harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Review: The Walking Dead, "Guts"

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The Walking Dead

Written by: Frank Darabont, Additional Material by: Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard
DIR: Michelle MacLaren

My Blurb: Before we start this review series, let me say that I've not read the comic books. I did scan a few of the characters in The Walking Dead Wiki, but that's it. So, I don't know how the characters stack up against their written counterparts, nor do I need to know. I'm just explaining this so you'll know why I don't bring up the comic book developments in these reviews.

When last we left Rick Grimes, he was trapped in an abandoned tank with the walkers surrounding him. He had been on a search for his wife and son, who he thought may have retreated to a safe zone in Atlanta at the CDC. They didn't, or they at least didn't stay there.

In actuality, Lori and Carl are in a camp outside the city with Rick's best friend and fellow sheriff's deputy, Shane. Lori and Shane believe Rick to be dead and they've since embarked on an affair, which both are keeping from the group they're with, and especially from Carl.

SPOILERS are within. Some screen caps will contain gooey-undead and some grue, but I avoided the nastiest moments.

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Scene 01: We open on a beautiful crane shot overlooking Dale, our resident elder, on top of his RV, sweeping the area with binoculars to guard against an walkers getting into camp.

Our focus continues to drift downward onto a flat butt and a pair of legs and arms. This person is carrying a plastic toy pail toward a group of others. This is a girl who ends up at a campfire which is tended by Lori.

The girl delivers a handful of mushrooms from the surrounding forest, although she doesn't know how to tell if they're poisonous. Lori opines that she knows one way, and takes the bucket for further exploration.

Scene 02: Lori warns Carl to stay within the camp. Dale tells Lori not to wander outside of shouting distance. She goes off into the woods.

We follow Lori as she stops to pick at some more wild mushrooms. She startles as she hears twigs snapping nearby, but when she looks, she doesn't spot anything.

Commentary: And, already, I must stop to yell at the producers/Lori. Why are you having characters/ why is Lori effing walking around the woods without so much as an effing club in a zombie crisis?!

WHY? We've all scene zombie movies, even if so far none of our characters appear to have grown up in a world where they exist, so we're not idiots. We've seen this scenario too many times to accept characters who actively work on being weeded out through stupidity. It just isn't sensible, no matter how naive this folks may be, to wander around in a zombie apocalypse without a weapon in hand.

This sort of laziness really irks me, because it just isn't something that should have been overlooked when they were putting the scene together. Hell, even if she wandered around with a frying pan in hand, it'd be acceptable.

So, Lori wanders (and she seems to be focused on moving as far away from camp as possible while she is so un-weapon-ed because apparently she is hoping to be struck down by Darwinism). There are more snaps from out in the woods, and birds flutter around disturbed, sending her into mild panic.


Commentary: I'll give credit to the shot here. The woods around Lori are absolutely gorgeous.

From nowhere, Lori gets grabbed and shoved to the ground with a hand over her mouth. She struggles briefly, before noticing it is Shane giving her a mighty (assholish) scare. They share a laugh and then sex it up. There is a moment where they nearly stop as they both focus attention on the wedding ring she wears about her neck, but she takes off the chain and puts it aside and they get back to it.

We spend a little too much time watching them ... ew... as we focus on Rick's wedding band.


Scene 03: Coming back from credits, we reverse the last shot from episode one and we focus down from on-high back to ground level. The streets surrounding the tank where Rick is trapped have the dead wandering in to check out the commotion. There are a few on the top of the tank, but most have now congregated on the cooling remains of the horse they tore apart.


Scene 04: Inside the tank, Rick hears [Glenn's] voice coming through telling him that he's checking out his situation. [Glenn] tells Rick that he has a chance of making a run for it, if he goes now while the 'geeks' are busy with devouring the horse he rode in on.

Rick scours the tank for any ammo, as he did a lot of shooting while trying to make it away from the walkers, and his bag o' guns was left on the street when he was yanked off of the horse.

He has limited ammo, so things aren't looking real good. He also grabs a grenade that we focus on much too hard for it to not come up at a later time [Future!Reviewer: I am impressed however, that we won't see this grenade again until episode 6 for the season finale.]

Rick takes much too long composing himself, after [Glenn] has already told him how urgent it is that he get moving before the walkers grow bored with the horse remains.

Commentary: I do like the confined set of the inside of the tank. It was well filmed, and Rick's greasy, sweaty, pale countenance really helps to sell the claustrophobia and the stink within the tank's interior.

[Glenn] gives direction to Rick about which way to run, where he'll meet him in a nearby alley.

Scene 05: Rick runs for his rendevous with [Glenn], wasting bullets like there is no tomorrow.

So much for [Glenn's] advice to make every shot count. He's shooting at everything moving without a thought to conserving for what is actually needed to get around the dead... not to mention all of this noise is going to draw more.

Commentary: And, yes, clearly I am irritated again with the anti-survival skills on display.

Scene 06: As promised, [Glenn] meets him in an alleyway and leads him to a set of stairs going up the side of one of the buildings, with the walkers in hot pursuit and Rick continuing to waste all of his ammunition and draw more and more undead to his and [Glenn's] spot.

Scene 07: [Glenn] and Rick stop to catch their breath on a catwalk and see the crowd of zombies that Rick's wild shooting has drawn to them. [Glenn] is even less impressed with Rick than when he was watching him trap himself in a tank under a hoard of flesh-eaters.

As Glenn and Rick finally exchange names, so I can quit using brackets, we find that the walking dead can recall how to climb ladders. Apparently, whatever has caused them to animate has retarded their muscle degradation.

Commentary: Well, presumably. Let's face it, the only way to make the zombies work as monsters is that they can't rot too quickly, rigormortis cannot set in for too long, and they need to be able to remain coordinated and have enough strength to stay mobile and to tear flesh from bone. If you're gonna be a zombie film fan, you have to accept these things. I am and I can.

Glenn and Rick continue fleeing.

Scene 08: Eventually, Glenn and Rick arrive in a back lot of a department store. They are met by Glenn's group and ushered into the store. But, because of the amount of noise Rick made with all of that shooting, the 'geeks' are riled up and congregating around the building, which is going to complicate their all getting out alive.


Andrea especially is feeling the hate for Rick.

Scene 09: Rick's group clarifies that they're on a scavenger run and the whole point of such a run is to get in and get out without drawing attention to themselves. Something which Rick has ruined with his wild-west-athon.

Commentary: Owieee. There is some really obvious info-dumping going on here that just comes across as awkward. Also, Andrea doesn't come off so well acted either in her first big scene. She gets better, in my opinion, and I'll come to like her character.

One of the problems with this production though, is going to be trying to keep characters straight when they're given very little personality or strong moments. They're just kinda wandering in the background for much of the time until it is ready to die. It's one of the problems I'll continue to have with the series, but we'll address these characters as the inspiration strikes me.

Right now, we have Glenn, Andrea, Morales (who acts as our info-dumper), T-Dog (Theodore) and Jacqui.

Also -- this set up, while tense and dramatic and stuff, is also nonsense. After the maze that Glenn and Rick just rushed through to make it to the store, Rick's popping off rounds had to be a block or two away. It makes no sense for the department store to be mobbed by the walking dead at the front doors. It also doesn't make sense that the zombies would be trying so hard to get through the glass doors. How do they know that this is where our group is?? Rick's shots were not at this location and even if it were -- they were fired from the rear of the store... A BLOCK AWAY.

I do like, and wish that we'd see much more, the zombie picking up a rock to break into the store. This scene seems like a deliberate nod to 'Night of the
Living Dead' when 1st Zombie did the same thing to get to Barbra in her car. And like in that movie, the zombies using weapons seems to be quickly forgotten.

Scene 10: Andrea asks Rick what he was doing out there, and he tells them about the helicoptor. They don't believe him and Jacqui tells him he was hallucinating. But, he swears he saw it.

Morales asks T-Dog to check the radio for contact with base camp, and Rick thinks they're talking about the refuge center where he thinks his family went. Jacqui's sarcasm tells us that was probably a pipe dream of Rick's.

T-Dog can't get a signal and suggests running up to the roof of the building.

Commentary: And this part I also don't understand -- other than to get to the Merle-part of the episode... so what if they do call in to base; What exact good does that do? Are they going to call in an air strike? What is the point of worrying about this?

The group then hears more gunshots coming from above them and echoing through the concrete jungle outside. Andrea spazzes. They rush up to the roof...

Scene 11: ... where we meet loud and proud redneck, Dixon (Merle) using his high powered rifle to sport shoot the zombies far below. Morales complains loudly about what Dixon is doing with his wasting bullets and making yet more noise to draw yet more zombies, assuming there are any left not already congregating around them.

Merle, alas, is ... stereotypically white trash (loud, bossy, doesn't play well with others, racist, violent, drugged tweaked -- it makes me question the wisdom of sending him on this run in the first place -- is this entire show going to be about our characters surviving despite their anti-Darwinist choices??).

Commentary: While I loathe the introduction of this character, I am a huge fan of Michael Rooker. I have NO idea why, but I find myself instantly captivated any time he's onscreen and I'm pretty sure I'm nursing quite the crush on him and have been for years. Again, no idea why this is. [Future!Reviewer: Which makes me so happy to see him with a larger role in S3.]

So, we join Merle acting like an asshole. T-Dog gets up in his face about his wasting of ammo and drawing more to them when they're already up shit's creek. Merle isn't about to put up with being shouted down by T-Dog for racist reasons, which he more than proves by using language I'm sure you can imagine.

T-Dog tries to punch Dixon out for the use of the N* word. It doesn't go well. Whatever Theodore did before the fall, he wasn't much of a fighter. Merle quickly and brutally beats the shit outta him.

The other surround him and try to yell him off, but do little to group tackle him.

Scene 12: So, Merle is able to straddle T-Dog to the roof top and pull out a pistol, threatening to shoot him in the face. [Right. Mr. Psychopath was made part of this 'sneak in-sneak out' mission, why now?]


While the others plead (especially Andrea) for him to stand down, Merle spits on Theodore. He then demands that the others "vote" for him to be the leader of this here expedition. The others have little choice since no one else bothered to have a gun drawn and I'm not convinced that any of them would shoot him either way (I would, but then I've been told I'm cold inside -- I prefer to think of it as practical).

He orders a show of hands, which they do (but Jacqui is sure to give him a middle finger salute -- I already love her). Merle's reign is very short lived, as Rick (who had been punched out) comes up behind him with a rifle stock and hits him in the face. This is quickly followed by his wrist getting handcuffed to an iron bar and him disarmed.

Scene 13: With Merle controlled, Rick gives us a heavy-handed anti-racist speech. Let's move on. They toss tough guy talk at one another, and Rick pats him down. Finding drugs, he tosses them over the side of the building, adding another thing for Merle to want to kill him for later (although, strangely so far this hasn't really been paid off).


Rick stalks off to the side of the building, with Morales following. They look out over the army of dead in the streets around them, looking pretty much screwed over.

Scene 14: T-Dog continues trying to call into camp, but Andrea points out the obvious. There isn't anything they could do for them, anyway. Morales also explictly shoots down Rick's notions about a refugee center with help waiting.

Meanwhile, Merle says more outrageous things to Andrea in an attempt to get her to release him which goes nowhere because she isn't stupid, and he is.

Rick and Morales continue to confab about the pretty pickle they've gotten themselves into. Rick suggests instead of trying to get through the streets, they work on going under them. Glenn can't spot any manhole covers though for sewer access. But, Jacqui tells them she used to work for the city government and knows that old buildings often came equipped with sub-basement drainage tunnels to the sewer to combat flooding.

Scene 15: Next stop (without the handcuffed Merle and T-Dog) is the sub-basement. Glenn tells them that the tunnel below them is the only thing he's ever found on other scouting trips that would match Jacqui's suggestion, but he's never wandered down there to see where it leads. Glenn is chosen by default to go down and see if they can get out.

Andrea assures him that they'll be right behind him for backup, but he objects. He points out that on his other trips, he was alone and he got in and got out with no muss, no fuss. The first time he brings a group to "help", everything goes to hell. He further states that if he runs into a 'geek', he doesn't want everyone grouped up behind him, blocking his escape and getting him killed. He takes Morales, only.

Commentary: OMG, WAIT! Is this actually somebody in this effing group that isn't trying to get eaten?! Yay, Glenn!

Glenn comes up with a plan on the fly: Andrea and Rick have the guns, so they'll cover the front glass doors so they'll have warning if the walkers get in before he and Morales can find an exit. Jacqui will stay above at the ladder down to the tunnel to shout down a warning in case things go south above.

Scene 16: Glenn and Morales head down the causeway under the building and street. Obviously, there is a creepy rat because every single tunnel anywhere in TVland has a rat squeaking to itself to denote "bad place".

[Except not. I prefer to think of them as a canary in a coalmine. At least you know there aren't any toxic gasses to be concerned about as long as they're running around.]

Scene 17: Meanwhile, Rick and Andrea have returned to the lobby of the department building, where the walkers continue moaning, groaning, and banging at the glass doors to be let in. Rock-Undead seems to have vanished for the moment, which is who the walkers could actually use right now.

Andrea apologizes to Rick for the gun in his face. She's obviously terrified of their predicament, but she jokes around with him a bit.

As they stand and wait, Rick breaks the tension by telling her that if she's going to shoot him, she should take the safety off next time. He shows her how to handle the gun.

Scene 18: Up on the roof, T-Dog continues to uselessly try to call for anyone who may be in listening range. Merle again attempts to convince someone who has no reason to trust his actions to let him loose from the cuff around his wrist. T-Dog points out how ridiculous an idea that would be.

Merle tells him there was nuthin' personal about before and then spouts some White supremacist BS. He assures him that his beliefs don't mean that he and T-Dog can't work together, as long as it is for mutually beneficial means.

T-Dog sarcastically tells him he'll just get that rifle for him, too, so he can shoot Rick when the others return.

Merle glares.

Scene 19: In the sub-sub, Glenn and Morales find the sewer tunnel but it is blocked by iron bars in a criss-cross pattern across the opening. Morales tells Glenn they'd need a blow torch to cut through it. On the other side, a walker shows in their flashlight eating a rat, pointing to their danger in trying to spend time and effort getting through the bars, even if they did have access to a cutting torch.


Scene 20: Upstairs in the lobby, Andrea is checking out a mermaid necklace. When Rick notices, she tells him that her sister really likes the mythological creatures. He suggests that she bring it back for her. When Andrea suggests that could be construed as looting, Rick blows it off. The property laws don't really apply anymore.

This bonding moment is interrupted by Rock-Undead returning and completing his smashing through of the outer doors. There are now just the inner glass doors separating the gang from the undead hoard and Rock-Undead is feeling high and enthused with his success.

Just as Rick is checking out the worsening situation, Morales, Glenn and Jacqui return to report their screwed.

Scene 21: They return to the roof in order to survey for any way to get out of where they're stuck. With binoculars, they spot a van truck, but it is down the block. Rick tells them that construction sites always keep keys for the trucks on hand. Morales reports the problem with the walkers being in between them.

As they discuss options, Rick is shocked that the zombies can apparently smell them. Andrea points out that the walkers smell like dead things, whereas the live people don't. They can recognize the distinction.

This gives Rick an idea.

Scene 22: Glenn isn't wild about the plan, and Morales joins him in objecting that this isn't a good idea. But Rick points out that none of their options are good at the moment and doing nothing is worst of all.

Scene 23: We find out the plan, where everyone dresses in overcoats and gloves. They run out into the back lot and grab one of the dead bodies that they had bashed when Glenn and Rick arrived to "safety". This is dragged back inside.

Scene 24: Everyone, except Merle, gathers around the body. The thought is to axe it into pieces. But there is extreme hesitation in doing this to something that used to be a person.

The gang get over it, but not until after a moving/cheezy speech by Rick. The cadaver is butchered so that Rick and Glenn can cover themselves in dead body fluids so they'll smell like the walkers they need to pass to get to the escape truck.

Commentary: I can appreciate the sentiment of this scene, but man, is the dialog full of cheese. Andrew's acting just cannot overcome the "very special moment" feel of his speech, and though he claims he's going to remember the man's name and tell Lori of his sacrifice as a way to honor him for being a walker who got his head caved in, we never see that. So, this cheesefest really doesn't pay off later that would have made this draggy scene worthwhile.

The actual butchery and smearing of guts and wearing of body parts is a disgustingly good time, but the lead up to the first axe swing into the corpse is painfully earnest and drawn out. Especially eye-rolling was the tidbit that our body had his organ donor sticker on his driver's license. HOW IRONI-CHEEZY!

But, I must give major kudos to the special effects of the body being axed by the group. That is some nasty shit, and it keeps going on and on with the special chunky sauce... ugh... nauseatingly good work.

On the other hand -- once again, we're seeing our people not being very fucking careful about coming into contact with the dead remains: Check out Morales putting on a face shield that has yucky inside the splatter face shield! G'Damn it, would y'all be more conscientious about this kind of thing!

Andrea tucks her gun into Glenn's waistband, "just in case".

Commentary: And, again... Rick just warned them about getting gunk on their skin. Andrea is rubbing that shit all over Glenn's shirt, so there is no way it isn't getting on his skin. There is also no way for Glenn to get to the gun without moving aside his overcoat, which is now caked in guts, meaning he's about to get it all over his hands. And, he has to do that in order to use the gun, because there is no way he'd be able to fire it with those huge gloves on.

I mean, I appreciate the thought of Andrea's, but... isn't there some thin latex dishgloves they could have included in the scene? Am I just too logical, thinking of these things?

T-Dogg asks after Merle before Rick and Glenn head out and Rick gives him the key to Merle's cuff.

Scene 25: Rick and Glenn make it out of the temporary safety of the department store into the back lot, where a few more walkers are wandering about. They're able to stumble/shuffle past these, proving that the plan can work -- although the walkers seem more confused than completely tricked.

Commentary: Small kudo for the shot from under the bus looking out at them. It was unnecessarily flourishly, but it was a nice shot anyway.


Scene 26: Morales, Andrea and Jacqui run for the stair back to the roof (hello, Theodore?) to watch their progress.

Commentary: Was the episode suddenly found a few seconds short when the cast had already largely left? There was zero point to this cutaway, except to make me have to list a new scene and then waste time pointing out what a waste of time it was. Grrrr. Although, anytime Jeryl Prescott (Sales) is onscreen I'm a bit happier. I wish she'd stuck around longer (oop -- future spoiler).

Scene 27: Back on the street, Rick and Glenn continue to stumble their way as zombie-like as they can manage while trying to hurry.

Scene 28: Back on the roof, the others rejoin Merle.

Commentary: HEY! Continuity Error Alert! T-Dog is in the same position on the roof with Merle as in Scene 18 -- including still having the bloody lip from Merle's recent beatdown of him. While in scene 24, he seemed to be recovered. This would also explain why he wasn't shown dashing away in the cutaway scene 26 -- There has been some editing-fun, scene-shuffling going on!

Morales tells T-Dog to try calling for someone again -- just as pointlessly as it has been all episode (PLEASE- Give T-Dog something to do).

Meanwhile, above their heads, a summer shower is moving in (naturally). Merle is upset that Rick is down among the walkers with his handcuff key, but Theodore pulls it from his pocket and shows him he has the power of his freedom in hand. Merle isn't much more pleased at this development than if Rick did have the key as street level.

Scene 29: Back at the camp, Dale is working on the old RV. He and Jim discuss that the hose of the vehicle isn't doing so well, setting up that if they suddenly have to leave the camp in a hurry (future!hint-hint) it could be a real problem.

In the meantime, Amy is pacing and flipping out that Andrea and company hasn't made it back yet. Random camp goers who will get no lines do things in the background. We focus on Lori watching Shane interact with Carl and smiling to herself.

Scene 30: Shane is teaching Carl how to tie rope. This is interupted by T-Dog's transmission being picked up at the camp.

The transmission has a lot of break up, but they're able to hear just enough to know that the scavenger team is in a bad way and trapped. Lori wants to mount a rescue mission, but Shane puts the kibosh on anyone running off half-cocked on a doomed mission. T-Dog's transmission was clear that they were surrounded by hundreds of walkers before contact was lost again.

Amy doesn't take abandoning Andrea well. Lori seems more than a bit ambiguous by Shane's issuing injuctions, too. Shane, while probably completely correct, does come off as trying to be the Big Emperor of a Small Pond, and I don't know where he gets off ordering anyone else around. Explaining why they can't rush to Atlanta on a suicide mission, sure, but he's talking like he's issuing orders that everyone has to follow.

Shane and Lori share looks, and she ultimately agrees with his decision with a nod of her head. She runs off after Amy.

Commentary: I can understand the reasons why we need to check in with the group: It's really about setting up Shane as the camp leader, who will then come into conflict with Rick when he makes his miraculous return since he's the lead character, rather than Shane. But, I don't really like this here. I really wish we'd had this scene spliced in before Rick and Glenn's march to the construction site, because that is the meat and potatoes of the episode as far as tension goes. It shouldn't have been interrupted for a quick visit to the camp where really, nothing has happened. From the time that Rick came up with their desperate escape plan to the end of the episode, we should have stayed with the Atlanta group.

Scene 31: Back with Rick and Glenn, they continue their shambling toward their escape vehicle with thunder continuing to rumble in the background. You have to think that Glenn is once again thinking how this sort of shit never happened when he was making solo missions.


Commentary: Also, I like the direction/camera work for this scene. The camera angles keep it from being repetitive and getting dull as we obviously know that they're not going to get swarmed and butchered. Although Glenn, being a secondary character is certainly generating the fear since he could end up dying here....

Especially with that set up that everything has gone south since he tried to help others and with him nearly drawing undue attention to himself by talking. SHUT UP, GLENN! I like you -- don't die!

Scene 32: On the rooftop, Andrea, Morales and Jacqui continue working on their respective ulcers while watching Glenn and Rick. Suddenly, that threatened shower begins....

Scene 33: On the street, Rick and Glenn are still half a block from the chained gate leading into the construction area that is their target. The rain begins to soak them to Glenn's growing panic.

Scene 34: On the roof, Andrea starts to hyperventilate. Morales tells her it's just a cloudburst which is common for Atlanta and it should pass by real quick.

Scene 35: That doesn't seem to be especially relevant to Rick and Glenn, though. Actual-zombies begin to get undead questioning expressions on their undead faces (Yeah, this was a bit too overacted, considering that we're talking about zombie faces, here. And really, we're not dumb, we can get the situation on our own).

With the jig up, Rick and Glenn have to resort to an axe, a crowbar and a lot of running.

Commentary: I really like the music in this scene. Especially as the rain first starts up and we see the zombies begin to wonder about Rick and Glenn... I think I'm detecting a very 28 Days Later theme in the music that works really well.

Rick and Glenn make it up and over the fence (where they pause to take off their guts-coat, rather than continue hustling their stupid asses). Some of the zombies start crawling over the fence after them, while most are just crowding their mass against the flimsy gate. Rick wastes bullets.

The walking dead break down the barrier, but Rick and Glenn are able to reach the moving truck and peal out of the lot.

Scene 36: Back at the rooftop, the elation of their success is quickly undone as our gang watch Rick and Glenn drive away!

Andrea has a fit as she announces that they're leaving them behind.

Scene 37: Meanwhile, Rick - driving - is abandoning them, but only for the moment. He tells Glenn that they need to draw the hoard away, so that the others will have time to get to the loading dock of the department store and into the back of the truck.

Scene 38: To do this, Rick breaks into a sports car and allows the alarm to ring (annoyingly -- really annoyingly). Rick is able to break into the ignition and start up the car with a screwdriver. Glenn gets chosen to sit on all of that window glass to drive the sports car.

Glenn radios up to the group to get to the loading doors and be ready. He stunt-drives wildly for no real reason, except it looks cool -- and so does Rick in that boxy truck. It'd be funny if it tipped over on him.

Scene 39: Up on the roof, everyone starts bugging out to Merle's sudden panic as no one seems all that interested in freeing him first.

Everyone is all, "screw him", but T-Dog can't take Merle's pleading and runs back with the cuff keys to free him.

It doesn't work out well. He manages to not only trip, but to make a 1-in-1000 shot with the key right down a pipe on the roof, leaving Merle truly effed.

Scene 39: Down in the lobby, as the gang runs through, the inner door glass finally starts shattering (okay -- that did take an awfully long time).

Scene 40: On the roof, Merle shouts at T-Dog for deliberately throwing the key away, while T-Dog shouts back that he's sorry. That doesn't stop him from leaving Merle shouting and screaming - trapped on a sunbaked roof with the hoard invading the building.

Theodore does stop long enough to put a (convenient, isn't it) chain across the roof access door to give Merle a chance... or an even slower and more tortuous death by thirst, before hustling out of there as fast as he can go.

Meanwhile, Michael Rooker strains his already gravelly voice to its maximum as he wishes the group to rot in hell.

Scene 41: At the bay door, the gang minus T-Dog and Merle wait desperately for their rescue. They hear Glenn's sports car's alarm going off nearby.

Glenn uses this to draw the zombies to his vehicle and waits as long as he can (y'know, with no side window to protect him) before pealing out again.

Meanwhile, Rick is able to pull the truck in from the opposite block for a pick-up.

Scene 42: Meanwhile, T-Dog is passing through the store lobby just as the glass doors give away enough for a zombie-rush into the store (finally).

They're able to make a clean getaway.

Scene 43: This leaves Merle as odd man out. He continues to scream in horror and despair while uselessly pulling at the cuff with all of his strength.


Commentary: I really liked this entire sequence. It was exciting, it was dramatic and the thought of Merle's fate (without future knowledge, anyway) is so hideous that you can't help but sympathize with him even though he's the least likeable character we've had. His despairing screams of angry, outraged despair was excellently acted by Michael who I'm surprised didn't leave the set with a bleeding voicebox and a broken wrist.

Scene 44: Back at the retreating truck, everyone exchanges uncomfortable glances until Theodore finally tells them that he dropped the key, explaining Merle's absence. The implications are especially hard on Andrea and Jacqui as both have looks of complete horror at leaving even someone as reprehensible as Merle in such a situation.

Commentary: Some really nice reaction-acting from our two ladies.

Andrea asks after Glenn next, as he's disappeared.

Scene 45: We switch our view to the highway, where Glenn is gleefully speed-racing in his souped up car ... although still with that damnable alarm blaring.

Commentary: Steven's glee in this scene is so funny, I laugh every time. But I was also scared that we were seeing him driving off into the sunset and out of the show. Thankfully, future!reviewer can assure me that no, Steven Yeun stays put. Thank you, Thank you!


The Good: I really liked the desperate feel of the tank set and Rick's being trapped within surrounded by the undead. It was really nicely filmed and captured the desperation of the situation.

Michael Rooker. Despite his character's problem (see The Bad), he is aces.

The grimy, bloody, grue effects were excellent, if overly gross. The special effects team deserve huge kudos for their work.

I really liked the camera work throughout Glenn & Rick's zombie-stumble down the block to the truck they needed to escape.

I also really liked the final escape scene with Theodore blowing rescuing Merle, his pretty terrible fate on the roof, and the pretty excitingly filmed rush to get out of the store as the walking dead pour in.

The Bad: Uh... that info dump scene (Scene 9) was really clumsily acted and scripted. Also, watching the escape kind of makes it ridiculous that the Zombies would know where our characters are so they can congregate at exactly the right place. Not after all of those catwalks and scaffolding Glenn and Rick raced over to get inside.

Merle's character really needed some depth in this episode. From the moment we see him, he's terribly stereotypically written.

Rick's ode to the cadaver was painfully cheezily acted. Ow. Let's not do that again.

Other Thoughts: Again, like with the pilot, I'm annoyed at how many times our characters wander away unarmed so that we can have a tense scare scene. NO ONE in this situation would be wandering around with a weapon. It's stupid and irritating.

I'm equally annoyed at how many bullets get wasted, especially by Rick Grimes who you'd think of anyone would know better and actively try to conserve ammunition wherever possible. C'mon show runners -- let's keep these sorts of things in mind when we're setting up shots, okay? The audience who grew up with Zombie Films have thought about this sort of scenario extensively, so we notice when our characters are doing dumb things for illogical reasons. You could accept this sort of behavior from any of the characters, EXCEPT the experienced lawman.

We spend way too much time watching T-Dog calling over a useless radio for useless purposes. They really needed one or two less characters to introduce here, so that everyone would actually have something worthwhile to do.

I want to put the editing here, because there were some really pointless diversions where we should have remained with our main characters trying to get out of the department store debacle alive, but didn't. Also, it created some continuity confusion with T-Dog, as mentioned in the review. But, the direction and the acting helped with some of this, as our attention is diverted from noticing so much.

The Score: While there were a lot of individual scenes that were really good, there were also a lot of cutaways that served no real purpose and actively undercut the tension and frisson that had been built. I also was disappointed in some glaring cliches working their way into the narrative, mostly because they are so glaring. The actors did some great work mostly, but then the script would undercut them with cheese that would drown them in some scenes.

The episode is strong, but you can't help but be disappointed after the powerhouse of the pilot.

3.50 out of 5 stars

DVD cover

Next Review: BTVS, Season 2's "Killed by Death"
Tags: walking dead season 1 review

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