While Bloody’s BC caught an early screening of the premiere 90-minute episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead, we’ve now received a full recap and alternate opinion from Alexandra Scarpello who says the show, while still tremendous, slowly delivers the goods piece by piece.
We warned of spoilers and tune in for episode two next Sunday only on AMC.
Returning for 13-episodes, “‘The Walking Dead’ tells the story of the weeks and months that follow a pandemic zombie apocalypse. County Sheriff Rick Grimes travels with his family and a small group of survivors, constantly in search of a safe and secure home. But the constant pressure of fighting off death on a daily basis takes a heavy toll, sending many to the lowest depths of human cruelty. As Rick struggles to keep his family alive, he will discover that the overwhelming fear of the survivors can be far more dangerous than the mindless walkers roaming the earth.”
“The Walking Dead” is back with a new writing staff, and a new set of problems. The show starts off pulling no punches, introducing us to a high tension situation less than 10 minutes into airtime. As the survivors drive away from the CDC wreckage that they left behind in the season 1 finale, they find themselves caught in the worst traffic jam ever. Sun dried bodies and a massive car pile up prove a challenge to evade with ease. As they maneuver around the cars, the prime transportation vehicle breaks down, trapping them and leaving them at the mercy of a massive hoard of zombies.
One thing that I forgot about “TWD” during it’s hiatus was how effectively it straddled the line between impressive realism and complete bull shit. At times, the actions the the group takes are incredibly fine tuned and realistic. We are given highly realistic survival situations and solutions. The writers took enough care to show us how not screaming “ZOMBIE” at the first sign of danger saved lives, despite how silly it may have seemed to the viewer at the time. In the same scene, a stand alone zombie rather intelligently walks into the RV where our suicidal blonde Andrea was stowed away in the bathroom. In fact, there were a few times during 2×1 in which the zombies appeared far more capable and conscious than they had been in the past. The impressive realism within the actions of the human characters greatly contrasts the lack of continuity displayed with the zombie mythology. A great challenge for this new writing team will be deciding exactly where they want to go with these zombies and sticking with it.
Another thing that really caught my attention was how much the group has matured as a unit. Once once of the zombies caught wind of the little girl, Sophia, the group’s response (particularly Lori’s) was to not try to be the hero, going so far as to hold her mother back while the girl ran. Eventually Rick ran after her and saved the day, but not before the greater danger had passed.
Most of this episode was focused on finding Sophia and returning her back to the RV, which proves to be for many, the straw that breaks the camels back when deciding their own fates. Andrea is finding fewer and fewer reasons to stick around. Frustrated by Dale’s constant need to parent and protect her, and unable to accept the group’s trust in her desire to handle a weapon, she considers her alternatives to a life with the group. After spending so much time watching the woman he loves with another man, Shane finally decides that once Sofia is found, he will take off on his own. Meanwhile, the Grimes family continues to become an ever savvy bunch. With Rick leading the way, Carl developing his own tools to survive, and Lori holding the rest of the survivors together emotionally, the three prove to be among the most capable and adaptive to this kill or be killed world.
The episode leaves with with a cliffhanger that left pretty much everyone screaming at their tv screens. Carl is shot by an unknown assailant in the woods, while Rick and Shane rush to his side. his fate is left unknown, and a vague overview of the series in the credits leave very little clues as to his fate.
With “The Walking Dead”, what you see is what you get. This is a zombie survival show, complete with all of the gore, frustration, and black and grey morality that these narratives come along with. There seems to be an impossibly high standard set for genre specific shows like this, as if they are supposed to transcend the fundamentals. When people and critics watch this show, it always feels like they are asking too much from it. They want heavy action, heavy character development, amazing special effects, and a constantly engaging plot to wrap it all up. “The Walking Dead” meets many of these standards, but often during different episodes at different times. It simply can’t cram all of that content in a single episode, and it has suffered a lot for it. All I can really say is don’t go into this season of “The Walking Dead” demanding everything, because it is a show that will always deliver something.