The Walking Dead continued it’s ascent into the upper echelons of television greatness with an intense second episode that I dare even say rivals the first. One of the many things I love about all AMC series’ is how every scene feels crucial, how even the quiet and more private moments feel as necessary as the action, and the Walking Dead is no different. “Guts” gave us plenty of action and plenty character development as we were introduced to the Atlanta survivor group and spent a little more time in the forest with Shane’s tribe.
The Atlanta Survivors
I cringed thinking about Rick, stuck in the tank while his horsey becomes a zombie buffet, all week. But it was a good cringe, the kind of cringe that lets you know your invested. And invested I am. We found Rick still stuck in the tank, plotting his rescue with his nameless guardian angel. He needed to escape and the voice’s plan was simple enough, avoid the feasting Walkers and RUN. So he does, he pops out of the tank like the gopher in caddyshack and he starts run-shooting (That’s what I call the definetly impossible task of running for your life, while full of fear, and shooting every zombie square in the brains) down the street to his designated meeting with new BFF Glenn (Steven Yuen) and with Glenn we are introduced to th Atlanta Crew, featuring Andrea (Laurie Holden), T-Dog (IronE Singleton), Morales (Juan Pareja), Jacqui (Jeryl Prescott) and crazy racist ol’ Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker). Rick was greeted by a gun in his face and crazy eyes from Andrea. She. Was. Pissed. and rightfully too, Rick’s crafty and unrealistic run-shooting drew every Walker (or Geek as Glenn says) in a three mile radius to their department store haven making it a haven no longer. The blame games stopped long enough for the crew to hear Merle firing off shots from a sniper rifle from the roof. T-Dog said he was wasting ammo, Merle said the N-word and beat T-Dog silly. That’s when Rick jumped in and subdued Merle, cuffed him to a pipe and let him know that nothing is gonna stand in his way of finsing his family.
I found Yuen a little wooden, his line deliveries at first seemed forced. Maybe it was the dialogue, but it reminded me of the Hmong kids from Gran Torino.
Andrew Lincoln has a tough job, Rick is written as a typical, stoic, all business Tv hero, and Lincoln has to find ways to not only make him interesting, but also to show us that there’s a real person, and he’s succeeding. There is a moment in the tank before Rick makes his escape, a moment when he realized that he has to move now or he’ll lose his chance forever. It was a moment that caught him off guard, and me too. It was a rare glimpse of humanity which is rarely seen in Gunslingers. I may not have been sold on Lincoln as the lead last week, but I am now.
With the dept store no longer being an option the Atlanta group had to escape as the Geeks broke through the barriers. (Did a zombie pick up a rock to smash the glass? They have good cognitive problem solving skills!) The escape plan was to walk down the street through the army of undead to a constuction site with vehicles. Which gave us both the literal reason for the episode’s title (“We need more guts” I almost barfed) and the more dramatic version of Shaun of the Dead’s zombie walk
This worked really well until it started to rain. And what does rain do? It washes away the stink. Zombies caught on to Rick’s ruse and the chase began with Rick in a cube-van rescuing the crew and Glenn in a sports car being a distraction and having the time of his life. Merle still cuffed to a pipe was left in the hands if T-Dog (Rick gave T-Dog the key before he left), who’s vacillation between essentially murder and forgiveness was a little hammy. Ultimately he decided on forgiveness, and while he was racing to uncuff Merle, he tripped and dropped the key into a pipe. Poof. Gone just like that. The looks exchanged between T-Dog (honestly I feel ridiculous even typing his name) and Merle were priceless (“DONT LEAVE ME”). Michael Rooker is the perfect actor to embrace Merle. He has this almost quiet antagonistic menace about him, he simmers and he’s freaked me out since I saw him
as an extra in Footloose in this when I was 12.
I always had a hard time understanding what Darabont sees in Laurie Holden. She’s been in two of his four films as the female lead. It’s not that she’s bad or anything like that at all, she just doesnt Pop, Sparkle and Buzz Electric for me. She’s fine here too, nothing special yet. I’m happy though to get the opportunity to see her on a weekly series ( I did’nt watch the Shield) and get to know her better. I like her character, the Mermaid conversation in the department store felt genuine and with Amy (Emma Bell) from Shane’s Tribe revealed as her sister the stakes were raised. Speaking of Amy it’s time to check in with…
Shane’s Merry Tribe of Forest Folk
Again we didnt get to spend much time here. We got a forest sex scene with Shane and Lori, which had one of my favourite moments of the night. Not having seen very much of Lori in the first two episodes, a lot of my opinion of her is based on the conversation Rick and Shane had in the car in the pilot and the emotional coolness (Sarah Wayne Callies could ice the Human Torch with a glance). I dont know if were supposed to like her. The last thing I want for Lori; is for her to be Betty Draper. Betty Draper is probably the worst person in Television, she makes the It’s Always Sunny Gang seem like missionaries, and to saddle a very likeable actress like Callies with an unforgiving character would be a shame. Like her onscreen husband shes doing her best to avoid being a cliche. The looks exchanged between her and Shane when he spots her wedding ring necklace as he’s ripping her clothes off were great. She’s torn, she thinks she’s a widow, I get it (and Jon Bernthal’s no schlub himself) but it’s gonna be hard to like or empathize with her if we find out the affair with Shane began before Zombiepocalypse. I get the feeling it did, do you? (It all comes back to the car scene in the pilot, it was more than just character establishing)
After their coitus under the canopy Shane and Lori returned to camp in time to hear a message from T-Dog. They’re trapped. Amy freaks out. (“She volunteered” and “She’s my sister you son of a bitch”) Setting up the probable reunion (at this show’s pace they’d have to) next week. I wish we got more Jeffrey DeMunn (Frank Darabont’s good luck charm, he’s been in all four of his films). There’s something very authentic about him, he’s a perfect character actor and I’m looking forward to him having more to do then sitting on a trailer acting all motherly.
Overall, Guts was a frikkin’ awesome, and it set the tone for what to expect in the coming weeks. There are only a few episodes left this season which is straight up hell. The weeks inbetween this finale and Breaking Bad season 4 will be agonizing. I love AMC tv and it’s comforting to know they’re sticking with their motto: Story Matters Here.
I’ll see you all next week for another Walking Dead Recap. Next week Norman Reedus joins the show, here’s hoping he has his Boondock Saint’s accent.