S1:E2 Just as I predicted last week, The Walking Dead was going easy on us the first time around. This week, the show threw that out the window and gave us an onslaught of zombie guts and axe-slinging. In other words, things just got awesome. While Frank Darabont directed last week’s premiere, he’s taken a back seat for the remaining episodes, acting only as a writer from here on out. The problem is that his absence from the director’s chair shows. The good news is that the show is still a great take on the age-old living dead story and Darabont’s guidance obviously continues to be an influence.
Last night, we got a better look at the situation at Shane’s survivor camp. The episode opens on the camp as Lori switches off foraging duty with another young girl and ventures out into the forest by herself. As she searches in the brush for mushrooms or other edibles, she hears rustling leaves and snapping branches and her nervousness continues to spike. (Why are these women going off into the woods, alone, without guns or knives? Does the fact that there’s a zombie apocalypse going on mean nothing to you?) Just as she’s about to dive into a full-on freak-out, Shane surprises her, covering her mouth and wrestling her to the ground before they strip off their clothes and go at it in the grass. Lori hesitates and takes a moment to remove her necklace – which makes me assume it was a gift from Rick – but continues to have sex with his best friend. This will not end well, that’s for sure.
Back in Atlanta, Rick is right where we left him. He’s still hiding out in the tank surrounded everywhere by walkers, talking to the mysterious voice who contacted him through the radio in the last few moments of the premiere episode. The guy helps him formulate a plan to get out of the tank and reach safety. Luckily, Rick’s former steed is still providing a distraction for the walkers, but unfortunately his duffel bag of ammo is far out of reach. He takes what ammo he can from the zombie marine inside the tank and jumps out of the tank, running down the street and shooting off his measly 15 shots when the guy from the radio grabs him and pulls him into the alley. With walkers clamoring after them, they scamper up a fire escape, a temporary safe haven until one of the walkers finally figures out how to use it to climb up.
As Glenn berates Rick for being such a dumbass (his words, not mine but I have to agree) they climb up to the roof and then enter the building from there. The young man’s name is Glenn, and as they descend into the building, he uses a hand radio to call the others and let them know he’s bringing Rick in. As they near the rest of the group, two walkers approach them just as two men in masks jump out and beat the undead assaulters to a pulp – literally. Glenn and Rick enter the room safely, but almost immediately, Rick has a gun pointed in his face. A woman named Andrea holds the gun, saying he’s sentenced them to death because he’s ruined their ability to sneak around peaceably when he ran through the streets shooting his gun.
One of the men in the group, T-Dog, suggests they go up to the roof so that they can contact “the others.” They all run up there to find Merle Dixon, a hulking older man who’s ceaselessly sniping walkers from the roof. Dixon, a staunch racist, gets into an argument with T-Dog throwing racial slurs at him and saying he won’t take orders from a black man. I guess racism is like cockroaches – it can survive anything. Dixon beats T-Dog, holding him down and threatening him with a gunshot to the forehead when Rick tackles Dixon and handcuffs him to a pipe. Rick takes temporary charge, threatening Dixon saying that anyone who gets in the way of him finding is family “is gonna lose.” What a cowboy threat. Can’t you be a little more specific when you’re trying to intimidate someone?
Rick and another survivor named Morales look over the edge of the building, watching walkers crawl every inch of the streets. Morales notes that Rick isn’t Atlanta P.D. and asks what he’s doing in the city – it turns out that shelter he sought was a rumor. There is no such thing, and it’s going to be that much longer until Rick finds his family. Morales and the others conclude that the only way they can escape is underground, and one of the survivors worked for the city and knows that the department store building they’re in has a drain in the basement that leads to the sewers. After getting burned by Rick’s ineptitude, Glenn volunteers to check out the drain but insists on only taking one other person. The run through the tunnel as Glenn starts freaking out, but it’s only rats. That’s pretty skittish behavior for someone who’s been dealing with zombies. Get a grip, kid.
The others are left to man the store and keep an eye on the droves of walkers pounding on the two sets of glass doors. Rick and Andrea have a little tender moment amidst the endless hungry groaning and pounding on the glass doors.(Perhaps a possible replacement for his cheatin' wifey?) She apologizes for pointing the gun in his face earlier, and he chuckles because he could tell she left the safety on. Once again, a reminder that these people have been thrown into fight or flight mode; they’re all being forced to use weapons tap into violence despite their aptitudes for these things. (And one of the points that I think will carry this show past it's initial shock value.)
Down in the tunnel, Glenn and Morales run into walkers – I guess the sewer plan is a bust. Back up top, Andrea sees a necklace that her little sister will love. It’s a mermaid and she says her sister loves (present tense, meaning that sister is alive somewhere or she’s delusional) mermaids. Rick tenderly convinces her it’s okay to take it, it won’t be considered looting because in case you couldn’t tell, all bets are off at this point. (For real, it’s the apocalypse; loot away.) Just then the first set of doors gives way and the walkers flood into the foyer, and now legions of them are being held back by mere panes of glass. Uh-oh. They had better figure a way out, like now.
The escape to the roof again, Dixon is still chained to the pipe but chimes in that they need a diversion “like on Hogan’s Heroes.” Really dude? You’re racist and you use bad television to make life decisions? Wow. The others explain to Rick that they can’t get past walkers because even if you could disguise yourself, they would smell the scent of the living and being drawn immediately. With that, Rick has an idea. He and Glenn go into the cargo bay and grab the body of one of the walkers whose head was bashed in earlier. I do not like where this is going.
Up on the roof, the group finally gets through the “others” that they’ve been referring to. Of course, it’s Shane’s camp. At the scene, Shane is all up in Rick’s business. First he screws his wife and now Shane’s trying to bond with Rick’s son. I know they think he’s dead, but damn, he’s quick to turn into a claim jumper. Shane also elects to ignore the Atlanta group’s plea for help. Andrea’s sister , Amy, is alive and screams at Shane for leaving her sister to die in Atlanta when she volunteered to go there to help the group. See? I stand by my previous assertion that Shane’s an asshole.
Meanwhile, Glenn and Rick continue to traipse through the streets alongside walkers, but the clouds are darkening and thunder cracks in the background. Then the rain begins. Well, crap. The walkers’ groans grow louder as the rain falls and Rick and Glenn realize it’s cleaning them of their undead scent. Shit. A walker lunges for them and Rick quickly swings his fire axe and splits the walker’s head in two. They run for the truck lot as Rick mows down zombies with his axe along the way. Can we just pause for a moment, and relish the sheer awesomeness of this scene? Rick runs through the streets cutting down zombies with a crude axe while covered in zombie entrails. Purely epic.
The reach the lot and close the gate, temporarily shutting out the droves of walkers. They run for one of the moving trucks just as one walker jumps the fence. (Wait, what? Since when do zombies jump? I thought they just stumbled and charged. This is not good.) Other walkers continue to climb the fence and just in time Glenn and Rick shut the doors and gun it back towards the city. As they watch from the roof, the others are sure that the duo has just left them for dead. Wow, they lose faith quickly.
The plan is still Dixon’s Hogan’s Heroes inspired plan of distraction; they find red sports car, set off its car alarm and Glenn jumps in, driving the noise around the city in hopes of distracting the walkers away from the department store long enough for Rick to pick up the others with the moving van. Glenn sends word to the people on the roof and they clamor to get to the department store loading dock to meet Rick, except for T-Dog who Rick gave the key to Dixon’s handcuffs. He almost leaves Dixon there, but his humanity overtakes his anger over the racist comments and he runs back to unlock Dixon. He trips and falls, dropping the key down the drain and sealing Dixon’s fate. Them’s the brakes, dude. Don’t you know the racist guy always gets it? Seriously, these people do not watch enough television.
They all escape to the loading dock just as the final set of doors give way at the front of the store. Walkers flood in, grasping at their heels as they jump into the moving van and drive away. Nobody seems to care that Dixon is missing. Gee, I wonder why. As they’re hauled away from the city, Andrea realizes Glenn is missing and asks where he is. Cut to Glenn screaming his head off as he speeds down the deserted highway in his hijacked sports car. Zombies be damned; nothing beats an open highway with no consequences. If he didn’t have to cover himself in undead entrails in order to earn that luxury, I’d totally be jealous. Mission accomplished…for now.