Last week The Walking Dead took television audiences by storm. It was the most watched cable premiere of the year and it had the internet buzzing about nearly everything in the episode. However the second episode of a new series is always more telling of how the show will do in the long run and the second episode of The Walking Dead was once again a massive success, retaining nearly 90% of the premiere episode’s audience.
But how did the show stack up to the epic premiere? Well the answer to that is, quite well and one of my biggest concerns with the first episode was rectified. The episode, entitled “Guts”, veers off course from the original source material and this is something that I was hoping Darabont and company would do. As much as I love the comic, I don’t want to know everything that happens. “Guts” takes some creative liberties with the story and it made for an entertaining episode that helped us to get to know Rick Grimes better while also enhancing and explore relationships that will come in to play very shortly.
The episode kicks off with Rick’s wife, Lori wandering into the woods surrounding the survivor encampment to look for berries. It becomes quite clear though that Lori is looking for some other types of berries when Rick’s ex-partner Shane surprises her and the two get right down to business. Meanwhile Rick is trapped inside the tank and is being guided to escape by a mysterious bystander over the radio. The mysterious bystander, named Glenn, turns out to be part of a larger group of survivors who are searching for supplies and because of Rick alerting the horde they are all trapped in a downtown department store. While the episode gives us glances into the life Lori and Shane are living in the survivor camp, it mostly focuses on Rick and the survivors as they generate plans to escape to safety.
It may have just been me but I felt there was less tension in this episode than there was in the first and the tension that was built up felt extremely manufactured and somewhat cliché. For example, there is a scene where Rick and Glen, covered in zombie guts (hence the name of the episode), are wading through zombies as they attempt to make their way to a construction yard to get a vehicle. Whereas this should be a tense, nail biting scene I could only think to myself, it is going to rain and they are going to have to make a run for it barely making it to the construction yard. And guess what happened? Yep. Maybe it is just my years of watching horror films but I hope that other big set pieces do not turn out this way in the series.
Tension issues and predictability aside though, The Walking Dead episode two was a solid follow up to the stunning premiere. It is a shame we are already a third of the way through the season because, at least for me, this series is the most compelling and promising new show on television. Fortunately AMC has announced that there will be a second season, so there is still plenty more zombie goodness to look forward to.
4 out of 5.