If you are anything like me you have been waiting with unbridled anticipation for the start of Season Two of The Walking Dead but that anticipation is tainted by a hint of dread that the offseason drama that surrounded the series would hurt the overall quality of the product. Would the initial vision and spirit of the series continue? Or would The Walking Dead become just another television series that faltered after its promising start? I suppose it is aptly fitting then that the name of the first episode of the second season is, “What Lies Ahead”.
Moving out of zombie occupied Atlanta and into the Georgia countryside, the group hits a snag as Dale’s (Jeffrey DeMunn) RV radiator hose goes bad in the middle of a cluttered highway. Seeing an opportunity to scavenge for supplies in the highway graveyard while the repairs are made, the group spreads out and like clockwork that is when the zombies show up. And the first zombie appearing on screen was when it actually hit me that The Walking Dead was back.
Immediately after the first zombie, I inched closer to my screen and my palms started to sweat. Would they make it out unscathed or would someone unexpectedly “bite” it in the opening moments? This question and more raced through my head as the tension continued to rise in the extended length opening sequence and when things finally set off, I was squealing like a little girl.
Few shows build and support tension like The Walking Dead does and the opening sequence of this episode further accentuated that point. But as important as tension is in a horror themed show, none of it works if the characters are not well portrayed and this is where The Walking Dead so very much excels.
An early complaint against the series was that, outside of series lead Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), no character had any, well… character. Personally, I feel this complaint is dead wrong. In fact, I would go the opposite direction and say that every character in the series is more multifaceted than Grimes. Every character in the series, except Grimes, has ulterior motivations and this allows the series to play characters off of each other at different points in time allowing for a deeper conflict than just the ever present zombie horde.
The Walking Dead is a perfect mix of character drama and horror and if one side were to begin to overshadow the other the series would be in danger. It was a legitimate concern for me, and many others, coming into this season but after “What Lies Ahead”, I feel confident that it will continue to be one of the best and most unique shows on television today.