I sat here for a good few hours thinking about exactly what to write about this week’s installment of “The Walking Dead”, constantly drawing a blank. It took me awhile to realize that my reasons for this were because that is how I reflected upon the episode. Completely blank. This was the first episode written by the new team, and unfortunately, it was largely a transition episode with very little substance and a lot of redundant feelings being tossed around.
This episode starts with a flashback paralleling Carl’s shooting with the shot that landed Rick in the hospital that he awakens from in episode 1. We are brought to a time when zombies didn’t run the earth, and marital problems were among the chief of the Grimes family concerns. While Lori’s side of the shooting certainly provided a previously unseen narrative, nothing was learned that we didn’t already know. The Grimes family is made up of good people who are plagued by a sea of ugly circumstance. The flashback ends, and cuts to Rick racing to the home of the apologetic hunter who accidentally shot his son. Luckily, there is a doctor living there who stabilizes the boy, saving his life. Shane and the hunter soon follow. leading to a heartfelt bromantic moment between Shane and Rick. Shane comforts Rick, who is in a state of shock, and convinces him to stay with his son while the house residence find Lori. The boy is in a horrible state, and needs several blood transfusions, as well as several surgeries. He is bleeding internally, and the items required to save him are unavailable to the doctor. Shane and Otis, the man who shot Carl, volunteer to obtain these parts at a school overrun with zombies. The men say their goodbyes, leaving on a virtual suicide mission.
Back at the camp, Dale and Theodore begin to worry about their fellow survivors, and the status of Theodore’s infected wound. Despite being in a massive traffic jam, the men are unable to find any medicine or medical supplies to treat the wound. It becomes a very real possibility that it could be fatal. As the idealization that he may die slowly sets in, Theodore’s search for supplies become a struggle, and seeing the death and destruction left in the wake of the outbreak rapidly begins to unhinge him. The two men take a break after several hours, and in a state of fever, Theodore tells Dale that he believes that the two were left behind because the group views them as weak, and incoherently rambles about being discriminated against by the “cowboys and hicks” that run the group. He expresses interest in driving off and leave the rest of them to their fates.
The rest of the group finds their way back before Theodore does anything rash, but his fever is getting so strong that he is in need of immediate medical attention. Glenn is sent to take Theodore to meet up with the Grimes family and the doctor, while the rest vow to stay behind long enough to give Sophie one more chance to find her way home.
Meanwhile, Lori is taken back to Rick and Carl, where she breaks down at the sight of her son’s injuries. As the two parents grieve, their faith was shaken when they find out that the good doctor is actually only a vet, and that his experience in this surgery had been on animals only. He is also the only doctor in the area, leaving them with no choice but to trust his medical abilities.
At the school, Shane and Otis realize that they are biting off more than they can chew as two men with shotguns against easily over 100 zombies. The pair wait until nightfall and shoot flares to the other side of the parking lot, giving them the time they need to ransack the medical trailer parked outside. In a messy escape, the zombies catch onto them and chase them into a small enclosed area with nothing but a fence gate protecting them.
At this point (right when the action finally picks up) we are left wondering their fate. Of all of the episodes of “The Walking Dead” so far, this one was probably the weakest for this reason. Nothing really happened until the later 10 minutes, when we are left with an unsatisfying cliffhanger. Most of the episode was spent watching the Grimes family grieve over Carl, and while that grief was justified, it didn’t make for terribly exciting television. 2×2 was mainly an episode focused on setting up the plot arcs for the next few episodes, and putting the gears into motion to reunify the group and build trust within it. The function of the episode makes sense, but the entertainment value was not at it’s highest. I am usually a huge stickler for character development and emotional scenes, but characters have never been a prime attraction in “The Walking Dead”, so all of the tears flying around in this episode did very little but make me wish that somebody would get eaten already.
So how did this episode fare compared to the pilot? Are you happy so far with the changes brought on by the new writing team, or can you even tell the difference? Do you think that the shift in focus that this episode took was a positive thing, or are you looking forward to more zombie action?