds ever-expanding. Nice to see that idea given its due.

One of the more inquisitive walkers goes after Andrea, but Dale helps her kill it. She really should learn to close her mouth while she’s stabbing walkers in the face. One of these days she’s gonna get a mouthful of zombie cooties. T-Dawg almost gets eaten but Daryl comes along and saves him, which is pretty decent of him considering he was apparently a pretty hardcore Neo-Nazi before the apocalypse. Or maybe I’m reading too much into the “S.S.” sticker on his motorcycle.

Just when it seems this duck-and-cover plan is going to work, Sophia lets out a squeak and two walkers chase her off into the woods. Lori holds Carol down so she can’t…what? Scream? Help her? Carol’s not entirely in control of her emotions but it still seemed odd that Lori would pin her down like that. It does conveniently give Rick the opportunity to heroically run off to save her, which he does all by his lonesome.

He finds Sophia and hides her under a stump. He has his gun but won’t shoot the pursuing walkers for fear of drawing their friends – too bad he doesn’t have his trusty hatchet from the books. He tells Sophia to wait for him while he leads them away, but says if he’s not back soon she should go back to the highway, keeping the sun to her left, and following a bunch of other complicated instructions that she unsurprisingly jettisons the moment he leaves.

Is there something in my teeth?

Rick wastes the walkers with a rock and gets back to find Sophia missing. A few of the others finally show up. I’m not sure what the fuck took them so long, and even less clear on why loving mom Carol is nowhere to be found. Regardless, Sophia is gonesville so the search is on. Daryl calls Glenn Short Round, which immediately makes me change my mind about not needing his character. He and Rick find and kill another walker. To make sure it didn’t eat Sophia, they do a half-assed autopsy. Daryl volunteers because all rednecks are apparently skilled at skinning and gutting human bodies. He makes a mess of it, repeatedly plunging a giant Rambo knife into the thing’s abdomen. After two or three minutes of sifting through black sludge, they determine it last dined on woodchuck, not girl meat. (The little Kintner boy does not spill out all over the dock, either.) A decent idea and extra points for grossness here, but that whole affair dragged on way too long. As a result they have to call off the search until first light.

We appear to have found John Locke's car...

Back at the highway, Shane and Laurie get into a tiff over Shane treating Carl coldly. Shane’s just trying to put some distance between them, per her request, but she’s still pissed about that whole attempted rape thing. WOMEN. Carl finds a huge stash of ninja knives and shit in one of the cars. Among them is a rather likely-looking hatchet. They tease me horribly by not immediately putting it in Rick’s hand while angels sing in the background to seal the bond between our hero and his weapon of choice.

Dale and Shane refuse to let Andrea have her gun back because Dale thinks she’ll try to off herself again. Valid concern but who is he to stop her if she wants to end things on her terms? Rick and Daryl get back and Carol yells at Rick for failing to find Sophia. Rick doesn’t yell back at Carol for failing to lift a finger herself. I do it for him.

Wait here, I'm gonna Boondock Saints this guy.

The next day they resume the search and pass a tent where some poor schmuck shot himself while wearing a button that says, “No excuse for domestic violence.” Agreed. They’re drawn to the sound of bells and on arriving at a country church they find three walkers sitting patiently in the pews. Rick, Daryl and Shane waste them all and there’s a neat little moment where Rick looks at the massive crucifix and then back at his chopped up foe, almost like he’s comparing the two. Jesus was technically undead for a while, after all.


Carol prays for God to bring Sophia back, which seems a little showy since Rick and Lori are in the room and she’s praying out loud. Andrea learns Shane is planning to strike out on his own and asks to come with. He asks why he should bother taking her along and instead of saying, “I’m super hot and single and odds are I’ll get lonely and fuck you six ways from Sunday,” she just promises to watch his back. Shane isn’t buying.

Next Rick takes a turn talking to J.C. in the church, asking for a sign that he’s doing the right thing. I’ve prayed a few times in my life and, whether there were people around or not, I don’t believe I ever did it in audible monologue form. Maybe that’s why I never got that pet Sasquatch.

Rick is determined to search a while longer. He sends everyone but Carl and Shane back. This seems to me to be a stupid, plot-advancing plan and Daryl agrees. He says so but no one listens because they’re busy watching Lori give Carol and Andrea the business for being so hard on Rick. Lori doesn’t bring up the part about how Carol has done fuck-all to save her only child. If Daryl had jumped in to present her with a mother-of-the-year award at that moment, I would have started a fan club.

Shane and Rick come upon a buck, foraging in the woods. Shane’s about to pop it with the shotgun but Rick stops him. An awestruck Carl tentatively steps toward the beautiful animal, which waits stoically as he approaches. It seems Rick has gotten his sign from the Lord until…

BAM! An unseen shooter’s bullet hits both deer and Carl. The last image is Rick and Shane standing over Carl’s motionless form.

Oh relax, this show is nowhere near ballsy enough to kill a kid. YET.

My first impression is that this season is off to a way better start than last year. There were a few head scratchers and unnecessary scenes but for the most part I was engaged the whole time. I especially liked that Andrea made a well-reasoned argument in defense of her right to choose how and when she meets her end. The acting and the dialogue in general struck me as more natural than last year, which is a huge relief. My mood going forward is cautiously optimistic.

On-screen kill count: 7 walkers, 0 humans. (And 1 deer.)

5 Responses to “TV: The Walking Dead 2.1”

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